If you’ve looked into getting a website in the last 10 years, chances are you’ll have seen the acronym SEO popping up a lot. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation, which is basically a way of increasing a website’s visibility in non-paid search engine results. If I go to Google and type in ‘Birmingham Pizza Delivery‘, the first site in the list of results is the one that the search engine has deemed the most appropriate for the given search terms, or put another way, the site with the best SEO for those terms.
Way back in the early days of search engines, site owners could use so called black-hat tricks to force their site to have a higher ranking against those that didn’t such as keyword stuffing (repeating the keywords over and over again in every sentence on the page) or article spinning (an automatic process that rewrites the same article over and over again to pass off as fresh content). Luckily this is not the case now, and site owners are rewarded for creating useful content that’s easy to share with others and is constantly updated.
Improving your SEO ranking
There are a few things that can be done to your site during development to help boost your SEO ranking, but these days they are all to benefit the end-user and search engine itself instead of cheap tactics to cheat the system. Let’s take a look at five things we at Sixth Story do to give you the best chance of dominating the top spot on Google.
1. Page Speed
Page speed is a factor used by Googles algorithm to rank all pages, the faster your content gets to the user, the happier Google is. In addition to this, it also means that the search engine can crawl more pages before running out of its allocated crawl budget. If that happens because your pages are loading slowly, it may never even reach some pages to index which would have a knock on effect on the rest of your SEO.
We will ensure that all your sites images are compressed to a level where the file size is low, but the quality remains high, as well as minifying all of our code.
2. Code is Google-friendly
When Google crawls your website, it doesn’t see it in the same way you do in your browser. The engine will strip back all the images, colour and excitement to just be left with lines and lines of text. This is where making sure the code itself is up to scratch and can have a large impact on your SEO, nothing can hide from the crawler!
3. Google submission and analytics
Before your site goes live, we will integrate it with Google Analytics which will start monitoring visits and visitor activity on your site as time goes on. You’ll be able to see for yourself which pages are getting the most attention and then either focus on improving them, or creating new content that is similar to appeal to the masses.
Also we will set up Google Webmaster Tools for your site, which gives even more useful information on your site such as which keywords are being used by the people who end up on your site.
We’ll do a few behind the scenes things to improve on these, such as repointing any important URLs from your old website to the matching page on the new website using 301 redirects. This will benefit more than just your SEO as the new structure will follow our site map for your website, which lays your content out efficiently for the user but also for Google itself.
4. Mobile Friendly
On April 21st 2015, Google updated their algorithm to expand the use of mobile-friendliness in their rankings in an effort to ensure that users get the highest quality of information in a format that is optimised for the device they are currently using. Sites that are neither responsive or have a mobile version now take a severe hit to their SEO ranking.
We develop all of our websites to be responsive, so this will never be an issue, but it is important to know that your site is getting a rankings boost from this!
5. Pay Per Click Campaigns
We recommend running a Google Pay Per Click (PPC) campaign when your site goes live. It’s a great way to find out which keywords are going to work for your business and to build up some momentum quickly. As I’m sure you’re aware, when you search on Google, the first few results along with several in the side bar are paid advertising so having your site appear there immediately can be a massive help to getting users browsing your site. Even further down the line, if your site is number one in the paid ads, as well as number one in the normal search engine results pages (or SERPs as they are known) then it will really give the user the impression that yours is a website with an established presence in that particular market.
Google PPC campaigns are very easy to set up, and you can be extremely specific about budget, timeframe in which to run the ad and geographical locations that users must be in for the ad to be displayed.
But now it’s over to you
Unfortunately, getting found on search engines doesn’t stop there. In order to continue building on your natural search rankings you will have to be in it for the long haul. Here are some top line things that need to be worked on after go live:
- Regularly adding fresh content to your website gives Google a reason to keep coming back and looking at your site, boosting your SEO ranking. Content is definitely king. For example, blogs, adding case studies, images, testimonials etc…
- Having your social media accounts linking back to your website. Where possible getting other relevant sites an directories to link back to you is excellent for your ranking.
- Once your website goes live, we can stay involved as much or as little as you need, to do HTML email campaigns or content and website developments. A website is never finished and once it goes live we need to make the most of it.
Hopefully now you understand a little more about SEO, along with what can be done to improve on it. If you want to know more, Google have a fantastic (if slightly outdated) document here that goes into a lot of detail about different aspects of site optimisation that is well worth a read.