What is SEO?
Search engine optimisation, as the name suggests, involves a whole series of techniques designed to increase the chances of your website appearing high up in a search engines page rankings i.e. appearing in that coveted number one spot on page one when somebody puts in a sequence of keywords in a search box with the aim of finding what they, the potential customer, wants.
This last sentence is key, the customer is looking for something, when your website represents information or a service that they are looking for you need it to be listed, not when it is not related to their search query.
SEO techniques are many and varied. The basic building blocks of SEO start during the design and build of your website but a lot of it is also about the value of your content in terms of social media connections. At iDigLocal our team of web designers and social media marketing gurus can help you find the best SEO strategy for your business’s website. We can take the the chore of SEO away from you. Take a look at what search engine optimisation services iDigLocal offer.
What follows is a brief guide to the techniques used in search engine optimisation of a website. You can follow these techniques yourself and SEO your own website, alternatively talk to iDigLocal about our SEO services to see how we can help you.
Search engine optimise your website’s keywords
The importance of keywords and so keyword analysis and optimisation to search engine optimisation cannot be overstated. Of prime importance when thinking about keyword selection are: what am I selling?, what keyword phrases are my potential customers going to use to find my products/services?, what keywords are my competitors using?
The keyword search space is a competitive place. Selecting the most obvious keywords may not be the right SEO strategy as these are often the most competitively fought over words. Also your keyword choices may need to change over time as your competition changes their strategy but also you need to change your keyword use in response to feedback that you receive from web analytics i.e. what keyword searches are resulting in the most hits on my site that result in the highest proportion of conversions?
The basic process is to:
- Produce a keyword list – make a list using knowledge of your market, website analytics data, ppc data and knowledge of your competitors website keywords.
- Expand your keyword list – take you initial list and use one of many tools available to produced an expanded version. In general you will end up with more phrases and combinations.
- Reduce your keyword list – now you need to select what you see as the most important keywords, important: a). for your product/brand; b). in terms of highest search volume with lowest competition; c). as they have resulted in the most conversions for your products.
- Group your keywords by web page – Each of your web pages has a purpose in relation to bringing traffic to your site and advertising your products and services. Don’t spread all of your keywords over all the pages of your site as search engines will not be able to distinguish between them and so not all of your pages will be indexed. Be quite strict about it but don’t use the same phrase two much as it will be seen as spam. You can bring in some additional keywords from your original list to augment what you have for each page, adding additional verbs.
- Review your keyword list – Search engine optimisation is an ongoing process. The value of keywords in terms of frequency of use and competition is continually changing. It is also a good idea to change them based on your conversion rates from PPC campaigns or from organic searches.
There are many keyword analysis tools out there, the most obvious being Google Adwords Keyword Planner but there are many more. A good way to start is to begin an Adwords PPC campaign. What this allows you to so is to create a number of different advert groups and within those groups a number of different adverts. Each advert will be associated with a a different keyword list so that over time you can see which keyword lists perform better in bringing clicks through to your site. Its a good way to optimise your keyword list and so start your website’s search engine optimisation program.
Correct coded mark-up of your website for search engine optimisation
Webpages have a number of properties that search engines use to collect and index your websites keywords. Search engines typically index keywords in the
<description> meta tags in the web pages header and the
<title> tags associated with links and images in the web page’s body. This simple fact is often overlooked by website owners and is often not included in a website build project, with web design companies trying to provide this as a product exclusive to their SEO services. iDigLocal will ensure that these components are added on any new build, although we cannot guarantee that the keywords chosen would be the best without a full SEO keyword analysis report.
Additionally, search engines are increasingly turning to microdata, an additional level of coded mark-up of a webpage’s content that adds context to the content. Google is particularly fond of Schema.org microdata. For example you can use:
<p>banana - a long, curved, yellow fruit</p>
Or, you can add some contextual information to the text which makes it easier for search engines to understand what it is on your webpage:
<p itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Product"><span itemprop="name">banana</span> - <span itemprop="description">a long, curved, yellow fruit</span></p>
The above code tells the search engine that “banana” is one of your products and that the description of the product is “a long, curved, yellow fruit”. Microdata is great but it can be difficult to make the best use of microdata unless the webpage has been built with the correct structure; microdata works best with a nice hierarchical structure to your content. It can also be extremely time consuming to add microdata to your website.
