What is SEO?

SEO, or search engine optimisation, is the process of getting better rankings on search engines like Google.

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The Science of Search Engine Optimisation 

We like to think of it as a creative science and there are three elements: the spider, the index and the algorithm. 

The spider (Googlebot)

Search engines like Google can’t show us results from websites they don’t know about. So they use something called a ‘spider’ to crawl the web looking for content. The spider, often called a bot, follows links to find as much content as it can. But because the internet is so big, it won’t find everything and how your website performs from a technical standpoint can have a huge impact on if Google can see your content or not. In a nutshell, your website needs to make Google’s job easy by being easy to crawl.

The Index

The second element is Google’s index. When we perform a search on Google, we aren’t actually searching the internet, just Google’s index of it. So it’s vital your content is in the index if you want it to display in Google’s search results. Once Google has found your content using its spider, it goes into the index.

The Algorithm

The final piece of the puzzle is Google’s algorithm. Actually there isn’t just one (PageRank, Google’s first and most famous algorithm is named after Google co-founder Larry Page), but a series of algorithms that form a complex system that is used to retrieve results from the index and display them on the results page. The top priority for Google is displaying the best results in the quickest time. The average internet user doesn’t want to wait around. So in order to do this Google must quickly rank all the content it thinks is relevant to the user’s search.

It takes into account things like the words in the user’s query, the relevance of your content, the usability of your website’s pages, your location, how fast your web pages load and the credibility of your sources, to name just a few. The weight applied to each factor varies depending on the search – for example if you’re searching for a podiatrist in Bradford, location will have more weight in that search. The final thing to remember is that Google wants to give its users the best results so generally speaking, websites that have great content and offer a great experience, tend to rank the highest.

The Process of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

 

Most things an SEO agency would do to get better rankings for their clients are: technical SEO; content optimisation or link building. Some of these things are quite similar in nature for all websites. For example, they all need to load fast and meet Google webmaster guidelines for mobile. Others are totally unique to an individual website, like having a meaningful backlink profile and engaging content. One size really doesn’t fit all!

Test, Refine and Improve Your SEO Using Data

If there is one thing that is certain about SEO, it’s that no one knows everything. For one, Google is constantly updating its rules. That’s why for the best results you should use data and analytics to test your progress and be prepared to change your strategy if needed. Cross-check any changes in traffic levels with changes in your conversion rate to make sure you are getting the right traffic: the kind that turns into sales.

SEO improvement
SEO DIY Top Tips

Are you ready to try some DIY search engine optimisation?
Read below for our top 8 SEO tips

1. Remove every thing that slows down your website. Page load speed has been a factor in search rankings since 2010 but in today’s world it is absolutely critical. 40% of visitors will abandon a website that takes over 3 seconds to load and 80% will not return.

2. Link to other websites that have useful sources of information. A lot people think that linking out to other great sources of information, potentially even competitors, is bad because it takes users away from your website. But it’s really useful for your customers and if your goal is to build authoritative incoming links, how can you expect to get if you’re not prepared to give?

3.  Write your content to help people and forget Google even exists. More and more I see clients that write content “designed” in a way they think Google will favour. So they stuff content full of keywords, but that’s the old way and if that’s how you write content you’re missing the benefits of writing valuable and engaging content that really helps your reader.

4.  Pay attention to your link profile. Incoming links are still a vital part of SEO. But not all links are equal, some should be disavowed. You need to build a natural profile that includes follow and no-follow links. And if you’re going to use directory syndication, do it manually, and make sure all your company details are consistent.

5. Use analytics. You need software to track what’s working and what’s not. This will form the basis of “test, refine and improve”. Start with Google analytics and search console.

6. Write a unique, relevant meta-description for every page. We often find duplicated meta descriptions when we review a new client website for the first time. Sometimes across the entire site. Duplicating meta-descriptions can really hurt your SEO. This is because Google really doesn’t like duplicate content. And since Google serves up the description tag right on its results page for everyone to see, it can be very reluctant to rank pages like this highly. Take the time to write a well-crafted tag for every page.

7. Only use URLs your customers will understand. Google uses machine learning called RankBrain and has since 2016. What this means is that if a real person can’t understand your URLs then Google won’t either. A good rule of thumb is to make sure your URLs are between 2 – 4 words long.

8. Use the right keywords with your images. Google has dedicated an entire section of its search results to images! An indication of how important they are.  That’s why you should always use the right keywords in your image names, caption text and even file names. However, you must still avoid the temptation to keyword stuff.

 

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