This might sound like a silly remark, but it’s quite common for us to utter it. The situation goes something like this…
We’ll be talking with business owners about how things are going…
How’s your website doing?
Is it bringing in any new leads?
Are you getting much traffic?
The answer to all these questions usually leads us to look at the website in question and within just a couple of minutes there are the usual telltale signs that the website looks good and has a lot of great features and functions, but underneath the bonnet…
…the designers did nothing to SEO your website!
We’ll save these telltale signs for another blog post but first, let’s look at the whys and wherefores.
Sometimes, a great website design is just that – a great website design. It looks good. It has the wow factor and everyone who sees it loves it. But that’s not enough. How many people are actually seeing it?
Did all the “oohs” and “aahs” come from people in your business? Did everyone who was involved in signing it off love it? Then that’s great. But if those are the only people who see your website then what’s the point?
Now the first reason you’ve got a website without any SEO functionality is that the web designers did just that – design. Web design is a sophisticated mix of art and science and specialists are very good at building good-looking websites.
But it takes the input of digital marketing specialists at the time of build to make sure that your site is created properly. If there is no SEO/SEM, no content management nor social media involvement with the design then it falls flat on its face.
Maybe the designers do not have the resource. Maybe they don’t have the skills. Well, that’s an issue because, in our opinion, every website absolutely MUST have SEO baked in from the very start.
What if they do but the client doesn’t have the budget for SEO and decided to go for the cheaper option, cutting out the SEO features and functions?
Again, there really is no excuse. If you build a site that has not been SEO’d then it will probably fail.
The old line from the film “Field of Dreams” comes to mind here…
“Build it and they will come”
Well, in our experience that isn’t the case.
If you have a website built but nobody knows it’s there, then how is anybody going to find out about it?
It’s never too late to apply SEO techniques to your business’ website but you have been at a disadvantage having to do it so late in the game. You have probably missed an increase in traffic at the launch of your new site. When was that? Last month? Not so bad. Last year? Oh, that’s not good. A few years ago? OK, now that’s a problem.
But don’t worry.
SEO is best talked about and integrated during the website conceptualisation and build phase and, if you’re lucky, it can still be fully applied at this late stage.
However, be aware that some things cannot be undone or fixed immediately. For instance, you could be on the “wrong” Content Management System (CMS), have the “incorrect” templates or be held back by the fact that the e-commerce plugin is not the most SEO-friendly or customisable one.
Also, your information architecture might be a bit of a mess, your content might be a bit “thin” and the supporting social media structures could be somewhat flimsy if not non-existent.
But again, don’t worry.
As a digital marketing agency with a great many years of experience, we have a solution for you.
Pick up the phone and give us a call on 020 3146 4341 and we’ll have a chat about your website.
We’re happy to give you our insights into what we can do now, in the medium term and for your long-term traffic strategy.
We’ll probably perform a website audit for you so that you can see what’s wrong and what needs to be done.
Then you can look forward to the peace of mind that your site really is in ship shape and you’re getting the traffic you’ve worked hard to earn.
Blogs are an essential element of the digital marketing mix as each post drives traffic to your website. It’s relatively easy to set a blog up and build a following but it takes time to ensure it receives regular traffic.
Successful blogs deliver quality content on a regular basis, which means they’re crawled more often by Google with the opportunity to generate potential leads higher. We take a look at what you can do to maximise your visibility and drive more traffic to your blog.
Your target audience can make a huge difference to the popularity of your posts. So do consider what kind of content is relevant to them and how you can make your posts more shareable. Evergreen content like “how to” guides, tips or education based posts are often popular choices although they’re not for everyone.
Content should be a key part of any digital marketing strategy. Having an editorial plan in place will result in greater consistency, whether posts are focused on a specific theme, topic or style for example. Google Analytics is, of course, essential to finding out where your visitors are from, their demographic profile and what kind of content is most popular among other things.
There are a number of ways you can ensure your blog is SEO friendly starting with how it’s structured, what headings you use and which signal words are included. You should always optimise the length of your posts so they’re over 300 words and make sure you link to previous content where relevant.
Your featured keyword, which will help people find you, should appear in your post heading, title, URL, content and meta description. Consider what terms and phrases your target audience might type into Google when looking for the information they require. This will help you identify the best keywords to use. Research can also be conducted using tools like the Adwords Keyword Planner.
Readers appreciate blog posts with useful links so you should reference relevant content where appropriate, whether it’s a post of your own or someone else’s. Links to relevant content are well received if they’re in context and provide value. They should never link to top-level web pages and any anchor text must be natural.