Another hard coded method is cross linking, where links are made within your website to target specific pages, that way you can increase the prominence/importance of a webpage on your website in the eyes of the search engines.
Backlinks and SEO
There was a great focus in the past on building backlinks to a website in order to improve its search engine rankings. The idea being that as the number of links to a website increases so does the quality of that website. Therefore, websites can be ranked on both the number of links weighted by the quality of the websites that the links come from. Unfortunately, as with most things in life, it was abused. Companies were set up whose sole purpose was to sell links to a website, the company would merely have a website with lots of links to their paying customer’s websites. Search engines got wise to this so that now the quality of the content has taken a greater precedence in determining the quality of a website. Now a link from a backlink provider’s website is seen as low quality and will, in fact, penalise your company’s search engine rankings.
Quality backlinks from reputable websites, websites with good content themselves, are good and will still improve your websites page ranking. So you need to build up as many quality backlinks as you can. You also need to remove the bad ones. Backlink removal can be an arduous task that can take a considerable amount of time. This is a three step process: firstly the bad backlinks need to be identified by analysing the quality of all the backlinks to your website; secondly, for each of the bad domains identified, the domain’s webmaster needs to be contacted to request the removal of the link; thirdly, if step two was not successful, some links will need to be “disavowed” using the search engine in-house tools. Note that disavowing links is a drastic step and should only be attempted after all attempts at contacting the bad link’s webmaster have been exhausted as disavowing can have negative effects on your company’s website page ranking. Luckily link removal is one of the services that we at iDigLocal can offer you.
SEO and the importance of social media & content
We have linked social media and website content together as they are intrinsically linked in that without good content your social media links will not work. The advantage of using social networks is that they give you a tool to create backlinks to your site. They also give your website a social importance rating. Take the simple example of klout.com, your social profile has a score between 0-100. Search engines also take into account your social profile as these profiles are linked to your website which in most cases you will have to have had verified. So social media is important to use regularly and consistently if only to generate a high profile for your company or brand. Social networks are also vital for developing backlinks by adding links to webpages on you site. This is why good content is important, nobody is going to share rubbish content.
So search engines have decided that the quality of backlinks in terms of content is also important. The buzz word at the moment is “Content Marketing” for precisely that reason. Content marketing is about providing relevant and valuable information to your existing and potential customers, information that is going to enhance their customer experience and your brand image. Content marketing is not about pitching your products or services. You will need to think about your content strategy, or how can my business inform and assist my target audience. Decide why it is that your customers are in your services. For example a pet food shop has customers that are interested in pets and wants to learn about how to look after those pets well. It will not always be obvious at first.
Your website will need a number of things:
- A content Strategy
- Well written and informative content
- A number of social media accounts
- A blog
A blog is not essential but it is a good idea. A blog makes the continual addition of new content easier to your website easier and allows for customer interaction through comments on posts. The best way to incorporate a blog is to use a content management system (CMS) as the core structure for your website, like WordPress, Joomla or Drupal. We can help you with this. We can build you a bespoke CMS theme to house your existing website together with a blog. Take a look at our web design services for more information.
iDigLocal SEO services
So, you ask, how much is it going to cost? The answer to that is “how long is a piece of string?”. The time it takes to initially Search engine optimise your website will depend on the size of your website, the number of bad backlinks you have, the size of your PPC campaign or the number of social media accounts you wish us to manage. Here at iDigLocal we pride ourselves on providing flexible and affordable website SEO services, geared towards the needs of small business. Why not contact us to arrange a chat to discuss your business SEO needs.
- SEO Keyword analysis report
- Web Analytics set up, including conversions & Goal tracking
- Backlink removal
- PPC campaign management
- Social media management
- Content writing