Search Engine Optimisation - A Constantly Changing Landscape
What is it?
The process of improving the volume or quality of traffic to a website from search engines via “natural” or “organic” search results such as Google and Bing.
Why use it?
The starting point for most transactions online is search. Before making any decisions about a purchase, or when seeking information, most people these days begin with a search on the internet. SEO is the key element in making this work for you and your website.
Recent Google research found that 85% of smartphone users have looked for local information and 81% have taken action as a result. 95% have researched a product or service on their phone and 49% of UK smartphone users search on their phone every day - so you must make your site findable.
You need to understand what your customer will type into the search box on Google (or Yahoo! or Bing or... etc) and make sure that your site ranks well for those terms. This is a more involved and complex exercise than many companies realise because people use natural language for searching, often using terms they think describe what they are looking for - which is frequently very different to recognised industry terminology.
It's not just about updating page content
Many people are under the misguided impression that if they just keep their web pages updated with new content everything will be OK forever. Wrong. Google and others never stand still, they are constantly updating their algorithms and rolling them out to an unsuspecting public. Panda, Pengiun and Hummingbird are just some of the recent updates that have caused havoc with websites the world over.
The first Panda algorithm update in September 2011 removed - overnight - 12% of all pages on Google's index, in some cases wiping out complete websites, without any warning. The Panda 4.0 update was released in late May 2014 and one consequence was that eBay suffered a 70% drop in the visibility of its pages in search rankings overnight. So there are no guarantees your rankings will not change.
Google now wants “high quality” websites - and will tell you how to build one but making that happen is no mean task. There's also a bunch of other stuff you need to get right behind the scenes, which if you don't, one day you'll find Google has removed all your pages from its index.
What’s a typical plan of action?
- Review and analyse your website: pages, structure, links, title tags, descriptions, keywords.
- Re-structure and re-write pages & links as appropriate so that the code framework easily facilities SEO - for now and the future.
- Add required keywords and tags into the pages throughout the site to optimise the search process.
- You'll add new products and services in the future so such changes can be made simply and quickly within minutes, not days, and it will be easy to “SEO” these new items.
- Organic search is an ongoing, long-term project: we use Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools (amongst others) to monitor and analyse the site daily, with changes to site traffic and results reported weekly.