So, what exactly is Search Engine Optimisation?
When creating a new website or maintaining an existing one, Search Engine Optimisation (also referred to as SEO) is an essential tool which needs to be taken into consideration. SEO can promote your website so that it is clearly visible either to encourage new viewers or promote sales.
Of course everyone wants to maximise the amount of traffic going to their website, but how can this be achieved and how can SEO be used to promote your profits?
When designing a website, two principles need to be considered in order to achieve SEO:
- How can a great user experience be achieved?
- How can the website convey to the search engines that it is a quality site?
If both of these are achieved, search engines will recommend the website and it will appear high up (also known as higher ‘ranked positions’) on search engine results pages (known as ‘SERPs’ for short). Having positive reviews from customers via Google My Business and other review sites can also improve the website ranking.
SEO is sometimes considered to be a black art and in the past people have looked for ways to “cheat” the search engines; however, just as a shop on the high street may build a following due to quality and reputation, SEO is equally critical to promote your web presence in the same ways.
Although SEO can be broken down to individual components it is the overall composition of the website which is analysed by the the search engines judge using complicated algorithms in order to achieve the ranking position.
How to achieve a high ranking website
The role of search engines is to refer traffic (people searching Google) to websites with content which is most relevant to their needs. How is this determined?
The search engines check for several factors such as:
Speed and ease of use
- Do all the links work correctly?
- How fast is the site?
After all it is extremely frustrating to find broken links or be waiting for the website to “catch up” with itself. Nobody likes queuing in a shop and this applies equally to online shopping.
Content and clear navigation
This is determined by the text and titles used with a website.
If your website is cited or linked on other websites or the content cites other authoritative websites this will give it validity. If a website appears to be the “expert” in a given field then the search engines will rank it highly, so it is important that content is well thought out and professional.
An overuse of keywords (keyword stuffing) will have a negative effect on the ranking. Likewise purchased links and an overuse of adverts will be detrimental to the website.
Technical issues such as speed and ease of navigation can improve the viewer experience but clear layouts and interesting content are equally important. Websites are increasingly using blogs and social media to attract and retain viewers. After all it is comparatively easy to attract viewers, but achieving sales, customer loyalty and brand identity is the desired result.
Increased viewer interaction whether by purchasing transactions, forums or reviews indicates that the site is active and can assist in promoting it to the search engines.
Creating a brand identity
When designing a website it is important to consider what you would like to achieve from it. Do you want to maximise sales, promote a specific range, or simply use it as a marketing tool? Having decided on the fundamentals it should then be possible to create a strategy in order to achieve the desired outcome.
The increasing use of mobile technology and multi-media such as Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest can ensure that news travels fast. A good review can be worldwide within a matter of minutes, but a bad review or sloppy content can equally spread like wildfire.
Facebook and Twitter provide excellent communication platforms and can be used to create a sense of belonging. Members of the club may benefit from newsletters information, flash sales or advance notice of new arrivals.
All of this is a form of SEO and helps to promote the website ranking, and sales. A clear and consistent communication strategy is essential to this. The language should be appropriate for the target audience and keyword phrases should be consistent within these platforms. Equally domain names should be consistent and easy to search for. The use of keywords which describe your business in the domain can also help to promote the website.
Websites as business intelligence
Although websites are frequently considered to be a marketing tool, they can equally be used to gain invaluable information about products and the market place. Feedback from viewers can provide guidance as to where there are gaps in the market place or where products and services need to be adjusted. Being aware of the market place and the latest consumer trends is crucial for any successful business, particularly those who do not have a high street presence.
SEO for mobile technology
Websites can now be viewed from a wide variety of media and it is important to consider the viewer experience in each case. The use of podcasts and promotional videos can do wonders to increase a website’s ranking.
Equally the non-text content should be optimized for the benefit of the search engines. If Flash or PDF’s are used, ensure that best practice is maintained. The search engines will recognise this and reward the site with a higher ranking.
Does Meta Data affect SEO?
All content on the website should have both meta descriptions and title tags. Whilst the title tags are not visible to the viewers, the HTML code which creates them is used by the search engines to categorise the website. If the search engine’s find a description which is inaccurate or badly written it will reclassify it and this can have a negative impact on the rankings. All meta descriptions should be unique and duplication should be avoided.
Meta keywords are becoming less important but nevertheless need to be formatted correctly.
The art of SEO
Search Engine Optimisation is not a mysterious skill which can only be acquired by a select few. Concentrate on creating a greater viewer/consumer experience, a consistent and well thought out website with interesting content and you will be well on your way to achieving SEO.