Search Engine Optimisation Explained
It disappoints many people when they discover that the philosophy of “build it and they will come” doesn’t work that well on the internet. It takes time and/or money to drive significant numbers of visitors to a new website. Paid advertising is the quickest solution but ranking well in search engines like Google is generally the cheapest.
Good rankings require high quality, unique content and a process called Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) which requires constant learning, testing and experimentation – a job best left to the experienced professional. This article introduces SEO and documents how a site written without it in mind experienced quick wins with our SEO Boost service.
Why do we Need SEO?
For most websites the bulk of their free traffic will come from the search engines, almost entirely from Google in case of the UK. It’s not enough for your site to be indexed by Google though, it needs to be ranked highly in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) for search terms that will deliver quality traffic to your site.
With the correct optimisation techniques, being number one is not quite as important as it once was, but you always want to be on the first page (results 1-10) where possible and the higher the better. The second page will yield poor results, though if the first is dominated by comparison or directory sites, users might choose to try page 2 (results 11-20) to find a direct link to a business. A listing on page 3 (results 21-30) provides only minor benefits and anything after that is not worth counting.
Understanding Onsite and Offsite SEO
SEO can be divide into onsite and offsite tasks. Offsite SEO relates to your online footprint beyond your own website e.g. review sites, social media sites and more. It is an ongoing process generally carried out (with guidance and training) by the business owner on a daily or weekly basis.
Onsite SEO is completed by your web designer who optimises the content and code to enable Google to rank your website highly for the searches that are important to your business. Onsite SEO is also an ongoing process if best practice is to be maintained but, assuming an ethical approach is employed (see below), an annual update is usually sufficient.
Onsite v’s Offsite SEO
The balance of importance between onsite and offsite SEO ebbs and flows as the landscape of the internet changes and Google’s algorithms evolve to embrace new sources of information. It can be useful to see onsite SEO as the foundation on which all future SEO efforts are built. Offsite SEO is equally important for driving traffic to your site but is far more labour intensive.
Whilst some sites do very well employing onsite techniques alone they could almost certainly do much better by introducing offsite techniques into the mix. A lot depends on your market and competition. If you dominate a niche, onsite SEO may be all you need. If you are in a saturated and competitive area in which you are not a big player a slick offsite SEO operation (i.e. lots of Social Media) maybe your only hope of getting noticed.
Black Hat v’s White Hat SEO
SEO can also be divided into aggressive ‘black hat’ techniques, which manipulate Google’s current algorithm for short term gain, and ‘white hat’ techniques which aim to deliver excellent content for the user coded up in a manner that maximises Google’s ability to correctly interprate and classify it.
WARNING Agencies which specialise in SEO tend, in our opinion, to employ techniques that are too aggressive. By over optimising a site for the current algorithm they may achieve big gains, but as soon as the algorithm changes (a matter of weeks) those gains start to evaporate and the client has to hand over more money to keep up with the changes. In fact new algorithms often specifically punish sites that have been employing black hat techniques so the ‘clean up’ bill may be even higher – some purely online businesses never recover.
We always build sites with SEO in mind and they rank highly as a result. Recently, for the first time, we were subcontracted to improve an existing site and were pleasantly surprised by the benefits we were able to bring to the project. We should note as well that the customer didn’t provide much of the information requested so further gains are definitely available with a little more effort on their part.
Being subcontracted we aren’t in a position to reveal the website or exact search terms (which would lead the reader to the website) but you can still see the gains we realised in the table below. Good gains could be seen within a couple of weeks and improvements have slowly continued since. The optimised figures shown here are from about 2 months after the changes where made. We tested for both an anonymous ‘clean’ search in the desktop index as well as a location aware search on the mobile index.
|Term 1 Skegness||8||6||2||2||6||4|
|Term 1 Lincolnshire||29||30||19||20||10||10|
|Term 2 Skegness||2||4||1||1||1||3|
|Term 2 Lincolnshire||n/a||16||2||2||∞||14|
|Term 3 Skegness||5||6||2||2||3||4|
|Term 3 Lincolnshire||17||15||5||7||12||8|
|Term 4 Skegness||8||8||2||2||6||6|
|Term 4 Lincolnshire||32||35||10||9||22||26|
|Term 5 Skegness||5||5||3||4||2||1|
|Term 5 Lincolnshire||24||27||24||18||0||9|
For just a few hundred pounds MGC Websites Ltd was able to optimise the customers site to significantly improve it’s performance in the search engines. We have demonstrated the value of employing a full time, dedicated professional with good SEO skills if you want your website to provide a good return on the time and money you have invested in it.
If your competitors are beating you in Google why not contact MGC Websites Ltd today?