SEO? – but aren’t you an IT company?!
Well yes, we started off purely as an IT service provider, as time has gone on we have been asked for numerous other services such as websites and more recently search engine optimisation.
As with all of IT Assist’s services, we never actually offer them until I am satisfied that we are not only delivering a quality product but we’re also doing more for our customers than anyone else.
We’ve very recently started to offer SEO services. Our packages start from £499 and we even provide you with guarantees that we’ll get you on page one (who else offers guarantees for SEO?).
We do all of our SEO in-house (no outsourcing or farming out to other countries), we use premium, industry leading tools to ensure both on-site and offsite content is accurate, we build high quality back link profiles, we use our website developers to fix website code errors and we even employ professional writers to ensure your content is perfectly optimised for Google’s algorithms.
I realise that whilst our service is great value, not everyone can afford to run to this expense. This article is aimed at those people.
I will give you the knowledge & tools to be able to boost your own rankings, but beware, this isn’t a quick job, it assumes you have some technical knowledge, a basic understanding of the internet/Google/SEO and you should still be prepared to outsource certain aspects unless you’re exceptionally multi-talented.
Note: SEO is extremely complex, with so many ranking factors to cover in a single post. I will do my best to cover the main points, but you may need further research to fully understand the technicalities of each section.
In this article I will be focusing primarily on Google’s search engine as it accounts for around 85% of UK search traffic.
This article will cover a lot of areas, so much so, I will provide you with a contents section for easy navigation below:
- Google Webmaster Tools & Analytics
- Website Hosting
- On Site Optimisation
- Off Site Optimisation
- SEO Tools
- Final Thoughts
Google Webmaster Tools & Analytics
Google Webmaster Tools
Webmaster Tools will allow you to see important information relating to your website such as any messages from Google regarding your website health, crawl information (i.e. problems with Google’s automated robots being able to find/read your pages), load times and much more.
This is also where you submit your “sitemap” to Google, making the job of finding all your pages and getting indexed much easier.
I’m sure you’ve all probably heard of Google Analytics. If not, its a free resource from Google that tracks your visitors and their browsing behaviour.
You can easily see how many visits your site gets for a given period, which pages get the most views, which pages have the worst bounce rate etc (bounce rate is when a visitor leaves your website after only viewing one page) allowing you to see what needs fixing and which content you need to create more of.
Your website hosting is where all your website data is stored and is the integral part of your website process that delivers your website to your customers’ screens. Without hosting, your website would just be a bunch of useless files, inaccessible to the rest of the world.
Website hosting can drastically affect loading time and that is incredibly important to user experience. The better the user experience, the better your ranking.
If your hosting provider is not in the same country as you, is frequently down, or you’re using a slow provider just to save a couple of quid, then it’s fair to say Google won’t show you much love.
We have our own UK based VPS (virtual private server) which has been built with performance in mind. Typically, a web hosting server is built with either Apache or Nginx, both are great at specific jobs, but neither excel at all aspects. We decided to build our hybrid web server to utilise the best of both technologies to deliver outstanding performance.
Our hosting is £10 per month and is a fully managed service. If you’re interested in switching your website over to our hosting, please contact: email@example.com.
On Site Optimisation
To ensure Google can find all the pages on your website, you need to have a sitemap xml file available for it to fetch at regular intervals.
If you use WordPress, you can download a free plugin such as “Yoast SEO” which is an all in one SEO tool that comes bundled with a sitemap generator. This automatically updates itself when new pages/posts are created.
Once activated, the link to your sitemap will be: www.yourdomain.com/sitemap_index.xml – back over in your webmaster tools, you need to go to the sitemaps section and submit this link.
If you’re not using a CMS (Content Managed System) such as WordPress, then you will probably need to generate your sitemap manually. Whilst this works without any issue, it is a manual process that needs doing regularly.
You can manually generate a sitemap here. You will need to download this to your computer before uploading it into your root directory on the web server and submitting to Google.
Meta, Schema, Microdata & Open Graph
Meta, Schema, Microdata and Open Graph are types of content that aren’t visible to the end user, but can be read by Google and other search engines.
