Search engine optimisation or SEO for short is the process of optimising your website to rank higher on search engines. This makes it easier for the people searching to stumble across your business. Potential customers or clients have a higher chance of finding your business, the higher you rank for a particular search term.
How SEO works?
SEO is information in the background of your website that tells Google, Bing, Yahoo etc what your business does and how relevant your content is, in relation to the search terms used and various other factors then ranks each page accordingly.
They do this by using bots to crawl each page, next algorithms analyse pages in the index and determine a rank for each page accordingly; taking in to consideration hundreds of different factors. Search engines are quite private surrounding their algorithms and it isn’t made available publicly to ensure that the playing field is relatively fair.
Although, there are some good indications out there when it comes to optimisation techniques that have a positive impact; also known as ranking factors.
Why is SEO important and why is it important for business’s?
Billions of searches carried out each day on Google is probably enough to answer that question.
Although, the majority of us are guilty of searching a symptom on Google before seeking professional advice at some point; a large volume of searches carried out each day have commercial intent. Meaning that people are searching for a product or services that they would like to possibly exchange for money. So, the bigger question is why wouldn’t you want them to find your business if you are providing what they are searching for?
With search often being the primary source of digital traffic for brands and business’; greater visibility and ranking higher can have a considerable impact on your bottom line.
What are the Ranking Factors?
Having a secure and accessible website, in other words can the search bots crawl your site easily? Have you used a well coded website builder? Such as WordPress, Wix (other well-coded website builders are available).
Having sitemap which lists all of your website’s pages.
And a robot.txt file that tells search engines where they can look for your site information and where they can’t.
Your site should also be secure with Secure Http (SSL certificate) This is where your site is shown as a secure at the top of the browser, next to the search bar (symbolised by a padlock usually). If your site does not have an SSL certificate it is something that can be added through most website builders, either for free or for a fee.
Page speed is also a ranking factor, ever clicked on a site then clicked off because it has taken more than a few second to load? We are all guilty of it, we are an impatient society with a vast amount of information at our fingertips if one site won’t give us the information, product or service we require that very second, then we will move on to the next. Mobile page speed is also important here as a large proportion of searches are done from mobiles. Keep in mind that your site can be penalised if it is slow to load on mobile. (You can test your speed on Google’s search console through page insights)
Is your website optimised to be viewed on mobile? Given that a larger proportion of searches are carried out on mobile nowadays, your website should be responsive so it can be viewed on different mobile devices clearly. If your website doesn’t display well on mobile it can have a detrimental impact on your ranking.
If you have the time you can also look at implementing Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP); the positive to AMP is that your website pages load almost instantly on mobile devices and can have a positive impact on rankings. The downside is it can be very time consuming as you would need to make another version of your site following AMP guidelines as well as ongoing maintenance.
Your domain matters, did you know that you can be penalised for what is known as ‘keyword stuffing’ your URL? This means that your chosen name is essentially the keywords you are trying to rank for called an exact-match URL.
For example – You are a Hairdresser’s based in London and your URL is www.hairdressersinlondon.com
You’re more likely to be penalised for this if your site is thin on content and looks spammy. However, if your site contains relevant content of high quality then it can have a positive impact. But if your company already is established then its not really necessary to go searching for an exact match-domain. The better option is usually to optimise what you already have to rank for those search terms.
The longer a domain has been established also matters when it comes to ranking as it holds more authority, it can take some time for your website or a specific page to start showing.
SEO is not an overnight process that can be achieved instantly unless you are trying to rank for something that has never been searched before or has low search volumes.
Content, content and more content!
Content is king in the long term. Your content needs to be relevant to what your potential customers/ clients are searching for. Keyword research is important here as it will provide you with information on how many searches are carried out for those keywords. You can also find information on long-tailed keywords, variations and related search terms. Also known as Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) provides online word associations to show search engines the most relevant content to show against the search term.
Your content should also be optimised for voice search as this is becoming more relevant in today’s society; over the last few years the technologies available for voice search has grown substantially. When optimising for voice search you need to take into consideration that people speak differently to how they would type in a search.
Although use of key words and relevant terms relating to those keywords are key when it comes to writing good content. It also needs to be readable and make sense. You need to think how easy it is to read repeating the keywords at every given opportunity would make it difficult to read.
