Welcome to another guide about the wonderful world of search engine optimisation (SEO). I’m sure you’re sick to death of reading these. Everyone claims to have the next big trick that will help you climb the search engine ranking pages (SERP’s). Honestly, we’re all liars.
When it comes to SEO, nobody knows anything for certain. In fact, the second we think we’ve made a breakthrough, algorithms get updated and we’re back to square one. Fortunately, the points that we’ll cover in this guide are the stripped back core elements of SEO.
At Quadrant2Design, leading exhibition stand designers, we work with an in-house team of experts who spend all day working towards boosting our organic traffic. The points that we cover in this guide are a handful of their top tips.
Of course, what you’ll learn here won’t even come close to mastering over 200 factors that Google uses to rank your website. But if you implement the ABC’s of SEO on your website, you will see an increase in organic traffic.
A is for Architecture
The architecture or structure of the website will impact how you rank in the SERP’s. This is for two reasons that we know are very important: user experience (UX) and crawling and indexing.
Google has already let us know that the next algorithm update will place more importance on user experience. Take a look at your bounce rate. If it’s high you’ve got a problem.
Slow loading time or an interface that isn’t mobile-friendly will affect UX. Optimise your images by ensuring you are uploading them the size that you want them to be displayed and reducing the file sizes. You should also use the “srcset” attribute when you can. This allows the browser to show a different image for different screen widths. WordPress will do this for you.
The other thing you need to consider when looking at your website’s architecture is how easy it is to be crawled and indexed. Search engines select a few URL’s that they begin to crawl, these crawlers follow links that they find on each URL. Every time they discover a URL it is added to the index to then be processed, organised and ranked.
How it’s ranked depends on a lot of things. If you operate in a very competitive industry, such as exhibition stands and displays, your content and site structure needs to be clear, easy to find and easy to process. Depending on your business or blog niche, you could find it harder to rank
If crawlers can’t easily jump from page to page, your webpages may not make it to the index. As a first step, you need to ensure you have a strong internal linking system and a Sitemap. Secondly, you need to consider how easy it is for the information on that page to be processed. Use metadata, image alt tags, H1’s and H2’s and (obviously) the content to make sure that the crawlers know exactly what the page is about.
Of course, you can go much further into site architecture. Especially when it comes to user experience. But these are great starting points for small business owners or bloggers looking to grow their organic traffic.
B is for Backlinks
Earlier we mentioned crawlers and how they identify new URL’s to index by following a trail of links. Then we were talking about internal links, now we are talking about backlinks from other domains.
When talking about backlinks, you’ll hear SEO wizards discussing “NoFollow” and “Follow” links. These tags are attributed to tell crawlers whether or not to follow that link. Your aim should be to build a profile of healthy “Follow” links to get the maximum amount of SEO juice.
Search engines see backlinks as indicators of who to trust. See them as your electronic word of mouth strategy. The more backlinks you have pointing towards your site, the more reputable the information that you’re providing.
Building a strong backlink profile isn’t easy though. Search engines want to see natural links. You could get penalised by using paid link farms, private blogger networks, or even a paid link insertion in a sponsored post. If you receive a penalty it can take years to build your traffic back up so be very careful if you are planning on running a link-building campaign.
The other thing that you need to be careful of is spam links. These are links from sites that search engines don’t like, you can check a sites spam score using MOZ or Ubersuggest. If you have backlinks on these sites, you will likely receive a penalty. Make sure you disavow any links from poor quality sites.
At first, it will seem impossible to build a healthy backlink profile. Guest posting is still common practice amongst webmasters. The real trick is to create link-worthy content. If you’re producing the best articles, videos and resources then you will find a steady stream of links start to trickle through.
C is for Content
The final piece of the SEO puzzle is content. If you’re not going to put the effort into your content creation then you’ve already wasted your time reading this guide. As we briefly mentioned, search engines place a huge amount of importance on UX. They want the best content to rank in the top spots.
That’s the solid truth of SEO.
Billions of pounds have been invested into researching UX, searcher intent and long tail keywords. No search engine ever thought to themselves: “I want to make it really hard for those websites to reach the SERP”.
They don’t care about you or your business, they care about their users. That means that want to serve the website that is most likely to answer the searchers’ query. The best content on the internet.
Keyword research has never been so important. This is not because you need to stuff each page on your site with hundreds of synonyms. But because you need to understand the searcher intent. Are they trying to target a specific page? Seeking information? Comparing products? Or intending to purchase?
Once you’ve identified that, spend time creating the best web page that gives the searcher a solution. Throw in some backlinks, well-optimised images and a solid site structure and you are well on your way to becoming a master of SEO.