Launching a New Website: Your SEO Checklist

When launching a brand new website, it is easy to get swept along in the excitement of flashy designs and user experience, especially if it’s been a long time in the making. In order to give your new website, the best possible chance of being found, crawled and ranked by search engines, you’ll need to ensure that all the technical aspects are in place. So, before pressing the live button, you will want to make sure you have an SEO strategy in place to help you get off to the best possible start.

Remember, SEO is a long-term process and your strategy will start in the building of your website and carry on throughout its lifetime. Getting your strategy right in the beginning will save you plenty of time and tears in the long run.

To make the process a little less painful, we created an SEO checklist. Perfect for launching your new website. Following these simple steps will make life much easier for you and your team later down the line!

On-Page SEO

Search engines continuously look for ways to identify, the best and most relevant information and result for users. And this needs to be reflected in your on-page content in order to match the information with the search.

1. Keyword research

When creating content for your website, you’re going to want to know which terms or keywords your customers are searching for and the intent behind them. This will be crucial to your SEO strategy because search engines will crawl your pages for relevant and informative content to show to searchers. Search engines will only choose websites that have the most relevant content related to a user’s search.

Once you have your list of keywords, look at your website very carefully and decide which pages are most relevant for each group of keywords and include them in the copy. To rank effectively for your keywords, you should group them together so that each page has its own set of related and relevant keywords. If you can get them into the first 100 words on the page, even better. However, be careful not to go overboard with your mentions of the keywords because this could harm your rankings.

Making your content relevant to your customer’s searches will help you in the long run not only to attract traffic to your website but to keep visitors engaged and help them to convert once they have landed on your website.

2. Meta Titles and Descriptions

After you’ve optimised each of your website pages with your chosen keywords, you’ll also need to optimise the meta titles and descriptions too. These will display in the search results and tell your customers more about what they can expect to see when they click through and whether your content is going to be relevant and helpful to their search.

A good page title describes should contain relevant keywords and tell customers more about your page content. Meta descriptions offer a longer explanation of the page and can have a huge impact on clicks from the search engine result page (SERP) so getting it right and use it as an opportunity to explain more about the page and offer a call to action will help to drive visits to your website.

3. XML Sitemap

It is good practice to create an XML sitemap which acts as a road map of your website pointing out the key pages to search engines. An XML sitemap is especially important if the site is completely new and has little to no external links. Not all pages have to be included in the sitemap, only those that you would like the search engines to crawl and rank. Check out Google’s own advice on XML Sitemaps.

4. Robots File

A robots.txt file sites within the top-level directory and is used by search engines as a guide as to which pages can be crawled and which shouldn’t be. For more information take a look at another guide we wrote.

5. Image Alt Tags

Image Alt tags are a key factor in the topic/keyword a search engine ranks a page for. Most content management systems (CMS), such as WordPress, Drupal or Shopify make it easy to add alt tags to images.

6. Mobile Friendly

As mobiles use continues to increase, search engines have recognised the importance of mobile-friendliness in their algorithms. This means that the mobile responsiveness of your website on mobile will have an effect on your site’s rankings. Search engines love responsive website designs, not only that, but it will also help to reduce bounce rates and provide a better user experience overall, helping you to drive conversions.

Off-Page SEO

Whilst on-page SEO tells search engines more about the relevancy of the content on the page, off-page SEO tells them more about how web users and other websites see the content on the website. A high-quality website is much more likely to have links from different websites, mentions on social media and will be shared by users across the web.

1. Link Building

This is one of the most effective off-page SEO techniques because it tells search engines that others value the information on your website. These links show search engines that other users value the content on your website.

There are many different ways to build links with other websites:

  • Distribute PR
  • Chat to bloggers and influencers to see if they will endorse your business
  • Guest blogging
  • Linking to relevant industry bodies from your website and vice versa
  • Directory submissions
  • Local listing websites

These are all great ways to get your website seen by search engines and to let them know that your content is interesting and relevant to your web viewers.

Google Analytics

From day one, you’re going to want to monitor and measure your website traffic. Google Analytics gives you the tools to optimise your website and identify any sticking points that are preventing visitors from converting. You’ll also be able to add social media tracking pixel such as a Facebook Pixel so that you can track activity from those channels.

Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools

Google’s Search Console and Bing’s Webmaster Tools help to optimise your website’s visibility and provides information about how your site is performing.

Page Speed

Page speed is extremely important when it comes to SEO. People want web pages that will load quickly and search engines now use this as one of their many ranking signals. Since it considers user experience, this is an important factor so make sure your website is responsive on all channels.

Social media

Social profiles are great for interacting with and starting conversations about your business is a great way to get people talking about you and, search engines now look for social signals when ranking your website so it’s important not to miss this element. Social media is another form of link building because it signals to Google that web users are interacting and sharing your content.

If you want to know more about launching a new website or you would like to revamp your SEO strategy, contact our team of experts.

 

Is Your Website Search Engine Friendly?

Anybody who has built, or had a website built for them wants to drive as much ‘free’ traffic from search engines as possible. By improving the ranking of the site with search engines such as Google and Bing, the number of clicks from the organic search results can be very lucrative, however, it is not easy to gain traction without plenty of work upfront. The starting point should always be to check whether a website is search engine friendly. In technical speak, can the search engines crawl, read and index resources on your website? In this respect, resources include; text, images and videos.

How can you ensure that your website can be crawled?

Step one is to check if your website is already indexed. You can do this by completing a search in Google with the following search operator, site:yourdomain.com. If the results include pages from your website then the site has been indexed, however, this doesn’t mean all pages have been.

 Indexed results

If your website hasn’t been indexed you will see the following results.

Not indexed results

Robots.txt

Implementing a robots.txt file is not a requirement for indexing, however, the information in the file ensures that search engines know what pages (and other resources) can be crawled.

User-agent: *
Disallow: [URL string not to be crawled]
Sitemap: Your XML sitemap URL

You can also use the robots.txt to tell the search engine crawlers which pages not to crawl. You should be careful not to block important/key pages, which could happen if the rules are not correctly set up.

The robots.txt file should always be placed in the top-level directory so the URL will be along the lines of; yourdomain.com/robot.txt.

XML Sitemap

Implementing an XML sitemap is like give the search engine crawlers an A to Z of your website, pointing out the key pages. The XML file should only include pages that return a 200 status, this means that the page doesn’t redirect to another page or returns a broken page (more on this below).

There are a number of online tools that create XML sitemaps including XML-Sitemap.com.

Once the XML file has been created it ideally should be added to the top-level directory, to create the following URL mydomain.com/sitemap.xml. This URL should be included in the robots.txt file and submitted to Google’s Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools. We will discuss Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools in more detail later.

Broken web pages/images

One issue that can affect how search engine friendly your website is, is the number of broken pages or images. If the search engine’s crawler hits a broken link it will then be unable to navigate further and could miss key pages that should be crawled and indexed.

Broken webpages and image are also bad for UX (User Experience), resulting in a loss in conversions/revenue.

To check your website for broken links, try out our site audit tool below.

Meta Tags

Meta tags are used on every page of a website to indicate to both users and search engines what the main topic of the page is. Not all of the tags are visible on the page, however, they can be included in organic ads shown on the search engine results pages (SERPs), which is a key factor for users decide which result/ad to click on.

Meta tags include the following

Page Title Tag

This tag is key to what keywords the search engines rank a particular page for. Users can see this tag in the browser tab, the screenshot below is an example for RDM’s website.

The page title tag also appears as the headline in the organic results, which has already mentioned will affect the number of clicks from the results page.

When creating this tag, the focus keyword or topic should be included, ideally as close to the start of the title as possible. There should be no duplicate page titles across your website as this will confuse the search engines as to which page should rank for a certain topic/keyword. The character limits for this tag is 60.

Page Description

Although the page description is not a ranking factor the content placed in this tag makes up the body of the organic ad on the SERPs. Using a relevant and enticing page description will help increase clicks from the results, driving more free traffic.

Meta Robots Attribute

This tag is used to instruct the search engine crawler how to crawl and index a particular page.  There are a number of parameters that can be used within this tag, but the main examples ate ‘Noindex’ and ‘Index’. Using the ‘Index’ parameter (<meta name=“robots” content=“index, follow”>), this indicates to the crawler that your page should be indexed, and any links followed (passing ‘link juice’). If the parameter is set to ‘noindex’ then the page will be ignored by the search engines.