Using meta will mean that you need to include a meta title, meta description, heading tags (H1, H2, H3 and so on) for headings and subtitles. These also need to be used correctly and in order. Incorrectly formatted H tags will have a negative impact on your rankings.
In recent years there has been the release of Schema, Microdata & Open Graph. These are new types of information that you can feed directly to search engines and social websites to allow for ratings or other “rich snippets” to be displayed.
Content & Readability
I’m sure you’ve heard many times, that “content is king”, well there is some truth in that. There really is no substitute for quality content, but that content also needs to be optimised for Google if you want it to rank well.
This means having your desired keyword or search term appear in your content enough for Google to recognise that it is the focus word, but not too much as to seem like you’re trying to manipulate the rankings (also known as keyword stuffing).
To really stand out to Google you need to ensure that your content is easily readable for all audiences, which entails getting a high score on the Flesch Reading Ease test. the lower your score, the lower your ranking.
Alongside meeting the above requirements, you will also need to:
- Use/include headings & subheadings
- Avoid using a passive voice
- Keep paragraphs short
- Average around 30% transition words
To successfully meet all criteria can often be impossible, but the more criteria you can satisfy without compromising your content, the better you will rank.
Google has been slowly pushing everyone towards using “SSL” certificates on their websites for some time now. It announced recently that as of July, any sites without an SSL certificate would display a “not secure” warning to visitors using Google Chrome.
This is a bold move by Google and confirms their stance on web security. If you don’t have an SSL certificate, your website rankings will suffer.
We already touched on website performance earlier with the website hosting. That only forms one part of it though.
Websites are increasing in functionality, complexity and size. To ensure your users aren’t waiting around and clicking off your website, Google prioritises websites that are fast and user friendly.
If you’re using WordPress or another CMS you can get plugins like this that allow you to compress your data and images, as well as cache content to deliver it even faster.
Social Media & Engagement
Google has denied that social media has any influence on your rankings before, but most SEO experts believe that Social Media will (if it doesn’t already) affect your rankings.
- Follower count
- Username tags/appearance count
- Account age
- Post frequency & count
Are all tipped to be important factors, so make sure that you’re registered on all major social platforms, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Google+ & LinkedIn.
It’s also worth noting that Google actually owns two of those. We already know Google specialises in gathering information, so I think it’s safe to assume that it’s pulling information in from it’s own social companies.
Backlinking is a tricky game. No backlinks mean your website is unknown and has little or no credibility. Having many backlinks that aren’t of high quality or that appear overnight means you’re probably going to get penalised by Google.
To build quality links takes time and you must be proactive. You can’t go around offering “link exchanges” anymore as this will also work against you.
Start off by registering your business in online directories such as Yell, Scoot and Thompson local etc. Taking this a step further you could reach out to websites related to your own industry for back links.
Maintaining a quality backlink profile takes a lot of work and requires that you “disavow” any dirty/toxic links with Google that could be harmful to your rankings.
There are tools to help you manage this which I’ll mention later.
As I briefly mentioned above, getting registered in directories can give your local listings a boost, but the main one you need to be registering for is Google My Business.
This is Google’s own business directory. It allows Google to know more about your business and deliver key information such as reviews, opening hours, telephone numbers etc, to your customers without the need for them to leave Google.
Website Traffic & Bounce Rate
SEO isn’t a one-time job. It requires regular monitoring and updating. Studying your Google Analytics account, checking bounce rates, popular content, visit duration, common visitor behaviour etc all allows you to build a better website for your customers.
Seeking to constantly improve your content and deliver fresh quality content (ideally more of what has already worked previously) will only boost your rankings further.
There is a lot of information in this article, you might feel a bit overwhelmed by it all, but fear not, because there are many tools out there to rationalise it all and help you find the issues that are preventing your website from ranking as good as it should.
Both of these are great plugins for covering most of the on-site SEO.
Premium SEO tools:
These are external tools that analyse all aspects of your SEO and give you a more in depth analysis. In most cases you will need someone to edit website code, write quality SEO friendly content, build backlinks or all of the above.
Hopefully this given you a good insight into what is involved with SEO and perhaps gave you a good idea of how to better your own rankings.
If you’re looking for an all-inclusive SEO service, please contact us for a bespoke proposal: 01709 464 323 // firstname.lastname@example.org