What is SEO? What is search engine optimisation…? How do I use SEO? Why should I use SEO? What steps should I use? What should I do first? OK, let’s do a Lord of the Rings on this… The one list to rule them all.
This is going to be a long post but you should find it highly informative. We’ll start with what needs to be done from the beginning then add to it throughout the week. If you have any feedback feel free to send it in.
Before even starting any SEO practices you need to ask yourself are you going to commit and invest time in the process? Achieving a fully optimised site that ranks high organically takes time. It’s not a short term goal! So if you’re thinking “yea I’ll spend the next six weeks doing a few bits when I can” then don’t bother you’re only wasting your time.
First things first – design strategy. A top priority of all companies is for the website to place high organically in search engines. When a website is created appropriately and made in an SEO friendly manner it can become an organisations competitive advantage (people mainly click the top three search engine results and rarely venture past the first page.)
In order for this to happen it is required that the site is developed and structured in a certain way to make it appealing to search engine crawlers. Take, for example, an individual in a large car park in one of Dublin’s busiest shopping centres. They know their car is somewhere near and after scanning the hundreds of vehicles they identify it by several attributes such as model, shape and colour. Search engines do something similar to the above scenario.
When a keyword is entered and searched for they crawl through millions of sites searching for certain attributes and once they identify these attributes they pull the site to the results page. To develop the attributes required for an SEO friendly website domain name selection and website structure need to be top of the list.
The process of domain name selection is a critical part of website development depending on the amount of brand awareness already in place. We highly recommend you use relative keywords in the domain name e.g. www.seoservicesnewyork.com. Individuals are searching for what they require and don’t need to know your business name.
Another reason is that search engines such as Google give preference to websites with keywords within their domain name. When choosing a domain name the same level of thought and detail is required as when choosing a brand name. The domain name is the same as any brand name and needs commerciality in order to be successful. The name needs to be short and memorable so users can revisit the site if they haven’t saved it on their computer.
The website structure is where the “magic happens” so to speak. It is here that the construction phase begins and the process of creating an SEO friendly website starts. The highest priority at this stage is to build the site in a search engine friendly format to ensure that search engines can read the pages, rank the them, and list them highly. There are a number of ways that this can be done and they are as follows;
You should develop a site with the aim of being SEO friendly but also one that delivers a great service experience. A service experience is essential in influencing recurring purchases and site visits. When working with a developer ensure they are creating your site with the aim of achieving a flat site architecture. This will make the site more user friendly but also to avoids reducing link authority.
The less authority a link has the lower it will be ranked by a search engine. The website should be developed in a way that keeps the number of clicks a user needs to make to get to the required information to a minimum. The easier a site is to use the better for all parties!
A website’s navigational features come in the form of its site map which can be in XML and HTML form. The HTML site map is for website visitors and is used in the same way you would use an index in a book to search for certain information. The XML site map is of benefit to search engines as they identify and list the URL’s of a website.
It also allows a search engine to see all of your websites pages and how frequently a site is updated and identify any new content uploaded since its last visit. By including both site maps we satisfy the most important users of the website; the target market and the search engine crawlers.
SEO Friendly URL’s
An SEO friendly URL is one that can be indexed easier by search engines and doesn’t contain a long query list after the domain name. While this is of significant benefit to search engines it also benefits the user if they wish to type a URL directly into the search bar. A long URL can combat the usability of a site as it is hard to repeat or remember. Take the following example of two different URL’s;
The second example is shorter and easier to read to the human eye but is also more search engine friendly. The first example may actually confuse a search engine and could result in vital information being overlooked. By using a SEO friendly URL you prevent the possibility of a search engine being unable to identify a certain folder.
Title Tags for SEO
An SEO friendly title tag is of the utmost importance as the page title is what a search engine uses to determine what the page is about. By ignoring the title tag or by spending little time writing one a website can prevent itself from being properly identified.
The page title needs to contain keywords and also inform all users about the page and be clear and concise. An effectively written title is essential for generating traffic through search engines as it is can be the deciding factor in whether an individual clicks on your site.
The title tag is the first chance a website is given to draw interest and make an impression so the selection and wording needs to contain relative keywords and a product offering/potential benefit. (See the where the red arrows are pointing in Appendix 3 for title tags).
The saying “never judge a book by its cover” is non-applicable here as the first bit of your website an individual sees when searching is your title. When they read the title they will decide in a second whether or not your page is worth viewing.
SEO for Images
Images can be used to generate traffic and are an essential part of search engine optimization. There are a number of ways you can optimize images to generate traffic and they are as follows;
- Using relevant keywords in your image filename
- Using text in the alt tag to describe the image to aid search engines in identifying what the image is.
- Using appropriate keywords when using an image as a link
- The image should be related to the keywords and descriptions used
- Using one folder to contain all the site images
We recommend you use Flickr for storing the images used on your website. Flickr is easy to use and by tagging images and using descriptions it can help boost optimization. Images can grab attention when a person is using a search engine and can be a defining factor in achieving a competitive edge over other organic food and clothing suppliers.
Also create a Pinterest account where you can upload images, pin images to your board and have your images re-pinned. This can be a great source of back links.
Why not check out some of the great posts we have on SEO? Just click the drop down menu to the right of this text and select “SEO”.