SEO, or search engine optimisation, is often thought to be a mysterious art that everybody struggles to understand. Here at Next Pixel, we know that this is not the case, and we are experts in the field, so we want to help you understand more.
Today I am going to take you through;
What is SEO?
SEO is basically the process of working on specific features of a website to maximise the number of visitors by increasing the exposure of this site on search engines such as Google and Bing. I am going to cover some of the things that make SEO as we know it, but there are always new and changing methods and techniques in search engine optimisation, so the real key is to stay informed and keep learning.
On Page optimisation
It is important to remember that in SEO, you should ALWAYS optimise for users and for search engines, never do anything that may look wrong to a human, just because you think it will be good for a search engine. Do not put any content on that you would not understand or find helpful yourself. Once you make sure that you have optimised for your users, you can optimise for search engine using on-page optimisation. On-page optimisation is essentially building the foundations for your SEO success, it is the process of ensuring that your website looks perfect in the eyes of a search engine, but also to your website users, by tackling all the things that we know a search engine can see and looks for, such as;
Heading tags are the main titles on your web pages and are in place in order to help search engines read your content and figure out the meaning and focus of each page on your website. Each web page on your site should have a H1 tag, which is a main heading, and if appropriate, use subheadings in H2’s, H3’s etc. You should use these heading tags as places to include important keywords that you would like your webpage to show on a search engine for, particularly your H1, which should contain your most important keywords for the relevant page.
SEO titles and meta descriptions
You will have an SEO title and meta description on all webpages on your website, and the two things serve very different purposes. Similarly, to your heading tags, your SEO title, which is what you see on a Google search for that webpage, should include your keywords in order to be seen by a search engine and help your webpages rank. However, your title should also be enticing to a searcher, to make them want to click on your webpage, rather than your competitors. However, your meta description, the description you see below your SEO title on a search engine, is in place purely to entice your searchers to click through. You may include your keywords in the meta description to help it stand out, however It will not contribute directly to where your webpage ranks on a search engine. It is, however, your first point of contact with potential customers on a search engine, so it should receive as much attention as your other important SEO features of your website. Read my blog on how to write meta descriptions here.
Another place that needs to include your keywords in order to assists search engines in ranking your website for your target keywords is the body content on your web pages. The content on each of your websites pages is essential in helping a search engine understand what your website is talking about, or trying to sell, which is what helps them rank you. However, as we said previously, do not optimise purely for search engines, make sure your content makes sense to your website users and is helpful and informative. As a minimum, you should try to ensure all of your web pages have a word count of 250 words, and there isn’t really any limit to that, as long as your content is good quality, and helpful to your users, you can write as much as you need.
In order to optimise your images, you must use ALT tags. To do so, you should include relevant images to match up to the content on the web page, and then make the ALT tags relevant to the image and the copy, using your keywords when possible. You should ensure that your image ALT tags are descriptive and make sense to a human reader, don’t force your keywords in if it is not normal to a human reader.
A major issue when it comes to optimising your website is broken links. A broken link is essentially when you link to a page that does not exist, because it has been deleted or moved to a different URL. Broken links are very bad for your on-page SEO because it stops search engine crawlers from following the link and understanding your site structure as well as possible. It is also very unattractive for your website users if they go to a 404 page when they thought the link they were clicking on was helpful, and it could lose you potential customers.
The speed that your website loads is now a contributing factor to where your website ranks in a search engine. It is a grey area for many people and understanding how to do it is often beyond the scope of people that are not technically advanced in the engineering of a website, however, here at Next Pixel we have the expertise to understand the ins and outs of website page speed and we are able to improve yours substantially. If you are interested in finding out more about your website page speed and how you may be able to improve it, read my post here.
Off-site optimisation is a very different kettle of fish to on page and is much more about building up the authority of your website and attracting users from places other than a search engine. This is often thought to be the more difficult side of search engine optimisation, but it is something that we can assist you with and try and help you to understand it here. Off-site optimisation consists of things such as;
Social media platforms are one of the best tools that marketers have ever had the pleasure of dealing with. They contain hundreds of millions of potential customers, that can all be accessed free of charge. Marketing your business on social media is often difficult because there are so many people and you need to suit all your target audiences to be successful. However, if you have the right strategy towards social media and you know how to target your audience well, you are bound to increase traffic to your website using social media. An easy way into social media marketing is to post blog posts/new content that you have put onto your website and post a link to them on your social media with an interesting blurb/image to entice your social media followers into clicking the link through to your website.
Link building is the process of getting your website URL featured on other websites around the web, in order to show to search engines that people are talking about your website and this builds authority and trust towards your website. Links are often regarded as one of the most important factors to your search engine rankings, so it is important to get them right. Never pay for links or accept links from poor quality websites. Use tools such as Website Authority Checker to discover the authority of a website before you try and get a link on there.
