Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
SEO is an acronym which stands for Search Engine Optimisation, and it refers to the procedure of optimising your website to benefit from the unpaid, organic traffic that comes from search engine results pages (SERP’s). In essence, Search Engine Optimisation is the practice of adapting your website content and design to make it more appealing to search engines such as Google. And as such, the objective is for your website to be ranked as high as possible in these search engine results pages, whenever a potential customer searches for something that your business provides.
Search Engine Optimisation can be a very tricky business when you take into account every single aspect which might possibly affect your search engine ranking, but the fundamental procedure is fairly basic to grasp. Simply put, search engines strive to offer the users of their product a high-quality service, so they do everything they possibly can to reflect highly-relevant search page results.
Search engines achieve this by crawling – or scanning – various websites, in order to have a clearer idea of what each website offers. Using this method, search engines rank these websites against each other, to deliver more relevant results to those who are searching for certain topics or keywords. Search Engine Optimisation is therefore the procedure that companies undertake to ensure their website ranks as close to the top as possible in search engine results, when it comes to generally searched keywords and phrases, which are applicable to their business and relevant to their potential clients.
WHY DOES MY WEBSITE NEED SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMISATION?
Search Engine Optimisation is without doubt, one of the most crucial long-term factors which contributes to a company’s overall success or failure. The implementation of basic SEO strategies to your website ensures that your content and design have been optimised correctly, and it allows you to take advantage of the essential elements that both visitors and Google are looking for when they search for your products or services.
By implementing basic Search Engine Optimisation techniques, a website can significantly increase its organic traffic by ranking higher than its rivals on search engines like Google. This translates into an improved number of sales, which ultimately means the company can be more profitable. Alternatively, a website that does not partake in Search Engine Optimisation will find their organic traffic stagnate at best, or more likely, consistently drop over time, until it eventually fails.
If you had the choice between being a prosperous industry front-runner, with an ever-increasing client base, or one that continually fights to stay in line with their rivals, but is always a step behind, which website would you prefer to own? In our experience over the years, we have found that Search Engine Optimisation is almost always the determining factor between these two outcomes, and a small investment upfront, can lead to unimaginable long-term benefits.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMISATION?
SEO INCREASES YOUR WEBSITE’S SEARCH ENGINE RANKINGS AND ORGANIC TRAFFIC
Significantly improved exposure is one of the most important benefits of effective Search Engine Optimisation, as it makes it much easier for potential clients to discover your business when they search online for a product or service that you might provide. At the end of the day, the visibility of your website – and the organic traffic it receives – is directly linked to how you rank in online searches. Obviously, the higher you rank on a search engine results page, the greater the possibility that a potential client notices your listing and clicks through to your website to make a purchase.
The only way to improve your search engine rankings and organic website traffic, however, is through effectively managing your website’s Search Engine Optimisation. This serves to galvanise its importance, and it brings clarity to the need for all businesses to implement these important techniques and practices to their websites.
SEO TECHNIQUES INCREASE YOUR AUTHORITY & CREDIBILITY
Authority is a fairly recent notion in the Search Engine Optimisation industry. However, as it becomes increasingly important to online consumers, it also becomes consequently more significant to search engines. In essence, your authority demonstrates that your website is reliable, pertinent, of the highest quality, and that it offers substantial value to its users, and as such, your website will always rank higher when you can demonstrate a considerable level of this online. Consumers know and appreciate this, which is why a high ranking on a search engine results page is often considered to be a major stamp of approval, allowing customers to have more certainty in your brand and engage with confidence.
How can SEO be used to increase your online credibility though? Easy – through a combination of exceptional content creation and well though-out marketing campaigns! These techniques and strategies will help to portray your business as a trusted industry front-runner, and position your brand as a leader in the field, an authority on the products or services you provide, and a trusted business in which your customers are comfortable to make purchases from and share with their family and friends.
OPTIMISING YOUR WEBSITE CREATES A BETTER USER EXPERIENCE
The benefits of effective Search Engine Optimisation don’t always have to be seen directly; they can often be seen indirectly too. When you think about of all the money you invest in an exceptional website design, the hours you spend generating high-quality website content, and the efforts you go to in optimising your on-page SEO factors, you can’t help but wonder how that might increase the user experience of your website, without even thinking about it. The direct application of quality and functionality throughout your website, will indirectly result in your visitors more actively spreading and promoting your business, which will most certainly increase your position in search.
