Search Engine Optimisation
Beauty is important and usability is critical, however, neither will work for your revenue stream if no one comes to the website. SEO is the tool to drive people to your website.No matter what your website is about, it is one of your most valuable assets online. Through your site, you’re able to gather visitors and show them what you’re offering and encourage them to buy your product, get a subscription, or read your blog posts. All these actions are crucial to any website, and yours is no exception. If you want to grow the number of your customers (or readers) you have to increase the traffic your website regularly generates. And to do that, you need to get serious about your website’s Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Click here for more information about i4design's 'Advanced SEO Service'
What Google wants and how it ranks your site
SEO factors have varying weights and no SEO consultant knows the exact weight of each or when these weights change. This is because Google has around 200 SEO factors (see infographic below) and over 10,000 sub-signals for ranking. But we do know that relevance, topicality and reputation are very important.
To that challenge you can add Google’s continuous refinement of its algorithm. Its ability to change and adjust how it chooses which sites to rank is speeding up, and many who rely on traditional SEO for their traffic have to change tactics at an ever faster rate just to keep up. In many cases those chasing the algorithm have seen the bulk of their Google rankings wiped out in the space of weeks or even days with a single update.
Some bounce back, but it’s getting harder and harder to manipulate the system.
Last year Google introduced RankBrain, a machine-learning algorithm that helps determine search engine rankings. Last year RankBrain was used for less than 15% of queries, now Google uses it for 100% of queries.
Here are a few strategies to think about in order to amp up your site, with RankBrain now playing a more significant role in SEO:
- Think about all of the questions your audience is searching for answers to, and not just individual keywords.
- Prioritize user experience and ensure your website answers multiple search queries.
- Invest time and resources in publishing authoritative, comprehensive content that your audience will read and share.
RankBrain is ultimately designed to reward great content. So focus on that and you’re on the right track.
Relevance and authority remain the driving forces in terms of organic traffic
Before spending too much money on SEO, please remember that content is the most important factor that determines how well your website performs against the competition. There are no quick and easy fixes… but you can improve the chances of your website being found by Google – for free – by adding plenty of relevant, fresh content.
Despite some people’s assertion that SEO is doomed and Google wants to stamp it out, SEO is still an effective and profitable approach to traffic and lead generation. It’s just that SEO isn’t just about SEO anymore – SEO as a discipline has expanded to encompass so much more than just the traditional keywords and links.
Google’s primary objective is to deliver the best and most relevant search results and in so doing, improve the service for their users. When someone visits a Google site and performs any kind of search, Google aims to understand what the person is looking for and then deliver the best answer it can find in the least number of clicks. And that’s the reason Google keeps refining and improving their search technology.
Once upon a time people spent huge amounts of time and money generating as many links as possible containing the keywords they wanted to rank for. It became possible for even poor quality sites, with little or no relevant content, to rank quite well using almost nothing but this strategy. If this had been left unchecked, eventually the quality of Google’s search results would have been compromised and its ability to deliver relevant results would have been harmed.
So Google updated its algorithm, and as a result websites where the owners created artificial links moved down in the search engine results, and websites that were popular because they had great content moved up in the search engine results.
The bottom line is that Google wants its search engine results to be full of sites that are popular for having great content – not businesses that have figured out how to game the system.
How to help people find your local business via Google
If your website is about a local business be sure to sign up for Google Business. This will increase your search presence and help people to find you via Google maps. Google also wants to see your full address and contact details (the same one as in Google Business) displayed on your website.
Google compares your website to your direct competitors in your geographic market area. The business that Google decides is the most trustworthy, authoritative, popular and attentive to its customers receives the highest rankings for target search terms.
It greatly helps to have your server located near your target audience’s location. The website will not only respond faster, but search engines can pick up descriptive signals from it. If your business provides Australian based services it’s better to have a ‘.com.au’ domain name extension rather than a ‘.com’ domain name extension. Having a geo-specific extension will help you rank for specific countries where people are inclined to choose a local link. Google also provides local results.
Google’s Matt Cutts Gives a Nice Overview of SEO and It’s Value
For SEO to work, the search engines must see off-site website activity. This means other websites need to mention you and/or link to you. This can be derived from a variety of activities, but someone other than your mom needs to know your website or blogs exists.
If you are a nationally focused website, social media helps with this greatly. This would include popular networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, and Google+. If you’re a locally focused website, social media is still important but so is local directory listings and interaction with your local community.
Black Hat SEO vs. White Hat SEO
There are two distinct types of organic SEO consultants and tactics. One is called white hat SEO and the other is called black hat SEO.
As a white hat SEO consultant I will only perform tactics that adhere to Google’s best practices and quality guidelines for website and content.
On the other side of SEO (aka the dark side) is black hat SEO. The people that practice black hat SEO don’t care about what Google wants. They have one singular goal of manipulating the SERP to position their content at the top, and they’ll do so regardless of the risk. Please don’t consider this because practicing black hat SEO techniques can lead to a website being removed entirely from a search engine’s listings or index.
I’ve had lots of success with SEO on my client’s websites. In all cases, I did the right things and I stayed clear away from tactics that offered quick returns or were geared towards manipulating Google.
On-Page vs Off-Page SEO
On-page SEO refers to the things you can do on your own website to improve your site’s appearance in search engines results. In essence, on-page SEO involves making it as easy as possible for search engines to index your site’s content properly.
Off-page SEO refers to the things that happen off of your website, but that improve your site’s rank in SERPs. Off-page SEO generally involves getting other sites to link back to your website through a combination of link-building strategies — guest blogging, creating high-quality content that earns backlinks from other blogs, participating in forums, commenting on other blogs, and so forth.
While content is important, technical SEO is just as significant since it lays the foundation for any on-page optimization efforts. It is the scaffolding that makes sure that search engines can properly understand and index your website. A number of SEO elements have become particularly important in recent times, such as site speed, mobile friendliness and site architecture.
Loading Speed Matters
While losing visitors due to slow loading times is painful enough, a high bounce rate will also signal to Google that your site is of low quality and thus hurt your search rankings. Site caching and good hosting is important!
Online traffic from mobile devices continues to grow and that’s why on April 21st 2015, Google began to use mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal in search results, rewarding websites that are fully optimised for mobile platforms.
Optimizing Site Architecture
A clear and concise site structure is important not only for user experience and user guidance but also search engine optimization. Your website must be clear and understandable for both humans and machines.
Pay Per Click and Organic SEO
PPC is for marketers with hopes of a quick high, and can accept zero long-term value. SEO is the opposite. There is minimal short-term value, but a huge amount of long-term benefit.
For start-up companies or those new to internet marketing, a blend of PPC and SEO might be the best option. SEO takes time and you don’t land on page one of Google overnight. For SEO to work you need to have a strategic, long-term plan in place that is executed over time. SEO requires you to nurture your website. You need to build your authority and credibility with the search engines. At the initial stages of your SEO plan, PPC may be a great short-term option for search traffic while you work on long-term SEO objectives.
The thing to remember is that you cannot build a website and just wait for traffic to come. You’ll be waiting forever because the internet is completely filled with website upon website all waiting for visitors. You need to have some sort of marketing plan to bring traffic into your website. Be it Pay Per Click, Search Engine Optimisation or social media – a plan is needed.
Thanks to https://elegantmarketplace.com for this excellent infographic that shows how complicated SEO really is.