Some of the ways you can achieve links from external websites are;
- Creating good content that people will share and post naturally
- Listing your website on high-quality, trusted business directories
- Creating guest posts for high-quality blogs/news sections
There are many ways of achieving links from external websites, and each website will have a different method, which tends to depend on the industry they operate in. If you are unaware of the ways that you can build links, we can help you.
Why do we use SEO?
SEO, which is sometimes deemed as difficult work, in fact reaps fantastic returns, and is worth the investment, if done correctly. Firstly, SEO will help drive traffic to your website, this is essentially what SEO is. Traffic is basically the amount of people that visit your website, which we want to be maximised. Through the use of SEO, you are putting your business in front of as many people as possible, and by optimising everything correctly you are giving yourself the upper hand on your competitors, and hopefully getting the clicks through to your website from potential customers.
Getting the traffic to your website is only half of the work. Once you get users onto your website, you need them to do what you want. Whether this is to buy a product or to use your contact form to make an enquiry, you want them to do something on your website, and good SEO can help you achieve this. Read more about conversion rate optimisation here to see how we can help you convert your new users.
SEO will help you to grow your business online, it will put your website in front of more people and expose your business to a wider audience. This gives you the opportunity to target all these potential customers and grow your online presence. The more your SEO helps you achieve business, the more you can invest into it, which is very clear business growth.
All the previous points lead to overall business growth. If your website performs well and you get increased sales from your SEO investments, then you are seeing business success from search engine optimisation, which is the main goal for all business investments.
Who is important in SEO?
Like all specialist trades, in SEO there are influencers and important people, I want to share a couple with you to allow you to do further research and know who can provide you with some good information. Meet the important people in SEO;
Rand Fishkin is the CEO & Co-Founder of SEOmoz(https://moz.com/), which is one of the leaders in SEO tools, resources and community. Rand is an expert in the field and provides the SEO world with a number of helpful resources, such as the much-loved series – Whiteboard Fridays.
Danny is Google’s public Search Liaison: helping people better understand search and Google better hear public feedback. He can often be seen on Twitter providing people in the SEO industry with helpful information regarding things happening at Google. He is also responsible for Search Engine Watch and Search Engine Land, two high quality websites for search engine news/tips and much more.
There are many more influencers and important people in the wide world of SEO, and they can be found easily with a quick Google search, I just wanted to list a couple of important people that provide different things to the world of SEO but help our industry in many ways.
Where do we see SEO?
Even without knowing it, we all come across somebody’s SEO efforts almost every day. If you make a search on Google, or see a company’s post on Facebook or Twitter, then you are encountering SEO that people are working hard to achieve success from.
The main places we see SEO take place are;
The main focus of everybody’s SEO efforts are to achieve search engine success. Getting that number one spot on Google for your target key term or increasing your traffic statistics from Bing. We work alongside and often against search engines every day in our battle to achieve SEO success. It is a marathon rather than a sprint, and we take time to perfect our websites. Every time you use a search engine, you are contributing to somebody’s SEO success.
Not all websites have a company managing their SEO, although we believe that all websites should. For a large number of businesses however, you come into contact with their SEO efforts constantly. The way they change their titles and headings on their webpages, or the content that they have written on a product page. This is all done in order to try and achieve SEO success, and you will come into contact with it constantly without even realised.
Something that has risen exponentially in the world of search engine optimisation over the past few years is videos. Many businesses are entering the world of using videos to help their search engine optimisation efforts, and the main place this happens is of course, YouTube. Whether it is a sponsored product review from an influencer in that industry, or a helpful ‘how to’ video posted by a company, this is in place to try and drive users to their site and to try and drive sales on the web. When you watch a company video on YouTube and this leads you to decide to visit their website or buy their products, this is an example of successful SEO and marketing through YouTube videos.
These are just a few examples of where you see what we call SEO, but there are endless places, SEO is far and wide on the web and you will see it more than you can ever realise.
When did SEO begin?
Search Engine Optimisation revolves mainly around the Search Engine Google these days, but SEO as we know it can be seen before Google was born. There is no definite start date, so a “beginning” cannot officially be stated, but the term ‘search engine optimisation’ can be seen being used as far back as 1997. According to Search Engine Journal, the manager of the band “Jefferson Starship” was unhappy with the fact that the band’s official website was on page 4 of a search engine at the time, and he wanted it to be in position 1. Before DMOZ and Google, there were things such as Zeal, LookSmart, Go.com and Yahoo, which were some of the first players in what we now call SEO.
The term Search Engine Optimisation may have been coined over 20 years ago, but it is still a huge and important part of businesses digital success. As much as the odd person may try to say that SEO is dead, SEO is very much alive and is changing daily, so we have to stay informed and stay up to date with the goings on in the SEO world.
SEO is a specialist subject and can sometimes be difficult to understand, which is why Next Pixel are here to help you. Your website is your key to online success, let us help you maximise success and increase sales with our SEO services.