Search Engine Optimisation
SEO is the process of helping a website rank higher in Google and other search engines. Over the last decade, the increasing usage of search engines as both a professional and consumer tool has made SEO an integral part of any digital marketing campaign.
Search engines can be used to target different groups of people based on what they’re searching for and other demographic data. When these audiences are researching information, seeking something specific or even purchasing products, their first port of call is often Google (or other search engines). As search engineers, it’s our job to use this information to segment and find relevant, interested audiences and help our clients rank for the terms these individuals are searching for. This is achieved through a calculated blend of research, planning, effective implementation and analysis.
During 2014, websites ranking in the first 5 positions are reported to receive over 67% of clicks from Google searches. It’s therefore vital that when the audience we’re trying to target makes this search, our client’s website ranks as high as possible in order to attract these individuals.
The world of SEO is always changing, with search engines updating the rules almost daily while new and existing competitors continually up their game in a race to the top. This means SEO is an on-going process with successful strategies built on forward-facing SEO tactics which continue to deliver long-lasting value.
Research & Strategy
The initial stages of any campaign involve understanding our client and their core objectives. It’s important we understand the company’s wider goals so we can determine how SEO will contribute effectively to reaching this target. As part of this, we must audit and analyse our client’s current position and the assets they have available so we can properly determine their requirements.
Ultimately, a successful SEO campaign relies on beating the competition. Therefore, developing a strong understanding of our client’s wider marketplace, competition and other external factors lay the foundations for creating an effective strategy. Often, online competition varies greatly to offline and traditional competitors so gaining deep insight into online competitor activities always provides invaluable research opportunities.
Keyphrase research is another vital cornerstone of a successful SEO strategy. Keyphrases segment the different audiences that use search engines and so by ensuring our clients rank for the right, relevant keyphrases we can establish an effective marketing channel that will fulfil the core objectives of the website.
Planning the technical and structural elements of the website is an essential stage of our process. Planning the website architecture in this way, before implementation, establishes a solid foundation upon which to develop the rest of the campaign. This ensures that search engines are able to easily find, navigate and understand the content of the website whilst maintaining a captivating user experience.
The final stage of our research and strategy phase involves establishing measurable goals which can be defined in analytics, allowing us to benchmark, optimize and report on core objectives throughout the duration of the campaign.
The research and planning stages will provide a foundation for an on-going SEO campaign. While some less competitive keyphrases will rank quite quickly, SEO is an ongoing process and requires constant work to achieve and maintain results. Competitive keyphrases are likely to be dominated by high-authority, well-optimised websites and therefore patience and persistence will be required to overtake these search engine competitors.
We’ve broken down this on-going work into 4 categories below:
Technical & On-site Optimisation
Following the completion of the research stage and when goals have been finalised, we’ll begin implementing our strategy, starting with on-site optimisation. This looks at ‘sitewide’ factors which affect how search engines perceive the website. These factors are indicators used by all major search engines to determine rankings and include elements such as crawlability, indexing, speed and hosting data. Therefore, before progressing, it is critical to resolve any technical issues which may impede work later in the process.
On-page optimisation plays an integral role in SEO. All major search engines focus on providing visitors with the best possible user experience. Websites that include relevant and engaging content ultimately hold higher standing in search engine results. Developing good quality content, which is optimised correctly, is an effective, on-going tactic to develop rankings. Furthermore, structuring this content in an effective way will not only enhance the SEO value of this content but also control which internal pages search engines consider to be the most authoritative and will appear in search results.
Off-site and Outreach
Google’s algorithm has always seen external links as an important ranking factor. For search engines, links are considered to be like votes or recommendations which are interpreted as a signal of popularity. The value of links for SEO has changed significantly over the years and in today’s SEO landscape the focus is on building high quality, relevant links rather than sheer numbers.
In more recent years, the idea of external, off-site activities has extended beyond links as search engines try to establish other indicators which they can use to rank websites. These indicators now also include elements such as PR and brand mentions as well as social activities. It is important that these wider marketing elements are considered and form part of our on-going SEO strategy.
Analysis and Reporting
As with all digital marketing activities, utilising accurate data and analytics is crucial in order to grow and develop the campaign. As such, reporting is also important for our clients to see measurable progress and where we can provide added-value and extra insight.
When analysing an SEO campaign, it is imperative to look far beyond traffic increases in order to judge a campaign as successful. Understanding popular landing pages, user journeys and conversions are vital to truly understand the value of each visit. Analytics inform better, data-driven decisions and enable us to distribute our efforts more effectively.