Search Engine Optimisation is about ensuring that when someone enters a particular keyword into Google, Bing or other search engines, that you have everything set up properly in a way that ensures that the search engine can find your site and present it in the search engine results page in a prominent position, ideally in the 'sweet spot' just below the paid ads.
There is no easy set formula to doing this. The main search engines develop their logic, sometimes referred to as an algorithm and are frequently refining the algorithm to improve the way it works. Google for example, are keen to support quality sites that have good content and to not support sites which are over engineered with the single aim of pushing them up the search engine ranks. Google do not publish their algorithm because if they did, they know that every web designer would rapidly change their sites to try and 'game' the system.
Search Engine Optimisation becomes a bit of a guessing game or a game of trial and error, of test and learn. What works one week might not work so well the next.
I offer an affordable search engine optimisation service (SEO service) based on what I have learnt that works. You will appreciate that I cannot make any absolute guarantees that it will work as effectively for your site. As always it depends on how much site optimisation work I am able to do for you and the level of website optimisation effort being expended by your competitors.
Well written, relevant text content will always take priority.
It is critical that your site loads quickly, especially on mobile
Incoming links from relevant sites are a sign of a respected site.
Key ranking factors to improve a site's rankings in what are called the organic search results.
Despite the constant changes in the rules about what position a site gets shown at in the search results, there are some factors that will always have a major influence:
The text is important but who wants to browse a site comprised only of text? Maybe an academic but for most ordinary people they want to see images that either reflect the service that you are offering them or, where that is not possible create a mood that reflects the service that you are wanting your customers to consider. At the very least, good-quality images should form part of the design aspect of your site. I often start with an image and use one of the colours in that image to determine the colour palette for a site.
Clients often want the ability to change images and yes, it is possible to allow content-managed images to be used in a website but there is also a downside to this for SEO. As I said before speed, and especially the speed of your site on mobile, is critical to success and if someone loads a 10MB image to the Home page, at one stroke that could destroy any speed advantages that I have been able to set up in the initial project launch. So if we are not careful it can become a trade-off between the site looking great and the site loading poorly because of images that are not properly optimised.
Just to give you a flavour of the amount of work that potentially goes into a full-width banner image on one of my sites:
I create three images. Large at 1920 pixels wide, medium at 1024 pixels wide and small at 640 pixels wide and create these as .webp format which is currently the best format supported by web browsers of images. These images are then shown, depending on what browser size is being used by the viewer of your site. It is what Google expects to find and if it doesn't find it, your site won't fail but your site might not rank so well as you would wish.
The format of the image is also key. It needs to be in landscape mode as that is what works on desktop and laptop computers but it should also be capable of being displayed on a phone where the traditional way of viewing a phone creates a screen that is in portrait mode. So the image must be readily adaptable to portrait as well. Plus there are a multitude of different screen sizes when you consider the huge variety of devices.
If there is a person in the image, then it may work better that that person is near the centre of that image so that, no matter what orientation of screen the viewer is using, the person remains visible and doesn't get half cut off at the edge of the screen.
So image management, especially on the Home page, where you will need most SEO benefit is complex.
I am here to help and work with you as to what are the best options. Given the choice, I would prefer you to have a site that has some hope of ranking on the first page but I can only do that if I work with you to optimise and manage the images on your Home page. Other pages may also need to work as ranking pages. Usually, the Gallery and Blog pages are the safest places for my clients to load their own photos with no intervention required from me.
Video can also form an important component of your site for various reasons:
I can film and produce a professional-grade video for you (with your help of course). I have both the equipment and the skills to film a high-quality 4K video to enhance your website and give it an up-to-date professional quality. Please see my recent Redmove website for an example of my video work as the background on the Home page.
Google loves fresh, new, relevant content added regularly to your site. It indicates that you have something new and interesting to say that your clients may want to hear. There are several ways to do this but one very important way is to seek testimonials for your work and publish them on your website. Regular updates are welcome to me and it usually only takes me a few minutes to add a few lines of text to your site. So I offer this service within the initial set-up cost for the first 12 months at least. Usually, the turnaround time is very swift, unless I am on holiday of course. If I can't do your changes straight away, I will send you an email telling you when I will be able to do them.
One of the last pieces of the SEO work is to ensure that everything is set up correctly at Google and Bing and that these search engines have indexed the pages that one would expect them to index. Sitemaps need to be correct and submitted to the respective search console. Any messages about errors need to be monitored, analysed and if necessary corrective action taken.
If you are running a small local business and you want to be found in local searches then you really need to start by signing up for Google My Business (formerly Google Places). When you have an entry in Google My Business you will see in some local searches a blended search results page which is a mixture of generic results and a grid of results returned from Google maps with markers A through G highlighting the location of the businesses on a map.
You don't even need to have a website to start and it is free. There are no catches but it is worth thinking about what information you are going to put in there first. I can do the set-up for you but there's really nothing that you can't do for yourself and the sooner you start, the quicker you will show up in local searches, assuming you've set it up correctly.
The key thing to completing the Google places page is to make sure that key details like Name, Address and Telephone Number are accurate and consistent with any local directories that may have you listed. Google will cross-reference this information and if any of it is inconsistent then Google may just not set up your Google My Business entry and you will not appear on Google maps. It is important to fill in as many of the sections as possible, including times of opening, payment methods, photos and even videos if you have any.
If for some reason you are unwilling to supply a permanent address which is shown online then this can make things more difficult to optimise for local SEO but I will still do what I can to optimise your website site for your locality.
Once all the on-page optimisation of the site is completed the next step is for you, the site owner to get as many relevant links and visitors as you can get to your site and the best way to do that is by using social media posts that link back to your website. Clients that are social media savvy and regularly active tend to do quite well with their website rankings. This could entail something as simple as posting a photo from your phone to Instagram each time you do some work for a client.
I stress the term 'relevant' because inappropriate links to your site can damage its position in the rankings.
There are companies that offer a service called link building. I don't offer this service as it is not my core competence. These companies will, for a fee, create blog posts that point to your site, thus providing an external link. The blog posts that are written are of a varying standard and are often from websites with doubtful relevance to your business. You need to be very careful with this approach as Google may very well penalise your site if it thinks that you are trying to game the system.
It is much better to try and get your own links. The obvious starting point for this, for a local business, after signing up to social media websites, is to sign up for local directories where you can enter the url to your site.
I have also acted on occasion as an SEO consultant to a company with little SEO knowledge or experience trying to get their site to be more visible. I can provide advice, support and training to whoever in your organisation is hands-on building a website if that person is new to the world of SEO.
I am often asked if I can improve the position of someone's existing site in Google and I have to say that yes I can, providing I can rebuild it so as to get control of not only the text content but also the metadata which is so important to SEO. Keyword research is vital to the process. It is not uncommon that I come across websites that have been built without much regard to whether people are actually searching for the terms that the site has been optimised for!
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