For example, investing in making your website usable on mobile devices – through the implementation of responsive design – will make it user-friendly for all guests, on all devices, regardless of their screen size! In the same way, by increasing the quality of your content, you will notice that your bounce rate will overwhelmingly decrease, and you’ll give your guests more reason to stick around and explore. In other words, by providing an intuitive approach to the factors listed above, you will ensure a more positive experience for your website users, which will result in a better conversion rate, a more profitable website, and higher search rankings when your customers share their experience!
THE PROCESS – WHAT ARE THE FACTORS THAT INFLUENCE SEO?
Now that you have a better idea of what SEO is and how it functions, it’s time to focus on some of the aspects that will specifically influence how your website is ranked in search. Google – the largest and most widely-used search engine in the world – won’t ever disclose the precise algorithm it uses to calculate websites’ rankings, so it’s regrettably not possible to understand every aspect as a whole, or to ever believe that you could possibly “outsmart” the system – although some businesses will mislead you with claims that they can.
If you’re a start-up business, it’s imperative to know that Search Engine Optimisation is a long-term investment which takes a lot of time and requires complete dedication throughout the entire process. Given this, it is essential that you always adhere to the best practice methods and techniques, and that you never take shortcuts or try to “best” the system. The good news is though, through our comprehensive experience – and or course, lots of testing – at GANZ Creative, we have an extensive knowledge of many of the factors that will positively impact your website rankings, and we are ready and able to successfully implement them to your new website, or update an old website that you manage, upon request.
In order to catch the attention of search engines and spark an increased level of engagement with your website visitors, an abundance of high-quality content is required. Without any shadow of a doubt, the more customer-focused, targeted and well-designed content pieces that you have on your website, the more chance you have of your website ranking higher in search engine results. In addition to this, the added benefit of having attractive and informative content on your website is, that your visitors will be encouraged to navigate through, and explore your website for longer, and the more they explore your website, the more chance you have that they will end up buying a product, or recommending your business to a friend or family member in the future!
By creating numerous kinds of content pieces – that are both excellently written, and relate to subjects which are highly-relevant to your audience – you have effectively unveiled the secret to creating optimised content for search engines! There are many different varieties of high-quality content that you could create for your business, so you must choose the content type which is best suited to your target audience. Some of the most effective content, however, can be categorised into the following categories; blog posts and informative articles, social media posts, engaging videos and images, and how-to guides and tutorials.
When it comes to SEO though, it’s not just a matter of creating the content and voila, you’re done. The most important thing to remember when creating optimised website content is that you must always include your targeted keywords and phrases, somewhere in the content where a search engine can discover them. Targeted keywords are the words and phrases that a search engine user would enter to ask a question, or to find information on a specific product or service that they require. By creating content based around your targeted keywords and phrases, search engines will better understand the content that you have provided, and you will increase your chances of ranking at the top of a search for these keywords.
Undoubtedly, high-quality content creation is a very time-consuming process that requires lots of resources, but it’s guaranteed to be a worthwhile investment when you consider the ultimate gains you will receive in the long run. Don’t forget that search engines thrive on excellent content, and prospective clients require high-quality information to have a clearer understanding of your company’s value to them. Start small by creating a few informative blog posts each month, and as you get more comfortable, explore the many different options available to you to further engage with your following!
On-page Search Engine Optimisation factors are essentially those which are managed in your website’s backend Content Management System. You have total control over all of the on-page SEO components of your website and you can manipulate them in any way you please. Essentially this means that over time, you can gradually fine tune and enhance them to receive a better outcome in online search results. It is here where you can – using Search Engine Optimisation best practices, and proven results-based techniques – dive deeper from your content marketing campaigns, directly into your website’s core.
Some of the factors involved in on-site Search Engine Optimisation are;
Even if you have a spectacular website design, online guests aren’t likely to stay if they can’t find what they’re searching for. It’s crucial for a well-made website to be both easy to navigate and accessible to users of all devices – whether they’re using a desktop computer, a smartphone or a tablet.
It’s incredibly annoying when you have to wait for a website to load, and search engines like Google know it too. Your website loading speed has the potential to affect both your webpage and its eventual ranking in Google’s search engine results. Google aims to load its website in under half a second, so it has an expectation that most website pages should also follow suit.
The Title Tag of a webpage allows a search engine to better understand what your page is all about. Ideally comprised of seventy characters or less, a title tag should contain the keyword that your content focuses on, or the applicable phrase you are trying to target.