It might be worth creating a list of internal content for the purpose of blogging. If you haven’t already catalogued your own site’s content, consider an SEO audit or a website audit where a crawl will identify all your assets.
Let us know if you need a full website crawl, we can offer this as a standalone service or as part of a free website audit including performance, security, SEO and mobile-friendliness
Leveraging your most effective social media channels is a fundamental way to boost traffic to your blog. Curating others’ content is great for encouraging people to share your content and interact. As well as the major social networking sites, consider social community sites such as StumbleUpon, Reddit or Pinterest as well. You will need to add value to these sites to get the return but the same applies to any social network. You get out what you put in.
Do you know who your influencers are? If not, you can easily create a Twitter list for example with the most relevant so you can start to build relationships. Joining relevant communities and Twitter chats is a great way to find new topics for discussion too. You should also research which hashtags are most appropriate to your industry. Including relevant @mentions in social media posts will also help increase your reach and visibility.
These are just a few ideas to get you thinking about how you can drive traffic to your blog. For further information, contact our Digital Marketing Manager, Paul Mackenzie Ross, at Woking’s Design Agency Clever Marketing on 020 3146 4341.
Searchmetrics released its annual study of Google’s top search ranking factors recently. This is used as a comparative benchmark for webmasters, online marketers and SEO’s to identify patterns and trends. The company’s historical database contains over 250 billion pieces of information such as keyword rankings, search terms, social links and backlinks with global, mobile and local data covering organic and paid search plus social media.
The full 63-page report can be downloaded here. We thought we’d take a look at the key takeouts from the report which measure the top 20 search results for 10,000 keywords:
Much has changed over recent years with universal ranking factors certainly a thing of the past. These days each individual search query has its own ranking factors that are continually changing. Benchmarks like the Searchmetrics annual report, which provide key insights, can be used by search specialists to understand what impact Google’s evaluations will have on its clients’ rankings.
We all know content is king with the main challenge for SEO’s ensuring each post is relevant to users. Word count continues to be important with the top ranking sites exceeding an average of 1000 words. Continuing to write content specific to your readers and on a regular basis remains of prime importance. Search queries can vary enormously however so the more specific the content is, the more likely it is to be found and shared.
User intent is an essential part of the mix for SEO’s. Regularly studying the SERPs for a brand’s basic keywords will help uncover what people are looking for. Likewise, customer data will keep SEO’s up to speed with industry developments while focusing on user intent, rather than just keyword research, will help enhance search queries.
In addition to having relevant content, web pages need to provide a smooth user experience and being fully optimised. Ensure your website is mobile first as these sites will always rank higher in Google search than those that are not. Tips on how to make your website mobile friendly can be found here. You should also review how quickly your site loads and how large the files are as well as performing your on-page technical basics. Nearly half the pages in the top 20 of the Searchmetrics report were encrypted using HTTPS.
Google has a wealth of data generated from its search results, browsers and analytics. As such it’s able to identify how satisfied a user is with their search results with an evaluation created in real time. Top ranking factors include click-through rates, time spent on a site and bounce rates. The average bounce rate for websites on the first page of Google is 46%, with the time on site for the top 10 sites being 3 minutes 10 seconds. Websites in positions 1 to 3 typically have an average CTR of 36%. When working on your keyword research and user intent, also consider local search as well as the topic.
Although a website with an established link structure should never be underestimated, links are less influential when it comes to search results. There has been a dramatic drop over the past 12 months with relevant content and user intent ranking above. It’s now possible for a site to have a higher Google ranking than a competitor even if it has fewer links. While this is topic dependent, typically it’s come about as mobile searches have rarely linked even if they’re shared or liked.
Backlinks do form part of Google’s algorithm but they’re certainly not the driving force they were previously. Penguin is now a factor in the algorithm too, which means less stability: websites can move up and down rankings quickly as a result of other’s efforts. While you should ensure you keep your backlink profile clean, it’s important to continue with your outreach activity too. Links pointing to your website with a high domain authority will ensure you are seen as an authority in your niche.
So to summarise, we can expect content and user intent to increase in importance with technical also a key driver in search results. Backlinks are on the decline and now just one of many contributing factors in a site’s visibility.
For further information, complete our contact form today or call our Digital Marketing Manager Paul Mackenzie Ross on 020 3146 4341
In our first post tackling common SEO problems and how to overcome them, we covered:
These being just some of the technical issues faced on-page and off-page. In part 2, we take a look at another 5 SEO issues and what you can do to resolve them.
