What is SEO all about?
Search engine optimisation (SEO) involves improving the volume or quality of traffic to a website from search engines via ‘natural,’ ‘organic’ or un-paid search results.
SEO looks at what people search for and how search engines work. To optimise a website, the content, HTML and coding needs to be edited in a way to suit search engines so that they pick up on keywords and key phrases that people have searched for, and direct them to your website.
Being found on the front page of search engines is a key competitive advantage. Customers usually click on the links that appear the highest in the results list. So the better your SEO, the more visitors your website will receive and convert to sales.
Points to keep in mind
Getting in the frame. SEO is a process that balances the demands of the algorithms that search sites, often known as a ‘robot’, with those of real customers. When your site is crawled by a ‘robot’ or a ‘spider’, it determines what the site is about and how relevant it is to the search terms people are using. Relevance is determined by a whole range of features – from the way keywords or key phrases are used to the number and quality of inbound links. A good SEO strategy ensures your site works for people and tells the robot what your site is about – in ways that the robot can understand.
Keywords. Your customers may want to buy a holiday, replace a commercial boiler or look for a new pair of children’s sunglasses. Whatever they want, they’re increasingly likely to start looking for it by doing an internet search. Your customer could use a PC, a laptop, an i-Phone or a Blackberry, but regardless of their favoured tool, they’ll enter their enquiry into a search engine and examine the results. According to a recent Nielson report, Google has an average monthly unique audience of 25 million. It’s our most popular search engine with over 80% of searches made through it. So your SEO activity must take account of how Google works and presents search results. Once your customer has found what they’re looking for, they may decide to purchase your product or service, or add your site to their favourites or pick up the phone and call you. It all begins with a customer typing a keyword or keyphrase into a search box.
You need to make sure that your website includes all the likely keywords that your customer may use to look for your product. Make sure that these are used frequently in your website content, headings and images in order to generate the best possible results from the search engines.
These are areas of optimisation which are based on the pages of the website. These include the coding which makes the site, the wording used within the content on the site, and the heading and image captions.
Tags. Every web page has a series of tags that operate as labels. They let the robots know the short version of what’s happening on a page or picture. Use keywords or keyphrase for the:
- Title tags – these are headings which are at the very top of a browser window in the blue bar. This can be different for every page of the site, depending what keywords your customers will want to use. If it contains relevant copy you will get more clicks and will be better optimised. So if for example, your business supplies customer service solutions use the term ‘customer service training’ in your title tag as this is the keyphrase people are likely to use for when looking for this service.
- Alt tags or alt attributes are the tags connected to each image on your site. This is another place where your keywords for the page need to appear. Using the same example, you might include the term ‘customer service advisor’ in the alt tag describing the image of a customer service person on your web page.
- Meta-description tags are the main headings on the page, and should include the keywords that support the content of the page. Each tag should be a unique and concise description of the page. Keeping the same example, you might use the meta-description tag ‘benefits of customer service’ as a paragraph heading on your homepage.
- H1-6 tags define the hierarchy of information used in headings. H1 is the most important and H6 the least. This tells the robots what’s important about that particular page. Remember that words in heading tags carry more importance for a search engine than body copy. So ensure your H1-6 tags carry your keywords or keyphrases.
- Anchor text is the link labels that are visible and clickable as a hyperlink. Anchor text should describe what’s available on the different pages of your site, with a clickable hyperlink to that page. External links are useful, but making sure you have keyword-rich internal links will tell the robots how well organised and relevant the site is.
The ultimate way to optimise your website is to generate links from other company’s websites back to your own. The process of link building is the heart of any search engine optimisation project.
Keep content fresh. Ensure you continuously create new, relevant content. Search engines look to see the depth of information and how frequently it is updated. Keeping it fresh stops your site slipping down the rankings.
Monitor your conversions. You need to keep a record of conversion rates to show which keywords create the most results in terms of leads or sales. Take note of the keywords which produce the best results and make sure these are used the most within your content and tags, and change the ones which are not performing so well.
A starting point
This guide is an outline of what you can do with your website to begin the SEO process. Successful businesses think about how their customers behave. SEO is one of the most important ways you can get in front of customers and potential customers. To find out more, get in touch with Marketing Zone and we’ll discuss the best way forward for your business.