What is SEO or Search Engine Optimisation
SEO is an acronym for “search engine optimization”. Simple short question – right? Yes, but the real answer is not really so short and it gets longer every day.
It covers how you use keywords or terms, the quality of your content written and photographic, your PPC pay per click or ads campaigns and your Social Media output, the ability to share and be found for your content. If you are getting your SEO right, then you will be getting the right traffic to your website. Basically, optimising is all about making the best use of your content, getting all you can from all you’ve got.
Google rewards your individual pages, if they deliver them in response to a search query and the visitor engages with your page by reading it and maybe clicking through to more of your pages. Google is trying to deliver the best answers to any particular search terms. RankBrain is where its AI artificial intelligence or machine learning ranks the pages that get the best CTR or click through rates. To stay ahead of other search engines, Google has to deliver accurate well liked results. Otherwise Bing might make a comeback, which would reduce the spend in Google advertising. It all makes sense. Google even employs people, actual humans, thousands of them, to browse websites and rank them. These quality scorers like Googles Artificial Intelligence bots are looking the same things. They score based on their EAT acronym, which stands for Expertise, Authority and Trustworthiness (more below). Looking at any particular website page, does it clearly show expertise in the industry, are you seen as an authority, where other people link to your page and do you have reviews, testimonials or case studies. Is there is clear proof that you are good at this service.
Should I pay for Search Engine Optimization ?
Every website built should be submitted to the top search engines – is that still plural? However, simply submitting does not mean that your site will rank at the top of a search engine when a user searches for content related to your site. A lot of work and research goes into getting your website or webpages ranking highly. SEO specialists are experienced and should have proven success in Search Engine Optimization, so talk about what you need to do to manage your FREE marketing on the web or who can do it for you at a price. We recommend using good independent SEO & Marketing Partners, at least initially, until you understand what needs to be done. Think of it as an investment in your business and/or your education. Why pay less when you can pay more and get better returns.
Note: This work does not ‘guarantee’ listings on search engines as they alone determine who they will list and who they will not.
Recommended Reading – Google Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines – Read all about it in 164 pages HERE. There is no big secret!
This article you are reading here is well over 5,000 words. And it just scratches the surface of SEO best practices.
Warning – Take Note before you start.
There is no point investing in SEO to drag people to your website, if you have nothing valuable to offer. Keep your money, do not listen to all the shysters peddling ‘SEO’ services without any guarantee of results. It is not a magic bullet for flogging rubbish. (Or rather it should not be).
Likewise, even if you have something of value to offer, you need to ensure that your website is engaging and easy to navigate. Get the website and its content right. Check the user interface, is it easy for visitors to find what they want?
Why would I use SEO ?
If you want to increase traffic to your website you will need to understand the importance of how SEO works.
If you want your online venture to be successful, you need an effective technical and marketing plan which, should include SEO.
For companies looking to conduct business online and establish an online presence, search engine optimization is paramount.
SEO is the perfect way to drive qualified customers directly to a website via search engines and directories.
For smaller businesses with limited marketing budgets, SEO is a cost-effective alternative to high-priced offline advertising like getting posters and flyers printed up or advertising in newspapers and magazines. And it is a lower cost option than paying for traffic through ads.
Larger companies already recognise that SEO is becoming increasingly important as customers use search engines to shop online or to look for information about products and services or companies. The web is the window for people to browse, search and do price comparison or other research before buying. Most buying decisions are made after browsing, then the purchase may be on or off line.
With Google Ads you can reach people when they are actively looking for your products and services – showing clear intent. That means you receive targeted visitors and customers. Cost-per-click pricing means you only pay when people click on your advert and with a little bit of study it is easy to control costs, to ensure that the people who click do actually want to see what you have to offer. http://www.google.ie/ads/
What does SEO or SEM cost ?
Time, just time, so you can use your own time or pay independent, experienced, qualified people who can use your website and web presence to do your SEO for you. These people can get to your Target Market and show you measurable results. The good news is that you can now advertise effectively to your own chosen Target Market and measure the return on your investment. What a great leap forward for all businesses, big or small. Gone are the days of paying ‘mad men’ type money to spray and pray on television, radio and in newspapers or magazines.
