Search engine optimisation (SEO)
If you are running a business which has any on-line presence, then you have definitely heard about Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). It is the art of structuring, designing, building and populating your website in such a way that search engines like Google Search or Microsoft Bing would rank it as high as possible, and hence list it as nearer to the top, as possible when people search for a product or service that your business offers. Nobody wants to be on the second page. In fact, how often do you go as far as the second page on the Google Search results when you are looking for something? My friend Jaroslaw at shrinkfit.co.uk mentioned an old SEO joke which goes something like this “…the best place to hide a body is on the second page of the Google Search results…”. It is fair to say that the competition for the top spot in any search engine is fierce and hence it is very hard to get there. But fear not, because just a bit of Search Engine Optimisation on your website will get you there…, or will it?!
Since Poole Software Limited is a company which offers bespoke business software applications development and custom web development services, many people that offer SEO services did not want to help us with our SEO, because they were seeing us as competition. Since most companies that offer SEO also offer website design services, they see us as a bit of a competition and so about three or four different companies that we have approached for help with SEO, have turned us down. Many people tend to do SEO on websites and media products that they themselves provide. That way they are in familiar territory, dealing with technologies that they are comfortable with and so they feel like they can optimise that given website in the best way. And that is a drawback, because these companies tend to specialise in a given technology so all their customers will end up with similar technology-based websites. Since, we were not getting anywhere, or when someone did offer to help, the cost was more than what we were able to pay, we had to do it ourselves. Poole Software Limited is not a highly Search Engine Optimisation specialised company and so we had to stumble our way through it. And here is how we did it.
Your website must be mobile-friendly!
In today’s day and age, more and more internet traffic happens over mobile networks. More and more users expect to access your website and use it comfortably on their mobile phones. When I see a website on my mobile phone that requires zooming in or scrolling horizontally when using it, I get turned off. And so, will the users of your website if your website is not mobile-friendly. On our website, we used Bootstrap technology to make sure that when accessed via a mobile phone it looks and “smells” perfect. No horizontal scrolling and no zooming to see what it is written. It just renders itself on whatever screen space is available in a user-friendly way. If you want to improve your SEO ranking, then make sure your website is mobile-friendly. Google Search and Microsoft Bing don’t like much a website that is not mobile-friendly.
The next very important aspect is the page structure. Your page needs to have “H1” tags like titles. It needs to have “meta” tags like the page title and the page description. Both Google Search and Microsoft Bing penalise your website by pushing it down the ranking if its basic structure is not right. A page also needs to have some paragraphs with some content that the search engine can read and make some sense of what the page is about. Having only images or very little text may end up not even being indexed by the search engine. Images, need to have the “alt” attribute, links need to have titles and so on. This is not a “how to do your search engine optimisation” guide. There are much better guides out there on the internet. This is just a post about how we did it, and page structure was something that we had to watch very closely. These are only some examples, and there is so much more to page structure, but I hope you get the message that page structure is very important.
Page Speed Is Important for SEO
One of the studies shows that if your page takes longer that five seconds to load then you are highly likely to lose that visitor. People do not like to wait around for a page to load. Time is very short for many people and if your website is slow, then you are going nowhere. It is imperative that your “landing page” (the page a user visiting your website sees first) is fast. Both Google Search and Microsoft Bing will penalise your website if the page loading speed is slow. You can read some more about how we improved the page loading speed on our website How we got 100% in the Google PageSpeed Insights. Just go to Google PageSpeed Insights and test your website. See what your score is. And if it is not good enough, then get busy because it is doing no good to your SEO ranking.
Make Full Use Of The Many Free Online SEO Checkers
There is loads of free tools out-there that will scan your website and give you a report of how well it is optimised for search engines. Just type in something like “seo website checker” in Google and you will see a list of them. We used a few of them like seositecheckup.com, good old Neil Patel’s at neilpatel.com and so many more. A couple of weeks ago, Jaroslaw from shrinkfit.co.uk/ranking-page-one-google-new-seo-magic-inventor-james-gafis.htm informed me about seobility.net/en/. What I am saying is, there is loads of tools that are available for free to use and make corrections to your website. But please remember, they are not perfect. Every case is unique, and a human touch might make the difference between place 11 (second page on Google Search with all the bodies) and the 10th place with all the winners. I would still allocate a little bit of cash if you can afford it for a specialist to have a look and make some adjustments or recommendations.
