People often ask me, “what is SEO”? And sometimes, I struggle to answer. Not because I don’t know the answer, more because 1. Do you have all day? 2. It is hard to put into a few words.

SEO is an abbreviation for “Search Engine Optimisation” and in a nutshell, it is just that – optimising your website for search engines such as Google, Bing & Yahoo.

But, how?

Here, I have created a simple checklist to help improve your SEO, but remember, it is not as simple as ticking off a checklist, some of the strategies required for successful SEO take months to see results.

There are two sides to SEO, “on-page SEO” and “off-page SEO”.

On-page SEO

On page SEO is made up of these 3 main elements;

Content

The quality and consistency of your content plays a big part towards your SEO success. Create engaging content and answer questions. People searching on Google are looking for answers and Google themselves, will love you a whole lot more, if you answer the searchers questions through your content. Think about your audience; who are they? What are their problems or concerns? What answers will they want? With this in mind, create fresh & relevant content.

Architecture

Your website’s architecture is another important factor when it comes to being successful in SEO. Does your website have a sitemap? A good XML sitemap acts as a roadmap of your website that leads Google to all your important pages. Once you have a sitemap in place, submit it to Google to index via your Webmaster Search Console. There are some great tools out there to analyse your website’s architecture to ensure you do not have negative factors being detrimental towards your SEO achievements, such as duplicate content and URL errors.

Is your website secure? Does it have an SSL certificate? The easiest way to find this out is your website address should be https:// and not http://.  The load speed of your website also has an impact on SEO, as does how responsive it is for mobile devices. You can use Google Developer Tools to check the speed of your website here.

HTML

Finally, meta data on each of your website pages plays a big part in your on-page SEO. If you provide products or services, you should have a page on your website dedicated to each area.

For example; I offer Social Media Management and I have a page here, dedicated to that service.

On my Social Media Management page, you will see all the content is dedicated to just Social Media (not my other services such as websitestraining etc). I have <h1>, <h2>, <h3> and <h4> headers which are focused on social media. My targeted URL is /social-media and I have also created meta data for that page, with a target keyword of “Social Media Management” and this is what will show up in Google, as shown below.

Off-page SEO

Off-page SEO is a bit more of a longer-term strategy and is built around trust, history, identity as well as driving traffic into your website from other sources.

Trust

Let’s talk trust. Your domain age is a benefit towards your SEO achievements. If you have a newly registered domain name, I recommend submitting your new sitemap to Google following the instructions in part 1. Domain authority comes with time and is not something that can be achieved immediately. Google can tell who ‘trusts’ your website and who doesn’t by your “bounce rate”. A bounce rate represents the percentage of visitors who enter your website and then leave (“bounce”) rather than continuing to view other pages. If you have a high bounce rate, Google will not see your website as a trusted source of information which could have a negative impact on your Google search positions.

Links

Links are one of the most common factors of SEO. A lot of people think of “link building” when they think of SEO and yes, it is a big factor of your overall SEO strategy. Many years ago, agencies could promise (and often deliver) getting you to top of Google search results immediately. How? They would spam your website with thousands of back-links and there your website was, sitting pretty at the top of Google. Of course, Google cracked down on this and began penalising websites using what was called the ‘Black hat SEO method’ and in most cases, removing these websites from Google completely. These days, it is not about the amount of links you have coming into your website, but the quality of links you have. No-follow links to your website from credible, reputable sources in your industry is what Google and other search engines want to see.

Location

Location also plays a part in SEO. A few years’ ago now, I had a client come to me and say “I want to be found in London and target London customers.” Great, where are you based? I am based in Scotland.

Here’s why this could be difficult. Google uses searchers IP addresses to provide them with the most relevant results for their search term. This particular client had an office in Scotland (where his Google Maps & Google My Business pointed too), all his social media followers were based in Scotland, he had a good link building strategy, again all from Scottish directories and sources, so unfortunately, when someone is searching for his services in London, it is highly unlikely he will be shown over London based companies.

A way to get around this would be to create a virtual office address and phone number and start a separate strategy to your current one, all directing towards your registered London address.

Social

Social Media is important when it comes to your SEO, but it is not a deciding factor. Search Engines want to see that your website is a quality, relevant source of information. The more website traffic you have (and the lower your bounce rate) this is how you will be perceived by search engines.  Social activity is great to drive traffic to your website as well as specific service/product pages. Social shares and reputation also have an impact on your SEO.

To conclude, SEO is a range of methods to optimise your website for search engines. The above outlines the main contributing factors required for a successful SEO strategy, but please reminder, this is not an immediate result and SEO takes time.

For more information, or support with your SEO, please contact me here.