Tip: Read more about how to make SEO work for you and what it costs Click here
Tip: Page Title display limit or recommendation, keep it to 70 Characters and limit Meta Description 150 Characters. Add Keywords and synonyms for good measure
Types of SEO explained – Search Engine Optimisation techniques
Primary SEO – Search Engine Optimisation for your website:
“Buying a website without search engine optimization is like spending your entire budget on a commercial without buying any air time to show it to the world “
SEO recommendations and changes to optimize your website content, every page, for your target market to attract and convert more visitors. To have people stay on your site and buy something or contact you. Just like a bricks and mortar store, the window attracts visitors, so make the display and the messaging clear and appealing. If you are selling socks, you do not want people walking in who want ice cream. And when someone comes in to the store or website, you do not want them to bounce out again without finding what they wanted to buy.
We need to look at the history of your business, any web presence and your competition to plan a personalised approach to optimise your website
- Technical SEO Audit – we need to check for technical errors such as bad forms, 301 redirects, sitemap, duplicate content, error 404 issues, lack of image Alt tags, bad image size or format and broken or unfriendly links.
- SEO Keyword Research – Using Googles Keyword tool or planner we can find and use the most logical keywords for your business and locality. Using other sources such as Wikipedia or specific forums, to research keywords and terms works very well.
- SEO Keyword Selection –Using the right Keywords we will place them in the correct pages. These key words or terms can be very competitive. So we try to get long tail key phrases, with 4 or 5 or 6 words, to reduce the competition and increase our page rankings. Red shoes would be very general and competitive, whereas ‘red patent leather pumps’ would be much more specific. Tip: Do a search for a key phrase and look at the bottom of the results pages to see what Google offers as ‘related’ terms. Read our short Guide to Keyword Analysis here.
- Content SEO Recommendations – creation of useful content where specific keywords or related words need to be used in useful articles or posts.
- Meta Tags Creation – Website Title Tag, Meta Tag Description, Page Title, H1 & H2 Tags and Image Tags & Alt Tags for each page are all important, as they help ensure you are pitching a clear message about what you are offering. Avoid the guy who wants an ice cream if all you sell is socks.
- Additional On Site SEO Changes – We can check or create a logical XML sitemap and user friendly URL structure of your website.
- Implementation of SEO Changes – We can recommend the changes and allow you or your webmaster make the changes.
- Link list – we generate a list of all inbound links to your website to ensure they are good quality or find useful new links to use. Getting mentioned in authority sites with a link back to your site, gives your site a lift in authority too
Secondary SEO – SEO Link Building and web promotion or Online or Digital Marketing:
Develop a strategy to include:
- Online Marketing & Publicity: Creation and distribution of news or content.
- Social Networking: Registration and populating of any useful mediums such as Facebook or Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest or Trip Advisor etc. If people share your content it will rank higher in search. Publish ‘shareable’ useful or entertaining content.
- Localised Search: See our short guide to Local SEO. It involves the creation of business listings in the top local or logical portals & directories. Just do a search for Local Directories or FREE web 2.0 submission sites 2020 and add your exact NAP Name Address Phone number to as many as you can. When these Directories try to sell you premium listings just decline. Ensure you have it right in Google My Business https://www.google.com/business/ Bing Places https://www.bingplaces.com/ Apple Maps https://mapsconnect.apple.com/
- Blog Commenting: Create and populate your Blog or online news publication.
- YouTube & Flickr Image & Video Marketing: Creation of accounts to allow you to promote business related video or images.
- Associations Society and Industry Websites or portals: Add entries to industry portals with the exact NAP number, address and postcode.
- Content Writing and Marketing: We can create engaging material to attract and convert visitors to our site, adding well researched articles, that are well laid out, to help keep the visitor engaged.
- Graphics: Invest in some good Graphics and InfoGraphics or video to support any written content
- Pay per click or Cost per click options researched and set up with tracking if deemed worthwhile
- Backlinks – Where they make sense from authority sites. Links are votes of confidence in your content. Can you get any free of charge from authority sites?
- Logical creative CTAs calls to action to help guide visitors from page to page.
SEO Jargon translated
Proof – Independent Reporting from Google Analytics will show you how well your site is working as a result of work done by us. The work done by SEOs is generally ongoing and is billed by the hour. Results are ongoing and can be measured to show that any investment generates good returns. Talk to us or competent SEO practitioners about what you want to achieve via the web. Results should be quantifiable.
