Just what is SEO and why is it important?

SEO or Search Engine Optimisation, is a term used to describe both onsite and offsite optimisation – the common goal of which is to drive traffic to your website. As an agency, we specialise in onsite SEO – the process of both structuring, and of coding a website, so that it ranks as highly as possible in search engine results pages (referred to as SERPs).

There are a multitude of factors, over 250 in fact, which search engines like Google use to determine where sites rank in organic search results. Of course everyone wants the number one SERP position – and, any company that tells you they can get you to the number one position is basically lying or using some obscure keyword terms that aren’t relevant to your site!

1. Link score

How does Google determine the quality and relevance of links to your site? In several patents, Google explains that this is done by calculating a link score. The link score is calculated by aggregating each incoming link’s individual quality score and the number of links to the site.  So, it’s not necessarily the quantity of links pointing at your site, but the quality of those links which is important. A link from the BBC carries far more weight than a link from a lesser known site.

2. Anchor text relevance

Anchor text is the clickable text in a hyperlink, this tells Google what your page is about and therefore what it should rank for; backlink anchors should be diverse and natural – SEO best practices dictate that anchor text be relevant to the page you’re linking to, rather than generic text.

3. Content – keyword usage

The page title tag (found at the top of the browser window or tab) remains the strongest relevance signal to Google, using keywords in the title tag will help tell Google what the page is about. It’s important to remember that page titles should be unique for each page, and any keywords used should also appear in the body of the page. The H1 tag holds the most SEO weight out of all heading tags.

4. Content – length

In it’s search quality guidelines, Google states that the amount of content on a page is important for its overall quality – and therefore ranking. Unfortunately, as Google puts it, “the amount of content necessary for the page to be satisfying depends on the topic and purpose of the page.” Our recommendation here would be to look at the amount of content appearing on high ranking competitor sites, and then use that as a basis for your own site.

5. Technical – page speed

Google expects pages to load in two seconds or less; speed also has a huge impact on UX (user experience); slower pages have higher bounce rates and lower conversion rates. The most common factors in poorly performing sites are uncompressed resources: scripts, images and CSS files. Use the Googles PageSpeed tool to measure the performance of your own site.

6. Tehcnical – mobile friendliness

More than 50% of web traffic now goes through mobile. If your website isn’t optimised for mobile devices including smartphones and tablets, they won’t rank in mobile search particularly now that Google has switched to mobile-first indexing. Having a mobile optimised website is an absolute must and will only become more important moving forward.

7. User experience – click through rates

Sites with higher click through rates (CTR) – which is defined as the number of times a search listing was clicked to the number of times it was displayed – will rank higher in SERPs. Check your current SERP CTR using Google Webmaster Tools Search Console, look for pages with low CTR and then try re-writing your page descriptions [snippet text] to make them more appealing to users.