As an established business based in the North East, we are investing in a new website - what do I need to consider for SEO?
As an established business based in the North East, we are investing in a new web site - what do I need to consider for SEO?
SEO, or Search Engine Optimisation, is the process of improving search traffic for a website and increasing the website’s online visibility. The short answer to this question is that there’s very little point in investing in a new web site if no-one knows where it is or visits it, so investment in SEO is highly recommended to attract NEW visitors.
In June, we wrote about the changes that Google had made in its search criteria, ranking mobile friendliness as one of the most important of their 200 or so criteria so that responsive sites, ie those sites that were designed to respond to the different sized screens that mobile devices use, would inevitably be placed higher than non-responsive site with all other factors being equal.
So, our first advice for SEO is to make sure your site is responsive – with over 70% of web site visits now coming from mobile devices, this isn’t just for purposes of SEO but also just common sense, why build a web site that doesn’t look at its best to over 70% of the visitors?
In the real world, however, web site visitors do not all come as a result of the mighty Google and other search engines and one very effective means of improving online visibility is to promote it offline whether this be through advertisements, PR or direct mail to your own database. This is especially true when you deal in a niche market, whether this be in B2C or B2B environment. If you can effectively promote your web site for, say, organic sausage skins or hazardous area lighting, for example, to the albeit limited audiences for those products, then you’re not really bothered about other visitors to your web site who aren’t interested in your niche products – you’ve profiled your customers and effectively reached them.
Google Analytics provides a perfect starting point to find out where your visitors are coming from and what they’re looking at and I’d advise any client to invest in understanding how to use this tool, which is free, and properly analyzing the results.
However, you now have a responsive site which you’ve promoted offline to your own database and in all marketing collateral and you’re tracking the traffic results via Google Analytics and fully understand the results, what else can you do to increase traffic?
In essence, there are two routes to SEO. The first, and highly preferred, is organic SEO, whereby relevant keywords and content integral to the site will be picked up by search engines. Links to and, especially from, other sites are also important to increasing the site’s ranking as is the frequency of updates but at the end of the day, and we can’t over emphasise this enough, content is king - your web site has to be fresh, interesting and relevant. If it is, it will move up the pages over time, but this doesn’t happen overnight.
Two points of caution here – firstly, over-optimisation will cost the website - if the website is crammed with keywords, Google will find it difficult to read and understand the relevance, creating lower quality score. Secondly, whilst creating links to and from the website is effective for organic SEO, if bad links or link farming is used, Google will recognise this as unnatural, costing position as a result.
To achieve instant results, however, sites have to invest in paid-for Search Engine Marketing, often referred to as Pay Per Click (PPC) or paid search advertising.
Google Adwords is perhaps the most common platform, with your web site then featured in the paid for advertisements sections at the top and right hand side of the Google results. The costs vary enormously dependent on the phraseology chosen for the search. Once decided, advertisers can then set their budget that will determine how many times the advert appears and is clicked on to direct traffic through to their own web site.
Is it successful? Well, given that it is Google’s main source of revenue, creating an eye-watering $43.7 billion in 2012, you’d have to say overall, yes, but it is expensive, making it difficult for companies with more modest marketing budgets to compete with the big boys who can bid higher and longer for the key words required to increase online visibility and drive traffic.
The whole purpose of SEO is to get visits to create business, whether this be a purchase or a client making initial contact so if traffic levels aren’t resulting in more business, it comes down to content again – relevant and interesting content will reap dividends (and higher ranking) over time as the website becomes a trusted resource for visitors.
So, are you worried about search engine marketing? Do you need to review your strategy or do you have another marketing question we can help with? Talk to us. Email your questions anonymously to us today firstname.lastname@example.org or Tweet us (not so anonymously) @SilverBulletPR and use the hash tag #AskSB