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Demystifying the Art of SEO

20th March 2013

Small fortunes can sometimes be spent on SEO with mixed results. But at its heart it is a logical process with bags of free tools and help from the search engines to help you along the way. So, here’s a simple gallop through:

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the process of optimising a web site to improve its rankings in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). Essentially, the process of SEO is split into two different categories:

On Site Optimisation
On Site Optimisation covers what happens on your web site and includes SEO considerations such as the structure of your pages, the copy, technical points such as code structure and Meta tags.

Off Site Optimisation
Off Site Optimisation covers everything that happens off the site. For instance, who is or should be linking to your site? Where are these links to come from? (e.g. a partner web site, directory or blog), what the anchor text says (i.e. the physical link itself) and a raft of other indicators.

Target Audience Requirements / Keywords Analysis
The process of determining keywords and phrases is very important but prior to this stage, it is vital to establish why the site needs optimising and for what specific audience. It is important to use search terms in content in a natural way. Force it and it will be detected.

Following the target audience requirements analysis and scoping, you will need to identify the relevant keywords and phrases which should be targeted. You will then identify the potential traffic these keywords could drive to your web site.

Keywords analysis is not a broad-brush approach to a web site but a systematic and detailed page-by-page analysis. We will write the web site copy for each page with specific keywords in mind.

Domain Name
Having a domain name that includes key search terms is arguably a less important ranking factor now. But it is still a ranking factor so pick a domains that are memorable, unique, relevant to the nature of your business and as short as possible.

Content Quality
Google, for example, can distinguish between high value, relevant, fresh, content and low value content put together as an attempt to be term rich but that is unoriginal. It is important to keep a flow of fresh, valued, content adding to the site. White papers, blogs, news releases, research, new sections are all important. Good content is a team effort and we run regular ‘editorial’ meetings with our clients to look at new content ideas and how they will need to be marketed. Think of yourself as a publisher and that is a good start to getting the approach to content right.

Inbound Links (Link Popularity)
SEO is a long-term process and investment. It is not simply a matter of trying to get the cheapest, quickest number of links. In fact your site could be penalised if it sees an unnatural spike in the number of links. Good SEO is all about quality and diversity of link building from good and relevant sources.

Content Marketing
Great content needs an audience. Marketing and PRing site content creates inbound links from high value sources. Email marketing, social media marketing and media relations are all important tools. Social media is increasingly important here. People sharing links to your content and ‘liking’ it is very powerful. We recommend that news is disseminated in such a way so that it is intermediated and disintermediated with site content at the core of the strategy to encourage social signals.

Mobile Design
In an increasingly mobile Internet world, it is a valuable factor to make sure your site is mobile friendly.

Media
Video can rank higher than text, particularly in Google. Using video on a site can boost its rankings significantly and is another substantial opportunity to drive traffic to your web site.

Metrics
Using a variety of free analytics tools, you can analyse all the important KPIs:

• Metatag analysis
• Organic traffic/visits
• Organic position
• Conversions by keyword
• On-site and off-site indexed pages
• Recommendations

Most importantly though is to keep up to date with the search engines and be led by their guidance. You can’t go far wrong if you do.

And keep at it. It’s a journey not a destination.