What is SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. It’s becoming a more commonly used term, not just in marketing and tech circles, but for tech savvy folks who want to get their businesses heard on the web by improving their rankings, driving traffic, building links and overall being search engine friendly.
SEO: a marketing discipline focused on growing visibility in organic (non-paid) search engine results.
Why is it important?
People often begin looking for information online by doing a search on sites like Google, Bing and Yahoo. Generally users will then follow links that appear highest or near the top of these results pages – partly because no one can be bothered to go much further, and partly because people trust that the sites at the top are top notch. So it’s important to understand ways to boost your page rankings (and the ones that could potentially damage your credentials).
Search engines have two major functions: crawling and building an index, and providing search users with a ranked list of the websites they’ve determined are the most relevant. They basically provide targeted traffic i.e. people looking for what you have to offer. Therefore, if a search engine is having trouble finding your site or adding your content to their databases, then you’re going to lose opportunities for traffic to be driven to your site. Targeted traffic to a website can provide publicity, revenue, and exposure like no other channel of marketing.
What factors affect the ranking of a site?
Many things influence the ordering of results for any given search term, however, several of those factors are extra important.
1. Having a large volume of high quality links pointing to your site
Links from relevant or more prestigious sites such as academic institutions, government and news sites are given more weight in the eyes of the search engines and pass more value than smaller, less popular ones.
2. Your content needs to be high quality, in-depth and up to date
Google’s algorithm places great weight on the expertise, authority and trust it can infer within content and how recently it has been published or updated.
3. The design and layout need to be easy to navigate
If your pages are hard to crawl and receive few or no links, they will devalue the worth of those pages and either dismiss them completely or favour other pages elsewhere.
4. Watch out for limitations
Pay per click these adverts are becoming more prominent, thus reducing the number of visits generated via non-paid results.
How can I improve the ranking of my site?
Here are 5 valuable tips to ensure your website is pulling all the right moves for the best chance of being indexed and visible for relevant search terms:
1. Make your content compelling and aimed at your intended audience
Create a useful, information-rich site, that is for users and not search engines. Write pages that clearly and accurately describe your content in an engaging manner.
2. Build natural connections from related websites
Make a site with a clear hierarchy and text links, then reach out and signpost your helpful and quality content/website to relevant website owners.
3. Do housekeeping on your website’s structure and broken elements
Use a tool like Screaming Frog SEO Spider to crawl your website to identify broken pages, assets and external links that could put off a search engine, and a user.
4. Ensure you have meta data and that it’s engaging
Each page needs a <title> tag and a meta description tag as these two tags are used in the results pages to display your website i.e. front page of Google.
5. Keep a check on the links pointing to your website
Poor quality or unnatural links can affect your website’s ability to rank and may result in a penalty as well as turning away users.