What is Search Engine Optimisation?
You’ve probably heard this term thrown around – but what does it actually mean and what does SEO do? Our friends at Moz define it perfectly:
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results.– Moz
Simply put, we believe SEO is about optimising your website, pages, content and message for your target audience, be it customers, users, employees, job applicants or whichever stakeholder you are trying to appeal to.
What is Good SEO?
Good SEO is a must if you want online success in 2019 – it’s what earns you a foothold in the visible marketplace. Google and other search engines can fetch a hundred million results in half a second, so you need to have solid SEO to get into the top ten results. If you’re not sure where to begin, start with these three factors:
- Making the right keyword choices
- Correct use of targeted keywords to create optimal metadata
- Improving user experience and page speed to increase your site’s success rate
To approach the task of achieving good SEO, first, we think:
What is the job of a search engine?
The forefront of a search engine’s role is providing pages that give people what they want.
So, how do you target the things people are searching for?
Across your website, you should target keywords specific to what people are searching. You can find these keywords through tools such as the Google Ads keyword planner that show the monthly volume of keywords. Choosing to target long-tail keywords is beneficial as competition is low in these terms. On the other hand, choosing to target a general term like ‘black trousers’ will be sure to leave you on page 54.
Be Intentional with Your Title
After waiting just half a second for their search, the first things people see are the titles and descriptions of pages and they’re not hanging around for long, so it’s important to get this right!
The metadata of your page needs to be optimised for both the user looking at it, as well as the search engine crawling your site.
The title tag of your page carries the most weight for describing your page, it’s the first thing users look at and search engines use it to decide what your page is about.
Meta descriptions are not directly analysed by Google as part of the ranking algorithm, but that does not mean they should be overlooked by SEOs as a well-constructed, informational page description gives extra reassurance to an undecided user to visit your site.
Constructing Page Titles and Descriptions
Could all the Important keywords come to the front please…
Primary Keyword | Secondary Keyword | Brand Name
This is an example of a pretty solid SEO friendly title structure:
- First keyword: seen by user and search engine as the most important and relevant part of the page
- Second keyword: can be broader and offer a different perspective on what the page is about, but still be highly relevant
- If your keywords are short enough, putting your brand name on the end for extra brand awareness is a good idea.
Meta Data Dimensions and Recommendations
Title tags shouldn’t be longer than 60 characters maximum or they get shortened in SERPs. The primary keyword of your title should align with the H1 of your page, or the product/product category name if it is an e-commerce site
Meta descriptions should be no longer than 155 characters and should contain multiple variants of the targeted keyword, as words are highlighted on the results page if they correlate with the user’s search.
Achieving Optimal User Experience on Your Website – an SEO’s Dream
As a user, we want to glide through webpages with nothing holding us back, so it can be frustrating when a clicked link takes anything longer than 3-4 seconds to load as long load times lead you to bounce off the page without looking back. The page load time, or ‘page speed’ is a determining factor in the ranking of your site, as well as a user experience must-have.
Some ways we as SEOs can improve page-speed… without getting too technical:
Optimise the images on your site – don’t have images that are unnecessarily huge, that is a roadblock for page speed. The same goes for ultra-high-definition images. Optimise images on your site by reducing the file size to a point where the image is high-res but not overkill on file size.
Use the right image file types, PNG is optimal for graphic designs, JPEG is better for photographed images.
301 Redirects Lengthen the Route to the Users Destination
Optimise page-speed by reducing the number of 301s throughout your site, if a user is redirected through a chain of 3-4 redirects there will be a notable slowness. For those aiming for the cutting edge of user experience, that one 301 redirect can add up with other factors to slow down the page load time, so it’s best to cut out the middle man and get straight to the intended page.
It is wise to work through past content and update hyperlinks that are 301 redirecting, it can be a tedious task but as part of the bigger picture, it’s great for your SEO.
404 Pages – A User Experience Nightmare
Imagine doing all the work to get a user to your site, they get there and click on something they find interesting, but instead are greeted with a 404-error page and leave your site.
Setting up well thought out redirects for 404 links is essential for user experience, and making it as easy as possible for crawlers to promote your page
Don’t just redirect all 404s to the homepage, as this is inefficient for your site structure – If crawlers do not understand your site structure properly, your page rank will pay the price.
Redirect the link to something relevant to where it should have gone, for example, if you are selling products on your site, direct it to a similar product, or the brand category page, or a subcategory page that it would fit into.
A Summary of What Makes Good SEO
- Use keyword research to target long-tail terms that are not too highly competitive.
- Use these keywords within your metadata, using the most relevant keyword at the beginning of the title tag and throughout the description while using the correct metadata structure
- Optimise images on your site, using the correct file type and reduce the file size to a smaller size
- Work on reducing the amount of 301s within your site structure, make sure 404 pages on your site are minimised and they go to an appropriate alternative page.
- After all these steps are in place, you can begin to reap the benefits of having good SEO on your website
At Zelst, we’ve been building successful SEO campaigns for over 10 years and we are proud to have an average of:
- 75.45% organic traffic growth across clients
- 217.7% increase in search visibility
- 279% ROI for clients