Content creation

These guidelines are aimed at those involved in the process of website content creation and publication, and are designed to help you optimise your web content for search engines. Many of these recommendations are also general user–experience best practice for content creation.


Writing copy

Any SEO strategy would be unsuccessful without well–written and well–structured copy. Good quality content is essential to good natural search ranking performance. It should be carefully planned and prepared with search performance in mind.

This document covers the various content techniques that can be used to improve search engine rankings. Always remember, however, that you are writing for web visitors first and search engines second; it is a case of balancing search performance against readability.

You should ensure that, when users arrive at an Aviva page from a search engine, they are able to grasp immediately how the page relates to their search query.

  • Always begin the page with a summary paragraph.
  • Use frequent subheadings and keep paragraphs short.
    Use them at least every 4–5 paragraphs. This will enable you to promote your keywords and also make the webpage easier to scan.

Consider the purpose of your content

The first step when creating a piece of content is to make sure that you are clear about its purpose. Ask yourself:

  • Who are the potential audiences for this content?
  • What is the aim of the content?
  • What is the content about?
  • What are the user needs the content will fulfil?

This will help you determine how to structure your content and ensure that you are using language appropriate for your target audience.


Identify keywords

Before writing the content, you should identify the keywords or search terms you expect users to put into search engines when searching for the similar types of information.

  • Find out what words and phrases Aviva visitors are currently using on external search engines to get to your content.
    You can get this information from your web analytics package.
  • Check the words and phrases used on your internal search tool.
  • Research and compare search phrase popularity.
    You can use www.google.com/trends to determine and compare the level of searches on specific phrases.
  • Monitor your competitors.

The Appendix provides an example set of keywords defined for one Aviva business for reference.


Incorporate keywords

You need to ensure that the keywords identified as target search queries are integrated throughout your webpage.

Page content

You should use the keywords as early as practical on the page and repeat them throughout the rest of the copy in order to improve the search engine ranking for these core phrases. The best approach is to use variants and associated phrases throughout the page rather than simply repeating the same keywords.

However, make sure that these techniques are not used at the expense of creating a page that flows naturally.

  • Mention keywords early.
  • Use alternative keywords.
    Include synonyms, singular/plural versions and different word order.
  • Use customer language, especially typical user search phrases.

Headings and subheadings

Search engines consider words within headings as more important than those within body text.

  • Use page headings and subheadings to highlight your keywords.
    This helps search engines, and people, understand the key points on the page.
  • Ensure every page contains and <h1> heading.
  • Keep headings and subheadings to 10 words or less.
  • Do not artificially create headings using bold or underline formatting.
    Always use the semantic heading tags h1–h6.

Your headline should contain your keywords to create an enticing and clear idea of the theme of the page. Writing the perfect headline also makes it more likely that someone will use your page title as their anchor text if they link back to you. As these anchor texts form part of the algorithms used by search engines, this can also assist your SEO strategy.

  • Where appropriate vary the content of the <h1> tags from the page title slightly.
    This enables your page to target a wider array of keywords.

Many search engines use the text of links to a page as part of their relevancy criteria. Well written link text will help you to take advantage of this.

  • Ensure link text makes sense out of context.
  • Use keywords for the destination page within the link text.
  • Don‘t create links that read “click here” or “read more” or other nonspecific phrases.
  • Avoid putting a high number of unique links on a single page.
    Whilst it is important to include text–based links, spiders may not follow all these links. The first 100 links will get indexed immediately; however it can take a few more months for search engines, such as Google, to identify and follow any links greater than 100.

Structuring copy

Every site should have a clear hierarchy of copy. Make sure press articles are dated and new items of copy are not buried deep in the site so that Google can easily recognise the most up to date and relevant items.

Imagery

Images can contribute to search engine optimisation, by increasing the use of keywords on the page. Descriptively–named images can also be displayed in image search results.

  • Include relevant keywords in image filenames.
    Choose a logical file name such as a product name. Use hyphens, not underscores, to isolate the words; you should use a maximum of two hyphens.
  • Use keywords in the image‘s “alt” attribute, if appropriate.
    This should be a maximum of 80 characters including spaces.

Keyword density

Search engines calculate a page‘s relevance for a topic based partially on its keyword density. This is the proportion of occurrences of search term to the total number of words on the page.

  • Keep page length to 300–500 words ideally.
  • Aim for a keyword density of around 4–5%.
    A 300–word page, for example, would ideally have 12 instances of a keyword/phrase in the title, page content and metadata.
  • Put most important keywords in first few paragraphs.
  • Do not overuse keywords to the detriment of the page flow.
    Web visitors, not search robots, are your most important audience.

Content maintenance

Sites that continuously updated or expand their content usually experience better rankings in search engine results.

  • Update content regularly and remove out–dated material.
  • Include excerpts of new press releases on homepage.
    This helps to promote new content on your site.
  • Check for broken links.
    Search engine robots can only navigate your site via links. They may not continue to index a site if they run into a number of broken links.

