Simply put, SEO is an umbrella term used for all the methods you can use to ensure the visibility of your website and its content on search engine results pages (SERPs).
Each Search Engine has their own ranking algorithms, the two most popular being Google and Bing, the majority of your clicks will come from these places so focusing on them is a good move. Google vastly outrank Bing in the amount of clicks it could potentially generate for you and Bing is well in front of the next bunch of search engines striving for market share.
The methods vary from technical practices you can achieve behind the scenes on your website (we tend to refer to this as ‘on-site SEO’) to all the promotional ’off-site’ approaches you can use to raise your site’s visibility (link-building, social media marketing, PR, sponsorship etc).
At Metrix one of our core skills is search engine optimization and digital transformation, our team focus on growth through positive rankings jumps. Increasing your visibility on Google’s SERP enables you to increase traffic leading to higher numbers of leads and sales. When we talk about visibility, we mean how high up the SERP your website appears for certain search terms in the ‘organic’ results. Organic results refer to those that appear naturally on the page, rather than in the paid-for sections.
We’ve done up a quick video below, might save on some reading time. It is really just a general overview, the points below go into a little more detail on your best options.
Why do you need SEO?
Building a strong site architecture and providing clear navigation will help search engines index your site quickly and easily. This will also, more importantly, provide visitors with a good experience of using your site and encourage repeat visits. It’s worth considering that Google is increasingly paying attention to user experience.
When it comes to how much traffic is driven by search engines to your website, the percentage is substantial, and perhaps the clearest indicator of the importance of SEO.
What are search engines looking for?
Search engines try to provide the most relevant results to a searcher’s query, whether it’s a simple answer to the question “how old is Ryan Gosling?” (the answer of which Google will likely provide without you having to leave the SERP) to more complicated queries such as “what is the best restaurant nearest to me?”
How search engines provide these results is down to their own internal algorithms, which we’ll probably never truly determine, but there are factors that you can be certain will influence these results and they’re all based around relevancy… For instance: a searcher’s location, their search history, time of day/year, etc.
2) The quality of your content
Do you regularly publish helpful, useful articles, videos or other types of media that are popular and well produced? Do you write for actual human beings rather than the search engine itself? Well, you should. Latest findings from Searchmetrics on ranking factors indicates that Google is moving further towards longer-form content that understands a visitor’s intention as a whole, instead of using keywords based on popular search queries to create content.
Basically, stop worrying about keywords and focus on the user experience, and don’t be afraid to type large chunks of text, it ad’s t the value you can potentially provide customers even though you feel very few will ever read it.
3) User experience
You need an easily navigable, clearly searchable site with relevant internal linking and related content. All the stuff that keeps visitors on your webpage and hungry to explore further.
4) Site speed
How quickly your webpages load is increasingly becoming a differentiator for search engines. Google may soon start labelling results that are hosted on Accelerated Mobile Page (AMP) so this may possibly be the ‘mobilegeddon’ – i.e without a good mobile site your screwed!
5) Cross-device compatibility
Is your website and its content equally optimised for any given screen size or device? Bear in mind that Google has stated that responsive design is its preferred method of mobile optimization. With this in mind, ensure your updating both your desktop and mobile versions of your site. Take the time to set rules to disable chunky items form mobile, if it doesn’t sit right, bin it for mobile.
An authority website is a site that is trusted by its users, the industry it operates in, other websites and search engines. Traditionally a link from an authority website is very valuable, as it’s seen as a vote of confidence. The more of these you have, and the higher quality content you produce, the more likely your own site will become an authority too.
However as the aforementioned Searchmetrics research suggests, year-on-year correlations between backlinks and rankings are decreasing, so perhaps over time ‘links’ may not be as important to SEO as we once thought.
7) Meta descriptions and title tags
Having a meta description won’t necessarily improve your ranking on the SERP, but it is something you should definitely use before publishing an article or page as it can help increase your chances of a searcher clicking on your result.
The meta description is the short paragraph of text that appears under your page’s URL in the search results, it’s also something you should have complete control of in your CMS.
Write succinctly (under 156 characters is good), clearly and make sure it’s relevant to your headline and the content of the article itself.
Title tags are used to tell search engines and visitors what your site is about in the most concise and accurate way possible. The keywords in your title tag show up highlighted in search engine results (if the query uses those keywords), as well as in your browser tab and when sharing your site externally.
You can write your own title tag inside the <head> area of your site’s HTML:
<head> <title>Example Title</title> </head>
You should use a few accurate keywords describing the page as well as your own brand name. Only use relevant keywords though, and the most important thing to consider is that although you are formatting for search engines, you should write for humans.
8) Schema markup
You can make your search results appear more attractive by adding Schema markup to the HTML of your pages. This can help turn your search results into a rich media playground, adding star-ratings, customer ratings, images, and various other bits of helpful info…
Schema is also the preferred method of markup by most search engines including Google, and it’s fairly straightforward to use.
9) Properly tagged images
Many people forget to include the alt attribute when they upload images to their content, but this is definitely something you shouldn’t overlook because Google cannot ‘see’ your images, but can ‘read’ the alt text.
By describing your image in the alt text as accurately as possible it will increase the chances of your images appearing in Google Image search.
Should you want any further info, feel free to get in touch and our team can talk you through your best steps forward.