The Meta Description of a webpage allows a search engine to gain a little more information about the content you have published. It is also the information displayed in a search engine result for your website, used by potential visitors to gain a better understanding of the page – and whether it’s applicable to them – prior to clicking through. The Meta Description should always contain your target keywords and phrases, as well as sufficient details for the reader to know what content your webpage includes.
Sub-headings drastically improve the readability of your website content, and as such, they both directly and indirectly enhance the Search Engine Optimisation of your pages. The inclusion of H1, H2 and H3 tags, can assist search engines in having a better understanding of the nature of your website content, and they can make your reader’s experience significantly more pleasant and enjoyable. This will encourage them to return to your website in the future, or recommend it to their family and friends.
Creating internal links – or hyperlinks – to other existing content on your website, facilitates the process of search engines learning more about your business. If, as an example, you have a blog post which is an online tutorial for a product you sell, you should create internal links in your article that will allow the reader to navigate to that item’s page.
When the reader can see that – in addition to providing information on how to use a product – you also sell the product they need, they are more likely to purchase it directly from you. In addition, search engines will not only understand that your company is a leading authority on this product, but they will also reward your websites’ functionality in the form of higher search engine rankings!
Image Name and ALT Tags
In the highly-probable situation that your website or blog content contains pictures of any kind, it is extremely useful to add your keywords and descriptive phrases to the alt tag or to the file name of the images being used. In doing this, search engines are able to able to better understand what your images depict, and index them appropriately. In turn, you will find that your images will appear higher in Google image search results for your targeted keywords and phrases!
With all of the above being said, and with the process of Search Engine Optimisation sounding relatively simple overall, we must also caution that this is by no means the case. While we may seem to describe the process of optimising your website as a walk in the park, we do so with many years of expertise under our belts. Search Engine Optimisation is a delicate dance and it must be implemented with extreme care and a sound knowledge of the process.
It is, therefore, extremely advisable that you do not attempt on-site SEO by yourself, and that you rather consult a professional, to avoid unknowingly over-optimising your content. Google, along with other search engines, will actually penalise your website if the content contains individual keywords – or synonyms – too many times, or if it decides that you’re trying to manipulate its systems, even if by accident. It is therefore imperative to have a clear understanding of on-site SEO – as well as the relevant knowledge and experience – before you make any changes to your website, because one tiny mistake could end up with your entire business being eliminated from all search results!
In addition to being able to control some of the on-page SEO factors within your website, there are also several off-page elements which you can positively influence to increase your online search rankings. While you are never in direct control of these off-page factors, you can certainly push them in the right direction, which can, in turn, help to better your position in online searches. The off-site factors which impact your website rankings, largely rest on the confidence and credibility that your brand has built up over time. So, to achieve the desired result, you must to enhance these in whichever way you can.
One of the best ways to improve your trust score with search engines, is through the natural sharing of your website content, by customers and website visitors over a timeframe of several months or even years. The more your website content is shared, and the longer the period of time in which you are receiving these social recommendations, the higher your trust score will become, and the higher you will rank in the search results.
Search engines measure these trust signals predominantly through the following elements;
Backlinks – that being links pointing from other websites through to your website – are one of the most common means of measuring the credibility and authority of an online business. These include examples such as; when a customer creates an article on their blog about your products or services, and then places a link in the blog article which sends the reader on to your website. Alternatively, a previous customer may offer a recommendation via an online forum post, and include a link to the particular product they’ve referred to.
It’s worthwhile to invest time in forming relationships with clients, fans and influencers who can create high-quality content, and in doing so, also create a link back to your website.
Social signals, such as “likes” and “shares” on social media platforms, or email recommendations from a past-client to their friends and family, are also considered to be important off-page SEO factors. As you publish more and more high-quality content, you will, over time, boost the credibility and authority of your website, as your readers spread the content across the various social media platforms they engage with.
Take the time to connect with your clients via Social Media, because as you form a relationship with them, this will strengthen their confidence in your credibility. Clients who have faith in your brand and feel a connection with your company may naturally want to tell others about their positive experience.
Ultimately, even though you can’t directly manipulate what happens outside of your company, your off-page SEO can be greatly enhanced when you offer a combination of high-quality content and a fantastic service that people want to connect with. As you provide more and more relevant and engaging content, you will significantly increase your chances of others linking to your website, or sharing it on social media. In effect, by increasing the number of people who have confidence in your business, you are certain to push your website rankings higher, as search engines quickly follow suit.
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