Optimising a website is NOT the mystery that most people will lead you to believe it is. Yes, you have to know what you are doing and yes, it takes time to do it properly, but you can do the basics yourself and achieve successful results. However, if you are too busy doing other things [such as running your business] or just don’t feel it’s your forte, it’s best to get someone to do it for you. What you can’t do, is avoid it. If your site is not optimised properly, you won’t get any traffic – and even if you already ARE getting SOME traffic now, if you optimise your site properly, you’ll definitely get more.
The first thing to do is to blow away all the urban myths about search engine optimisation and deal with the facts. All the old style web marketing gurus used to say that each page title, description, headlines, subheads, ALT tags, and general page copy should repeat these key words as often as possible. Google used to grade a page's relevance on was how many times you included the keyphrase, and until recently their algorithm was only able to generate exact or partial matches, and if you didn’t insert the keyphrases into your text in their original, complete form, Google wouldn't understand what your page was about.
Nowadays, excessive keyword repetition will definitely get you sliding down the rankings. However, keyword frequency still plays a huge part, but there has been a 180 degree turnabout and now the trick is to write good content and NOT over optimise your pages.
The reason is that Google’s technology is continually advancing and getting cleverer and cleverer. Their algorithms read all the various elements on your pages and determine what they are about. It means they don’t rely on the amount of times a phrase is mentioned in order to rank it.
Our client Golfguard is a good example. If you go to their home page at www.golfguard.com, you’ll see that instead of always using golf insurance cover as an exact phrase, you’ll also see the words golf, insurance and cover by themselves elsewhere “naturally” in the copy. Ideally, you should still use the entire keyphrase [ie golf insurance cover] on the page once or twice, but other than that use them as the individual words within other sentences. However, do not overdo it; ensure the words and phrases really do need to be in your copy, and that those that do are used in a natural way. In short, do not sacrifice the quality of your copy for the sake of the search engines.
NB: Do remember that when you make these changes, it can take weeks for Google to update its index, and from that point on your rankings will ebb and flow before settling where they should be. This is because Google will be continually assessing how well your site is optimised, how many relevant web sites link to you, and how much traffic your site is getting from various keywords or links. Be prepared to play the long game!
The next question is, where do you put this information? Every web page has the capacity to include:
NB: There is also a field to include “meta keywords”, but these are now redundant with all leading search engines and so there is no real point in using this field.
OK, but how do you do this and what do you say?
A Page Title can be up to 70 characters and ought to contain your company name and what the page is about. Make sure it uses the main key words you want to be found by. It needs to be short, sharp and to the point. It is the first field that people see in a Google search.
A Page Description can be up to 160 characters This needs to be a short descriptive paragraph that includes the key words you want to be found by. It needs to read well though, as it's the line that appears under the page title line in a search result in Google. Everyone sees it, so it needs to read well.
In our platform, all our element headers are H1 headers, but every web platform is different. Google picks up on these headers and uses them as part of the process of indexing your site. The more descriptive it is, the better. For example, a heading above a piece of text ought to be called Delicious Chocolate Cakes, rather than just Cakes.
Page Content needs to read well. It needs to be written using good English, with correct grammar as Google’s guidelines take all this into consideration. The trick is to weave any necessary keywords naturally into the text, or to include them in anchor text [ie hyperlinks to other pages of your site], image alt tags or captions, without resorting to “key word stuffing” [ie unnecessary repetition] which will get you marked down.
As indicated above, the trick is to use your various key words in proper sentences without repeating them more than necessary. Once you've done this for your home page, repeat the process with specific titles, descriptions, H1 headers and content for all your other important pages. Once Google has spidered and indexed your home page, which can take a few weeks, it will start indexing all your other pages. Gradually, Google and other engines will index your entire web site.
The initial process of optimising your site gives you a firm foundation, but to really generate traffic – and make no mistake about it, you do need to do this or your site will fail! – you are going to have to build on from this and consider ongoing marketing activity. You will be very lucky if you make a living from basic organic traffic based on decent site optimisation only. You really do need to have a marketing budget, either because you are going to have to pay someone who knows what they are doing for the time involved, or because you are going to be paying for placements/links to your web site, and possibly both.
At this stage it’s worth summarising again just how, where and why Google and other engines rank you. Their algorithms take into account how a site is optimised, how many other relevant sites link to it [and how important those sites are] and how many people actually visit your site. When people enter a search term, a site with lots of relevant links and high traffic will get ranked higher than a web site with no or few links to it and few visitors.
So, the more links to your web site from other relevant web sites that Google considers important, the better, and if this link uses a high competition key word, well that’s better still. For example, if you are a member of an industry body/association, and they have a web site with a directory, a link from your entry in their directory to your own web site would be a good link. A link from a local business group would be good too, if you are a local business.
A blog or regular news update is vital too as Google loves new content. Ideally these need to be written using good English and should contain some of your key words, and a link back to your home page or any specific relevant pages of your site.
In essence, that's it. It's easy, albeit time consuming, to do. However, whilst you might have a good idea of which key words you want people to find you by, we believe it's worth doing some research first. After all, what's the point of optimising your website for terms that people are NOT using, when you could be optimising it for searches that people ARE using.
Finally, if you are serious, you are probably going to have to look at a paid for programme of marketing activity, either through Google Ads or link building services. Our initial SEO Report will provide you with a plan for optimising your site, and the costs involved, and also provide stats and suggested budget for an initial paid for SEO and link building campaign.
For more information, telephone 01526 352919, email firstname.lastname@example.org or complete our SEO Enquiry Form.