Let me start with a confession - when I started out designing sites, I didn't really understand the need for search engine optimisation (SEO). Not because I thought I could outwit Google or some crazy notion like that, but actually just because I was only designing for myself and my own businesses, specifically an early venture into music for dressage which was a particularly niche area on the internet in those days. (I talk of 2006 like its the 1940s or something 😝)
These days, the internet is a highly competitive place and frankly, unless your site is covering something really really niche - like hanging flower baskets for rear view mirrors - (yes thats actually a thing) then the chances are you are going to have some competition online.
So how do we make sure our website shows above our competitors? That's what we want right? We want people to see our site first and then click on it and ultimately become our customers.
This is where SEO comes in. SEO is all about getting the Search Engine to place or rank your site higher than the others that cover similar content.
This is probably a good time to mention that Black Grouse Media offers SEO services including a full SEO review and comprehensive SEO Management plan. The latter starts at just £60 a month to take all the stress of SEO off your shoulders so if that's all you needed to read, get in touch and we'll get you sorted out!
If, however you fancy a go at this yourself, there are a few things to consider:
You need to do lots of this. Keyword research, competitor keyword research, keyword density research, backlink research, the list goes on. You need to decide what your clients are looking for. Do you know? You might think they're searching for one thing but are you absolutely certain?
What are you competitors doing? Have they got their keyword strategy spot on? Or are they paying for ads?
How's your own site? Does it have the right keyword placement. Correct Heading heirachy? Getting a headache yet?
Once you've conducted your research, you'll want to make a plan. We love a spreadsheet so we use two spreadsheets to form our strategies. One is our keyword and ranking spreadsheet which tracks the performance of the keywords we've chosen for specific pages on sites and the other is to plan the structure of our site with SEO in mind.
What's in a Keyword
Keywords are a tricky thing. They're basically the words people use to find you online, but there is so much more to it than that. Say for example you are a photographer in London and you make 'Photography London' your keyword to target. That is going to be a very difficult keyword to break into because it is so competitive, that is to say if you search Google for that keyword, you'll see lots of big name sites at the top of the list and you'll be fighting a huge (unwinnable) battle to get ahead.
That said, if you did a bit of research and came up with a keyword that's a bit more specific to you, you may find that there's a little less competition in that space. Maybe something like 'Affordable Portrait Photography London' - just as an example.
There is little point in having a strategy without reviewing its performance against your objectives. There are lots of bits of software out there that can assist with this but mostly incredibly expensive for small businesses and you don't have a real person on the end of the phone if you have questions. (or someone to do it for you - did we mention we do SEO management)
Tracking can be done manually too, search google for the keyword you chose, and see where you are - top of page 1 yet? Or maybe page 24 position 6...the only way is up right?
We need to track our progress to make sure what we're doing is working. If its not, change it but do give yourself a bit of time to improve.
Consider other SEO
Now we all the big G is the one we want to really rank on right? Or is it? Do you sell books, maybe Google isn't the place for you? Maybe you can work harder at ranking on Amazon and achieving more success.
How do we actually do it?
So you've seen there is so much in the planning stages and if done correctly, you should be in a good position to make a bit of a plan to work out what you want to target. There are several ways we target those keywords on your site both on the page and behind the scenes. First of all, you need to make sure that your Headings are all in the right heirachy and your keywords feature in your Headings wherever possible.
You'll also want 'SEO friendly' content within the body of your page and this is all about how you write the text on your page. Your images should all have a thing called alt-text attached to them so that the search engine can 'read' what the image actually is.
You'll need to include meta titles and descriptions for all of your pages, and this will help the search engines understand what is contained on the page.
We've spent a long time learning how to do this stuff and clearly we can't write a full instruction guide in one blog but thats a general flavour of what on-page SEO looks like. You may not know how to do much of this stuff or you might be a total wizard at it already, but if you need help managing your SEO, you know where we are.
Understanding SEO Performance
You've got your plan, you've tweaked your site and you're off and running. How do we see if our hard work is paying off? Firstly we need to ensure that our site is connected to Google Search Console.
This is a free service that allows you to submit sitemaps to Google and ensure it is 'crawling' or rifling through your site to discover its content. Once you're all set up, it'll monitor your overall site search performance and tell you where your ranking. It won't tell you how your chosen keywords are ranking but it will tell you what keywords people are using to find you which can be incredibly useful as it may change your strategy somewhat.
This is completely different to Google Analytics which go into far greater detail about how your actual website is performing - the Search Console is how it performs in terms of search only.
To conclude - SEO isn't exactly rocket science but there are loads of elements to consider if you want to get it absolutely right. Search engines are a strange beast sometimes so there can be no guarantees about whether what you're doing will actually work but there are just good practices to follow which usually will improve your performance to some degree.
Black Grouse Media offers SEO services including our SEO Management plan which starts from just £60 per month* and we also offer an SEO review service where we will review your site in terms of SEO and provide you recommendations about what action you could take.
We're happy to help anytime, so if you need some assistance with this stuff, get in touch!