SEO, or Search Engine Optimisation is complicated. It is often difficult to explain to a client what it is, how it’s developed and implemented and what it needs to work properly. All those considerations aside there is little argument that SEO is essential to driving traffic and converting the traffic to the desired end goal, be it email capture, a checkout cart or other final objective.
When speaking to an SEO specialist most people hear all sorts of jargon and in no time their eyes glaze over. There are two parts to the technical side of SEO—on page SEO and off page SEO. Each of these has can be subdivided into subsections too.
On page SEO
Search Engines and other online services use bots to search for information online. Search engine bots crawl through web pages to determine their content and relevance and classify them according to importance and quality. This is called ranking. The higher the rank the page is allocated the, closer it will come to the top of the first page. Google is the largest and most popular search engine globally, but there are other large search engines that service countries that don’t use the western alphabet.
On-page SEO refers to your website and the pages within it. There are many ways to optimise a website so that its pages rank. The first method is to ensure that the design is search engine friendly. There was a time when designers used frames and tables to separate parts of a web page. The problem with websites that are stilled designed in this way is that the search engine bots classify each frame and table as a page on their own. If they don’t contain much information then there is a risk that it won’t be regarded as relevant or contextual to other content on the page, and so the page isn’t ranked. Modern design should exclude frames and tables where at all possible.
A website should be Mobile responsive, because search engines place a higher emphasis on mobile visibility than desktop visibility. This means more than just being mobile-friendly. If you have a huge page that simply fits into a screen but doesn’t adapt to different screen sizes, this will look very unprofessional and your competitors will get ahead. Ensure that you find a good web specialist that can help optimise your site for mobile devices.
Search engines also follow links that are posted on the page to ensure that the page shares quality, relevant material and isn’t a spammy source of link-building. Good outgoing links can build a page’s ranking, but too many and irrelevant links can get a page penalised. These are called external links. The best place to create relevance is in the header and therefore social media links, the contact email link and a phone number should always be in the header. Bots may search footers but they get there last and often don’t consider the information as important.
Content is currently king of the SEO world. When a webpage has good quality text, image or video content, then the page will rank. To help a page rank, the entire site should contain a variety of content that is clearly related and this should be indicated by each page linking to another where the content is related. These are called internal links.
Off-page SEO is achieved by optimising the digital assets of the website owners, be they a company, an organisation or an individual. These assets include but are not limited social media profiles such as Facebook pages, Twitter and Instagram accounts and Google profiles including a YouTube channel.
Linking content to and from these pages increases the pages relevance. The magic that they do however is drive followers and page visitors back and forth. Once Google picks up on this dynamic activity between different online properties, the value of the pages and assets increases, they are ranked and start to move their way toward the first page.
External blogs, guest blogging and quality articles referencing the site also builds kudos for the site. This is often referred to as link-building, which is a very specialist task and done incorrectly can not only get your site penalised but completely deindexed, which is a disastrous situation.
Aggregating content and social bookmarking
There are only a few really good content aggregators out there and it takes a good SEO professional to know how to use social bookmarks to increase visibility. When it’s done correctly, it drives traffic, raising the authority of the website in the eyes of the search enginess.
Most online businesses depend on local patronage and need to be found when someone searches locally in their industry. This means that you will need to have your brand and business registered with Google and be identified on Google maps. Your business can then receive reviews and be listed in search. Experienced SEO specialists do this for clients as part of their everyday work, but opt out of it at your peril.
There are over 200 factors involved in how search engines rank a page. That’s a lot to get right. If your SEO specialist is experienced, they will know how to do this by integrating related factors. One of the factors that has not been mentioned is page loading speed. You will need both a development and an SEO expert to work together on this because this is influenced by the weight of the files on your server and whether you use a content distribution network or not. To achieve optimal page loading speed, you will need to get the two to work together.
SEO is complex and multi-faceted. We have looked at page rank and briefly domain authority in this article, but there are so many other factors that influence each other that it’s a good idea to instruct an experienced reputable professional to do the job for you.