laptop showing a search barSearch Engine Optimisation (SEO): The art of making your website and content more visible online, by bumping it further up the search engine results.

Have you ever googled your project or group, only to be disappointed that it is nowhere to be found on the results page? It sounds like you need some help with your Search Engine Optimisation! Luckily for you, Maddy Shaw Roberts led an SEO workshop for us in January. She’s the digital managing editor for Classic FM, so she certainly knows a thing or two!

The first thing we learnt was that there are a lot of details you can get stuck into with SEO. So if you’re an SEO novice, here are the first things you can do to ensure the visibility of your website. Words in italics are defined in the accompanying SEO glossary.

Download the SEO Glossary.

Decide what keywords or topics you would like to rank for. An obvious example of a keyword would be your name or the name of your group or project. More generic keywords, like ‘string quartet,’ for example are extremely difficult to rank for, so it may help to think of more specific keywords first of all. You might also think of long-tail keywords, which can be groups of words or short phrases.

Ensure your website clearly and immediately shows:

  •     What your business is about
  •     What services it provides
  •     What content people might find there.

Your website needs these basic things: 

  •     A mission statement or about page (so Google knows your site is trustworthy and credible)
  •     A contact page
  •     A user-friendly navigation bar 
  •     A keyword-rich sidebar
  •     An easy-to-update Content Management System (CMS) (so you can change these things yourself!)

Include keyword-rich metadata. You can check this by looking at the text that appears directly underneath your website on the results page. Are all your important keywords in this text? If not, add them in!

Organise your website very clearly. Categorise your pages or articles into topics, and then use a pillar page for each topic. Use the pillar page to link out to sub topics or articles to create a topic cluster, and then make sure you are linking back to the pillar page on each sub-page or article. Google will recognise you as an expert on the topic and therefore your site will rank higher. Structuring your content this way also helps the search engine to crawl your content faster and boosts the dwell time on your website.

Include internal and external backlinks. Internally, this means linking to other pages on your site and linking back to the pillar page at the end of each subtopic. External backlinking means that your site is linked to other relevant sites who rank for the same keywords you do.

Don’t forget to optimise your YouTube videos. YouTube is run by Google, so the same rules apply when writing your captions. Use the keywords you’d like to be discovered for and make sure you’re linking back to your website here.

Keywords are important, but don’t resort to keyword stuffing! That’s when you add as many keywords as possible in a spammy way. It’s annoying for the user (and for Google too), so even if your page is returned higher on the results, don’t expect people to rush to click on it!

Watch: Website Optimisation for Classical Musicians with Andrew Ousley.

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