Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is work done to improve the position of a website in search engines such as Google.
Google uses hundreds of ranking factors to determine the order of sites in its search results. Being aware of these different factors and optimising each one will give you the edge over the other websites vying for the top spot.
There is no silver bullet when it comes to SEO, but there are many things you can do to improve your position and drive more visitors to your website.
Here we outline what to consider when putting together an SEO strategy.
The first step is to plan your SEO strategy – to work out what you are going to optimise for. Questions to ask include:
Using this research you can select the terms to optimise your website for. 5-10 phrases with a reasonable search volume is a good starting point, giving you some diversity without diluting your focus. Over time you can add more.
Next, you need to optimise your content for those phrases. You must do this in a non-spammy way, by creating high-quality content that is truly valuable to your visitors. Ensure that your key terms appear in each of these places (but in a natural, relevant way):
Ensure you keep your content up-to-date and regularly post new content so it stays relevant – out-of-date content won’t rank as well.
Within your website, you need every page to be linked from another page – whether via your main navigation, links within the content, or a complete sitemap. This allows search engines to find all the pages to list.
Getting other websites to link to you – particularly relevant, high-quality websites – is even more important. This helps to build up your reputation and increase your ranking.
You can build incoming links by:
You need a balance of links containing your keywords, which helps you to rank for those keywords, and non-keyword links, which stop you looking like a spammer who’s buying links.
In addition to the work that content authors do, there are a number of things that the technical team building your website should do to ensure your site ranks well. These include:
Talk to your web developers to see what they can do to help you.
If you want your website to rank well for the long-term, avoid techniques that don’t benefit the user (black hat SEO). They may seem to work in the short-term, but you could be severely penalised in the long-term.
Examples of techniques that have been used in the past include:
These worked once, but now would now be detected and penalised. This can be quite difficult to recover from. Be careful who you hire to improve your SEO – make sure you know what they’re going to do and are happy with it. Remember, no-one can guarantee you top position in the search results.
Once you have visitors coming to your website, you need to be clear about what you want them to do – then optimise your website to lead visitors towards these goals. For example:
In all cases, building an ongoing relationship will help. For example, you can get them to sign up for a monthly newsletter, or offer them a free trial. This allows you to keep in contact with potential customers who are not quite ready to buy yet.
How do you know if your SEO campaign is working? You need to track your progress over time in several key areas:
Each of these tells you whether your efforts so far have worked, and what you should work to optimise next.
While a large batch of work may be needed to optimise your website initially, SEO is not just a one-time thing. It can take several months for any SEO work to have an impact, so you need to regularly check the metrics to see what impact your efforts are having. Did the latest changes work as you planned? How can you improve further?
In addition, the ranking algorithms are changing all the time, and your competition are optimising their websites too – so a good ranking today doesn’t guarantee you a good ranking next month. You need to keep an eye on your SEO performance so you can proactively react to any dips, rather than experiencing an unexpected decline in sales.
SEO is a long-term investment – it can take several months to see results, particularly if your website is relatively new in a competitive market – so you should consider other online and offline marketing strategies as well. For example:
These can also help you to build a following, become a recognised brand, and build relationships with influencers and potential customers. In the long-term, this should also translate to more incoming links, bringing a higher search engine ranking.
Make sure you don’t have all your eggs in one basket. If you rely heavily on natural search results for your income, and tomorrow Google changes their algorithm such that you drop off page 1, what would happen to your business?
Keeping visitors returning to your website time and again is the key to good SEO. This means that you need to be driving traffic to a well-designed website with a good user journey. Using our template, and with the support of our team of expert designers and developers, we can help you do just that.