Image Alt tags

The alt tag, also known as the ‘alt attribute’ is applied to images on a page to indicate the content of an image, providing a text alternative for search engines. The alt tag is added with the HTML of the page and is not visible to users. As this tag is a ranking factor, you should ensure that the content in this tag is relevant to the topic/focus keyword of the page.

Header Tags

Header tags are used on a page to indicate the heading (h1) and sub-headings (h2 to h6) within the content. The h1 tag should be as close to the top of the page as possible, with the sub-headings cascading down the content, h1 > h2 > h3. There should only be one h1 tag, but you can use multiple h2 to h6 tags as long as they are in order.

Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools

Implementing both Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools gives you the opportunity to submit the XML site map directly to the search engines. Both tools flag up issues with the XML sitemap and the pages on your website. The screenshot below shows that on the RDM site there are 78 valid URLs, with no errors.

Search Console Screen Shot

We will write a guide on using Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools in the near future.

 Get a Free Audit of Your Website

 

Local SEO – Beginners Guide

If your business is location-based and you want to drive local search traffic to your website, in addition to your regular SEO activity, you should also consider optimising your website for local SEO too.

46% of all Google searches are local. So, if your website is not optimised for local search, you could be missing out on a huge opportunity to target local customers. By letting Google know where your business is based and what you have to offer in order to appear in the search engine results more often in front of a local and relevant audience.

What is Local SEO?

If you have a regular SEO strategy in place, you’ll know that it involves improving both on and off-page elements so that your website appears when users search for certain keywords and phrases. Local SEO is very similar. However, it is targeted at searchers within a specific geographical area or keywords and phrases referencing that location. With local SEO, your aim is to rank highly in the search engine results for local searches. This helps you to make sure that your local customers can find you when they’re searching for your products and services.

Why is local SEO important?

Did you know that over half of search engines activity is performed on mobile? (Smart Insights) This means that people are searching whilst on the go and Google looks to be a step ahead of search intent by using location to show the most relevant results, at that specific moment. With almost every device we used being location enabled, optimising your website for location is becoming more important if you want to appear in local searches.

How do I optimise my website for local SEO?

1. Google My Business and Bing Places for Business

Google My Business (GMB) – the free tool from Google, helps business owner’s manager their online presence across the search engine. GMB complements your existing website by giving your business a digital presence and public identity with a listing on Google.

Before setting up a GBM listing it’s a good idea to conduct a Google search to ensure your business doesn’t already have one.  If your business has been around for a while it’s possible it already has a GMB listing, you’ll just need to claim it.

Local search results favour the most relevant result so it’s important to ensure all your details are accurate and up to date, providing as much information as possible will make it easier to serve in search results. It may sound obvious but it’s important that you include your businesses location and locations you operate in.

Like Google, Bing also comes with its very own business listing tool. Bing Places for Business. The set up for which is very similar to GMB. Since it’s another free tool that can help drive your business we recommend setting up and managing your listing in a similar way to GMB.

2. Name, Address and Phone number (NAP)

It might seem obvious but many companies forget to include contact information on their website. Ensure that your name, address and phone number is included on your website somewhere. The footer is usually the best place because it appears on every page and this is where web visitors expect to find them. Your local search rankings are influenced by the search engine’s ability to find your business information online and whether that information is consistent and matches that which is provided on your site.

3. Citations

Check for consistency, check all available networks

4. Reviews

Reviews are good for your overall marketing strategy because they help you to build trust with prospective customers. Focus on getting local reviews on Google My Business but also Yelp and other local directories to build credibility and direct even more people to your website.

Ask your customers if they would be happy to leave a review for your product or service, you could even offer them an incentive such as a discount on their next purchase for leaving a positive review.

5. Optimise page content for local keywords

If you own a local business such as a restaurant and you rely on local business, make sure you optimise your website content for local keywords. Include your brand name and the area in which you operate in the meta titles of your page.

80% of the top pages in the search engine results pages have their location in the title tag and 65% have their business name in the title. Include relevant keywords too.

Build location relevant landing pages

6. Link Building

Links from high authority sites are important in SEO as acknowledgements that your content is considered useful and relevant to your target audience. However, in local SEO, rather than links from high authority sites, it’s better to gain links from other local websites that are related to your own business.

