#GettingYourWebsiteDesigned 14 – Search Engine Optimisation

In this article we are going to tackle the main misunderstandings about SEO.

When we have worked with clients in the past, a lot have came to us and said things like “I just want to rank for…”, or “I need a website so I can be found for…”

It would be great if we could just get our websites ranking for the keywords we like that easily, but in reality it isn’t that simple.

In fact, we want you to look at ‘Web Design’ and ‘SEO’ as two separate aspects of your web design project. You should have two separate budgets for them and although many web designers also ‘do SEO’ you may want to use a different specialist firm to put together an SEO strategy for you.

Is SEO Important?
The short answer to this question is ‘yes.’ However it is more important for some business than others, depending on your marketing strategy.

If your business is online and the success of your business is based on people being able to search for a product or service (not your business name), and find your company, then SEO is extremely important.

If your business is offline, say for example a high street store, and the success of your business is based on your ability to entice people into the store and your website is mainly used for people searching to find opening times, a phone number etc. although SEO is important, it isn’t as important in this scenario.

In both these scenarios however, if you are getting a new website designed, it makes sense to at least think about SEO because although we asked you to think of it as something ‘separate,’ an SEO strategy may be easier and more cost effective if it is integrated into the website from day 1.

Integrating SEO into your Website
There’s no way we could go through all the intricacies of a full SEO strategy in this article, however it is useful to know the things you need to be thinking about when getting a website designed that will effect your SEO.

ACTION: Take a sheet of A4 paper and split it into 2 down the middle, label the 2 columns “SEO Do’s” and “SEO Don’ts.” Take a separate sheet of paper and label it “Questions to ask my Web Designer / SEO Specialist”

ACTION: As you are going through the rest of this article, fill in these 2 sheets of paper with specifically what you should and shouldn’t be doing, as well as jotting down any questions to ask your Web Designer or person in charge of your SEO.

Keywords: This is what your SEO hinges on, so you need to find appropriate keywords that you want your website to rank for. There’s a fine balance here, you want keywords that are popular enough so enough people are searching for them, but not so popular that the competition for those keywords means it it unrealistic for you to rank for them. The most popular tool to research this is the Google Adwords Keyword Planner. This tool’s main purpose is used when you are running Google ads, however you can use it for free to find out the amount of searches your keywords get each month.

Good Content: A big aspect of SEO is ensuring your website has good content on it. We talked about blogging in the last article, but you should be looking to write good quality content – that includes your keywords in appropriate places – throughout your website. By ‘good quality content’ we mean good English that is easy to follow, appropriate for your audience and well written. Note: Do not stuff your content with keywords in a way where is ruins the content. Google is wise to this and will penalise you.

User Experience: Your website should also have a great ‘user experience’. It needs to be easy to navigate, look good, work properly and load relatively quickly. If it doesn’t have these things and people don’t stick around for very long on your website (high bounce rate), Google will mark you down. So extensively test your website to make sure it works well across all browsers (Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Internet Explorer etc.). Note: Make sure your images are optimised for the web as non-optimised large images can slow down loading times.

Authority: If another website links back to your website (backlink), Google sees this as your website having ‘authority’ as you must have good information on your website for another website to cite you. The bigger the site’s authority linking back to you, the better the effect on your SEO that backlink has. We can build backlinks ourselves using social media websites and online directories, which brings us onto the next point…

Multi-Channel Optimisation: If we are building backlinks back to our website using other sites such as online directories and social networks, we should also be optimising these accounts with the same keywords we are using on our website.

Meta Data: Meta Data is ‘behind the scenes’ content on our website that is picked up by Search Engines. It is something you may need to talk to your web designer about as it is important to get right. Meta Data on your website appears in different places: Meta Keywords are pretty much ignored these days by search engines. Meta Descriptions should give a short description of each page on your website and be unique – don’t have the same description on each page. Title Tags should also be unique for each page and entice the reader to click, these are the Titles that appear in search results.

Tools Google Provides
To help you with your SEO Google does have some handy tools to use.

Submit URL: Google can take a few months to find your website once it is live, however you can submit it here to speed up the process.

Google Analytics: A Free Tool that allows you to see where traffic is coming from and how it interacts with your site.

Google Webmaster Tools: Allows you to customise how your website appears in search results.

Google My Business: This is a conglomeration of Google Places and Google + for business. You can put your business on the Google Map which helps with Local Results. We would definitely recommend doing this.

ACTION: Sign up for these services above, it will only help your SEO.

The Long Game
If you decide to do an SEO Strategy you definitely need to be looking at it from a ‘Long Game’ point of view. It can take up to 3 months to see any results but also SEO is an ongoing strategy, it isn’t a one off thing to do. The way Google ranks websites changes all the time so you need to keep up, keep on top of the changes and invest in SEO on a monthly basis if you want to see great results from it.