Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is one of the most misunderstood marketing mediums out there. There are so many different approaches, depending on what results you want from your website. Every business today, no matter what sector, has an online presence, and research has suggested that 81% of businesses consider blogging, a recent and effective SEO strategy, to be an important part of their marketing plans. Why? Because on average, a company that blogs will have nearly 450% more indexed pages than a Company which doesnâ€™t, increasing the likelihood of potential customers coming across your site.
Of course, businesses will have websites for different reasons. For some; large Corporates, pharmaceutical or industrial companies and government, for example, all the way down to tradesmen and shopkeepers, a website will be for reputational purposes, or to provide information, but online will not form an integral part of their marketing strategy i.e. they will not expect to generate sales or profits via their website. For others, e-commerce sites, advertiser funded sites such as local and national media, or social media, the goal is to drive as much traffic as possible to the site. There really is no such thing as too many hits.
But still there are marked differences between the kind of user different sites want to attract, and accordingly this will affect their SEO strategy. One Company who I recently dealt with explained to me how they had optimised their website to the point where they were ranking number 1 for a particular search phrase. But they soon discovered that users who arrived at their site via this particular search phrase rarely made purchases, and so, despite the large number of visitors they were attracting, they would have been much better off had they optimised the site to a different keyword.
SEO is not a short term strategy but a long term one that requires careful planning and patience to succeed. Ken Laing has been an SEO expert for many years; having graduated from the University of Creative Arts in Epsom with a degree in Graphic Design and New Media, he quickly established himself as a freelancer whoâ€™s passionate about helping small businesses to increase their revenue, firstly by building a new website, then by optimising it, and finally by providing ongoing marketing and SEO consultancy.
â€œOnce you start to lose your ideal end users, you start to lose your businessâ€, he explains. â€œIn my opinion SEO is the best form of marketing because of the high conversion rates you can achieve when you are bringing the right people to your website. I have a 70% conversion rate when people find me via Google, compared to 30% when I used old-fashion marketing methods like handing out business cards at networking events.â€
â€œEverything that you do with your website, in terms of SEO, mattersâ€, Ken explains, â€œGoogle is constantly updating their system; itâ€™s like the scoreboards you see at golf tournaments; you want to be climbing that leader board without breaking their rules â€“ thatâ€™s the only way to win in the SEO gameâ€
Anyone with a grasp of coding is probably familiar with the term â€œunder the hoodâ€, which essentially means drilling down into the website and studying the code behind it. For first timers, seeing the code can be pretty overwhelming, and even more so when you consider that one false move could significantly affect the ranking of your site. It helps to explain why top developers earn the money they do. There are, however, one or two easy wins.
First of all, you want the right keywords on your page and to use the right HTML tags i.e. the H1 to â€œdescribeâ€ your contents. If you use tags in your posts, keep them consistent; so much of the non-technical side of SEO marketing is plain common sense, and this is something that Google desperately wants us to understand. There are no shortcuts; high quality content, updated regularly, is the best way to gain traffic without going â€œunder the hoodâ€.
Watching Ken work with the code behind a site I just happened to have open when we met, you can see that SEO experts consider their work to be like creating a piece of art or design. â€œI try to imagine that I am describing the web page to a blind personâ€, he reveals, â€œI go through the site from top to bottom, picture by picture, sentence by sentence, to ensure everything is properly optimised for the clientâ€™s chosen keywordsâ€