We are specialists in web design, content creation and SEO in Belfast. People always ask us for tips on SEO and how to get a leg up and get their business off the ground. We explain it to clients, often in a way that we now deem too technical.
Words can be scary, especially when those words are littered with technical jargon that you don’t understand the meaning of.
So we thought going forward we would simplify the terms that we use to allow everyone to understand exactly what SEO really is and the benefits that it brings to your business, why it is important and how to get great results in the ever changing environment that it is.
What is SEO & Why is it Important?
Most people are aware of SEO, but understanding exactly what it is is another story.
Definition: The process of affecting the visibility of a website or webpage in a search engine’s unpaid results.
You can read definition after definition and all of the SEO books and the processes that define it and still not really know what’s going on, it is a big concept to get your head around. What we think you are really wanting the answers to after the hundreds of enquiries that we have taken over the years are:
- How do you “optimise” your site for the search engines?
- How do you get found organically?
- How do you know how much time to spend on SEO?
It is the answers to these questions that will allow you to leverage from and reap the benefits of SEO, driving more traffic, leads, sales and in turn more revenue and profit.
So, Why Should You Care About SEO?
What is good advice and what is bad? The world has shifted online, let’s be honest – there is no denying that fact.
The traffic we speak about is people like you and me that are going onto the search engines, people that are looking for specific information, products or services.
Technical Jargon: Specific, buyer intent searches
We practice what we preach of course. We are number 1 for ‘SEO Belfast’, among a lot of others and WHY do we do it for ourselves?
We do it because it GETS RESULTS and YOU can too!
Billboards were great in their time, but life goes on and now ask yourself this question, would you rather put your hard earned money into billboards and get a sea of people in the area with no intent seeing it, or appear in the search results of someone who is on the verge of purchase? I know what I would rather.
What Works For Driving Traffic?
There are a number of search engines, Bing and Yahoo for example, but I’m going to take a guess that you most likely immediately go to Google.
Figures don’t lie and they are the biggest search engine in the world and growing.
Google is constantly updating how they rank websites in order to give the user the best experience. There were ways that websites used to rank that are now extremely risky and could get yourself blacklisted essentially and you would find yourself not found at all.
So what works? How does Google decide who comes out on top?
There is an algorithm that is beyond complex for this process, what they are basically looking for when a “spider” or “bot” crawls (reads) your site is:
- High quality content, content that is relevant to the users search
- They do this mostly based on how many keywords it contains
- Quality is determined by a number of factors
- Most commonly how many sites that link to you that have authority (backlinks)
Example: We both have a website that has the same purpose. Your friends website links to yours and The Daily mail links to mine. In short, I WIN.
Then of course the list goes on (this stuff is not easy)
- How are your users engaging with you?
- How fast your users gain access to the information
- Is your content unique?
Again, they are constantly updating, so even our relevance could suffer, if we are keeping our information up to date (by the way we do this for clients every single day – with dramatic results I might add)
Keyword Research & Keyword Targeting Best Practices
The first step of the entire process really is to determine what you want to optimise for.
Basically, identifying the terms people are searching for (keywords) that you would like your website to be the answer or solution to.
User types it in, you appear – not quite.
What we are considering while researching and identifying keywords:
- Search Volume – How many people are searching for your keyword?
- Relevance – How relevant a keyword or phrase (long-tail) is to you, making sure that your website is in front of the right people, this step isn’t the easiest, it takes practice (years we have been doing this) but the results can be incredible (we should know)
- Competition – Some keywords are very expensive (high buyer intent), we consider the likelihood for success, something we talk through in depth with every single client.
The first question we always ask to our SEO clients first:
- Who are you trying to reach?
- Who is your perfect customer?
- You should be asking yourself the following if you are considering SEO:
- What are they interested in?
- What is the problem that they have?
- What language do they use to describe the things that they do?
- Who are they buying things from (competitors or related products/services)
It is only when you answer these questions that you will understand and have possession of a “seed list” of possible keywords that we would expand on. Then comes the fun bit.
There are free tools like Google’s own keyword tool that you can use or Ubersuggest, but the whole process of SEO can be time consuming, so to be done right and your money to get a good return on your investment – time is essential.
We use countless software’s to get all of the information and make a decision on the best and most cost effective route to pursue in order to BOOST YOUR BUSINESS.
