5 Things You Need to Know About SEO
SEO; it is one of those terms we hear flung about across the web, in strategy meetings, in conversation with marketing friends along with KPIs and USPs and a number of other acronyms that have us wishing for the days where knowing our ABCs was the greatest challenge. Such is the British way that when we don’t understand something, we don’t ask because we would rather be left in ignorance than have the horror of looking stupid. Fortunately, as a web design agency based in Manchester, the team here at Christian Michaels are pretty clued up on SEO, or search engine optimisation. We think it is really important that those of you looking to give your website a refresh, or setting up a website for the first time are familiar with the basics of SEO. With that in mind, we want to share the key SEO practices that every SEO agency, including ourselves, should be using, and what they mean for the success of your website.
What is SEO?
As Julie Andrews sings in The Sound of Music, let’s start at the very beginning.
SEO as mentioned above is the acronym for search engine optimisation. In basic terms, a website with a strong SEO strategy is designed with the search engine in mind. A website that is optimised for a search engine, such as global giant Google, will appear higher in the search engine results pages (SERPs). Those websites sitting in the top spots of the SERPs are far more likely to get a click from users, and in turn users are far more likely to invest in your services or products. There are a whole host of web design elements that contribute to SEO, some of which we will go into. Remember; happy Google, happy website users, happy you.
Cracking the Keyword Code
Those with a little bit of SEO know-how will probably be aware of keyword density.
When a website is designed and made available on the internet, all of the information that the website holds is read and stored by the search engine in a process called indexing. As someone types a word or phrase into a search engine – Google for example – Google will access its store and know whether your website is relevant to the search term. If your website contains the search term or variations of the search term, it will appear in the SERPs. These search terms should make up your keywords. The volume of keywords will tell Google how relevant your website is to the user’s search and will rank accordingly in the results pages. If you are selling sustainably resourced men’s socks (for example) but this is only mentioned once or twice on your website, competitors whose websites contain a higher volume of relevant keywords will more likely rank above you. They will see more traffic and probably more sales/enquiries.
However, over-loading your website with keywords can be as detrimental as having too few. If your website is jam-packed with keywords, Google can read it as spam and your chances of appearing in the top results pages are diminished. The trick is to have informative and engaging written content that reads well – for your users and for the search engine.
Simple Site Navigation and Usability
Unless it’s a romanticised experience in some foreign land, getting lost is never fun. The same can be said for your website. Simple site navigation refers to the ease with which users can get around your website and find what they want – and it’s really important. More than just the menu bar, website navigation is built into the web design through the layout of images and written content, internal links and call to actions such as ‘learn more’ buttons. It comes down to visual hierarchy in part, something we have looked at in recent weeks. Easy navigation enables not only your users to make their way about your website, but those all-important Google spiders (the things that read and store the website information) can do the same and consequently see you ranked higher on the SERPs.
Mobile Friendly Design
You may or may not have heard about Google’s Mobile First Index. It was a huge statement from Google which recognised the rapidly increasing volume of searches made on mobile devices rather than desktop. The Mobile First Index means that the Google algorithms will read the mobile version of your website first and those with well-optimised mobile designs and content will appear higher in the search results. A fully optimised mobile version of your website is no longer an option, it is a necessity.
What Your SEO Agency Should Say
There are hundreds of web design, online marketing, and SEO agencies promising that they are the best of the best; their SEO strategies will see your website appear immediately on page one of the SERPs; they can turn water into wine. If these are the agencies you have encountered thus far, we urge you to air on the side of caution as there are no guarantees with SEO since competition is rife. SEO is complex and it takes a bit of time to deliver your website to page one. Another thing to note is that a strong SEO agency will be able to talk you through the SEO process without throwing in a load of jargon. If you are starting your journey to find the best SEO or web design agency for you, you can find some really useful questions here.
We hope you are feeling more at ease with SEO. If you would like to learn more about web design and SEO at Christian Michaels, please do get in touch.