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How to put your SEO into practice

How to put your SEO into practice

By Grant Muckle, Head of SEO at I Spy Marketing.

What is Natural Search Engine Optimisation?

Search Engine Optimisation describes a series of techniques that, if applied in the correct manner, will boost your Natural Search rankings on Google and the other search engines and increase the volume of pre-qualified users to your website. SEO techniques split roughly into two areas, ethical and non-ethical.

Ethical SEO focuses on website content, site architecture, and user experience. Non-ethical or ‘black hat’ SEO centres on a series of tricks designed to fool search engines into giving your site a high ranking.

‘Black hat’ SEO can achieve results very quickly for your website but at the high risk of being de-listed by Google.  This brief guide looks at some of the basic criteria for sustainable success in Natural Search.

Initial Considerations

The best time to start the SEO process is - as soon as possible. This ideally means beginning the planning process before the website is built. Often websites are built first with design criteria in mind and only after launch is it found that the site isn’t suitable for gaining listings in the search engines.

Short keyword rich URLs, lots of keyword rich html content, fewer flash animations or images, a user site map and good keyword rich interlinking between pages are all good ways to ensure you get off to a good start.

Researching Keywords

Keyword research is fundamental to success in Natural Search. Often website content and consumer keyword searches don’t match exactly. It’s very important to understand exactly how your target audience is searching and exactly which terms they use.

A good example of the content vs. search string difference is the recruitment industry. Recruitment sites like to talk about ‘recruitment services’ and ‘careers’ whereas job seekers just simply use the word “jobs” or “accountancy jobs” when searching.

.A good place to start getting information on keywords is by looking at competitors sites and using the various tools provided by the search engines themselves.

It’s almost impossible to get top ranking on the high volume generic keywords within a short space of time. Keywords should represent your particular area of focus as a business. For example a website specialising in financial services recruitment should target keywords such as ‘accountancy jobs London’ rather than the generic keyword “jobs”.

Internal Optimisation

Once you have compiled your list of keywords and keyword phrases you then need to start optimising the pages on your site. This means placing keywords in title, description and keyword tags to match the content of the page.

Keywords should also be inserted into the header tags on the page and alt tags if you have images. If you have a dynamic site now is the time to consider well optimised static landing pages (these will also benefit your Paid Search activity).

Rule of 3

The single most important factor that search engines (especially Google) use to rate relevance is the “Title Tag”. The second most important factor is the ‘Description Tag’ and the third is the ‘URL’.

If you search on Google you will notice that the search engine results page highlights in bold the website’s “title, description and URL” and nine times out of ten the number one website for the search term will have these three tags optimised.

If your domain name doesn’t contain any core keywords worry not, as search engines also rate relevance to sub-directories and page names.

External Optimisation

Selecting the right keywords and having a well optimised site isn’t the end of the road. High rankings in a competitive online industry can only be generated by building up your site’s search rating. The only way you do this is by getting other quality sites to link to you.

It’s like a voting system, the more sites that link to you the more “popular” your site will be regarded by the search engines and the higher you will rank on competitive, high traffic keyword terms.

But be careful.  Not all links are equal and it’s better to focus on getting fewer links from higher quality websites than lots of links from low quality sites.

Advanced Techniques

The rise of rich media applications such as video online is changing the search landscape. Video and local search has been integrated into the new Google “Universal Search” format.

If your site features videos, news, products, or a large number of outlets or branches then you can submit all this information to Google via their vertical search engines.

Competition in these newer areas is less intense and this means it is possible to circumvent the more difficult optimisation criteria to gain that critical first page listing.

Don’t Stop!

Lastly, like any form of marketing it’s important to monitor, analyse and refine your approach constantly.

Keep a list of top keywords that are important to your business and monitor how you rank on these keywords over time. Work out areas of weakness and refine your site optimisation or link building process to improve them.

SEO Training - Search Optimisation training course from the experts - find out more

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