SERPs – Search Engine Results Pages
Google Algorithms – Programmes written to see if your content answers the question in search and is well structured. There are hundreds of these qualifying pieces of code working for Google as they search their own index for the best answer to any given search.
Local SEO – The process of ‘optimizing’ your online presence to attract more business from relevant local searches, rather than National searches. A good example would be the local Pizzeria or Garden Centre. You want to optimise to be appearing in the Map stack at the top and Google My Business knowledge graph on the right hand side of a search of the page. See our short Local SEO guide packed with useful actionable tips.
Key word or key term – These are the words or terms you use on a page to optimise to get found in search when someone uses them. For example this page ranks well for the word SEO or the term what is seo.
Long Tail – The term ‘what is seo’ being used in search is obviously longer than just the single ‘seo’. So that is long tail, although usually long tail would include more words, such as ‘What are the best SEO techniques to use with a WordPress website’. Getting found for long tail is less competitive than just the single word. And you might be able to optimise for people who want a very specific product or service. Yes, it is more complicated and may need more work. Try using Google Ads to work out if people click your proposed term. And check in Google Keyword Planner to see how many people search that term at all.
Keyword Research Tools – These include paid options such as SEMRush, Majestic, KWFinder and Ahrefs , Keywordtool and SpyFu, if you want something other than Google Keyword Planner. Some FREE options include Ubersuggest or Answer The Public or Keyword Sheeter for a way of getting suggestions on your term. Or Also Asked which tells you what else people searched that relates to your term. Remember that as you start typing any term in a Google search, it will start showing you suggestions. And at the bottom of the page it will show you ‘people also asked’ showing some related terms that have been searched by others. Read our short Guide here.
Tip. And look at your competitors websites to see which keywords they are focusing on.
OnSite SEO is just making sure that robots or search engine crawlers or people can browse through your website with ease, that it is well structured, laid out and connecting or linking internally. Which pages should robots crawl and not crawl. Whilst robots are important, write content for humans and be aware of scenario based search versus keyword based search. People ask an actual question, rather than simply entering a keyword or two. People are using speech search more and more, so they will ask a question of Siri or Cortana as they would ask each other. This leads to longer tail search queries. This is a great opportunity, as many keywords or short key terms are very competitive in search, so get more granular by using longer terms and start optimising for these now. Morningscore.io is a new tool to play with for SEO.
OnPage SEO is simply where we ensure that we have a logical page title and good relevant unique content and it is easy to see what the page is about, as in the main targeted Keyword Phrase eg: What is SEO ? – add Meta Description and Keywords for good measure and Alt tags to images, plus linking obvious words in text to related articles. Focus on just one term or phrase per page, mentioning it in the Title, Headers and content. Right wording, placement and relevance will keep a visitor reading. Avoid using your key word or term too much and use similar or related words in the text. If you are using a plugin such as SEOPress or Yoast, watch their video tutorial. Or try Page Optimiser Pro. Refresh your knowledge on an ongoing basis, because SEO best practice is ever evolving. Read our short guide to On page SEO Tips.
OffPage SEO is having people mention your site content and share the link in their own site. You can have clients or followers, forums or blogs link to your content. When you share useful content, people will also share via Twitter or Facebook and link to the content from their own sites. Google rewards such linked mentions, as it adds to your credibility or authority. This is said to account for up to 50% of your ranking according to Moz, which Google might dispute somewhat. Whatever the figure for backlinks, it is a major ranking factor.
White Hat SEO – Black Hat SEO – Simply put, people who engage in Black Hat techniques are bending the rules,whilst White Hat practitioners are doing it right. If you let someone use Black Hat shortcuts and Google recognises them, your website could be removed from the SERPs Search Engine Results Pages totally, doing massive damage to your website an your business – you have been warned.
Schema or Mark up – This is a semantic vocabulary of tags or microdata you can add to your website HTML to improve the way search engines read and represent your page in SERPs – see a guide to this technical step at https://www.google.com/webmasters/markup-helper/u/0/?hl=en or if you have a WordPress website you use Yoast Pro or the Pro version of SEOPress. Ideal for content aimed at Rich Snippet results.
GPE Google Page Experience – Simply put by Google this May 2021 update “Page experience is a set of signals that measure how users perceive the experience of interacting with a web page beyond its pure information value. It includes Core Web Vitals, which is a set of metrics that measure real-world user experience for loading performance, interactivity, and visual stability of the page‘. This is all very logical and simply asks that we deliver good quality, safe, secure, responsive pages”. And maybe fast will also be important, depending on the site.
