Internet-Services Website ROI

Why Quality Search Engine Optimisation is Essential 

Don’t look excellent and then be invisible 

“Increasing the organic search engine traffic for your websites and your blogs by ensuring you’re playing your best hand” 

Have you got a website that looks excellent, has great customer journeys with really engaging UX and yet it fails to attract visitors from search engines. Then you’re probably at the position where you’ve invested a great deal of time and money to get your online presence looking excellent and right on message and you now have one final hurdle to leap – the search engine optimization (SEO) of the website. SEO will effectively prepare your website so that it is understandable by the search engines and the optimization techniques will recognise and accommodate all the key ranking signals that Google and other search engines look for.

Having been addressing this for three decades we’ve seen a great deal of change, witnessed a lot of misinformation and achieved some stunning successes. This Key #9 is to share the back story of SEO and give you pointers where you can make bigger wins on your own and with the help of a team of SEO specialists.

Back Story

The linked video towards the end of this message gives a fuller interesting back story as to how we got to where we are now with the methods that were once successful that would now work against you.

There are many techniques to consider in SEO however we advise there is the one simple overriding philosophy that we’ve adopted at Toucan; if a technique brings value to the real human visitor to your website and is relevant and informative, then it’s probably a sound technique to adopt. 

Google Algorithm

Google will likely be your prime organic search referrer and where you appear in the results (SERPs) is down to the “Algorithm” – grand Voodoo word but simply it’s the set of rules that Google uses to assess, qualify and index websites. It reads and assesses the ranking signals we put out.

The video below goes into more detail on the key updates, however this set of rules is multi-layered and has had significant changes over the years to improve the search performance, improve the visitor experience and block those who seek to take advantage.

The predominant influencer on search results is the website’s compliance and speed with mobile standards. The previous Key #7 session covered the use of a Google tool to assess your website called Lighthouse. In later Keys we dive into a deeper interpretation of the Google Lighthouse and remedial action you can take to improve your website and get a greater ROI through better search positioning. 

So what do we do now?

Don’t lose focus on the end goal with all the hype.

Consider coming at SEO from the perspective that we’re writing for people first and then consider improving the rankings. It is after all people whom we seek to influence in the final analysis. It would be foolhardy to think that a high footfall to a website is the end goal, the end goal is enticing your website visitors to do what you want:

  • Sign up for a conference
  • Join your online community
  • Provide them with key information
  • Harvest qualified names for marketing
  • Sell products and services

Therefore, write good copy that will convince these visitors to do what you want. With your general best web developer’s hat on use your full marketing armoury to include calls to action, touch on the things that keeps the reader awake at night, use the unmissable propositions, but do it with full knowledge of the white hat optimisation techniques, several of which we cover today.

Basically write a quality website that delivers value to the target audience and play by the rules.

Google reads words! Use them wisely.

Example of keyword research

We may well know what we believe are the best words to use as we’re closest to our own markets, but I suggest you take your trusty keywords and phrases and use them as seed terms for your keyword research.

Tools such as Google Analytics, Web CEO and others will help you with this research. Then start with the seed terms to extract other likely terms and then grade them.

Some tools will give you how popular the keyword and phrases in actual searches and some will tell you how contested they are in competing websites. All this helps you build a picture of the terms that you want to chase down.

Going head to head on some pages with the top terms makes sense but also choose some niche terms that are used but not frequently found in web copy. In this terms like “Stansted Airport Taxi” are heavily contested, but be in the race and do everything to get a front page listing with that term. However terms like “Stansted taxi female driver” or “taxi with child seat” are less contested and it’s easier to get clickthroughs. Also, the people that click such terms are 100% interested in the landing page so if the page delivers the details they want and has appropriate CTA, you’ve just bagged another client!

From the research you can start to build a picture of what terms are popular and which ones are highly contested and you can start to build your list.

When choosing your keywords have a thought as to how contested the terms are by other companies, your competition in some cases. If my taxi company wants to get to the top of Google for the term “airport taxi” as opposed to “Stansted airport taxi” then we’d need a wholly different game plan and significantly deeper pockets. Sometimes it is worth considering niche terms that perform well and are less contested. This is especially the case if you’re running an AdWords campaign at the same time as your cost per click is likely to be lower and click through rate higher.

Experiment with long tail keyterms such as “taxi from hertford to stansted airport”

Please take a look at the associated worksheet to help you gather and prioritise your key worked and phrases.

Click image to download the worksheet

Your website may have one focal point while others will have many. Each foci will need it’s own keyword set. 

Applying Keyword Research to your web pages

The techie stuff
Using the worksheet provided you will now have identified up to three prime search terms and up to ten secondary terms.

Here we have to delve in to the code behind the pages in the website, the HTML that instructs the browser how to build the page and tells the search engines how you would like to be indexed – your ranking signals.

The Slug
This is the page detail in the web page address.
Lead with the keyword/keyphrase for that page.

Meta Title
Most search engines will truncate meta titles to 70 characters.
Lead with the keyword/keyphrase for that page.

Meta description
Shows in the Google results, but anecdotally doesn’t influence search. As Google is a semantic learner I suspect it does have some indirect affect. Use keywords with some repetition and best of all lead with your keywords.
Most search engines will truncate meta descriptions to 160 characters.

Google may take a snippet from the meta description to make a summary that it uses to display to visitors in the search results. The goal of the snippet and title is to best represent and describe each search result and explain how it relates to the user’s query.

H1 & H2 tags
These are the main and secondary headings on the site and should lead with and include  your keywords/keyphrases.

Rich Snippets
If you have structured data on your website and can label content it is possible to write these as Rich Snippets and this way Google fully understands how to manage and display this. Talk to your webmaster further on this markup.

Lead with and include keywords/keyphrases every time. 300 words minimum, remember Google reads words.

Cross links
Very importantly cross link within your website on the keyphrases. If you specialise on “Airport Chauffeur services” then have a page dedicated to that term and use that exact term in other pages in your website to link to that page. Use it in the copy, main menu wherever possible remembering too that you’re writing for a human audience first, so don’t stilt the copy.

Image alt tags
Behind every image there is an Alt Tag that explains in words what the image is about. This is used for a number of reasons including accessibility so the partially sighted can have the description read aloud and for Google to understand and catalogue the image properly.

What next?

This is a process of continual improvement – monitor, feedback, improve and the do it again. For an intense program we do this to a deep level every month. For  a maintenance program we normally do this every three months.



In conclusion

We’ve barely touched below the surface today, but the value of good SEO is unmistakeable.

Do take advantage of the linked worksheet to help you select your relevant keywords and verify that they have been properly applied to your web pages.

If you follow the rules and best practice guidelines then the search engines will start to favour you more.  There are other SEO Keys in later Keys that build on this session.

Having a number one position through the organic searches in Google for a generic keyword will give you phenomenal exposure and success. 

Like it or not, Google is a king maker.

Video: A Ten Minute Teach on ‘Search Engine Optimisation’

This is Key #9 in the series of “Keys to High Converting Websites” by Simon Thomas of Toucan Internet LLP. Stand by for other Key topics in future issues aimed at giving you sales, marketing and operational advantages: Social Media Integration, Digital Mindset, Live Chat, Design, Improving Click Through Rates, Security, Business Automation and more.