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Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

How we navigate the web

Mostly we use the internet to find some information about something; we have a goal. Navigation helps us move towards that goal, following links to that content. While navigating, we are looking for and following our trigger words – words and phrases that trigger us into clicking. When we type a search query into Google or when we are looking for a link on a menu, those are also our trigger words. A website with good information scent, cues that help guide users toward their destination, motivates them to continue with the site.

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Every design element that makes a site more usable contributes to the users’ confidence. … There is a strong correlation between confidence and scent. Content must give off scent.
Jared Spool, Experiencing CHI 2006: From a Practitioner’s Viewpoint: Part II

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Search Engines

It’s a fact that a vast majority of website traffic is driven through search engines. Optimising website content for search engines is clearly very important. But both people and search engines appreciate great content. A good SEO strategy will help attract traffic, but it is quality and meaningful content that will capture your audience.

What do search engines like?

Content, content, content. Honest, high quality content in a format they can read. After all, search engines are blind users; indexing tens of millions of websites, giving out recommendations in the form of search results without seeing any pictures, graphics or page layouts.

Some of the most important things that will make your site more usable to search engines and visitors:

  • Create a useful information-rich site; write pages that clearly and accurately describe your content.
  • Think about the words users would type in search engines to find your content; make sure that your site actually includes those words.
  • Use descriptive title tags for each page that incorporate good keywords.
  • Make sure headings include important keywords relating to the copy.
  • Use plain text instead of images to display important names, content, or links.
  • Structure web addresses, page and folder names so they’re easily readable and contain important keywords.
  • Links to your website from reputable sources help determine the reputation of your site – search engines evaluate websites based on how many reputable sites link to it.

For more tips on making content more search engine friendly, see Google’s design and content guidelines.

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