Content – This is anything that is on your site, text, images, video, infographics, calls to action, any graphic design elements. And Google would prefer to see one article of 5000 words on a particular topic, than to see 10 separate articles of 500 words that together tell the same story. So go for long form content to include images, infographics, video and text. Make it engaging to ensure that visitors read through the whole article – Google can see how much a visitor scrolls down to read. You can go on to create Skyscraper or Cornerstone pillar articles, which are so big and informative and engaging, that they then get shared, which improves their rank even further. Try to space them out to make them easy to read. Give guidance on length or word count. Or break it down in to chapters. If visitors share the article, Google sees that too and it is a positive sign that the content is good.
Backlinks – Simply put, these are links back to your website or website pages from other websites, ideally sites with a higher page rank or more authority. You can do outreach to post on other sites using tools like Ninja Outreach to connect with Influencers and Bloggers or SEO Pilot. Find out what backlinks you have at Majestic or Semrush.
Content Curation – By all mean re-purpose the content, especially any Skyscraper articles and refresh older articles, so that you have less articles, but they get better and better, every time you republish them. If you are writing an article on a particular topic, do a search first and see what comes up. They use those top results as inspiration for your article. Make your articles bigger and better, more engaging and better optimised.
Speed – How fast does your website deliver – Check it FREE at http://gtmetrix.com/ or http://www.webpagetest.org/ and ensure that the speed is good as in 3 to 5 seconds, for people viewing from the geographic area where you want to be found. Remember the web page has a multiple of elements, modules like forms, widgets, articles, images or videos etc.
Browser compatibility – Check that your website delivers well in all Browsers and ideally all recent versions of browsers.
Mobile Friendly It should go without saying that your site should be responsive, mobile friendly and deliver well on a Smart phone. Google now ranks based on the mobile view first. heck it out at https://search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly
Google Analytics Code – A free tool from Google that shows the activity on your website. How many visitors a day, how many pages they view, how long they stay on each page and so on. By adding on a little bit of free Google GA code snippet to your website, you can use this tool to check your website performance.
Bounce Rate – If a visitor leaves a page within 3 seconds it is deemed a Bounce away, like someone walking in to your store and leaving again without engaging. Google will punish a high bounce rate with lower ranking.
CRO Conversion Rate Optimisation – This is just studying the data and doing Split or A/B Testing to increase conversion, to help you get the right traffic and elicit the best response from that traffic. It is generally NOT a numbers game and even if it is for you, the cost of buying traffic is going up, so why not try to improve the organic conversion. Useful tools include David Darmanins Hotjar and Crazy Egg, help you see what visitors do on your website, where they drag their mouse and where they read – Heatmapping.
Google will deliver answers based on its perceived customer intent or latent semantic intent. It will look to determine if the search is looking for information or looking for directions or looking to transact somehow or to actually buy something online. Remember to think about whether the user intent is informational, navigational, transactional or commercial. This is all part of the focus on Natural Language Processing by Google and its NLP API Tool. Check out LSI Graph to look at Latent semantic indexing (LSI) of keywords which are essentially keywords that are semantically related to your main keyword, used in a search query. Good tools include Topical Relevance by Jo Priest an LSI generator with additional features like schema, and frequency and relevance and second one is Text Razor a paid tool but has a demo mode you can test and is sort of an NLP tool. Read more about LSI at Backlinko.
The EAT acronym, which stands for Expertise, Authority and Trustworthiness, is an update from August 2018. This core update is designed to further ensure that the results that Google offer in response to a search are the best they can find. Looking at a website page, does it clearly show expertise in their industry, are you seen as an authority where other people link to your page and do you have independent reviews, testimonials or case studies where there is clear proof that you are good at this service. Do you have articles published in trade magazines or in other media – not a paid article or advertorial. Do you have any citations, awards, acknowledgements. Google is looking for ways to determine that you are an expert, with obvious authority and honest support to back this up. All the awards and case studies, reviews and backlinks are important in support of good content. But the good content is critical in the first place, if it is to answer the question asked in the search field. Creating a few great skyscraper articles is much better than creating hundreds of low quality, low word count pages.
