Get Your Web Site Ranking – Increase Traffic From Google & Bing
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of improving your site so that it ranks well in the search engines. It includes making changes to the way your site is architected and the content that is included, as well as encouraging other sites to link to it.
The benefits of careful and responsible search engine optimisation are vast. With more and more searches conducted daily on Google, Bing and Yahoo, the opportunities for businesses to reach new customers are increasing. But with added opportunity comes greater competition, and ranking highly in the results is not as easy as it used to be.
SEO can be thought of as having two main components:
- Initial On-page optimisation: The is the initial web site optimisation – the process of ensuring the site is optimised properly for search engines.
- On-going Off-page optimisation: This is the ongoing process of link building – the outreach process of encouraging other sites to link to yours.
These two components are usually priced differently – the first is a set price, whilst the second is an on-going (usually a monthly retainer) arrangement.
The following sections outline the approach for on-page optimisation and off-page optimisation.
For the initial on-page optimisation the process is conducted via 3 main steps:
- Analysis and research
- Measurement and reporting
For the on-going optimisation the process includes:
- Content creation
- Link building
- Test and measure, review on-page optimisation
Initial On-page Optimisation
Step 1: Analysis and Research
The first step to an optimal site is having an understanding of the site goals, the audience and the keywords that are appropriate to attempt to rank for:
Usually web sites have specific business purposes in mind – make a sale, raise awareness, generate leads, build consumer confidence, etc. Understanding the purpose is crucial for SEO success, as it influences the audience the site aims to attract, and in turn the keywords that audience is going to search with (this is commonly referred to as ‘search intent’).
Having a clear idea of the goals, therefore ensures that the optimisation work carried out is appropriately targeted.
Preparing ‘personas’ of the site audience is the process of writing down a few bullet points about the various audiences you are appealing to, for example:
- their education level
- do they have high incomes
- do they spend online
- are they looking for a solution to pain versus a general improvement in circumstances
- are they looking for quality versus a bargain
- are they comfortable with technology
- do they look for lots of information.
It doesn’t need to be overly detailed, but it does need to give a quick snapshot of who they are and their habits.
Most web sites usually have 2 or 3 main personas that are in the target audience.
Once there’s a general understanding of the audience, the next step is to research the types of keywords these people search with.
There’s a number of ways to prepare this, starting with existing analytics for the site (if available): as it provides the initial insight into what traffic so far has converted or been ‘engaged’.
Most web site owners have a general idea of the types of terms they are targeting, so along with analytics, this provides a useful list of seed keywords that can be researched.
Tool such as Google’s Keyword Tool then help to give some perspective on the volume of search. It also highlights competitiveness of the terms to provide an idea of what terms are feasible, and what are outside reach. For example, ranking for a term such as ‘life insurance’ is incredibly competitive – and it’s good to rule out unrealistic terms early if they aren’t appropriate from a budget perspective.
Once the initial keyword list is drafted they are divided into brand terms and non-brand terms. Brand terms are anything related to the name of the company or institution, non-brand is everything else. Brand terms are easier to rank for, so it’s important to understand all the variations. Non-brand terms are grouped together in general themes and further analysed for competitiveness. Broad terms (eg short, general terms) can be quite competitive, whereas longer, more specific terms (eg long-tail terms) are usually much less competitive.
Once a general understanding of keywords is in place it is time to check who the main competitors are.
We use a range of tools to pull together competitor details across all the keywords. Usually there are a few main competitors that cover most of the target terms. Then we analyse the competitors’ strengths and weaknesses, including their domain strength and a range of factors including how many sites link to them and their on-site optimisation.
This results in a mini-SWOT analysis of key competitors, and a clear understanding of where we stand in relation to them for the keywords.
At this point, Step 1 is complete – there is now a clear understanding of goals, audience and keyword competitiveness. The outcome is an agreed understanding of the keywords that will be targeted.
Step 2: Implementation
Once the keywords are agreed, the next step is to optimise the site pages for those keywords. This involves changes to site architecture, content and meta data to cater for each keyword.
Some of the items covered include:
- site structure and URL links
- Title tags on pages
- META descriptions
- page headings, image ALT tags, and other syntax
- canonical URLs
- XML sitemaps
- robots.txt directives
- noindex and nofollow attributes.
This step also includes configuration of technical items such as:
- Google Tag Manager
- Google Analytics
- Google Webmaster Tools
- Bing Webmaster Tools
- other measuring tools
If the SEO process is part of a site refresh project it includes implementation of 301 redirects to ensure no loss of Google link equity during the transition.
- Read our blog post on the importance of redirects.
Step 3: Measurement and Reporting
Before the implementation is live an initial baseline report is prepared. Once the site is live, reports are prepared that cover both general traffic data, as well as key insights into how goals are being met.
The goals that were prepared (Step 1) are tracked via analytics conversion goals and included in reports and dashboards.
Reports are tailored to each client to ensure the appropriate level of detail is included. Most engagements include a basic training session to ensure clients are comfortable using analytics and able to dig deeper into reports.
Learn more about reporting options.
On-going Off-page Optimisation
Step 4: Content Creation
Planning, creating and curating content is the key strategy for encouraging links, traffic and engagement from other sites.
There are a number of different ways to create content including:
- Blog posts and articles
- Presentations and slide decks
- Videos and webcasts
- Podcasts and interviews
- Press and media releases
- Whitepapers and ebooks
- Infographics and diagrams
- FAQs and Q+A responses
- Social sharing and curation
- Commenting and reviewing
Some of this content is used on the site itself (and has the added benefit of contributing to the on-page optimisation), whilst other content is used on external sites and linking back to the main site.
Step 5: Content Promotion
Gaining quality links from other sites to yours is the single biggest contributor to increasing your rankings. Once your site has been optimised for the keywords your customers are searching for, you then need other people linking to you with those terms as well.
Common Mistake: Submitting your site to hundreds of free directories
Whilst it’s true that getting listed in some premium directories will benefit your site rankings, it is much better to have a consistent increase in links over time.
And so it is with link building. It’s hard work. You need to engage with other sites, find points of benefit for them to recommend (ie link to) you.
This can be time consuming work, but we’ll help you with the heavy lifting: how to find appropriate sites to contact, what content they’re interested in, and how to provide value.
The following list highlights some of the main link building processes we utilise:
- Partner sites
- Industry sites
- Q+A sites, social sharing
- Press releases and announcements
- Influencer and blogger outreach
- PR campaigns
Learn how Search Engine Optimisation is part of an integrated strategy approach.