SEO Tips and FAQ
What does SEO stand for?
Quite simply SEO stands for ‘search engine optimisation’ or ‘search engine optimization’ depending on your spelling preference. The meaning of SEO is quite straight forward too i.e. it refers to the strategies and suite of techniques to help to increase the rank of a website in the search engine’s results for the keywords being targeted. In short this translates to getting your website onto page 1 of Google’s results, ideally ranked in the #1 position. How effective SEO is undertaken is a little more complex though, some of the ideas will be explained below and this FAQ will be added to over time so stay in touch.
Which is better, SEO or PPC?
SEO, search engine optimisation, helps Google and the other search engines understand your site better and rank it higher for appropriate keyword phrases that you are targeting. Ongoing SEO takes time for its effects to accumulate but there is not direct cost for each person that visits your website. PPC stands for “pay per click”, for example Google Adwords, and is effectively the buying of targeted traffic to your site and, as the name suggests, you tend to pay an amount for every visitor that comes to your site through this method of advertising. The advantages of PPC are that you can turn it on and off immediately and you can target pretty much whatever keywords you want and also other demographics like visitor’s location etc. So asking which is better, SEO and PPC is not really a fair comparison as which is best is governed by your aims and situation. What I tend to suggest with new sites or where customers are not fully sure what keywords would work best for them is to start with PPC and test different keywords and when you know which ones work then start your SEO focused around your “money keywords” and as SEO effects start to ramp up you can simultaneously wind-down your PPC spend so you can save some money even while traffic grows.
Which is better, SEO or SEM?
As mentioned above, SEO, search engine optimisation, helps Google and the other search engines understand your site better and rank it higher for appropriate keyword phrases that you are targeting. SEM on the other hand stands for Search Engine Marketing and uses various online marketing strategies including PPC (se above) to generate visibility of and traffic to a site. So the answer to this question is the same as for the SEO vs PPC question above!
How SEO can help me
SEO’s express purpose is to get your site ranking higher in organic search results for your targeted keywords. So quite simply, if you have chosen the right keywords (we can help with this!) then as your site starts to rank higher you will get more traffic to you site which translates into more business if that is the purpose of your site.
What is on-page SEO?
Generally SEO activities are broadly grouped into two categories offsite SEO and onsite SEO or on-page SEO. offsite SEO is around building links to the site’s pages from appropriate sources and ensuring that Google and the other search engines are aware of the quality / authority of your site and the topics that your pages cover.
Onsite SEO or on-page SEO is all about the structure of your web page and website itself for instance on-page SEO makes sure that your pages’ Titles, Description and H1 tags are appropriately structured and have been optimised… and that you are using Alt tags and have a sitemap and correctly formatted Robots.txt file etc etc. It may sound complicated but it is quite straight forward and these changes and requirements are largely invisible so you don’t have to compromise the look of your site to have it optimised and ranking well on Google.
How is SEO changing?
Google changes its search ranking algorithm frequently so as to improve the quality of the results it serves to its users like you and I. We keep tabs on the various changes to the algorithm to ensure that the SEO practices that we employ are always current and effective.
What would be my SEO strategy?
The best SEO strategy for your site depends on many things, for instance: what is the goal of your site; how old is your site; what market / keywords are you targeting; etc. Generally you need to start with Keyword Research (see below) and then log your baseline rankings for your chosen keywords (as a benchmark so you can monitor progress) and then undertake onsite SEO and ongoing offsite SEO. On a regular, monthly, basis the rankings of your keywords should be assessed again and compared to your baseline readings so you can monitor progress and adjust as required. We fulfill these roles for you.
What is keyword research?
Keyword Research is the process you follow to decide which keywords you want your SEO to focus on. Aside from knowledge of what you are promoting, which you obviously have, you also need to understand how your customers search for and find your site and this can involve using search terms and terminology that different to yours as your customers may not have as detailed knowledge as you do and so do not know the ‘right’ words to use! A good way of getting some good ideas for keywords is to chat to some of your customers about your products / service and see what words they use. Another really good way is to review the websites of your successful and established competitors… they will have done this research already and will invariably be using appropriate keywords, you can use these as a starting point and adjust as you see fit. It is then necessary to check your keywords (we have access to tools that do this for you) to see how often each being searched for each month (i.e. to indicate how much traffic you might get when ranking well) and also how ‘competitive’ the keyword is (i.e. how many other sites are actively targeting the same keywords and how much authority do these sites have). If you are trying to rank highly for a generic and competitive term, like “news” or even “SEO”, then it is going to be very very very difficult so it would not be worth your time even though these keywords have a high level of traffic – it would be far better to focus on something more focused and achievable. We can help and advise at ever step of the process.
