For your web pages to be displayed in the search engine results, they must be well-optimised, and there are a number of things to take into consideration when doing this.
Page titles, URLs and meta-tags
Page titles are important when it comes to search engine ranking algorithms, and they should always contain keywords as early as possible in the title. Every page on the website should have a unique title.
The URL is displayed below the title of a search result. It should be simple, and it should include your keywords – again, these should appear as early as possible – using hyphens instead of underscores. It is also best to avoid unusual characters in URLs.
Meta descriptions indicate the information displayed below the title and the URL of a search result. Inserting keywords in the meta description of a webpage improves click-through rates.
Heading tags, home page content and thin pages
Headings are very important for search engines to identify the topics of a webpage, and the page title is the most important heading on a webpage.
As your homepage is the most important page on your website, its content should be spot-on, and it should be reflective of the content of your website as a whole. Your homepage should include relevant keywords, and around 400 words of content.
Search engines do not take images into account unless they make use of alternate text in their tag to accurately describe what the image is about. The size of your images should also not be too big, as this can negatively impact the page loading speed.
Thin or shallow pages are pages which do not include much content, or include content which is not unique. These pages do not rank highly, and you should limit their number on your website as much as possible.
Source code optimisation and data mark-up
An internet browser reads a page’s source code and makes it visible to us in the form we are familiar with. The goal is to make this process as fast as possible, and for this to happen there needs to be as little code as possible for the browser to process. The page’s visible content should be near the top of the source code.
It is important to mark up your HTML pages to allow search engines to gain a deeper understanding of your content and provide more accurate results in searches. Structured data helps Google to understand the content on your site, which in turn can be used to display rich snippets.
Rich snippets are important because they build trust with searchers and encourage a higher click-through rate. They also encourage engagement with your website before the user clicks through, as well as boost rankings.
To mark up your data, you need to use the microdata format as specified in schema.org. If you are unsure how to do this, you can use Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool which checks that you have done this correctly.