SEO is a commonly used term all over the world when talking about internet marketing. You are likely aware of how the effective use of SEO can help you rank well with search engines, but do you ever wonder how the correct combination of just a few words can place your website on the front page of Google?
You may think it is magic, but it’s not. It is not even difficult to understand and implement if you take the time to learn basic guidelines concerning search engine optimisation. So, if you would like to increase traffic to your website and increase sales, this SEO guide should be helpful in walking you through all the steps required to do exactly that.
The Truth About How SEO Works
Many people believe that SEO is just a tactic to drive traffic to their sites. Sure, this is the intended result, but that is not an explanation of how SEO really works. Simply put, it directs people searching for you to where you can be found. For it to return such results, you must match the content on your site with that for which people are searching.
Let’s say that Jane makes hand-knitted scarves to sell. Her blog discusses various yarn types she typically uses and demonstrates the process for creating them. There’s not much competition for the keywords about yarn Jane uses and she consistently posts great content. Before long her site is ranked on the first page of search engines for a wide variety of yarn types.
That’s great, don’t you think? Not so quick, now Jane has a problem she didn’t expect.
Truthfully, when someone searches for certain types of yarn they are probably a knitter themselves. It’s likely they don’t want to buy the scarves Jane creates. Jane’s website may be getting lots of traffic, but visitors want to learn more about yarn or purchase some. They are not interested in scarves she has already made, so the type of traffic she generates does not meet her goals.
What have you learned so far? Traffic is not the only goal. The goal of using SEO is to determine what you want and optimise your keywords in such a way as to attract visitors wanting the same.
Sounds simple, right? Not so fast. First, you must figure out the right keywords and this will require some research.
Research Keywords For High ROI
You might not enjoy conducting research, but it is a vital part of finding the right keywords. The adequate research will reveal keywords with:
High volumes of searches (a lot of people searching for those same keywords)
Relevant content for your site
least competition (the fewer results you find means you have a better chance of ranking higher with search engines)
Remember, the number of available tools for locating appropriate keywords is plentiful. The most popular of these is Google’s Search-Based Keyword Planner Tool since it returns results of actual Google searches. Additionally, if you’re logged into your AdWords account, you will keyword suggestions customised for the account linked to the site. “Long Tail Keywords”
Before proceeding, we must discuss “The Long Tail Keywords” which is a concept of deciding how broad or narrow your keywords should be. This is a phenomenon by which numerous low traffic keywords are grouped together to direct more traffic to your site than would be possible with a lesser number of high traffic keywords.
Every day Amazon receives a lot of visitors searching for DVD as the keyword. Millions of visitors also visit their site looking for individual DVD titles, like Finding Nemo DVD or Kill Bill DVD. Alone these titles don’t receive the same volume of traffic that is possible with DVD, but together the volume is greater than for a single keyword.
This is especially true when making videos and audio tapes or creating other content not readable by the bots. You need to also describe them if you want to make it more effective and easier to understand. Remember, it’s all about the bots.
What do long tail keywords mean to you? A combination of long-tail keywords should account for 80% of your traffic. It is still an important factor for your overall SEO strategy.
Here at Step Change Media Cardiff we like to make the long tail keyword research as simple as possible, for this, we use a tool called longtail pro. Possibly one of the greatest keyword research tools of all time!
Crafting Content For Better Rankings
After obtaining the right keywords, you can move on to creating your content. Remember, search engine bots automatically search for and read the content on your site to learn what it is about. They use this information to determine which keywords to use when ranking pages on your website. The good news is that you can tactically optimise the content using specific keywords and influence that selection.
Nevertheless, here is a word of caution. If you write content specifically designed for the search engines that content will end up boring visitors and won’t convert them into customers. Your best option is to primarily focus on potential customers. Your content should be interesting and easy to read. Do this first and then optimise for the bots as you can. Never sacrifice the persuasiveness of your content.
Pay close attention to the following few things:
Titles: Make a good first impression. Use eye-catching titles that peak visitor interest and keep them reading.
Keywords: Select relevant keywords that invite visitors to your website.
Freshness: Your content may be evergreen, never going out of date, but you still need to refresh it regularly with new content. This takes a lot of time, so you may want to try other options, like creating a blog or offering a Question and Answer section to the site.
Quality: Do everything you can to ensure your content is unique and of high quality. Visitors will return if they cannot find the same quality anywhere else.
On-page Optimisation Doing It Like The Pro’s
Search bots do not just read website text, they also read code. Your site has 8 code sections that must be optimised.
Title tags encompass the title of your site.
Example: Family Lawyer in Cardiff | Company Name
This example shows emphasis on Family Lawyers in Cardiff along with the business name. If you were looking for it, most likely you would perform a search using “company name” or “family lawyer Cardiff”. The point is to ensure that when you are coding your title tags that your keywords are there.
Your primary concern should be the “meta description tag”. It may not have much effect on how your site is ranked, but it provides visitors with information about your site. This could be a factor helping them decide to stay and keep reading or click through.
Content headings are a lot like those found in books, but in a specific order. H1 is the main heading at the beginning of the page and is followed by H2, H3, H4 and etc. Normally, you want just one H1 tag for each page, but as many of the others as you like. Make certain that all your headings include relevant keywords for your site.
Sitemaps are used to direct search engines bots to various pages on websites. These “roadmaps” ensure the bots find what they are searching for. Sitemaps come in two forms and your responsibility is to link to them as a quick guide for visitors, showing them where they need to go.
HTML sitemaps are easy for visitors to read. Websites with less than two hundred pages should have each page linked to the HTML sitemap. Those wilth thousands of pages should choose to link only to the most important ones.
