Search Engine OptimisationSearch Engine Optimisation (SEO), otherwise known is Natural Search is an area in which I have been working since 2006, when I was optimising for “car insurance”. Since that time I have worked on high volume, high cost, high competition terms, employing a wide range of techniques, and these constantly evolve as user behaviours, technology and search algorithms change.
Guaranteed successFirst up, I’m not going to guarantee success, timescales or traffic. Anyone who does should, in my view, not be trusted. Anyone who can secure short-term, dramatic gains in traffic or Search Engine Ranking Positions (SERPS) for major terms will almost certainly see those gains lost in short order.
A considered approach
The major search algorithms are understandably and necessarily not published nor, I am led to believe, understood by any one single individual within organisations such as Google. Therefore any approach to SEO must be based on common sense, pragmatism, accepted wisdom and most importantly of all, patience.
With self-learning algorithms with hundreds of factors, what I will list out here is necessarily very top-line. These are the headline points to be considered, and they’re intentionally alphabetised, rather in priority order.
Accessible. The site design and build must be Accessible with a capital A.
Current. The content on the site needs to be current and constantly changing.
Engaging. Content needs to be engaging, and consequently shareable.
Error free. Broken links, missing pages, faults will all hold you back.
Fast. Pages need to load quickly. People are impatient, and so search engines penalise slow sites.
Genuine. Content should be written for people, not search engines. Stuffing keywords into tedious content has little or no value.
Links. Links to your site reflect the interest other people/ sites have in your site and content. The value of links to your site (from trusted, relevant websites) cannot be over-stated enough.
Navigation. If it’s easy for site visitors to navigate your site, it will be easy for search engines.
Relevant. Unless you’re a news outlet, the content should relate to your users and your products/ services.
Socially connected. Make it easy for your site visitors to share your content on social channels.
Unique. Re-cycling content from other sources doesn’t cut it with search engines. Your content needs to be your own.
User centric. This is absolutely fundamental, and needs to be front of mind at all times. Everything your site does, the way it behaves, how it looks etc., must with user visitors in mind – not search engines.
I am more than happy and able to consult regarding SEO, and would generally propose the following:
Objectives. What does your business want to gain from SEO. This may sound very obvious, however there are many different objectives, which may require an alternative approach.
Website review. A full review and audit of your website.
Data review. A full review of performance data from web analytics to business MI.
Organisational review. A review of the resources currently being deployed to SEO.
Competitor review. Who are you competing with, what are they doing, and what can be learnt from them.
Recommendations. A set of recommendations based on the findings of the above.
Channel or Culture?
In a separate blog post, I propose a view that SEO is much less a channel than the by-product of a business that is placed for change, expression and speed.