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Search engine optimisation for small businesses can be as simple as focusing on five things to improve your visibility in search engines to get more traffic to your website.  Five key things to focus on are:  relevant long-tail keywords, creating great content, onsite optimisation, backlinks and focusing on written content that promotes geographically local searches for your service or products.  

 

A long-tail keyword is a specific phrase of 3 or more words that is used to target a niche audience rather than a single keyword to target a mass audience.  Long-tail keywords are more specific and less generic in nature.  This means that you can benefit from ranking highly in search results to attract a very specific target audience that's more likley to convert to leads and customers.  After selecting your long-tail keywords, focus on creating one page of well written, relevant and unique content for each landing page.  Each landing page should be based on what you'd like the visitor to be informed about and what you'd like them to do next e.g. sign up to a newsletter or request a free consultaion or read more.  For onsite optimisation of the webpage some important things to ensure are that your keyword is added to the page url, page title, meta description and header tag.  

 

The number of relevant backlinks and the quality of those backlinks helps to rank highly in search engines.  A backlink or external link is when another website links to your website.  Search engines consider backlinks to be ‘third-party votes’ which means that they can help to improve the ranking power of your website, especially if the page rank of the website linked from is higher than your page rank.  Backlinks are hard to manipulate and therefore one of the best ways for search engines to determine the popularity and relevance of a web page.  Your websites backlinks need to match or surpass the quality of those on websites that are currently on the first page of Google, Bing or Yahoo search results for a specific keyword.  Search engine optimisation success requires a strategy that includes ongoing, high quality written content (landing pages, blogs, news, social media, events) as well as content management and link building tactics over a few weeks before you start seeing more visitors to your website.

 

 

Below are some answers to search engine optimisation questions.

 

 

Please describe the main purpose of Google's Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird updates.

 

Panda (2011), Penguin (2012) and Hummingbird (2013) are names given to 3 of the biggest algorithm changes that Google has made to its search engine ranking factors in the past few years to stop people from cheating SERPS (search engine results page).  Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird are refreshed occasionally and their main purpose is to encourage webmasters to publish content that is ‘the best of its kind’.

 

  • Panda promotes higher quality websites (trustworthy, original, relevant content) and demotes lower quality websites (thin, duplicated content).

  • Penguin measures how trustworthy a websites’ backlinks are and demotes websites that are cheating by creating unnatural backlinks in order to get an advantage in Google results.

  • Hummingbird was introduced to help improve search results to users’ queries i.e. websites that produce content that answer people’s questions well can perform better in search queries.

 

 

 

What are the SEO benefits of having a mobile friendly website?

 

Some SEO benefits of having a mobile friendly site are:

 

  • Since the user has an optimised, improved experience when viewing from their mobile device, they’re likely to view the website for longer.  Increasing average time spent on a website is good for SEO.

  • A mobile optimised website loads faster, also improving a user’s experience so they’re likely to browse more pages and spend longer viewing the website – all good for SEO.

  • Google recommends that webmasters optimise their websites for mobile users which can help the website to rank well with Google mobile search.

 

 

 

In 2016, what is the current use of the Meta description tag?

 

The Meta description tag gives a short description of the contents of a web page to help convince a user to click through to the website from search engine results.   The recommended length is between 150 and 160 characters.   The Meta description is often used as part of a snippet in the search engine results.

 

 

 

What is the current use of the Meta keywords tag?

 

It’s now considered out of date to use the Meta keyword tag as it doesn’t currently help to improve web search ranking.  The Meta keyword tag was used in the past to list important keywords for a web page within that page’s html code.  The Meta keywords tag was so often abused (by keyword stuffing) that Google started disregarding it several years ago.

 

 

 

Which do you think is the more important ranking factor, internal links or external links?

 

External links are more important in ranking factor than internal links.  An external link is when another website links to your website.  Search engines consider external links to be ‘third-party votes’ which means that they can help to improve the ranking power of your website, especially if the page rank of the website linked from is higher than your page rank.  External links are hard to manipulate and therefore one of the best ways for search engines to determine the popularity and relevance of a web page.

 

 

 

If I am presented with duplicate content on these URLS http://www.website.com/about-us and http://www.website.com/about-us/ what is the best course of action to resolve this issue?

 

The best course of action is to use the URL with the slash at the end (trailing slash) and remove the URL without the trailing slash (unless it is a file .html/).  This is because the URL with the trailing slash points the web server to look in a directory which helps to load up the web page faster.  The URL without the trailing slash would re-direct to a file name.

 

http://www.website.com/about-us/is a directory which helps the page load faster.

http://www.website.com/about-us is re-directing to a file name, re-directs can slow down pages.

 

 

 

Are these two websites http://www.website.com and http://website.com considered as two separate URLs?

 

They might be separate URLs however, if they were set up correctly, both of the above URLs would be pointing to the same web page.  If they’re pointing to the same webpage this would be an example of ‘canonicalization’ which means that one of the URLs is the dominant or default URL and the other one is automatically re-directed to it.  Canonicalization means normalising multiple URLs or redirecting them all to a single dominant URL.  This would be best practice for SEO purposes to avoid duplicate content.

 

 

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Digital and offline marketing manager based in Kettering, Northamptonshire, East Midlands UK.  Experienced in B2B, B2C, agency side and client side.

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