SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION – SEO
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Keyword Research & Keyword Targeting Best Practices
The first step in search engine optimization is really to determine what it is you’re actually optimizing for. This means identifying the terms people are searching for (also known as “keywords”) that you want your website to rank for in search engines like Google.
Once we have your keyword list, the next step is actually implementing your targeted keywords into your site’s content. Each page on your site should be targeting a core term, and a “basket” of related terms. In his overview of the perfectly optimized page.
While Google is working to better understand the actual meaning of a page and de-emphasizing (and even punishing) aggressive and manipulative use of keywords, including the term (and related terms) that you want to rank for in your pages is still valuable. And the single most impactful place you can put your keyword is your page’s title tag.
The title tag is not your page’s primary headline. The headline you see on the page is typically an H1 (or possibly an H2) HTML element. The title tag is what you can see at the very top of your browser, and is populated by your page’s source code in a meta tag.
While the title tag is effectively your search listing’s headline, the meta description (another meta HTML element that can be updated in your site’s code, but isn’t seen on your actual page) is effectively your site’s additional ad copy. Google takes some liberties with what they display in search results, so your meta description may not always show, but if you have a compelling description of your page that would make folks searching likely to click, you can greatly increase traffic. (Remember: showing up in search results is just the first step! You still need to get searchers to come to your site, and then actually take the action you want.)
Here’s an example of a real world meta description showing in search results:
The actual content of your page itself is, of course, very important. Different types of pages will have different “jobs” – your cornerstone content asset that you want lots of folks to link to needs to be very different than your support content that you want to make sure your users find and get an answer from quickly. That said, Google has been increasingly favoring certain types of content, and as you build out.
How you mark up your images can impact not only the way that search engines perceive your page, but also how much search traffic from image search your site generates. An alt attribute is an HTML element that allows you to provide alternative information for an image if a user can’t view it. Your images may break over time (files get deleted, users have difficulty connecting to your site, etc.) so having a useful description of the image can be helpful from an overall usability perspective.
Your site’s URL structure can be important both from a tracking perspective (you can more easily segment data in reports using a segmented, logical URL structure), and a share ability standpoint (shorter, descriptive URLs are easier to copy and paste and tend to get mistakenly cut off less frequently
Information Architecture & Internal Linking
Information architecture refers to how you organize the pages on your website. The way that you organize your website and interlink between your pages can impact how various content on your site ranks in response to searches.
The reason for this is that search engines largely perceive links as “votes of confidence” and a means to help understand both what a page is about, and how important it is (and how trusted it should be).
Search engines also look at the actual text you use to link to pages, called anchor text – using descriptive text to link to a page on your site helps Google understand what that page is about.
Content Marketing & Link Building
Since Google’s algorithm is still largely based on links, having a number of high-quality links to your site is obviously incredibly important in driving search traffic: you can do all the work you want on on-page and technical SEO, if you don’t have links to your site, you won’t show up in search results listings.
There are a number of ways to get links to your site, but as Google and other search engines become more and more sophisticated, many of them have become extremely risky (even if they may still work in the short-term). If you are new to SEO and are looking to leverage the channel, these riskier and more aggressive means of trying to get links likely aren’t a good fit for your business, as you won’t know how to properly navigate the pitfalls and evaluate the risks. Furthermore, trying to create links specifically to manipulate Google rankings doesn’t create any other value for your business in the event that the search engine algorithms shift and your rankings disappear.
Search engines are placing an increasing emphasis on having fast-loading sites – the good news is this is not only beneficial for search engines, but also for your users and your site’s conversion rates. Google has actually created a useful tool here to give you some specific suggestions on what to change on your site to address page speed issues.
If your site is driving (or could be driving) significant search engine traffic from mobile searches, how “mobile friendly” your site is will impact your rankings on mobile devices, which is a fast-growing segment. In some niches, mobile traffic already outweighs desktop traffic.
Header response codes are an important technical SEO issue. If you’re not particularly technical, this can be a complex topic (and again more thorough resources are listed below) but you want to make sure that working pages are returning the correct code to search engines (200), and that pages that are not found are also returning a code to represent that they are no longer present (a 404). Getting these codes wrong can indicate to Google and other search engines that a “Page Not Found” page is in fact a functioning page, which makes it look like a thin or duplicated page
Improperly implementing redirects on your site can have a serious impact on search results. Whenever you can avoid it, you want to keep from moving your site’s content from one URL to another; in other words: if your content is on example.com/page, and that page is getting search engine traffic, you want to avoid moving all of the content to example.com/different-url/newpage.html, unless there is an extremely strong business reason that would outweigh a possible short-term or even long-term loss in search engine traffic. If you do need to move content, you want to make sure that you implement permanent (or 301) redirects for content that is moving permanently, as temporary (or 302) redirects (which are frequently used by developers) indicate to Google that the move may not be permanent, and that they shouldn’t move all of the link equity and ranking power to the new URL.
Thin and duplicated content is another area of emphasis with Google’s recent Panda updates. By duplicating content (putting the same or near-identical content on multiple pages), you’re diluting link equity between two pages instead of concentrating it on one page, giving you less of a chance of ranking for competitive phrases with sites that are consolidating their link equity into a single document. Having large quantities of duplicated content makes your site look like it is cluttered with lower-quality (and possibly manipulative) content in the eyes of search engines.
There are a number of things that can cause duplicate or thin content. These problems can be difficult to diagnose, but you can look at Webmaster Tools under Search Appearance > HTML Improvements to get a quick diagnosis.
XML sitemaps can help Google and Bing understand your site and find all of its content. Just be sure not to include pages that aren’t useful, and know that submitting a page to a search engine in a sitemap doesn’t insure that the page will actually rank for anything. There are a number of free tools to generate XML sitemaps.
So What Now?
So if you’ve gotten this far, you should know a lot of information about how search engines rank websites and about how you can position your own site and business to generate more search traffic from search engines like Google. What should you do next?
You can follow this instruction and start working in to your website
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