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Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) – Everything you need to know 

This article discusses what Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is and why businesses need it, along with how you can ensure your business has the best possible chances of ranking highly within Google.  

What is SEO and how does it work? 

SEO is the practice of trying to rank your website highly in search engines such as Google and Yahoo. Ranking highly as a result of SEO will help more people find your business online and discover the products and services which you offer. With 62% of all website clicks taking place on the first 3 organic search results, it’s clear to see that a high ranking within Google is essential and that anything less than the best is not enough. 

How does SEO work?

How does this relate to your business?  

Before your customers make initial contact with a member of your staff, over two thirds will have already decided what they want to buy, who they want to buy it from, what their buying options are and how much they are willing to pay. Forbes reported in May 2018 that 68% of all Business to Business (B2B) purchasing decisions have already been made online before the customer gets in contact with you. The new battleground for selling your products and services is online. If you want to continue to compete and grow your business in today’s world, your business has to compete online.    

It’s all about your website!

Your website is often the first interaction a potential customer will have with your business and we all know how important first impressions are. It is your number one salesman, working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for 365 days a year. Your website also contains all of the information about your company and can be consistent in the delivery of that information. A well designed website can do everything a salesman does whilst never being late for appointments, taking a wage or forgetting technical details. Most importantly, people are able to look at your products or services in their own time and make decisions at their own pace which is often not the case when dealing with a salesman.  

It is clear to see that an investment in your website is sensible but If you’re going to invest in your digital presence, then you need to ensure this new asset is being used to its full advantage. With the average U.K website costing around £4,000 to set up and £400 a year to maintain, it’s a small price to pay for the potential value it can deliver to your business.

If your website is not visible in search engines this investment is wasted because when looking for the products and services you offer online, potential customers will not be able to find your business.

Research by industry leader Neil Patel found that out of 20 million searches in Google, 85% of all clicks happened on the first page, with 62% taking place on the first three results. This demonstrates the importance of your ranking in search engines when it comes to having an effective digital presence. 

How to rank higher in Search Engines

When looking to improve your ranking in search engines such as Google, there are many different techniques and strategies used but there are certain fundamentals that will always be relevant. We love these SEO tools and they will support you throughout this process. 

Content, Content and more Content

SEO works on an algorithm that ranks a website based on how good it is. When we think about it simply, Google’s primary purpose is to help you find answers, and its algorithm is designed to produce the website that best answers your search query. In order to do this effectively, as highlighted in the earlier video, Google ranks your website based on how good it is. MOZ developed a tool that taps into these algorithms and ranks your website from 1-100 in the same way as Google does. The higher the score the better your website is and consequently the more likely you are to appear highly in search engines.

As digital marketers and business owners, something we need to repeatedly ask ourselves is “how can I increase my Domain Authority”? There are no hard and fast rules with this, but based on our experience, the best way to work on increasing domain authority, and consequently rank higher in search results, is to create fantastic content. If you’re creating really engaging and valuable content that your readers love, they are likely to spend a long time on your website. They will engage with it further (click into the site, get in contact etc.), they will share it with their friends and peers and they may end up referencing it in their own work, thus giving you a backlink. These factors form a part of the grading system that decides how Google ranks your website.

Google values the ability for a website to provide visitors with solutions and so lists these websites higher. Google is intelligent enough to use data from its users in order to determine the quality of their experience within your site, meaning that it knows how well your website is answering their problems and specific search queries. It then gives your site a relevant score out of 100 (Domain authority) which grades the site’s ability to provide answers and solutions for specific searches.

Why is content production about more than keeping up with the Joneses?

 

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Fix your Technical SEO issues

If your website has technical issues it will not perform at full capacity. Just like a car with a flat tyre, if your website is not fighting fit and fully set up then it will always struggle to perform and rank highly in Google.

Unfortunately, recognising these weaknesses is difficult to do unless you have the eyes of an expert and specific software to support you. At Invanity we love MOZ and think it is a fantastic tool for identifying technical issues within your website that may hinder you from ranking within search engines. As with most highly technical tools however, it’s expensive and only beneficial if used by an expert. 

The type of technical issues that need to be resolved may include things such as 404 errors, missing meta descriptions, incorrect page titles and poor usage of keywords, and may also include things like slow loading times and server issues. If you get these foundations wrong it is always going to be an uphill battle to rank in Google, and you don’t want to be starting at a disadvantage in a race that is already incredibly difficult to win. 

Is this simply not your area of expertise? Contact us today for your free website audit and a discussion about what this all means and why you need to fix it.

Help Google know what page answers what search Query.

