Search Engine Optimisation

Posted: 11th May 2015


By: Helen Culshaw

Search engine optimisation is a term used to describe the process of making changes to a website in order to improve its chances of being ranked in the top results of a search engine.

There is a lot of information, good and bad, available on the web about how to optimise your website for the search engines. This article seeks to cut through the jargon and give you some simple guidelines on how to start optimising your website.

1. Research your online market

There is no point getting top position on Google for a phrase that nobody is searching for. The first thing you need to do is to find out which phrases web users are actually using to search for your products or services.

We would recommend using the Google Keyword Planner to do this – you need to have a Google AdWords account in order to use this free tool, but this does not necessarily mean that you need to spend any money – create a Google AdWords account but don’t put your card details in!

Once you know the phrases that people are searching for, you also have to bear in mind how competitive they are. If you type each phrase into Google and over 1,000,000 sites come back, you have very little chance of success! The fewer competitors, the easier your job will be.

The phrases you choose also need to fit naturally into your website – there’s no point attracting people into your website only to turn them off again with the poor quality of your copy.

2. Get the structure of your site right

If your web developer has not built your website to be ‘search engine friendly’, you may never have a hope of obtaining good search engine results without using pay per click advertising.

It’s best to make sure your site is structured right in the first place, so when commissioning a new site, try to avoid:

  • Splash pages – a page on the front of the site which says ‘click here to enter the site’ – thankfully we don’t see many of these any more
  • Sites built mainly or entirely in Flash
  • Information only accessible via a search form – for example, if you have a database of stockists which can only be accessed by entering your postcode. Google won’t know what postcodes to enter in the box in order to pull of an exhaustive list of all your stockists!

And make sure that you list your different products or services on separate pages, rather than listing them all on one. Generally speaking, your site will perform better on search engines if you ensure each page has a tight theme rather than being on a jumble of different topics.

If you’re not sure whether your site is affected by any of these, ask your web developer or ask WiRE member Ascendancy Internet Marketing to check your site for you.

3. Work the phrases you chose in step 1 into your site.

Choose which phrases to focus on, on each of your pages – only up to two or three, otherwise it will sound too repetitive. Mention those phrases a handful of times without making the text sound awkward to the reader. It’s particularly important to put your target phrases into the ‘title tag’ – the title which appears on the blue bar at the top of your browser. This phrase should really be different for each page, so make sure that your site allows you to do this.

You may have heard that it is important to put a list of your keywords into the ‘meta tags’ on your site. Don’t worry too much about this. There are two types of ‘meta tags’ that people normally talk about with regard to SEO – meta keywords and meta description. There is some value in including your keywords in the meta description, because this is often used by search engines as the ‘snippet’ that appears in the search results, so it should be a compelling description of the page to encourage people to click through. Search engines really take no notice at all of the meta keywords tag, so don’t worry about doing anything with this.

4. Get quality links from relevant websites

By getting a number of quality websites to link to you, as well as building a strong and trustworthy social media presence, you are demonstrating to the search engines that other site owners think that yours is a quality site – and if you can demonstrate this, you should see a boost in your search engine results.

You can start this process by making sure that, as a WiRE member, you have entered your details into the Rural Marketplace – this should give you one quality link to get you going!

Other ways of building links to your site include:

  • Offering testimonials to suppliers who have provided you with good service – they may well be persuaded to include these on their site along with a link to your website.
  • Submitting your site to online directories
  • Checking out who is linking to your competitors and asking them to link to you too.
  • Consider writing guest blogs to appear on other businesses’ websites, or writing features for high quality websites – you could write an article to appear on the WiRE website, for example!
  • There are many more ways of doing this but this should be enough to get you started.

5. Other factors involved

There are numerous other factors which search engines take into account – even things like how quickly your site loads, or the accuracy of your spelling and grammar. You may find that it takes time to find success in the organic search results, and you need to use pay per click advertising when your site is first launched in order to get traffic to your site quickly.

To sum up…

The three main factors to think about are content, structure and links. Getting all of this right is extremely time consuming, so don’t expect instant results. Don’t forget that, at the end of the day, your site needs to sell your products and services as well as attract traffic, so don’t go too far overboard with your optimisation and put your potential customers off!
This article was kindly provided by WiRE member Helen Culshaw of Ascendancy Internet Marketing. If optimising your own site seems far too daunting, contact Ascendancy on:

01952 462845

Please note that this article is not written by WiRE but by a third party company. Whilst WiRE have made every effort to ensure that the information and details are accurate, we are unable to guarantee that they completely and WiRE are therefore unable to accept liability for any loss you may suffer as a result of omission or inaccuracy.