For example – Key words – Hairdressers in London
When looking for hairdressers in London you need to consider the following to be able to make your decision on which hairdressers in London you should use. To make this decision on which hairdressers in London look at the reviews of hairdressers in London, the location of the salon of the hairdressers in London and consider the pricing of the Hairdressers in London.
Pretty difficult to read right? This is called keyword stuffing and should be avoided at all cost’s if you want to rank well as user experience also plays an important role within your rankings. But we will get to that a bit further down.
Length of content, when writing content for your site you should really look for content that matches your search terms. No one wants to read a 3000 word how to guide on boiling water. So, the length of content should ideally match the topic being discussed. If the subject matter calls for in-depth information then go into detail. The more engaging and unique the content the better, if you can aim for around 2000 words or more on the subject then that has been known to have a positive impact when it comes to ranking.
Video can be another valuable way to provide content on your website, so it’s something to take into consideration when adding content.
Page Title –This should include the keyword/ keyword phrase you are trying to rank for. This title tells Google what your page is about.
Headers – Starting with H1 right through to H6, your top heading is H1 then work through H2 – H6 for sub headings.
Meta Description – This is the piece of information that shows under your page title within SERPS (Search Engine Page Rankings) This should be around 160 characters include your keyword phrase and be catchy enough to entice somebody to click on your site.
Images – ALT tag your images; this enables visually impaired people to enjoy your site with screen readers but also by including keywords and phrases; it shows how relevant your images are to your content.
You can also GEO-tag your images to a specific location, this can help with local SEO. Local SEO focuses on increasing your rankings in the locality of the area in which you operate your business from.
Schema Mark-up – This is a piece of code also known as structured data that tells search engines what they need to know about your site content or business. There are various different forms of schema mark-up, what’s right for your business depends on what your business does.
Click through Rate (CTR) – this is a formula based on the number of impressions (so, the number of times a search engine has shown your site within SERPS) and the clicks (the number of times your site has been clicked); this is then worked out as a percentage.
Bounce Rate – this is worked out as a percentage of site visits that have left your site without any action, so if your site is clicked from the SERPS then clicked back to return to the search results.
Dwell time – the length of time a visitor stays on your site.
The above can be viewed through your Google analytics account. Monitoring these KPI’s (key performance indicators) also give you the data needed to make informed adjustments to your site where required.
Low click-through rates would suggest meta description or title might need adjusting, high bounce rate would suggest you might need to make some adjustments to be more engaging. Again, a short dwell time would suggest that your touch points might need tweaking to engage your potential customer/ client more.
Not only does this information help you, it also tells search engines how relevant your site is in comparison to the searching intent. Optimising to improve these KPI’s can also improve your ranking over time.
Links can also improve your rankings
Internal links – These are links between pages on your site, not only is this good practice as it helps your site visitors navigate their way around your site it also helps add authority especially when adding new pages to your site.
External links – This is when your content links to another site, not only does this show the reader that your content has come from a reliable source, linking your content to relevant high authoritative sources can also help increase your sites authority.
Inbound links – This is where your content is linked by another site, the goal here is authoritative sites linking your content, also known as backlinking. The quantity and the quality of these help with ranking, you want high quality links to improve your ranking. Getting links from low authority spammy looking sites can also reduce your ranking.
Also known as citations listing your business information with various online directories including Google My Business, Bing, Social Media, and various other directories can also improve your ranking over time, especially if through these sources you are gaining positive reviews from your customers and are relevant to your business. When you are listing your business through online directories make sure that the NAPs (Name, Address and Phone number) information is consistent.
There are various optimisation techniques that can be utilised to increase your online visibility, ultimately you should create and produce content with the right touch points to engage your customer enough to journey through your site in a way that results in an action from the person that’s reached your business online, whether that is by getting them to sign up to your newsletter, book a service or purchase a product. By doing this and implementing a few other optimisation techniques, your sites traffic will increase and so should your bottom line.
Speak to an expert
If you are unsure, or don’t have the time or team to manage your own SEO, speak with an SEO expert. Here at Localite Media we offer tailored solutions to meet the needs of your business get in touch if you would like to discuss our SEO packages.