Search Engine Optimisation is not what it used to be
And that’s a good thing. Until relatively recently it was very possible to use sketchy techniques to ‘game’ the search engines and obtain high rankings through manipulative and underhand techniques. Google and Bing were engaged in a frantic game of whack-a-mole against low-quality sites that used these techniques, but in high-margin industries where leads are worth a great deal of money the penalties they dished out were frequently too little and too late to stop the perpetrators from making plenty of cash.
The result is that SEO has something of a reputation problem.
Which is a problem, because optimising your website for search engines and users is one of the most crucial things you need to do in order to make your site profitable and efficient…
The Two Faces of SEO
Historically SEO practitioners often focused on content and links, and even today it’s still helpful to think of on-page SEO (the things you have full control of) and off-page activity. But techniques like repeating keywords on a page in an unnatural way, or buying vast quantities of links from low quality sites have become much less effective as Google’s algorithm has grown smarter and penalised spammy tactics.
This has rewarded those of us who took a longer term view and tried to conduct ethical SEO campaigns, even in competitive and spam riddled industries.
The alternative to embarking on an arms race against Google, and, by extension, some of the best funded, cleverest minds in the world, has always been to look at their stated aims
Google’s mission is to organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. Google Inc
And then to follow their stated advice
Webmasters can improve the rank of their sites by creating high-quality sites that users will want to use and share. Google Webmaster Help
See how we got more search traffic and more sales leads for Herts Insurance
In fact, search engine optimisation is becoming much more like traditional marketing specialisms, and is feeding into the increased interest in content marketing.
Because we want visitors to use and share our content, we need to make great things for them to share. And we need to make it as easy as possible for them to share content with their friends.
That means that a big part of modern SEO is creating fantastic pieces of content that delight users and provoke them into action, which means that ideas, creativity and imagination are the most valuable skills if you want searchers to find your site.
But perhaps we are getting ahead of ourselves, because we also need to help search engines to organise our content and make it accessible, and that’s where the technical SEO aspects come into play.
Technical and On Page SEO
Technical considerations have always played a part in search engine optimisation, but most of the important aspects are things that will just make a site work better.
When a search engine crawler visits your, page it follows all the links it can find so that it can make a ‘map’ of your site and work out how important each page on the site is, how they relate to one another and what the pages are about. If we can make this job easier, then the search engine will have a much easier time organising the information and making it available to users.
A site’s information architecture – how it is structured, it’s hierarchy, navigation and internal hyperlinks – is one area that sites frequently get wrong. By making sites overly complicated with many layers of hierarchy, or too simple, with no structure, it can be very hard for Google or Bing to understand the relative importance of each page. If something really important is really hard to navigate to, it’s likely that a search engine won’t notice that it’s important.
Site speed is really important too, in fact studies show that for each additional second of pageload, your conversion rate will drop by 7%. Speeding up a site by making a few changes in the back end can give it a real boost in performance and ranking.
Reducing homepage load times paid dividends for Priden Engineering
Content Optimisation helps Users and Search Engines
Ensuring your pages render correctly in the browsers and devices that your visitors are using is another thing that needs careful consideration.
You also need to hunt down instances where the same content is accessible in two locations, which is very common indeed, and can be the result of simply leaving some default settings checked on your webserver. Remember that Google wants to organise the information it is collecting, so if it can find the same content on two URLs it has to choose only one of them to list.
It’s also important to track down errors and broken links wherever possible, so that neither your users nor the search engines run into any issues with accessing your content.
When all of this is sorted out, you can turn your attention to the content that is actually on the pages.
Optimising your on-page content is simply about making sure that your customers and the search engines are able to accurately and quickly understand what the page is about and whether it is relevant to them.
Pages should follow correct semantic structure, so that titles, headlines, paragraph text, images and other items are clearly marked as such using the appropriate document elements found in the HTML code.
Titles and headlines should accurately describe what the page or section is about, using the language that searchers actually use, rather than industry jargon or internal nomenclature. And the text on the page should be relevant to the subject matter at hand and be genuinely useful to the user in fulfilling their purpose in visiting your page.
When the content on your site is organised and structured in the most logical and obvious way, speaks the language your customers are using and fulfils a genuine need that is relevant to your target audience, then it’s ready to be shared.
But, of course, you may need to give people a helping hand in finding it and that’s where content outreach comes in.
SEO Consultants for Content Projects
To make your website content work well for users and search engines, you need a mixture of engaging content, technical knowledge and a big helping of common sense. We have all the experience and creativity you need to help people find your content and become your next customer. Call 020 3868 8744 or fill in the form below to tell us how we can help you.
To The End is a Google Partner for Adwords, Shopping, Display Advertising and Analytics