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What Is SEO Anyway?

And Is SEO That Important?

So what is SEO? SEO simply means Search Engine Optimisation, a technique that attempts to improve search engine rankings for your website.

Presumably if you’ve gone to the effort of commissioning or building your own website, you’d prefer internet users to easily be able to find you and view your content. Otherwise what’s the point?

In a previous post, we described how the internet fits snugly into your pocket. But don’t be fooled – the internet is really big. Quite huge in fact…

Bigger than a massive pie.

Massive Pie

The Internet: Bigger than this massive pie.

Please Keep It Simple

Ok, we’ll keep the question of What is SEO? nice and simple. Leaving aside Pay Per Click (PPC) ads, you can do a lot for your search rankings by applying a few easy steps. We will highlight in just a second.

Ideally you want to want to be on the first page of any search engine result page (SERP). Beyond that, the number of people likely to find your website drops off dramatically; Most internet users won’t even check page 2 of the search results. Do you?

What are search engines looking for?

1. Relevancy

When you do an internet search for a topic, product or service, you are only interested in results which are relevant to your search term. The same applies to search engines. Their main aim is to deliver search results that are the most relevant to the searcher’s query.

Consider Your Own Search Habits.

I know you consider yourself to be an individual and I don’t want to burst your bubble, but I’m afraid you’re just like everyone else. When designing your own website and content, consider your own search habits and don’t over think it. Imagine what content you would find relevant and deliver exactly that.

2. The quality of your content

Deliver content useful and helpful to human beings. A lot of website owners get consumed by finding little tricks to gain a higher ranking rather than delivering great content and user experience. The importance of good quality, relevant content is paramount and cannot be understated. Ranking factors now give prominence to the ease with which a reader can understand the written text and understanding the user’s intention when searching. Good quality images and video content are essential too.

Avoid Keyword Stuffing. It’s years since Google fell for that old chestnut. Instead focus on the user experience.

3. User experience

Building a website around a great user experience has so many SEO benefits as well as making it a joy for people to use.  Your website must be easily navigable with relevant content and contain internal linking. Basically all the things that keeps visitors on your website and wanting more. It’s not rocket surgery, try your website out on yourself and friends. Get some honest opinions. Do they like it? Do they find navigating the site intuitive? Is it too ‘wordy’? Do they nod off half way down the first page?

4. Site Load Speed

The speed at which your website loads is increasingly becoming a factor for search engines. More people are now browsing the web on mobile devices. Users can’t always be connected to fast 4G and WiFi networks. Make sure your site loads quickly over both fast and slow networks.

5. Cross-device compatibility

Is your website equally optimised for any given screen size or device using a Responsive Design? By now it should be. Remember that Google now labels websites in search results to show if it is mobile-friendly or not. Search rankings are prioritised in favour of sites built with a responsive design.

6. Internal linking

So now you know about the benefits of ensuring your site is clear and easily navigable, but there’s also a practice called Internal linking. You use this when publishing articles to help push traffic around your site. Google loves internal links as these hint towards a higher relevancy factor:

Also:

  • They give your audience further reading material. Providing you link to relevant material and you use clear anchor text it can help reduce your bounce rates.
  • They can improve your search ranking for certain keywords. For instance, we might want this article to rank for search term ’What is SEO’. To help achieve this we can link to it from other internal posts using variations of similar anchor text. This has the effect of telling Google that this post is relevant to people searching for ‘What is SEO’.  It’s best to vary the anchor text if  you have multiple links pointing at the same page.
  • They help Google to crawl and index your site. Google crawls the internet using their teeny weeny Googlebots. These are are sent out across the internet to fetch new content, or any changes, on your site. The more they crawl and follow your internal links, the more idea they have as to how useful and trustworthy your content is.

7. Authority

A website with authority is a site that’s trusted by its users, as well as other relevant websites and the industry it operates in. A link from an authority website has always been thought of as valuable, because it’s seen as a vote of confidence. The more of these your site has coupled with a higher quality content, the more likely your own site will become an authority too.

8. Title Tags And Meta Descriptions

Title tags tell search engines and visitors what your site is about. They should be concise and representative of your content. The keywords in your title tag show up as highlighted text in search engine results (if they match the search query used). They also appear in your browser tab and when sharing your site om social networks etc.

Title tags are written inside the head area of your site’s HTML as in this example:

Website Design Skipton - Mobile Optimised Websites | W3BWORKS

Use just a few accurate keywords describing the page as well as your own brand name using relevant keywords only. Although you are formatting for search engines, you should write for humans.

Meta descriptions are short paragraphs of text that appears under your page’s URL in the search results. They won’t necessarily improve your search ranking, but you should definitely use these because they increase the chance of the person searching clicking on your result.

If you use a CMS (Content Management System) like WordPress, Title tags and meta descriptions are easily applied in the settings without having to access the code. Keep it descriptive, relevant to your headline and content and under 156 characters is good.

What is SEO - Meta Description Example

This is what it looks like in WordPress (using Yoast).

What is SEO - google search result

Search result including title tag & meta description.

9. Schema markup

If you want to be extra clever and stand out in your search results, use Schema markup in the HTML of your pages. These turn your search results into a attractive rich media and can be used to show client star-ratings, images, and other nuggets of helpful info.

Schema is also the preferred method of markup by most search engines including Google, and it’s fairly straightforward to use.

What is SEO - Schema Markup Example

10. Properly tagged images

What is SEO - How to add an alt description using Wordress

It can be a bit of a faff, which is why many people either forget or don’t bother to include the alt attribute to the images in their content. But it is important not to overlook this because Google can’t ‘see’ your images, but can ‘read’ the descriptive alt text.

By accurately describing your image in the alt text, it will increase the chances of your images appearing in Google Image search and adds more attributed content for your website.

11. Local SEO

If your business is mainly based on supply to your local geographical area, then first things first, you need to focus your efforts on local SEO. This requires a bit of effort but it’s worth it if you are to compete in your local area.

Google My Business

If you haven’t already, you’ll need to claim your Google My Business page. In a nutshell, Google My Business is a free tool for local businesses and organisations to manage their online presence across Google, including Search and Maps. You provide Google with details of your business, including Name, Address, Phone number, Opening hours, photos and so on. Once verified, (usually by sending you a verification code by post), you can help customers find you on the web in local searches online.

What is SEO - Local SEO Search Results for W3BWORKS
By |2017-11-29T10:05:40+00:00October 6th, 2016|Categories: SEO, Web Design|Tags: , |Comments Off on What Is SEO Anyway?

About the Author:

W3BWORKS Web Design is based in Grassington, Skipton in the Yorkshire Dales. W3BWORKS create websites which are mobile optimised as standard. Great user experience is our aim. Take a look at our work, be inspired.