SEO – It honestly does not take magical powers

There continue to be many myths and confusion around SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) but it honestly isn’t magic. There are some that are happy to perpetuate the idea that SEO is a dark art as it provides a smoke screen to their activities and pricing. SEO should be a cornerstone in your integrated marketing strategy.

What really is SEO?

SEO is the abbreviation of the term ‘Search Engine Optimisation’, the most basic way of thinking about it is; making your website and online activities as clear and friendly to Google (and Yahoo / Bing) as possible.

SEO is not one task, performed just once. SEO is made up of lots of small tasks and activities which need to be considered and performed repetitively across content and websites. Search engines such as Google often change their algorithms, consequently this changes the way businesses need to approach SEO to try and maintain rankings.

Some of the elements that need to be considered in relation to SEO is on-page and off-page SEO, each of which have a multitude of activities and considerations associated with them.

Strong SEO should enhance the quality of a visitor’s experience to a website / online content; keyword stuffing or trying to rig pages purely to try and make Search Engines rank the page should be things of the past. In fact, Google will penalise you for it if they think that is what you are doing.

What is On-page SEO?

On-page SEO is all about your website and how it is structured, the quality of the content on it and how it is being displayed to the search engines, how well you are interconnecting your content on your website. Strong on-page Search Engine Optimisation allows websites and pages to be indexed with ease and provide a positive experience for your visitors.

URLs, Headings (H1, H2, H3 &H4), Title Tags

These are all vital for a strong SEO result, the appearance of keywords in the right places and allowing your pages to have a defined structure to them is a skill that takes time to master. Attempting to change your URLs without assistance is a bad plan, just because you can see where to do it in the back end of your website, really does not mean you should.

Speed

How quickly do your pages load? Have you done a speed test? Page load speed is important as search engines want to serve up results as quickly as possible. From a consumer perspective, I know I have left sites because I can’t be bothered to wait as the page is loading too slowly. Pages can be optimised for speed, image size, video content, but your hosting plays a big part in this.

Accessibility and Alt text for images

Accessibility to website content is an important aspect of website builds, people use screen reading software to assist in their online activities for a range of reasons and disabilities. Adding an “alt tag” to an image enables the screen reading software to read or describe the image to the user, search engines need the alt tags for a similar purpose, they can then read the image and index it appropriately.

Content

The quality and usefulness of your content to your website users should never be underrated. That may seem like a really obvious statement, but poor-quality content is found all over the internet. What and how, you as a business may want to write and present information as can be very different to how a potential customer needs to receive it. Consequently, serving up poor quality content has a twofold impact, firstly your potential clients may not find the content as the search engines may not feel it is of value enough to show up, and secondly, if your poor content is found by potential clients, it is unlikely to lead to a sale.

Join up your website with internal links

Internal links help guide your visitors through your website in a helpful manner, link up related content, blogs, pages etc. Being helpful by adding links not only helps keep people on your site for longer, but also demonstrates useful related content to search engines.

What is Off Page SEO?

Websites have what is known as a “Domain Authority” (DA) it is a score associated with the website and is based links pointing to your website pages (amongst other things). The more sites that link to your website, the greater an authority it is considered to be by search engines. The links pointing to your website are called backlinks, they are extremely valuable, but you should view them with quality over quantity in mind. Please do not be tempted with bought links, in much the same way that buying social media followers will get you penalised and undermine trust, bought links could well land you with a Google penalty.

How do you get backlinks?

First and foremost, produce quality content and share it! Guest blog on other quality relevant websites with a link back to your website site should be a solid part of your off page SEO plan, Social media influencers can also play a role.

Why is SEO expensive?

Expensive is a relative term, providing ongoing SEO improvements to clients is both time consuming and involved work. Whether you look at it from an hourly rate or from a return on investment (ROI) / value for money perspective, Strong SEO delivers strong results for the business, being found by more potential clients

Can I do SEO myself?

There are certain aspects of SEO that anyone can tackle if they have the time to learn and implement what is needed. But, whilst SEO is it not magic, it is a specialist area with a lot of intricate details and nuances to be considered. Bad SEO work can be as damaging to a business as good SEO can be financially beneficial to a business.


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