Website search optimisation in a nutshell
Search Engine Optimisation (or SEO) is the process of using strategies to get more people to visit your website.
When somebody uses a search engine, they expect to see list of results which are the closest matches for the search terms entered, and with some order of relevance. That all sounds straightforward, but according to a study by AHrefs, 90.63% of web pages get NO traffic from Google!
90.63% of web pages get NO traffic from Google!
Successful SEO Search Engine Optimisation on websites and individual pages will allow them to stand a better chance of being listed amongst the top search results.
This can be achieved by using a variety of methods to determine how a website and each of its pages should be set out to be as effective as possible in search engine results.
Is SEO important?
As a business it is no longer enough to just be online, because to succeed you need to be found.
Even if you have the most incredible site but no one ever gets to see it, then what's the point of that website? Worse still, if your business depends on it, then you’ve got a big problem!
There was life before Google!
Back in the 1990's when I first started building websites, we had a number of search engines such as AltaVista, Lycos, Excite, Infoseek, Hotbot and Yahoo.
Their methods and criteria for accepting and ranking websites were not fully aligned with each other, and success with these search engines was a slow process requiring plenty of patience, constant monitoring of results, tweaking code and content and then trying again.
In the 90's the impact of updates could take a couple of weeks or even a couple of months to show up, and it was a long, laborious but essential task.
It still is.
SEO retainer plans
Due to the nature of SEO, you will SEO specialists offering monthly retainer plans, which can cost upwards of £100 and run into several £1000's depending on the size, effort and other factors such as whether paid advertising and pay-per-click strategies are required.
I still recall my first SEO retainer contract: Sleeperz Hotel in Cambridge.
After I had build their first website in 1998, the owner at the time told me
I'm going to need you to spend a few hours a week getting my website high in the search engines, otherwise I'm going to struggle against the other hotels in the area.
And so we agreed on a retainer plan, and he was very happy with the results.
Monthly SEO plans are now commonplace because the effort that SEO requires is ongoing. Just how much effort depends on your business and your competition.
Getting seen requires a strategy
If you want your website to be seen, being as close to the top of the list of search results as possible should be your goal. Done correctly and consistently, SEO can make this happen.
But this won't happen overnight, and it will require a lot of attention, monitoring and analysis.
It WILL take some time....
Any new business offering services within a geographic area will need to earn the right to be amongst existing well established websites for those same search criteria.
SEO for WordPress, Wix and SquareSpace
SEO is equally relevant to those of you who have sites built on WordPress, Wix or SquareSpace, as it is to business who have bespoke websites.
Some platforms are easier to work with and adjust for SEO effectiveness than others, but the end goal is the same... to get your website seen.
What does SEO involve?
Ideally your website should be designed with SEO as a key consideration right from the start, but many people make the mistake of treating it as an add-on at the end.
But what if your website has already been built? Is it too late? What can be done?
Things can certainly be done to improve your effectiveness with search engines, and this would need to be assessed on a case by case basis. Some examples of what should be reviewed would include:
- Which of your competitors are appearing in the top search engine results?
- What are they doing to give them such a high position?
gap analysiswould be carried out to assess the content and structure of your website in comparison to your competitors.
Checking for website errors:
- Checking for
- Checking for
- Fixing any
Review for improvements to your website:
Keyword researchanalysis and improvements.
- Checking how the major tags such as
<h2>etc are being used.
Page structure validationusing the W3C validator.
Internal links- analysis and review of existing internal links and identifying opportunities for improvement.
Inbound linking(also known as
- Determine strategy for the use of
Google validationand submitting.
Google Analyticstag installation, validation, analysis and monitoring.
Google My Businesslisting to help your business to stand out when people are searching in your area for the services you provide.
- Submission to the
Bing search engine
- Submission to
Bing Placeswhich will help potential customers find your website when searching for businesses like yours on Bing.
You are unlikely to see results straight away
I realise that is not a positive headline, but it's the truth...
Success in organic searches can take weeks or even several months, depending on the type of business you're in and level of competition.
That IS the reality, and so anyone who claims that they can get you to the top in organic search results is likely to be exaggerating!
Also remember that your competition will also be working hard to get to the top and stay there.
SEO needs patience? What about latest news and sports?
Now you might be wondering why I say that SEO takes time and patience, yet Google can display up to the minute sports scores or updates on major news stories which happened earlier that same day.
Well Google has a way of categorising certain search topics and search terms, and it can make use of different features based on industry and, in the above examples, news and sport.
This special ranking feature is called QDF, which stands for
Query Deserves Freshness and aims to serve up to date information in its search results.
Most business websites are unlikely to get the QDF treatment, and therefore we have to compete in a much broader arena, where updates to our website content will take much longer to take effect.
An ambitious claim that you will hear a lot from people offering SEO services.
A reality check is needed, and expectations need to be set.
An SEO reality check
Claims by SEO agencies to get you to #1 in Google for organic search can be exaggerated, and should usually be taken with a pinch of salt.
SEO is an ongoing process. It is competitive and requires effort, analysis, frequent monitoring of progress, and tweaking of pages and content.
And if you're expecting to display right at the top of the search results when those who are already at the top have paid to be there, organic search won't get you to the top.
The best you could hope for without paying for Google Ads is to get as high as possible AFTER the paid search results.
We can certainly help!
Paid Search - Google Ads
Paying to be ranked high in search results is not for everyone, but it can yield very good results for many businesses if handled correctly.
As with organic searches, keyword research is vital, as is setting a budget for paid search and understanding the CPC (Cost per Click) rates for specific keywords and search terms.
As with many things, managing your own Google Ad Campaigns is possible. It takes some knowledge about your business or industry, the willingness and ability to do some detailed competitor analysis, familiarisation with Google Ad Manager, perseverance, daily monitoring of your performance, and tweaking the parameters of your ad campaign to maximise effectiveness.
Furthermore, if you have experience with Google Analytics, you should be able to monitor the progress of your website down to page level.
Please bear in mind that to effectively measure your Google Ads campaigns, you will need to apply a piece of code to your web pages which can be obtained from the Google Ads Manager tool.
Of course if you feel that your time is better spent on the things you're good at and would prefer to leave the setting up and management of your Google Ad Campaigns to us, get in touch!