Google is forever trying to analyse the extent to which a webpage can answer a search query. You need to ensure that Google is able to easily decipher what keyword or search query each page within your website is answering so that Google delivers the right page within your site for each search query that a potential customer inputs into it. To do this we need to clearly tell Googles algorithms what each page on your website is talking about.

 

How do you do this?

Through trial and error we have discovered that the optimum amount of times a keyword should be in your webpage (including URL’s, meta descriptions and alt tags) is 24. You should be using your primary keyword or phrase in the URL, page title, H1, meta description and as a description for any images used. However, don’t just randomly put these words in but instead, try to elegantly weave them into your webpage to avoid hampering readability. Inserting these key words should complement your webpage and not compromise your content which needs to be helpful and informative to the reader.

Why do you need to do this?

The danger of not doing this is that Google may not know what your webpage is discussing and rank your page on apples based on keywords for pears! It will always get close enough but may slightly miss the mark.

At this point, people who visit your site looking for apples will quickly realise you are talking about pears and click immediately off, which gives a high bounce rate and incredibly low engagement rates. Google will assume your website is not helpful and does not give users the answers they are searching for. Google’s ranking algorithms will begin to lack trust, which will decrease your domain authority resulting in a lower ranking for your website.

It’s crucial to follow best practice and rank the correct keywords to the most relevant page and to help support your users in answering their questions. This enables Google to give you credit for this and rank you higher.

Tracking And Analysing Your SEO

It is crucial that across all areas of your business you have the ability to test and measure performance so you make informed decisions regarding your growth strategies. You would be amazed by how many businesses we have helped that do not have the ability to track the performance of their websites, let alone their digital marketing campaigns. One of our core values here at Invanity is that we are data driven. All too often we see opinions being used when there is no need to as we have data and statistics that provide us with insights.

Follow the below steps to ensure that you are able to effectively analyse the performance of your website and its SEO.

  1. Put tracking in place. Its Free! This is done through Google analytics and is really simple to set up. Your current webhost or provider will be able to help you with this but if you have any issues or questions contact us and we will be more than able to support you.
  2. Start analysing your organic traffic. Organic traffic refers to website visitors that have found you online using search terms and keywords as opposed to just typing your URL in or finding you through a link on another website. If you have only just set tracking up on your website, leave it for 2 months to settle before you check, but if it already exists in your infrastructure, look at the number of organic visitors you have had in the last 2 month and record this in a spreadsheet.
  3. The signs of success within a website change on an individual basis. For example, an e-commerce site which takes orders and payments online (e.g. Amazon) would class a success as someone making a purchase. However, the Invanity website classes a success as someone submitting a contact form. It’s important to establish what these signs of success are within your business and your website so that you can track these. You can track this within Google analytics using events which are things such as purchases and form submissions.
  4. In the same spreadsheet as mentioned in point 2, record the amount of events that have taken place in your site over the same specified time period.
  5. Now you should be at the point where you are able to see how much website traffic you have from organic sources in relation to the amount of events which have taken place from this organic traffic. Using this you can begin to see if your SEO work is increasing your organic traffic and whether this increase in organic traffic is leading to an increase in organic events.

By having this tracking in place over a sustained period, you will see trends in how your SEO work is affecting your events and success factors. This will allow you to understand more about the investment you are making in your SEO and if this is delivering a sufficient return on investment (ROI), helping you make more informed decisions about future SEO investment. Click here to learn more about when to invest in your SEO and how you can tell if you are generating an effective ROI. 

Be patient!

It is crucial to understand that SEO is not a short-term project. It can take anywhere up to 6 months before you see results. Just because you don’t see quick results does not mean that you should stop investing in it. You need to be patient and understand the basics.

 

What is successful SEO? Don’t be fooled and make sure you understand the process

The only way to conduct successful SEO is to move keywords and phrases onto page 1 of Google, then into the top 6 and finally the top 3. Something we have discovered from working within a lot of marketing and SEO agencies is that they often inflate the value of slightly improved ranking.  At Invanity we are clear from the outset on our goals and the importance of effective positioning.

They will tell you that a keyword of yours has moved from position number 31 in Google to position 12, which sounds great and will often be music to your ears. But this is where they fail to reveal to that an increase in 19 positions from 31 to 12 on Google will only actually result in a 0.54% increase in the amount of organic traffic you are getting for that keyword.

Is SEO a valuable investment?

Read More

The real value with regards to getting more visitors to your site, as shown in the graph, comes in three main phases. When you break into the first page of Google (top 10 rankings), then when you make it to the top 6, and then finally the top 3. It is only at this point that you will begin seeing real results, provided you have chosen the correct keywords which a lot of people are regularly searching for.

