Website Writing Guide

Web writing and presentation styles

Writing for Google

There is little point writing for the Web according to the best practice advice in this Guide if no one can find the information. The content must be presented so it can be found and indexed easily by search engines and most importantly by Google.

Skip to the step-by-step guide.

Overview of how Google works

Google lists Web pages in its results pages according to how close a match there is between the query term and:

  • the page title – the words that appear in the very top-left of the browser window
  • the page heading
  • the number of repetitions of the query term on the page.

The Web page that ticks all of these boxes most successfully is likely to go to the top of the results page (not counting paid placements).

So use headings and terms that match that which users are likely to query via Google.

You can further improve the listing by:

  • structuring the content under sub-headings
  • ensuring there are many external links to the page - Google works on the theory that if many external Web pages link to a page, then the page must be important or contain relevant content.

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Step-by-step guide to maximise Google ranking

Information provided online by government will be invisible to search engines if it is expressed in words that do not match the query term entered into search engines by the user.

For every Web page you want ranked highly in search engines, follow these steps:

Step 1: Research the query terms for which users are likely to search.

Identify your target audiences and find out what words and terms they use to express your content. Find out the most popular words and terms on the Google website using their database service Get keyword ideas.

For example, if a council Web page is about rubbish collection, find out whether most users call it waste, rubbish or garbage collection?

Step 2: Create an appropriate page title and page heading.

Use the words and phrases in the title and heading that your intended audiences are likely to use as their query term. This almost always means that you should not use bureaucratic jargon, acronyms and program names in headings unless you know from the research that the target audience will definitely use those terms.

If the research has revealed that users are likely to use a number of query terms related to the topic on the Web page, you may need to create a separate page for each of the key search terms.   

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Step 3: Compose the text.

Compose the information on the page using the query terms at least four or five times in the text. Aim to write at least two hundred words. Google may consider a page containing only a few sentences to be of little relevance to the user’s query even if the title and heading match the query term exactly.

Step 4: Create and organise links to this page.

Links in the same website

Authors or editors of a Web page should identify other Web pages on the same website that are related to the page and organise for links to be created on those pages back to the page in question – eg links back to the page added to a see also or related information section on other pages.

Links from other sites

Identify related Web pages on other government websites (local, state or national), contact the Web page owner and request a link to be made back to your Web page. You may have to create a reciprocal link on your page to their page to gain their cooperation. Presumably the content on the two pages is related so creating reciprocal links is useful to the user.

Other topics in this section

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