Alt attributes (commonly and mistakenly called ALT tags – ALT is an attribute of an IMG tag) help search engines like Google understand what an image is about. If the attributes associated with that image are missing and there’s no description, it can cause SEO problems. Image alt attributes should include your keywords to ensure they’re categorised in the right way. We covered broken links in our last post – broken images cause similar issues in that they can lead to a poor user experience. Both these issues can be overcome by ensuring your alt attributes accurately describe your images. That way they will be properly indexed in search results too.
You can increase the speed of your site by removing code that’s not needed. Also, move inline scripts and styles to separate files and add relevant on page text where it’s required.Other aspects you might want to check include removing white spaces, using CSS for styling and formatting, resizing images (removing those you don’t need) and keeping the size of your page under 300kb.
Other aspects you might want to check include removing white spaces, using CSS for styling and formatting, resizing images (removing those you don’t need) and keeping the size of your page under 300kb.
A title tag is what appears in your search results with an H1 tag what visitors to your website see on a page. While multiple H1 tags can appear on a page, it’s important to get the hierarchy right to ensure your website is indexed in the right way. H1s should be consistent with title tags but not the same. Ideally, you should use one H1 tag per page with H2 tags breaking up the content.
When Google introduced its Panda updates way back in 2011, the idea was to reduce the amount of “thin content” in the search results. Around this time the notion that web pages should contain a minimum of 300 words came about and that thought still persists today with even the popular Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress still touting the “recommended minimum 300 words”.
While there is no set word count to rank with a search engine, the preference is long-form pages with the text including keywords and phrases. Google is known for ranking websites with more depth and longer content. Equally, visitors to your website want to see content that is relevant to the topic they searched for. Even if you’re sharing an image-led post or infographic, it will need some context behind it. Evergreen content is often popular with lists, tips and how to guides the most well-received.
So remember – google likes high-quality content. In its own words:
“…sites with original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis and so on.”
While all websites will include on-page links, having too many links is unnatural and can dilute the value of a page. It’s important therefore that links are relevant and useful. This way you can ensure your website will rank well and have a natural link profile. If you remove the low-quality links from your website, you will provide a better user experience particularly for those accessing your website via a mobile and table. High-quality links will improve your SEO ranking.
There are so many ranking signals that Google considers for SEO, which are constantly changing and evolving. If you or your company needs help navigating the minefield is that search engine optimisation, feel free to get in touch and ask for a free SEO audit. Better still, you can let us evaluate your website speed & performance, security, mobile-friendliness and SEO in a complete website audit – claim your free website audit now.
If you need further help and assistance, with your 10 SEO problems, get in touch with Woking web agency Clever Marketing on 020 3146 4341.
Our Digital Marketing Manager alone has nearly 20 years of SEO, SEO, PPC and content marketing experience so he’ll be able to help you out.
Accelerated Mobile Pages (or AMP) is an open source project from Google, designed to make web page content load much faster on mobile devices. In essence, it’s a slimmed-down version of HTML – a way of building web pages for static content that render quickly.
Initially introduced back in 2012, the purpose of Google’s Penguin algorithm is to identify unnatural backlinks in Google search results.As of September 2016, Penguin 4.0 was released and now running in real-time – this will be Google’s last update. But what does it mean and how could it affect you? We take a look at the questions everyone is asking.
As of September 2016, Penguin 4.0 was released and now running in real-time – this will be Google’s last update. But what does it mean and how could it affect you? We take a look at the questions everyone is asking.
Google Penguin is a webspam algorithm designed to capture websites that have created unnatural backlinks to gain an advantage in search results. While other factors are taken into consideration to ensure websites meet webmaster guidelines, the primary focus is backlinks. Penguin finds unnatural links that webmasters use to manipulate search results.
If you have a well-respected site with a good domain authority linking to your website, it’s like a recommendation. Equally, if you have a large number of smaller sites linking back to your website, this too can be effective. Anchor text can also play a part as it’s clickable text with a hyperlink suggesting the website in question should be trusted.
With Penguin data now in real-time, it’s possible to continually re-crawl and re-index web pages. Refreshing data in this way means bad links devalue individual rankings (rather than receiving old-fashioned penalties) which can be recovered from in real time. In previous versions, Penguin updates would penalise an entire domain. Penguin 4.0 is more granular with ‘penalties’ issued for specific pages. It works by devaluing spammy links and adjusting a site’s Google ranking based on spam signals. Penguin is now part of the core Google algorithm which consists of 200 other signals that can affect rankings.
