Photograph by: Patrick McHugh

I am so happy, my dear friend, so absorbed in the exquisite sense of mere tranquil existence

Why Bother?

Get your search engine optimization right… you will increase your chance of success and justify your financial investment. Get it wrong and you are but a ship passing in the night…

SEO has become a talking point for every online business. Google keeps their algorithm changes private, but gives some indication from time to time on the nuances that are required to optimize your website for its search engine.

What is SEO?

Search engine optimization, aka SEO, is a process which alters how visible a website or web page will be in a search engine’s unpaid organic results. This is important as the sooner, or more often, a site appears in a search engine’s results, the more visitors it will receive. It goes without saying, the more people that visit a website, the more likely you are to convert customers. Effective consistent search engine optimization can improve your position in results pages, SEO affects all searches such as video, photos, and text searches in all search engines like Google, Yahoo!, and Bing.

SEO… get in wrong and your online business is but a ship passing in the night……

Successful SEO strategies?

Think of SEO as part of your marketing effort, remember people are looking for your product or service online…

  • Can they find you?
  • Can they find your competitor?
  • Who do they find first?
  • What search terms do they use to find you when using Google, Bing or Yahoo?

The first marketing exercise you need to do? Get to know your customers. Then, research what terms they search for when looking for you or a competitor’s product or service. Therein you have the SEO formula in the most simplistic sense.

SEO is about which terms are searched, how search engines function, factors that affect your listings on Search results, even which search engines are the best for each audience.

One can then optimize a website by editing its visible content and the underlying code to increase the relevance of specific and important terms and keywords, plus address other physical factors such as code and server issues.

Some of the other factors or nuances that affect SEO are keyword density, website speed, underlying code, geographic location of the searcher, the location of your server or business and social indicators such as the popularity of a site, what relevant websites are pointing at your site.

Google intends to serve up mobile friendly, fast websites only …this is seismic.

SEO is now split in two!!

Searches from mobile devices are now most prevalent.

This makes sense, people research on their commute, they eat lunch while searching YouTube, they watch TV and check out products mentioned in their favourite shows while sitting on the couch, how? They do all this on their phone, it is accessible.

Because of this social shift in search, Google has been forced to take versatile approaches to their directory strategies. One example, an important development for business is Google”s new directory for mobile devices. Most websites are not that mobile friendly, Google has always had a policy of striving to serve up the best most accurate results. If someone is searching on their phone, Google intends to serve up mobile friendly, fast websites only to that phone!

This is a logical, so Google is developing a second search directory, this is seismic!

50% of consumers who do a local search on their smartphone visit a store within a day?

Improve your SEO – few suggestions…

Speed: Google doesn’t willingly serve up sluggish and slow loading content.

Visitor Interaction – google measures the quality of your visual content, How? It’s quite simple, google measures how long someone stays on your page, they also follow the visitor to the next page. If the visitor moves into an interior page they consider this as an accurate search result and award you accordingly. If someone stays on a page for more than 6 or 7 second, google considers the content to be relevant and rewards accordingly.

Mobile responsiveness: Since half of searches are now via mobile devices, google is grading websites by how responsive they are when viewed from mobiles. If google decides your website is unsuitable for half its searchers, it goes without saying, you may be swimming against the current.

Be Specific: If you have a job in media or arts; let’s say you’re an artist or photographer, optimize your page appropriately. The page needs to tell both your visitors and google that you are an artist. Don’t confuse anyone with diluted irrelevant keywords.

Popularity: The more people visit your domain and the more popular it becomes, the greater its importance. Google rewards popular websites. All of the internal pages of the website inherit these higher rankings and they show up more often in search engine results.

Keywords: Researching and planning topic-appropriate keywords are important. To do so, one must create a list of relevant keywords. Do not, however, force these words into your text just for SEO purposes. Your text should read naturally.

Up to date SEO techniques only! : Be careful what you research online about SEO, make sure the information is current, there are techniques that are now considered ‘black hat’, for example in the past web designers set the color of their text so that it blended into the background, so they could overload keywords and optimize their content for search but search engines now detect these tricks. In fact, you may even be blacklisted if found to be using devious methods to manipulate the search results.

Tools: There are SEO extensions that can be added to your browser, such as Google Chrome, Safari and Firefox. Using Seaquake extension for example allows you to see how search engines view pages and which keywords are being used by your competitors. Its option Page Info lets you see how your website is ranked in any country.

Minimalism: It is a good idea to optimize your website for first-time viewers. Minimalism is key, you should try to keep your homepage and navigation as logical as possible, put your contact info on all pages and encourage the viewer to explore other areas of the website.

Code: Alt tags are a great start for any SEO effort, in the old days images did not necessarily load in browsers with bad dialup connections, so tags were developed for the underlying code, so when a blank box appeared where the image was missing, a short line of text would appear instead, explaining what the image was supposed to be, today we dont need these tags, but they have survived hidden in the code to explain to the search engines what the image contains. Make sure all these alt tags are filled out, the search engines love them for SEO.

Certain things don’t really work anymore.

Clever domain names e.g., clever companies bought all these names and then sold them at outlandish prices, Google no longer weights clever names as importantly, now the search giant measures multiple digital signals on a website before it decides what a site is about.

Backlinks, there is no doubt that backlinks are still important, but Google is very particular about them. Buying backlinks is considered a waste of time now. Relevant related websites that link to your site are good, anything else is a waste of your time. So a trade magazine or national newspaper writing about you and includes a link to your website from their online article is great. Your mother in law mentioning you sponsored the Garden Fete on their website is irelevant.

Going forward

If you can’t be found online, its time to work out an SEO strategy. Today, Search Engine Optimization is considered a pillar in any digital marketing campaign, something to invest time and money to ensure traffic to your online assets. It only takes a few minutes each week, don’t try and conquer Rome in a day, take it one step at a time.