Will blogging help SEO?
Yes! Google loves to see fresh content added to websites and this is also a good thing to tweet and post about on Facebook too… and Google loves that also so go for it!
Will HTTPS affect SEO?
Google has a preference for SSL / secure sites so there is some advantage, not necessarily massive, to your site being https… rather than just plain old http…
Are SEO meta tags important?
Yes and no 😉 Meta tags are tags that Google can see but are not immediately obvious to the human visitor to your site. The three main meta tags are Title, Description and Keywords… surprisingly the Keywords meta tag is LEAST important of the three, it’s virtually irrelevant. Careful attention needs to be paid to having a valid and well-structured Title and Description if you want to maximise the rank of your site’s pages in Google’s search results.
What is robots.txt?
Is a simple text file that sits in the Home / root folder of your website and tells search engines which parts of your site they are allowed to index and which parts should be ignored. An incorrectly structured robots.txt file can mean that search engines leave your site alone and do not index it so don’t tinker with this file unless you are happy you know what you are doing. As part of the SEO services we offer we would compile your robots.txt file for you if you need one.
Which SEO techniques are popular?
What are refered to “black hat” SEO techniques were underhand / spammy methods of gaming the search engines to ranking your site higher for certain keywords. For a time this used to be rather effective but search engines like Google really dislike these practices and have a lot of systems in place to weed out sites that use these practices and punish them. We don’t use “black hat” SEO techniques, the benefits if any are short-lived and with the techniques we do employ we get great results anyway so there is a lot to lose and not much to gain!
What are SEO backlinks?
A backlink is simply a link to your site from another page or site. In Google’s eyes this is a kind of ‘vote’ for your site e.g. as a third party site has deemed your content to be worth linking to. If the backlink is from a site with a lot of authority, say BBC News home page, then this link will be weighted much higher by google than would the same backlink from a site that not many other sites link to. In essence backlinks, of various types, are the main offsite / offpage SEO way of increasing your site’s authority and ranking in search results.
What is domain authority?
Domain Authority is a function of how many other websites / web pages link to the domain and in turn how authoritative these linking websites are themselves. Basically if your site has prominent links from large reputable websites then this will significantly boost domain authority… more so even than having thousands of links from low value sites.
What is link building?
Link Building is the ongoing process of sourcing / requesting / adding backlinks from other websites to your website. This is essentially the main function of offsite / off-page SEO.
Internal vs. external links: What's the difference?
Internal links are links from pages on your website to other pages on your website. Correctly structured and utilised internal links help Google to understand how your site is structured, which are the main pages and what each page is about and the keywords for which it should be listed in the results.
External links are simply links to your site from other sites, otherwise referred to as backlinks – these are also crucially important to any successful SEO effort.
What is anchor text?
On a web page, text links to other pages and websites are often demarked somehow e.g. classically underlined and in blue! The words that are clickable (i.e. blue and underlined in this example) are referred to as the “anchor text” as they are the text that anchors the link to the new page. Anchor text is important as it helps to tell Google what the current page thinks the linked page is about. For example “click here” is commonly used as anchor text but is not very descriptive, instead, if we were linking to this page we might make “SEO frequently asked questions” the anchor text instead.
What is broken link building?
Broken links are links from a website to a page or site that no longer exists. Things change and once a link has been added it might not be reviewed again for many years so if the link dies or the domain name is not renewed then the link is broken. Broken link building then is the niche practice of exploiting these broken links and turning them into links that will benefit your site. Some SEO companies use this technique, we prefer other cleaner approaches to link building.
Will redirects affect SEO?
A redirect is basically when traffic to a particular page or site is automatically rerouted to another page or site. Redirections may be needed to if you change your site from one domain to a new one (e.g. for rebranding) or if you make your site secure so all http references need to be updated to https etc. There are ways search engines prefer redirections to be handled (e.g. “301 redirects”) and if done correctly then the value that backlinks give to the old link / old site will be transferred automatically to the new link / new site. We manage a lot of these kind of issues to give us a nudge if you need a hand.