By having these tracking systems in place and effectively measuring how your SEO is impacting things such as your organic traffic and organic events, you will be able to make informed challenges to your SEO provider and ensure that you are getting value for money.  

The complete guide to SEO

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How does local SEO differ from National SEO

SEO comes in all shapes and sizes but broadly speaking there are two main ways you should focus your efforts; either through “local” SEO or “national” SEO. Local SEO is primarily aimed at small businesses such as local car garages, restaurants and tradesmen who are looking to gain traffic to their website in specific regions of the UK, whilst national SEO tends to be aimed at bigger businesses looking to gain a wider reach and generate sales nationwide.

As a local company who only provides their services in a specific area you should only ever be concerned with your rankings in these locations as well as where you rank for a keyword for someone who is currently searching in your target location. Similarly, it’s important to rank highly when they include your target location in their search query.

It is important to understand that if you are a local company who only wants to work in the local community or specific region that you should only focus your efforts with this in mind. There would be no value in ranking number 1 for the phrase “electrician in Liverpool” if you are based in Oxfordshire and can only offer your services here. You should only ever be concerned with how you rank in your specific target location and how you rank in searches that directly use your target location in the query.

Google’s new algorithms are so intelligent that they can determine where you are in the world and deliver the most appropriate results based on this. You no longer have to rank for “Electrician in Oxfordshire” but instead just rank for the term “Electrician” whenever someone is searching in Oxfordshire. It’s important to remember however, with local SEO you should aim to achieve both. The only things that are relevant to our Oxfordshire based electrician’s SEO is where they rank for phrases relating to “electrician” if someone is searching in Oxfordshire and secondly where they rank for phrases relating to “electrician in Oxfordshire” if the searcher is not based In Oxfordshire.

The way you achieve ranking for terms locally is far different than if you are trying to achieve a keyword ranking nationally.

A national ranking is as simple as it sounds, you are trying to rank for these phrases and keywords regardless of where the searcher is in the country and regardless of what location they put into their query.

How Do You Rank Locally

Nothing should change here from what was mentioned earlier regarding the core principals of SEO, but there are best practices that should be followed.

  1. Create localised landing pages that are not only specific to your target location, but are highly informative and offer fresh content. These pages should also summarise your business quickly and give a holistic view of who you are and what you offer. Read our blog on how to create the perfect localised landing page.

These local landing pages will form the foundations of your local SEO strategy and they should be the pages you should be attempting to rank for and optimise.

Why?

These pages will have your specific keywords and locations in them and will be technically set up to a far higher degree to rank within Google than any other of your website pages. This landing page will attempt to either convert entrants immediately or encourage them to visit the rest of the site. Learn more here.

We think it’s a great idea is to use paid advertising (either Facebook or AdWords) to initially drive traffic into the pages so they begin to receive engagements. It takes a lot of users and a lot of time to rank a website page and so if you can gain an advantage by sending paid traffic into the site it helps to speed the process up before It can begin ranking organically. This traffic also provides you with the opportunity to begin testing and optimising your landing page for conversions.

  1. Ensure you are listed in all local directories and your listings are consistent. Click here to check your local listings score and identify areas for improvement. Local directories serve two purposes; they are a backlink to your site which is great for your SEO and they drive small amounts of traffic to your site.

Tip: You should ensure that these listings are pointing to your localised landing pages.

  1. Use Google my business effectively. Google my business is the box that often shows up on the right hand side of your Google search and gives you more information about a business or franchise, as seen below. You should ensure that you claim your free listing and that it is fully optimised. To learn more about claiming your free listing click here. If you would like to learn more about how to optimise your existing Google my business account click here.

There is a lot more information out there discussing how to grow your local SEO, but if you follow the above three steps it will provide you with a perfect platform from which you can start to grow your local traffic.

 

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Final Thoughts

In conclusion, SEO is not easy and it’s not a quick process. If it was that straightforward everyone would rank highly within Google. The value behind ranking highly is massive but it takes a lot of commitment, investment and time. If you want to really improve your SEO we would recommend using MOZ software to start and to follow this guide to the best of your ability. For meaningful improvement getting professional support is invaluable.

Yes, we offer SEO but that was not the purpose of this article. We planned to educate you on how exactly SEO works and point you in the right direction moving forward. We understand that you don’t want to be sold to and we get it! Nobody does, but if you would like our help please do get in contact and we will conduct a free SEO audit on your site and take things from there.

Get in touch and start growing your business with SEO today! 

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