Keywords aren’t just there purely to rank, they are, but you can use tools that give you ideas for content based on these keywords.
We do in depth research to present the best course of action, seeing what major publications that are talking about your topic are using in theirs and how they are getting their traffic.
Where Do The Best Opportunities Lie?
Determining the relative competition of a keyword can be a fairly complex task, with each client we ask ourselves so many questions:
- How trusted and authoritative (in other words: how many links does the whole site get, and how high quality, trusted, and relevant are those linking sites?) other entire sites that will be competing to rank for the same term are
- How relevant the keyword is to competitors (do they give a great answer to the user’s search query?)
- How popular and authoritative each individual page in that search result is (in other words: how many links does the page itself have, and how high quality, trusted, and relevant are those linking sites?)
We use a lot of software that dives deep into the competitive landscape, giving figures on all that are mentioned above.
On page Optimisation comes after the keyword list is complete, this is where we move on and start to implement the keywords into your site’s content.
Having pages that specifically rank for that keyword we are “going after” or competing for.
A good visual to explain this is included in this overview of the perfectly optimized page by Rand Fishkin.
The page title is the single most important place that your keyword needs to appear. Google is working hard to understand the meaning of a page punishing those that are aggressive in their use of keywords.
The title tag is not the first thing you see when the page is loaded, but rather the one you see at the top of your browser.
The length matters and keeping it natural yet compelling, that is always our aim and the results have been great.
While the title tag is effectively your search listing’s headline, the meta description is kind of like an ad. We research these and make sure that they are optimised so that when you are found, you are clicked.
If you are worried about your content in terms of the changes that are going to be happening in the SEO landscape, a few things to consider:
Thick & Unique Content – Word count isn’t something that has a magic number associated with it, generally the longer the better, but it’s the relevance. We have a team dedicated to content generation.
Engagement – Try not to have aggressive ad’s, they just aren’t nice. The page speed should be high. Google is constantly looking at user experience, basically if your page is the solution to what the user typed in.
“Sharability” – Content that users find relevant is more likely to be shared. Not all pages will be, but put out relevant content rather than an abundance of “thin” content.
The more alt attributes that you use, and the more targeted they are (aka with the right wording), the more effective because Google is more informed on the information that your site is presenting it with.
Content Marketing, Link Building & Internal Links
This is essentially the architecture of your website or how they are organised. The organisation of your site has a direct link to how various content ranks to searches made.
Why are links important?
Links = “Vote of Confidence”
Helping Google understand its relevance and authority.
Link Building and the information architecture can be an extremely complex topic – particularly for larger sites, we are here to help with any questions you might have.
Google’s algorithm is largely based on links, having high quality links to your site is incredibly important in terms of traffic. You could do technical SEO until the cows come home, but without links – YOU WILL NOT SHOW UP.
If you are just starting out in SEO, I would have this advice : What is good and potentially drives a lot of traffic in the short term, could cause serious harm to your site in the long term.
If you start generating great content, the links will follow, and we can help with that as well.
Identify & Understand Your Linking & Sharing Audience
Understanding who is likely to be liking and sharing your content is a good gauge to work off when writing it and adapting it to that specific goal.
We use tools that leverage the information that we do have and then identify leaders and potential linkers in your space, the types of content that is typically shared and created based on that.
Before you create a major piece of content, you should have already thought about how that content will get shared: who will share it, and why would they?
Common Technical SEO Issues & Tracking Results
We build sites with SEO in mind from the ground up, focusing on what Google tells us to focus on, namely:
- User experience
- Mobile friendliness
We track and measure all of your SEO results. We take each client on, many of whom over the years have become friends.
Updates are regular and every step of the process is explained, with your own ability to track your performance as well as us.
We are 100% transparent – YOUR SUCCESS IS OUR SUCCESS
Additional SEO Considerations
We realise as a business ourselves that putting money into something you are unsure of can be a scary thing to do, but SEO really does BOOST your business.
Growing organically ourselves, with hundreds of website and SEO clients has been quite the ride and being number one for SEO Belfast, Northern Ireland and a few others just shows that the work we do does work.
So What Now?
If you have come this far, you should get in touch with us for more information on what our SEO service can do for your business.