23 Mar 2012

Energy Cell’s Brief Introduction to Search Engine Optimisation

In: Marketing Tech/Geek Zone Web design

Following the recent comment from Matt Cutts that Google is currently working on penalties for sites that are ‘over-optimized’, here at The Energy Cell we thought we could shed a little light on the tricky issue of SEO. For anyone unfamiliar with the world of online marketing, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is activity intended to improve the visibility of a website or webpage on the ratings of search engines and unless you know the basics, can be a potentially confusing topic. So, here is an introduction to some of the key areas our agency tackles when we get involved with a project, in order to help our clients get the best possible search engine ratings and make the most of their marketing spend.

As with any project, the first step is thorough research. Assuming the market research has shown the products or services that your business provides to be commercially desirable, there is no reason why your site should not be receiving traffic. Initial keyword research should be an integral part of the marketing strategy; it is important to ensure that your site is receiving not only a good quantity of visitors, but is attracting the appropriate audience. The use of precise and relevant keywords can vastly improve these statistics: for example, using other company names or irrelevant terms (such as ‘free’) for popularity may attract more traffic to your site, but the fact that your site is unlikely to be what they were looking for means the bounce rate will be high. Furthermore, it is important to resist the urge to stuff your website with keywords: the search engine robots use algorithms designed to detect an unnatural repetition of keywords, so your site could actually drop in the ratings or even be removed from the search engine results altogether.

On-site optimisation, making sure all pages of your site reiterate these target key phrases for the search engines, is the next step. Technical optimisation involves ensuring that each page of your site has a unique title tag, unique meta tags and alt tags, on-page headings and a search friendly URL: this will improve the usability of your site, not only for search engines but also for your users as well. Duplicate content and canonicalisation of URLS (having multiple URLs for the same content) also causes problems for search engines: each page of your site should have unique content and be checked for canonical domain issues to prevent search engines treating them as different sites. Lastly, your website should always be tested thoroughly – it should be easy to navigate with all links in working order and optimised to be mobile friendly. 

Off-site optimisation involves link building, getting hyperlinks from trusted 3rd party websites back to yours, and is also highly important. Promoting your website through press releases, article submission, blog posts, social media, forums, directories and sponsorship all add to this but again it is quality – not quantity – that should be prioritised.

Finally, using analytics tools to analyse your site’s traffic is extremely beneficial: understanding who your users are and how they are using your site allows you to see which parts of your website are most successful: this information can then be fed back into improving the site further.

SEO can be a time consuming process, particularly if you are not fully aware of the specifics, but whether you do it yourself or hire an agency like us to take care of it for you, it is a vital part of ensuring the success of your site. Nevertheless, you should always remember that the primary focus of your site should be good quality content and an appealing and user-friendly website for your target audience, not the search engines: if your users can use and understand your site with ease, the search engine robots will be able to as well. For further information about what we can do or to discuss a project, please contact the team here!

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