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Optimise your content for search

Why it's important

Most users find our content from Google or other search engines. It’s important that users can find our content so they can achieve their goal or task.

Search engine optimisation (SEO) ensures that search engines rank your content so users can find it.

Meet the user needs

Design content around user needs to ensure your content is useful and relevant.

See the user needs section of this toolkit for more why user needs are important.

Keywords in content

Keywords are what people use on search engines.

Use the same terms and language that people use to search. This helps them find your content easily and quickly.

Use keywords in the URL, title, teaser text, meta description and body content.

URL

The URL is the web address of your page. It should be concise, descriptive and contain the keyword.

Use hyphens to separate the words so search engines understands the words clearly. Don’t use underscores.

Here’s an example: https://www.essex.gov.uk/blue-badge/who-can-get-a-blue-badge

See our URL guidance.

Titles, teaser text and meta description

Put the main keyword in the page title. This is the most important on-page SEO.

The page title is Heading 1. It’s one of the first things a user sees in a search engine’s results page. It’s important to use a good descriptive title that includes the main keyword.

Here’s an example of a title, teaser text and meta description:

Title: Accessible transport and mobility

Teaser text: Blue Badge, disabled parking bays, mobility aids and accessible transport

Meta description: Transport, travel and mobility for people with a disability. Includes Blue Badge, accessible transport, disabled parking bays and mobility aids.

Body content

Include the main keywords in the:

  • first 100 words of your body content
  • alternative text for images and file names

Use other keywords related to your content. Search engines check for words that should appear alongside a search term or keyword. For example, blue badge and disabled badge, parking permit or parking badge.

Use headings and subheadings. They help search engines understand what you’re writing about.

Apply heading styles correctly. Use subheadings to structure your content. Use them in order, for example Heading 2 is after Heading 1, Heading 2 is followed by Heading 3.

See creating accessible document for guidance on applying heading styles.

See our guidance on using images.

Find out what users are searching for

Use Google Analytics to help you find out what your users are searching for when looking for your content including:

  • external search terms that led users to a page from Google or other search engines
  • internal search terms that users used while on Essex.gov.uk or other sites

See the measurement section of this toolkit for more guidance on using Google Analytics.

Tools and more guidance

Google Trends is a good tool to find out what people search for.

There are other tools you can use. Visit GOV.UK for more on how to improve your content's SEO.