Create Content For People not For the Search Engine
Today, this whole Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) thing, has become quite an industry. There are so many players that will make you go dizzy. All claim that they somehow know the ins and outs of the algorithms that Google Search uses to rank websites and they will reveal to you the secret if you employ them to do your SEO. Yes, Google Search does use some algorithms to rank websites and yes, Google are not keeping their cards too close to their chest. They do share with the world what they expect to see when they are crawling a website. As technology moves on, Google does adjust their expectations of a website if that website wants to stay at the top, but there are a couple of things that are constant, and those very things have the biggest weight when it comes to the ranking of your website. One of those constant things is Content. You can try and fool Google Search or Microsoft Bing into ranking your website a bit higher than perhaps it deserves, but ultimately, it will not get you where you want. But good quality content, that is up-to-date and expressed in a way that is user-friendly, will benefit your ranking a great deal. Concentrate on creating content rather than fooling the search engine. Once you have done all the basics of SEO, and your website is scoring above 90% on most of those SEO checkers, then it is time to shift your focus to your content.
Good Content Is The Most Important Key in SEO
What improves ranking is how popular your website is. But for a website to become popular, you need people to not only visit you for the first time and spend time on your website, but also return. However, the only way a person will return to your website, is if you give them reasons to do so. So, you need to ask yourself, “would a person who has visited my website for the first time return?”. If you are not sure, then you are in trouble. But good content will ensure they come back and by doing that, increase the popularity of your website. So, what is content then?
Well, a blog where new interesting, informative and entertaining articles are published every week or at least every other week is a good way to go about it. Every time a new post is published, share it on social media (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc) and let the people know that you have just created something that might be of use to them. That will increase the number of your visitors and the time they spend on your website, which no doubt, will catch Google’s attention.
Video blogging is another thing that people do. These days, it does not have to be that expensive. It can even be done on your mobile phone. And published for free on YouTube or Vimeo, or even your own server if you like. Each video needs to be useful, informative, entertaining (not boring to watch) non-offensive, etc. Then in the video or in the video description you have links to your website so that people can follow-up on a call-to-action that you put in the video. There are many other ways to create content, but these two are the main two ways to do it.
The end result of all the new content is that people will 1) come to your website, 2) spend time on your website, 3) link (or refer) to your website from other places on the internet. When a search engine sees links to your website, then your ranking goes up because that infers “reputation”. In the SEO world, reputation counts for very much, and the higher your reputation the higher your ranking.
If you want to rank higher on Google Search, then you need to do some search engine optimisation (SEO) to achieve that. You must make sure your website pages are structured right, the content is useful and intended for humans. You need to make sure you have adequate content and you need to ensure that you keep on creating new content that people want to consume. Make sure the loading speed is 2 – 3 seconds, but definitely less than 5 seconds. Keep on blogging and vlogging (video blogging). Keep the new content coming at regular and frequent intervals. And finally, keep on checking your website for SEO, because over time, things creep in that need ironing out. To get to the top in Google Search or Microsoft Bing, you either need loads of money in advertising or loads of patience. Climbing the ranking ladder organically takes time and effort, but if you do it the organic way, you are sure to find it easier to stay at the top.
If you are baffled by all this, give us a call. We are not specialising in SEO, but we will work on your website to get the basics right and then find a good Search Engine Optimisation services company that will handle the rest for you.
OK, time to come clean. In the end, none of the above made the kind of difference that we needed to attract the amount of traffic that we were hoping for. All of it is nice and good, but it was not enough. So we had to go out and find a local SEO services provider to do it for us, since the most of the work is not the on-page SEO (stuff that you can do to the website) but the off-page SEO which is links and referrals. So, we started working with one company which proved a waste of money (be careful) and now we are working with another company which we hope will do the trick. Will report back in a few months, but for now, this is where we are with our SEO efforts.