what is SEO?

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the process by which your website ranks as highly as possible in the natural search engine results i.e. the unpaid results rather than the pay-per-click adverts. In the UK Google is used for more than 90% of internet searches so SEO efforts tend to be concentrated on the Google rankings. However, the techniques used to achieve good Google rankings will almost always achieve good rankings on other search engines such as Bing.

Organic Page 1 rankings achieved through SEO is a more cost-effective way of attracting high volumes of targeted visitors to your website.The number of visitors you can expect to your website rises exponentially the higher up in the Google natural ranking your website appears. So achieving a high position can have a dramatic effect on the number of visitors to your website. In this post we will cover some of the SEO basics involved in the process.

However, our SEO Strategy does not focus purely on search engine rankings for any keyword (search term). We ensure that we target the right keywords, which are the foundations of a successful SEO Campaign, in order to drive the right type of visitors to your site, increase sales and increase the online visibility of your organisation.

In addition we enhance the title and description shown in the search results to increase the likelihood of a click-through and also reduce bounce rate so that, once the visitor is on your site, they stay there. Conversion rate optimisation (CRO) is another service we provide.

Every SEO campaign can be broadly broken down into 3 areas:

Keyword Research & Analysis
It is vital to get the keywords/search terms right before progressing too far with on-site and off-site SEO because the keywords are the foundation on which an SEO campaign is built and if they are not right then subsequent SEO efforts will be wasted. Various software tools can be used to research different keyword/search term combinations, including longtail keywords, and view the estimated traffic volumes for each one.

A primary set of keywords is established for which a website can achieve a high ranking. These are not always the most competitive keywords, but those most likely to increase visitor numbers to the website and which will be most likely to convert into a lead.

Website Optimisation

A website is analysed for the elements that are factors in high-rankings such as: ]

  • internal link structure
  • speed
  • mobile responsiveness
  • mobile usability
  • relevance of content
  • relevance of Title and Description Meta Tags and Image Alt Tags
  • use of sub-headings, tables, bullet points and other formatting
  • schema markup

Changes are made where necessary to ensure websites are fully optimised and a strategy devised for adding new content on a regular basis. This could typically be done by setting up a blog. Regular, unique content is one of the most significant factors in achieving a high organic ranking in the search engines. It keeps a website fresh and provides opportunities to gain links from other websites.

Many on-site basic SEO activities are one-off activities implemented in the early stages of an SEO campaign and focuses on the following areas:

Link Structure

External links from within a website to other sites need to be carefully controlled to ensure they do not reduce the authority of your site. For example a few relevant links to well-known organisations can enhance your online authority but multiple links to irrelevant or low-ranking sites will diminish your authority.

Internal links provide the search engines with information about the importance you place on certain search terms and certain web pages on your site so must be established throughout the site to highlight to the search engines which content and pages are the most important.

Website Speed

The speed with which a website loads is an important ranking factor because fast websites tend to generate better user engagement. Google conveniently provides a free tool with which you can check your website’s speed in both the mobile and desktop environment. The tool also makes suggestions on how to improve site speed. You can find the Google Page Speed Insights tool here.

There are also free 3rd party tools such GTMetrix which will analyse your website’s speed, provide insights on how well your site loads and make actionable recommendations on how to improve it.

 

Mobile Responsive

Most well-maintained websites will have been mobile responsive since back in 2015 when Google first recommended mobile responsive design. But since 2018 when their Mobile First Index was introduced mobile friendly sites are more important than even because rankings are based on how well a website performs on a mobile device – even when it is being shown on a desktop. This was a major change in focus for Google and caused significant volatility in rankings for websites that weren’t mobile friendly

Mobile User Experience

In addition to being fast and mobile responsive a website also needs to provide the user with a good experience on small devices. Users need to be able to tap buttons easily on a small screen, read the text easily and be able to navigate around pages without having to scroll down page after page to find the section they want. This is where design features such as accordions come in very useful.

Relevance of Content

Content on a website needs to be useful, engaging and relevant to the business or organisation that owns the website. Relevance of content can be determined using LSI – Latent Semantic Indexing, which is a technique that analyses relationships between groups of text content (such as web pages) and the terms they contain. LSI assumes that words close in meaning will occur in related pieces of text.

The frequency and importance of related words is also a factor in determining how relevant a series of web pages are to each other. This can be analysed using the statistical measurement TF-IDF (Term Frequency–Inverse Document Frequency) which to evaluate how important a word is within a collection of text.

