Search Engine Optimisation: an overview

Here are a few insights which I thought worth sharing from a recent Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) webinar:

Search in perspective

91-92% of search takes place through Google according to StatCounter Global Stats, the remaining 8% is carried out through Bing, Yahoo, Baidu and Yandex RU; Baidu, the Chinese equivalent of Google and Yandex RU the Russian equivalent.

On-site optimisation, i.e. having the keywords which you want your site to be ranked for in the right place e.g. Page title and description and having engaging and useful content which will subsequently build links are the two most important things when it comes to search engine optimisation.

Consumer psychology: When a consumer performs a search, they are likely to click on the search results which contain in the title, the exact keywords which they have performed a search for.

It is this consumer psychology which makes it very important to include the keywords that a consumer is searching for in the title page. This prompts the question; how do you find out what keywords your target consumer is likely to be searching for? This is where customer profiling and really understanding who your target customer is, is very important.

Google now builds social signals (including links from social media) into its search algorithm. So having an active presence on social media can also help with search engine rankings.

Key-phrase research

Key-phrase research, used to identify the descriptive phrases which encapsulate your business offering is a very important aspect of the search engine optimisation process.

Traditionally it was thought that one and two keyword combinations –relevant to your business offering, e.g. ‘Shoes’ or ‘leather shoes’ if your business sold leather shoes - would ensure that you would rank highly in the search engine results pages, when in fact the shorter the key-phrase the more competition there will be for that keyword and more importantly the less-relevant the content that is delivered for your consumer.

Typically, users are now performing longer-tail keyword searches which use descriptive phrases and this puts the consumer closer to the point of conversion when they reach your site. Therefore it follows that these long-tail keywords should be included on your site.

Selecting your key phrases

Selecting your key phrases will depend upon two criteria; first and foremost identification of what your target consumer is searching for, and secondly the competition for the key phrase.

Identifying what key phrases that your target consumer is searching for is based on an understanding of your target consumer.

One of the best ways of identifying the competition for your prospective key phrases is by performing a Google search for these key phrases. The number of results returned is approximately the number of competing web pages.

Page Title

Page Title is very important as this is the blue line in the SERPs which the target consumer will use to determine whether your website is relevant to the search that they are performing. The page title must be unique for each page in your Website.

There have been competing theories on whether you should put who you are first, then what you do, for example; “Aval Solutions, Digital Marketing & Web Development Bath” or what you do first then who you are; “Digital Marketing & Web Development Bath, Aval Solutions”. This webinar stated that prioritising what your do is more important and therefore the primary keywords should be near the beginning of the page title.

The opposing view is that if the intended outcome of your website is to raise brand awareness and increase brand familiarity then your page titles should begin with your brand name as this will be the first word that your target audience reads.

On-page Content

The primary keywords and phrases should be included in the first paragraph. Headings should be used; which contain keywords and phrases, as this will not only assist with the ranking of the page in the SERPs but also makes for easier reading. The keyword density should be double-checked; if the page reads like it has been optimised (“keyword stuffing”) then it is likely that Google will pick up on this and penalise you for it. More importantly, keyword stuffing does not make for easy reading. It is nonsensical to spend time optimising your web pages for the SERPs, only for consumers to ‘bounce’ when they reach the page because the text is too difficult to read or not useful.

Text links

Text links are important but often overlooked opportunities to optimise your Site. Text links are the links that you create to external and internal content. The important aspect of these from a search engine optimisation perspective is the anchor text, which should comprise the keywords and key phrases rather than the ‘click here’ command.

Alt Tags

These are the descriptive key words and phrases attached to images. They are used for accessibility purposes (i.e. those who are visually impaired will use a screen-reader to view websites, which will pick up the Alt Tags in order to relay the content back to the user in text-speak.) but they also assist Google crawlers in their understanding of the image, as they cannot read images.

Link Building

Google judges the quality of the content on your site upon the number of inbound links from external sources; i.e. Blog articles and other website. These social signals depict the popularity of your site and if your site is popular then it logically follows that it must contain useful and engaging content.

A Google PageRank tool is available; which scores your website based upon the number of inbound links to your site. This tool is also available as a plug in for your browser, which ranks every site that you visit; a great tool to assess competitors and benchmark yourself.

Klout is the social media equivalent of the Google Page Rank, a social scoring website which ranks your social media presence and influence out of 100.

Link Baiting

This phrase essentially means creating content that is highly entertaining and remarkable and therefore attracts links to it.

This post is designed to give you a starting point for your search engine optimisation.

Happy Search Engine Optimising!

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