As has always been the case, webmasters should focus on creating compelling content that is updated regularly. The focus should be on the end user, making sites unique, valuable and engaging.
Avoid duplication or thin content, use rich anchor text and have relevant links. Any links pointing to a web page need to have value to the end user, providing relevant information related to the product or service. Penguin penalties will mostly relate to links and anchor text whether its external links from your website or incoming links.
With Penguin now in real-time, penalties can be cleared much quicker than they were previously, so don’t panic. In fact, penguin recoveries are already being reported. The process for cleansing your site will likely include checking backlinks and undertaking a new link building campaign, supported by social media, to re-establish authority in search results.
Worried that you may have been affected by the penguin update? Get in touch and see how our SEO services could help!
If you have a great website and you’re generating regular content but not getting discovered by prospective clients, it’s likely you’ll need to improve your search results. The most effective way to achieve higher visibility is to seek out the services of an experienced Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) agency. But what do you need to consider when selecting the right agency? And how can an SEO agency achieve the desired impact on your natural search results?
First of all, before you start to consider what an SEO agency can do for you, you need to establish what you need.Typically, there are a number of factors to take into consideration such as the technical side that incorporates the structure of a site, on page optimisation (through keywords, labels and metadata for example) and off page optimisation through backlinks from other sites. If you’re not sure what you need, think about the task – is it about increasing your page rank, local search results or sales growth?
Typically, there are a number of factors to take into consideration such as the technical side that incorporates the structure of a site, on page optimisation (through keywords, labels and metadata for example) and off page optimisation through backlinks from other sites. If you’re not sure what you need, think about the task – is it about increasing your page rank, local search results or sales growth?
As with any industry, experience is key. Who have they worked with previously? A quality SEO agency will have a portfolio of clients – either in a single category or across a range of categories. If the breadth of an SEO agency’s client list is predominantly within a specific category, this demonstrates expertise in that field with a more varied client spread highlighting their ability to adopt varied SEO tactics. Regardless of their clients, both current and historical, any digital marketing agency must be willing to share success stories and testimonials.
It’s important to understand the tenure of an SEO agency’s clients too. How long have they worked with this particular digital marketing agency? Typically clients that have remained with the same agency for a period of time, either retained or on a project basis, will have great trust in each other, ensuring a better partnership which in turn leads to a more measurable return on investment. On the flip side, SEO agencies that do not deliver results will have a low retention rate.
It’s important to have realistic expectations and goals when looking for an SEO agency. Agencies offering a guarantee they can get you on page 1 of Google, not adhering to Google’s webmaster best practices and not willing to share methodologies should be avoided. (We address this in our article How Do I Rank Higher on Google?)
You can always do your own research and see where an SEO agency appears in search rankings. It takes time to climb search engine results and it’s competitive.
Think about the size and locality of your SEO agency too as they will dictate fee level. Fees should be transparent so find out exactly what you’ll get for your budget.
An SEO agency should have a clearly defined process that is implemented following strategic thought based on an analysis of your needs – not an ‘off the shelf’ solution. An agency of note should be able to talk you through their approach and how they’re going to achieve your objectives. Their methodology should leverage all SEO/SEM angles such as the structure of your site and on page optimisation like keywords, labels and metadata to off page backlinks which raise awareness of your content on other websites. Find out if the digital marketing agency has expertise in maximising visibility at a local level too.
Find out if the SEO agency has expertise in maximising visibility at a local level too.
Your SEO agency should agree on measurable Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) with you. These should include SEO campaigns goals you agree on with a technical review at the outset.
Performance and Return On Investment (ROI) should be reported regularly (ie; monthly) using the likes of Google Analytics to track improvements. If there’s a drop in search engine rankings, this can then be tracked with measures put in place to push it back up. Search strategies often require frequent content updates so it’s important your SEO agency is accessible and able to offer guidance where required.
Digital marketing agencies play a vital role in that they should educate and inform, providing you with a greater understanding of the process, in turn enabling you to work closely to ensure overall objectives are achieved.
A good SEO agency will also be able to help develop external relationships such as other site owners and influencers.
Looking for SEO management services? Need an SEO agency to handle all the digital marketing that you can never quite get around to doing all of?
We all know that content is king but with search engines ranking sites by popularity, it’s important to maintain your site regularly to iron out any on and off page technical issues.We take a look at five of the most common SEO problems and how to overcome them.
We take a look at five of the most common SEO problems and how to overcome them.