Mark Ballett is an ecommerce expert with more than 25 years’ experience helping retailers to grow and evolve. He was Supply Director of Cable & Wireless, and CEO of several telecoms companies at the beginning of the internet era, played a leading role in an £80M broadband start up, as well as leading Norweb Telecom's growth from £10M to £100m turnover.The Art & Science of Search Engine Optimisation
Google, or any other search engine, is just trying to match a user query with what appears to them to be the best answer. That’s it. SEO is the art and science of putting your best foot forward, in a search engine’s eyes. Like the formulae for Coca Cola, how they do it is cloaked in mystery but some things are pretty obvious and they are the only things you can manage.
Do the following and you have the best chance of optimising your ranking:
1. Focus on Landing Pages
Google pays much more attention to these pages. So do potential customers. If you have a high bounce rate they clearly aren’t too impressed with what they have found. Getting people to your site who don’t find what they are looking for is a waste of time and money for you and them and a failure of Google’s ranking paradigm. The longer people hang around on your site the higher you will rank.
2. Think Segment
Google tries very hard to understand users intentions when searching for a match. This is more than simple keyword matching. For instance, the following search terms have very different intent: Bike; buy children’s bike; rent electric bike; best bike for touring; history of the bicycle. It’s unlikely that the same business would rank highly for all of these search terms. Whilst a big company can be strong in multiple categories, smaller businesses often do best to pick a niche so that they can really be strong match for, say, ‘children’s bikes’. The more segment focused you are the higher you will rank.
3. Don’t be Sloppy.
Search engines penalise poor quality content. If your write poor quality content laced with spelling errors, Google will identify this and rank your pages accordingly.
Google can detect long paragraphs of meaningless drivel stuffed with the keywords the author thinks are important, and it also knows when you have copied the content from another website. Just don't do it. The more you follow Google's Webmaster Guidelines document, the higher you will rank.
4. Build Your Authority
The more links there are to your website content from other, highly regarded, websites, then the better your pages are going to rank, though ‘inbound links’ are not the only measure of your domain authority however. Google will also take the following into consideration:
- How long your website has been around (you won't rank for much other than your domain name for the first 12 months.)
- How often it is updated
- Whether you are a registered business
- If you are you listed on credible indexes, such as Yellow Pages, Companies House, Google My Business
5. Pay Attention to Technical Detail
When it comes to the technical details Google can be forgiving. If your content is good and your site is authoritative and the html isn't broken, then it is possible to be ranked highly.
However, it's better not to leave things to chance. Google is a computer system and then more structured the information you provide, the easier it is for Google to recognise its value. That is why there are benefits to making sure that your pages include the fields listed below.
|Page URL||Should include the main keyword for the page. One of the most common mistakes I see users make is changing the title without redirecting the old page to the new page. It can take a couple of months for Google to figure this out on its own.||75 characters|
|Page Title||Should begin with the main keyword for the page; describe the content on the page; and end with the your brand keyword.||30-60 characters|
|Page Meta Description||Should describe the content on the page and end with the your brand keyword.||55-300 characters|
|rel="canonical" Tag||Should point to the original version of a page if the page is a copy.||-|
|<h1> Tag||Should describe the content on the page and including your brand keyword.||30-70 characters|
These are the basics. If you are in ecommerce then understanding how structured data works will also help. The more you worry about the technical detail, the higher you will rank.
We regularly help our clients to do all of the above. If you’d like to discuss how we might help you, please get in touch.