Search engines have invested a significant amount of their time and money to make sure that it is a level playing field out there in the race to the top of a search. Consequently there is no silver bullet to rise to the top – more a minefield of smaller issues.

There is no easy way to approach SEO, let alone rank well. It’s an art and that’s why you will begin to discover that when done properly it costs you a lot in time or money. If you are optimising an existing site or starting a new website begin by building a solid foundation.

Firstly, your focus should be on site architecture, technical implementation/build and the optimisation of content. Think of these as your site ‘foundations’ which ensure your site and content will rank well. Concentrate on the following:

Keyword research
To succeed, you must understand which keywords will drive the most search traffic to your site that ultimately converts to sales. This means really understanding how people search for your brand, products or services, and content.

You will need to consider the different stages of the consumer’s decision-making process.

  1. Navigational searches focus on brands and individual keywords
  2. Informational searches usually focus on a short phrase
  3. Transactional searches focus on longer phrases indicating an intention to buy or subscribe.

There are a number of sites to assist you in your keyword research but it is quickly becoming very sophisticated, changing every day and we strongly recommend using a professional. You will learn a lot and getting set up correctly the first time is the key.

Keyword competition
Don’t target terms in a space where many other professionals compete for the same words and traffic unless you’re prepared for a long and expensive battle. Terms such as “cheap accommodation,” are dominated by serious heavyweights and it becomes a David and Goliath battle.

If you’re operating in a niche market with minimal competition it get easier. Again, consider a professional.

Site architecture
Accommodating the search engine crawlers which are designed to emulate the behavior of site visitors as they follow links and index page content is very important.

Information retrieval is the science of searching for, collecting and organising information and search engines use the IR principles to determine relevancy to search queries. Design your site architecture (how you organize and present your content) to make navigating as easy as possible for both your visitors and the search engines.

Keyword focus
Think through your titles and headings carefully, making sure they contain targeted words/phrases relevant to the page content. This will attract higher search rankings. Avoid keyword stuffing in on-page text; it’s a big no-no. If you’re clear, concise, informative and relevant in a readable way you can’t go wrong

Removing search engine barriers
Search engines can easily be prevented from reaching crucial content if your site does not maintain good content/code ratio. Keep HTML/CSS/JS output to a minimum, i.e. make sure your site is built by a professional who knows coding and html inside out. Yes, there are plenty of free or cheap ways to build a site but be prepared to seriously question the suitability of these.

Server stability and site speed issues will also help to ensure that a search engine’s crawler finds and indexes as much of your content as possible.

Assisting the search engine crawl/index
Make sure your site has an XML sitemap which greatly assists crawlers to find your site. Once there, robots.txt files will prevent search engines from wasting their ‘crawl budget’ (how long they spend on your site and how many pages they visit) on areas you don’t need to have indexed and can also assist by giving crawlers instructions on which pages to follow and index.

With these basics covered you’re ready to to look at some tactics (but that is another long story) and include strategies such as:

  1. Content updating
  2. Social media
  3. Search engine submission
  4. Article PR
  5. Linkbaiting and back links
  6. Sponsorship
  7. Guest posting
  8. Contests
  9. Widgets

At Creative Brew we are always happy to advise or assist with your web strategy as, unlike you, we eat it for breakfast.