Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a powerful marketing tool that ensures that your website is visible on search engines and gains relevant traffic.
There are three types of search engine optimisation, on-page SEO, off-page SEO, and technical SEO.
Each of these categories will boost relevant traffic to your website, and improve search engine rankings, in different ways. Your SEO strategy will be the most effective if you use a range of tactics from each category.
How does Google find and rank websites?
To understand SEO, we must look at how a search engine works.
There are three stages of the process:
During the discovery process, a search engine such as Google discovers the website by crawling it for keywords.
Then your website is added to their database (indexed) to share relevant results to users.
Finally the authority of the page is gained through credibility with backlinks from high quality sources - this is what determines the ranking.
Create relevant content
It has been proven by SEO experts that Google ranks websites that regularly post relevant, unique and well-organised content higher in search results.
If you don’t already have a blog or news section on your website, you should get one as it is a great way to draw in your target audience and engage with your customers, partners and other stakeholders.
Informative, relevant, and helpful content will help to generate traffic by enabling search engines to rank you for more specific keywords or search phrases.
Not only can these posts show up in specific user searches, but they can also help your organisation seem knowledgeable and accessible. Reputation is paramount.
A meta description is the snippet of text that you see underneath a search result which explains the content of the web page. As this is what will determine whether a user will click on your website or not, it’s important to get this right.
Your meta descriptions should highlight the most important aspects of the page content, summing up the key themes in no more than 160 characters.
Avoid writing descriptions that are less than 50 characters as this won’t describe your page well enough to entice site visitors, and if it’s any longer than 160 then Google will cut off the remaining text.
As tempting as it may be, you shouldn’t copy your meta descriptions for multiple pages as search engines may think that they are the same page and it won’t attract high quality traffic.
Heading tags (h tags) are another SEO element that are picked up on by search engines, and give a better understanding of the content topics. You can find the h tags if you inspect element (right-click) or source code of a web page.
They should look like the below
It’s a good idea to incorporate the most important keywords in the headings, and you should avoid having the same copy within h tags.
A successful search strategy is still very much driven by rankings based on the number and quality of links to your site. Research and build your inbound links.
You should establish cross linking strategies with online partners, although be careful to avoid purchasing or trading links as search engines will penalise you. Getting influential thought leaders, news outlets, or businesses to link to your website not only drives traffic, but also builds your page rank and authority score.
By using sites like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to engage with your stakeholders and promote your blog - and of course your main website - you can generate a groundswell of support which will boost your listings even further.
Social media is playing more of a role in how online search works, with search engines taking into account shares, comments and mentions from major social sites. Although a good social media presence doesn’t pass authority to your website, links shared on social media channels are indexed by Google.
Plus, tweets are crawled and show up in search results. if you regularly tweet and have a good level of engagement on Twitter, a carousel of posts will show up when users search for your company.
HTML and XML Sitemaps
If you have a new website, one of the first things you should do is to upload your XML sitemap to Google search console and Bing. This map is a tool for search engine bots to crawl your website for keywords and index it for search results.
You should also have a HTML sitemap, which is a front-end tool that includes important links within the website for users to navigate easily.
When a page or its content has been moved, deleted, or there is a server/maintenance issue an error code will be generated. When users try to access that page they will receive a 404 or a 503 code.
For good SEO practice, you want to avoid error codes and instead use redirects to transfer your users to a suitable or update page.
A 404 code is created when the search engine thinks that the page is live but the content has been removed.
When a server has been overloaded, is down or is in the process of being maintained, users will get a 503 error message.
A redirect is the transfer from a deleted page to a new page, they usually come after receiving one of the above error codes.
They can be made permanent or temporary depending on the issue. For example you would use a temporary redirect for a server issue, or a permanent redirect for content that has moved to a different page.
However a permanent redirect is better for your SEO as it transfers the previous page authority to the new page.
Researching key search phrases you want to list for (and prioritising these) and optimising the text and code of web pages around them is really important.
Google's Keyword Tool is extremely useful for this and there are numerous other online tools around, both free and paid, that can be taken advantage of.
SEO Website Design
The foundation of a successful SEO strategy is to have a well-designed website which enables your users to easily find what they are looking for. Plus, search engines rank websites according to their ability to navigate your website.
Since 2017, Google has used mobile-first design as a ranking factor as slow mobile loading times result in high bounce rates.
The inclusion of a site map on your website is also important, as this shows search engines which pages are the most important and helps your users to navigate their way around the website.
We can help your website reach its full potential, in a way that is SEO friendly. Find out more about how we can do this for you on our services page.