META Tags & ALT Tags

These are internal website labels that are amongst the many factors that affect rankings. They include Titles, descriptions and alternative text descriptions for images. They must be written in an SEO-friendly way to have a positive effect on rankings. The Title and Description for each page should be unique and is used both for SEO purposes and to encourage potential customers to click through to the site.

Formatting

Headers (H1, H2, H3 etc tags), bullet points, tables and other formatting are also used to establish the important keywords and search terms on a web page so this type of formatting needs to be fully utilised within a website.

 

A Note About Duplicate Content

More than one URL displaying identical information (canonicalization) is seen by the search engines as an attempt to unethically manipulate search engine results and is detrimental for search rankings Duplicate content on different pages of your website can also be detrimental for rankings – search engines prefer totally unique content on each page.

 

Offsite Optimisation

Offsite SEO activities need to be performed on a regular and recurring basis to ensure high rankings are achieved and then consistently maintained. These activities are typically carried out on a weekly or monthly basis in accordance with a pre-defined plan. Off-site SEO is predominantly about building high-quality, relevant links to your website using ethical methods (as described below) to generate these links. Reputable businesses will always focus on the quality rather than the quantity of links as this produces better long-term results in the organic rankings.

Google rewards sites for the uniqueness and quality of their content and the links to those sites; and the robots that crawl the internet are constantly looking for new content to match search criteria. Links should always be “one-way links” and never part of a reciprocal link exchange. Such practices, along with paying for links can be detrimental to ranking highly and are in violation of Google’s webmaster guidelines.

Links should be built up gradually over time in order to achieve a natural increase in link numbers, again because the search engines reward sites that have grown organically. All links should have high-quality attributes, where possible, such as:

  • a natural mix of relevant, general and branded anchor text
  • the “do follow” attribute
  • from a domain with a high Domain Authority (DA) and Trust Flow (TF)
  • from a page containing relevant content.

The Importance of Page Relevancy

How relevant a page is that contains a link back to a website is an important factor in off-site optimisation. Google determines the relevancy by looking at the surrounding text and also the number of other external links on the page. Where the words of the surrounding text are semantically similar to the keywords in the anchor text the page relevancy is high. A page with relatively few external links is also likely to be a high-quality page with few, if any, adverts. Link farms typically have many outbound links per page, with little relevant text.

Unlike in the past Google’s algorithms are now well capable of detecting link exchanges, irrelevant links and poor quality links. These unethical tactics tht were used to manipulate the search engine rankings in the past no longer produce results.

At Ditto Digital we use entirely ethical SEO methods to gain backlinks such as content marketing which add value for real people as well as for the search engine rankings, which is what Google wants the best websites to achieve.

 

The Importance of Anchor Text

Anchor Text is the text you can click on in a hyperlink. It is often blue and underlined, but it can be any colour, including the same as the surrounding text. It is used to indicate the a person intending to click the link what the subject matter of the page that it links to will be.

One of the key factors in ranking well in the search engines is having links relevant to the search term. This does not, however, mean using exact-match keywords in your anchor text but rather a mixture of related and branded terms.

How relevant a link is can be determined by the content of the page on which the link resides and the anchor text of the link. So including some keywords in some of the anchor text will have a positive impact on the final ranking of your web pages. But including keyworsd in all anchor text will not have a positive impact.

Anchor text is important for links pointing to your site from external websites and also for the internal links between pages within your website. But the search engines are looking for natural patterns of behaviour so anchor text should be a combination of keyword terms, other related terms, general terms and branded terms in order to appear natural and be most effective.

 

Building High-Quality Links

There are a number of ways to create high-quality links back to a website including:

  • Content Marketing by writing and publishing useful and infomative articles, reports and research related to your business sector. It is then important to promote your content to influencers, journalists and bloggers so they will mention and link to your content. It is not enough to imply write and publish great content – the promotion is essential.
  • Press Releases for SEO purposes will contain at least one backlink but they also enhance the online visibility of a company and brand across the internet. Press releases can be sent directly to national and local newspapers and the digital version will normally contain the link. Press releases can also be submitted to reputable news and syndication services.
  • Bespoke Links by researching other websites in a related, but non-competing, field to build up a mutually beneficial relationship with another business so both businesses can benefit from high-quality backlinks. Bespoke links through this type of collaboration are a highly valuable part of any SEO campaign.
  • Guest Blogging should also be an integral part of a digital marketing strategy. However, it should be noted that only genuine guest blogging on other reputable websites will have any value. Blogs created purely for the purpose of selling or exchanging links will have little or no value.

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