These sitemaps are specifically coded for search engines and contain all the pages on your website. An XML Sitemap Creator makes it easier to create one automatically. Once created, it should be submitted to Google Webmaster Central and Bing so that these largest search engines can index the site.
URLs are very important to SEO, but unfortunately, they are often forgotten. Nevertheless, messy URLs are hard for search engines to browse through making it nearly impossible for the bots to index the site. If this happens, you can forget about obtaining a high ranking with the search engines. With the following tips in mind if you would like to ensure your site’s URL is friendly to them.
- Search engines don’t like underscores, so use dashes instead where needed.
- Sub-directories do not rank as well as sub-domains.
- Never use annoying or irrelevant characters, like # ! ^ or *. Stay safe using numbers and letters.
Domain Names | Choosing The Right One
Use keywords in your domain name rather than one without them to rank higher in the search engines. An exact match with your domain name and selected keywords will shoot your site to the very top in rankings. However, keyword rich domain names eventually lose effectiveness over time since Google favours brand names.
Wait a minute! Forget about searching for an exact match domain name! There is a downside to this tactic. After all, they are not exactly unique. This is the reason many companies choose to make up words to use as domain names. They will then build their brand around that.
Now, what will work best? We don’t have any clear-cut answer to that. For the moment, if you get traffic strictly from search engines, exact match domain names may be the best way to go, at least for now. Don’t forget, Hotels.com will always rank high when people are searching for them since their domain name is rich in keywords.
If SEO is only a minute part of your marketing strategy, choose something with a bit more uniqueness.
Your rankings are significantly impacted by the way you link your pages together. The following tips can be used for cross-linking your website.
- Do everything you can to prevent page links from exceeding 100. Links will carry more weight if they are included in the content and less if they are included in the sidebar or footer.
- Never follow links to content of low quality. (An example of this is links that lead to Feedburner pages.)
- Some SEOs say that you should never follow internal links, like those leading to terms of service page. Pagerank sculpting is no longer effective. (Don’t concern yourself with knowing what this means. It has no relevance for today’s marketing.) If you want to block terms of service pages, just don’t put it in your robots.txt file.
If you want search engine bots to identify images on your pages correctly, make sure to add a quick description and tags to each one of them. Be sure to select names for the images that are pertinent. To clarify, if the picture you want to use is a pink dress, name it pinkdress.jpg not something like image8.jpg.
Links are often classified as votes, and most people think of them as a vital part of SEO. The reason for this is that web page rankings increase as the number of websites linking to yours increases. What gives links such value? That’s simple. It is quite easy for anyone to conduct research and create great new content or alter existing current content, but it’s more difficult to convince someone to link their website to yours. Search engines view linking like this. The more trustworthy, non-spammy, legitimate sites you have linked to your site, the more authority on the topic they will assume you have.
You should know a few things before we start discussing link building. Links in the sidebar or footer are not as effective as those within your content. Links should be from sites related to your own and not from those with little or no relevance.
Anchor text is also critical for building links. So, if you would like to rank for “pink dress”, make certain that “pink dress” is used in the anchor text of links. You should stay away from a number of things too. These include:
- Site-wide links can do more harm than good.
- Reciprocal links (Sure, I will link to you, but you need to link to me as well) are typically not effective.
- Links from spammy or irrelevant sites are not effective. Links with too much anchor text can harm your site. An important point you should not forget is that you can be banned by the search engines if you are caught buying links.
- Here are some options you should consider if you are interested in increasing the number of legitimate links you obtain.
Most forums allow you to create signatures that include backlinks to your website. These links can help your ranking provided they are not the no-follow type.
If you want to get ranked for a specific keyword, the best links should come from sites that have obtained top 100 search engine ranking for the keyword. Some of these links will belong to competitors and they are not likely to link to your site, but other sites might. Send a short, sweet email to them asking for the backlink.
There are an enormous number of directories online, so invest some time in submitting your site to those relevant to your own content.
This is great for local SEO, which has its own set of ranking rules by the way, check out our local SEO for business ranking here.
The vast array of links on the internet means that some will die out eventually. Even though a website might no longer exist, that doesn’t mean that others are not still linking to it. When you discover a dead link, send an email to the other sites letting them know about its status. It is likely that they will swap the dead link for yours that is alive if there is similar content.
Determine which sites are linked to the competition. Shoot them an email describing the benefits associated with linking to your site instead of your competition. The law of averages says that approximately 5 percent will add your link.
Being active on social media does more than drive traffic to your website. Such visibility increases your odds of getting additional, relevant links.
Some Final Thoughts
Following the advice above will help increase the traffic to your site from the search engines, but it will require an investment of time. With billions of websites to crawl, it takes time for search engines to update the records they use to rank websites.
Remember that what works for one site might not work for another. This too takes the time to discover what the most effective SEO methods work for your niche. The worst thing you can do is fall for the temptation to use shady shortcuts to help speed up the process. You will get caught if you do this and the punishment is harsh.
What is the best way to get more traffic to your website? Just follow our simple SEO guide above.
1. Find out what people are looking for.
2. Design your site to provide that.
3. Use SEO to help people find you.
This is exactly what search engines want from you. It is their goal to provide the highest quality site for searched for topics. By creating that website and promoting it, the search engines cannot help but find you. It will take time, but if you use this SEO guide your effort will pay off big time.
If you want to grow your business and its online presence with the help of a nationally recognised SEO agency, click on the button below. This will allow you to apply directly for our Cardiff SEO services.