Title tags

Creating a well–structured title tag is one of the most important things an editor can do to improve a page‘s search engine ranking.

The title tag is the piece of text that appears in the bar at the top of your browser (and also on the tab in newer versions of Internet Explorer and Firefox). It is also normally the link text displayed within search engine result listings.

Aviva title tags should be structured as follows:

Global website:
Homepage: Aviva – Xxxx xxxx xxxxxx xxxxx
Other pages: Page title – Aviva
Country or business websites:
Homepage: Aviva [Country/Business] – Xxxx xxxx xxxxxx xxxxx
Other pages: Page title – Aviva [Country/Business]

It is generally considered best practice to have the company name at the end thus prioritising keywords within your title. Keyword prominence has been shown to affect search engine ranking for that keyword; possibly because search engines give extra weight, but also because it is more eye–catching to users who are more likely to click on it (better click–through rate in turn affects search results position).

  • Make sure that title tag is unique and meaningful.
    This text will appear within search results so make sure it is appealing and descriptive.
  • Limit title tag length to a maximum of 65 characters, including spaces.
    Anything longer is liable to be cut off in search engine results.
  • Include your top page keywords within the title tag.
    Do not waste the opportunity or characters with generic phrases like “Welcome to…”.
  • Ensure that the title tag reflects the main theme of the page.
  • Match the body of the title tag with the main heading on the page.
    The main <h1> heading on the page can be longer if necessary, as in the case of press releases.
  • Include “Aviva” within the title tag to maintain branding.
    This gives visitors a quick way to identify the site that they are on.
  • Make sure the title tag is in the local language.
  • Never use “Aviva” as the sole title tag.
    This will reduce the page‘s search engine ranking, and creates usability issues with bookmarking and tabbing functionality.

Links to and from the Aviva website can greatly impact its search engine ranking.

  • Encourage relevant websites to link to your sites.
    Search engines will consider the Aviva website as an authoritative source (and rank it more highly) if other quality websites link to it.
  • Link to other pages in your website and within the Aviva group, using keyword–rich links.
  • Link to other websites.
    Search engines will consider Aviva websites more valuable if they provide links to other relevant sites.
  • Use inline links.
    Links within your body content are given extra weighting by search engines. They also take into account the text surrounding the link.
  • Link to other Aviva sites.
    This is positive in terms of sharing SEO relevance.

Metadata

Metadata is information located in the <head> portion of a web page. Not visible to the web visitor, metadata helps identify and classify the contents of the page for search engines, assistive technologies such as screen readers for the blind, and for content management systems.

Aviva‘s policy is to provide a metadata description on each web page.

Meta description

The “meta description” tag should contain a summary of the page contents. This is currently used by major search engines and can be configured for use by internal search tools.

  • Meta description should be unique to the page.
    Do not duplicate meta description content across multiple pages.
  • Make sure the description relates specifically to that page‘s content.
  • Avoid promotional language and concentrate on facts.
    Search engines often filter out marketing language, as it‘s not helpful for search users.
  • Ensure it makes sense out of context of the page.
  • Keep the meta–description to between 120–150 characters.
    This prevents it being truncated by search engines if used in search results.

Meta keywords

If using meta keywords, the tag should contain a string of keywords as well as two or three word phrases that people might enter into a search engine.

  • Provide five to seven unique keywords or phrases per page.
  • Do not duplicate keywords (including plurals, all caps, different tenses, etc.)
    Never insert the same word twice in a row, even if you‘re using different variations. Search engines may interpret this as spamming, and blacklist your page.
  • Do not include words such as “and/or” etc.
    These words will be ignored.
  • Do not use commas to separate keywords.
    These are ignored by search engines and just waste character counts.

Flash

Flash provides an effective medium for creativity and design. It is very difficult however to optimise Flash content for search engines, so it is best to support any Flash animation which is not purely decorative with an alternative version.

  • Provide a text alternative using NOEMBED tags for informational animations.
    This gives the search engine something to read and provides an alternative for site visitors who don‘t have Flash installed on their browsers.
  • Do not create websites or micro–sites entirely in Flash.
  • Avoid creation of pages with Flash–only content.
  • Never use Flash for page navigation.
    Search engines will not reliably follow Flash–only navigation links.

PDF and Office documents

Search engines will index PDF documents, and any Office documents you put on your website, such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

  • Ensure your document has a proper title specified in the Document Properties tab.
    This title will be displayed within search engine results and will be ranked for keywords. If there is no title a search engine will just display the file name.
  • Consider breaking down large PDFs into smaller documents.
  • Add content to the Subject field.
    This should be a short description of the document.
  • Avoid having too much content as PDF only.
    You will get better SEO results by having the content available as HTML and providing the PDF as an additional download.

Naming files and directories

See URL structure for more information.


Multiple URLs with similar/duplicate content

See Canonical URLs for more information.