Tf-idf stands for term frequency-inverse document frequency, which is a weighted ranking function used in mining text or information retrieval. It is a way of working out how important a word or term is in a given body of text. You may think that having a word or a term such as Legal Advice on a single page multiple times may rank that page for this term. But if you have that word on a page ten times on a solicitors website, where the word count is 100, then you will have over done it. If the text is not about legal information, you will have misplaced the term. You may have to use similar words rather than over do one. Loads of ranking functions are based on this. It is all parts of determining if the term you optimise for should be on this page and if it has any bearing onn the text within the page. The whole idea is to help ensure that Google delivers the best results for any given search.
A Simple SEO Guide for well optimised website page content – be the best, be Number 1.
Keyword Research – The critical act of researching which keywords are right for each post, page or website.
Do not simply guess which words or phrases would be searched. You could create wonderful content and still end up on page 10 rather than page 1.
Do the research and create the list of keywords that are actually being searched by the target market. Then you can write up a plan, a content strategy, to optimse the website pages and posts.
Tip: Create a Keyword Mapping Tool or spreadsheet to establish the keywords and monitor their performance.
Understand Intent – If you do this you will learn the ‘intent’ of the visitors and can then ensure that the user interface helps the visitors to convert to customers. Some visitors will want to do research, some will want to buy and some will just want advice.
For example, if someone searches for ‘Mens Runners’ or ‘Womens Yoga’ are they looking to buy or are they looking for help with a problem, such as sore feet or a sore back.
Your content should speak to the problem, to the intent of the search. This may require more long tail or longer key phrases. ‘Long Distance Runners for men’ or ‘Broad runners for men’, ‘Cross country runners for men’, ‘mens runners for wide feet’, ‘yoga classes for women near me’, ‘yoga classes for women only near me’, ‘yoga classes for beginners’ yoga classes for women over 50′. Who is your target market and what are they searching – exactly.
Go Compare – When you do a search for one of the chosen key phrases or terms, what does rank on page 1 currently? This is the competition. How good is it? You want to do better than these results.
Tools – You can use free Google tools or invest in one of the SEO tools listed below to do some page analysis using Semrush, Woorank, Moz or Pageoptimizer.pro and many more. These tools produce reports that will tell you how many times the keyphrase is searched. And can tell you how a page is optimised for the term, the number of times the phrase is used, the number of words in the articles, details of the H1 and H2 and H3 etc.
Also the related terms being used to support the keyphrase, this LSI or latent semantic indexing and TF-IDF term frequency–inverse document frequency is a big part of indexing well. Google uses natural language programming to gauge if the content of a page is all relevant and if it reads well.
Next step – The bottom line is that once you do the research to see what your target market is searching. You simply do a search to find the current results. Then create better content, complete with well optimised related content, answering questions and linking to any logical sites or pages, with internal and external links. There is no big secret, create relevant content, answer the questions, be relevant and lay it out well. Forget about short term black hat strategies or tools. Take the long term view and do it well. You can look at off page strategies, such as link building and guest blogging and so n at a later date, get the foundation right first. Check out Think with Google to get the latest industry trends, research and insights across the marketing industry.
Recommended reading on SEO
Anything from Brian Dean at Banklinko Beginners Guide to SEO or Technical SEO Guide.
|The Art of SEO by Eric Enge over about 1000 pages
| Robbie Richards 127-Point Local SEO Checklist for 2020
| SEO for Growth by John Jantsch & Phil Singleton which is a lot shorter or concise
| Googles Webmaster Guidelines Learn direct from the source, even if they do not give away the farm, for obvious reasons
Our own Outsourced Webmaster Packages – Let us use the tools and do the work for you. Or see a list of things we can do for you in our Outsourced Webmaster Services and create your own wishlist.
Related SEO articles
Get someone to do this work for you or hire a digital marketing agency to find out what you need to do next to improve your own SEO
Recommended SEO Courses and online learning
Jeff Sauers Analytics Course. Start here.
Moz – FREE for a short time
Google Guide to SEO. Downloadable PDF
YOAST Academy Training FREE and paid options
Google Digital Garage SEO Fundamentals 13 hours
Craig Campbell SEO Course
Listen to Chris A Hughes at A Nerds World on Youtube.
Or listen to the Local Seo Tactics podcast.
Recommended SEO Tools
Talk to us about SEO Search Engine Optimisation
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