7. Schema Markup

Schema markup is a great tool designed to help search engines return more informative results for users. By applying the schema markup code to your site, you can tell search engines what your content means and produce the correct SERP for users.

By implementing local business schema markup to your site, you can improve the chances of users find specific products and services.

Read our handy guide on implementing Local Schema Markup using Google Tag Manager.

8.Embed a Map

Embedding a map into one of the pages of your website makes finding your business location much easier for your website visitors and helps them to get an idea of where your business is located in relation to where they are at that specific moment.

For more information on local SEO, please contact our team of experts.

Adding Local Schema Markup Using Google Tag Manager

One of the key tasks to complete in order to improve your local SEO is marking up important information on your website, including the name, address and phone number (NAP). Schema Markup can be implemented using either Microdata or JSON-LD, which are added to the code of a website.

Local Schema Markup Example

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t worry if you don’t have development resource, or experiencing making technical or code changes on your website,  you can add any schema markup using Google Tag Manager.

For this guide I will assume that you already have Google Tag Manger installed, however, we will follow up with a guide on how to set an account up and implement the code on your site, which will require a developer or some technical knowledge.

Creating Local Schema Markup Code (JSON-LD)

Creating the code is very straightforward, there are a number of free to use websites, for this example, I am going to use the Schema Markup Generator from Markle.

From the drop down under ‘Which Schema.org markup would you like to create?’ choose ‘Local Business’. The relevant fields will load below. Complete as many of the fields as possible, but ensure that the name, address and phone number are added at the very least. Add in any of your social media profile under the ‘sameAs Links’ section.

Schema Generator Schema Options

 

 

 

 

Tip: Make sure that your Name, Address and Phone number are consistent across all of your social media profiles.

To the right of the fields, the code will be created as the information is added. You can validate the code that appears in the grey box by clicking on the blue validate button in the top right. This will open Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool. As I have completely made up a business, The Roast Coffee Shop for this example the code has not been validated. If your code doesn’t flag up any errors (make sure you review the warnings), copy the code and save it to a Notepad or TextEdit file.

Adding the JSON-LD Code to Google Tag Manager

This part is pretty straightforward even if you don’t have much experience of using Google Tag Manager.

1. Log into your Tag Manager account and Click ‘ADD A NEW TAG’.

2. Name the new tag, choose something that makes it obvious what it is (We chose ‘Local Schema Markup’).

3. From the tag type menu choose ‘Custom HTML’ and paste the schema snippet into the text editor.

Now you will need to create a trigger for this new tag, to do this click on pencil icon in the ‘Triggering’ section, this will open up a list of existing triggers. If there isn’t already an ‘all page views’ trigger you will need to create one.

Creating a new trigger in GTM
5. To create a new trigger, click on the blue icon, add a name for this trigger, some along the lines of ‘All Pages’ should suffice.

6. Click the pencil icon in the top right of the Trigger Configuration box and select ‘Page View’ from the trigger type list, ensure that the ‘All Page Views’ option is selected.

7. Save the trigger and tag.

8. Now you should test that the tag fires on your website, to do this click on the Preview button. An orange box will appear within the Tag Manager user interface which indicates that you are in preview mode.

9. Open another tab (within the current browser window) and navigate to your website. At the bottom of the screen you will see the Google Tag Manager ‘quick_preview’ window, if the Local Schema tag has been installed correctly you will see a box with the name you gave the tag (the Local Schema Markup).

google tag manager quick view window

 

 Test the Schema using Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool

To ensure that the schema data renders correctly, and therefore readable by the search engines, use Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool. As the code created earlier is sat within a container tag it won’t be possible to view the tag in the website’s page source. The testing tool will detect each schema markup tag on your website. Clicking on the relevant tag type will reveal the information in the tag and any errors. If there are any relevant errors make the changes in the tag and update Google Tag Manager and re-test.

google structured data testing tool

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please note: the tool may flag up some warnings, see the image above, in this case, the tool has flagged up that the ‘priceRange‘ information is missing, this field is not relevant to our website.

Now that tag has been implemented the search engines can easily find data related your name, address and telephone number, which will have a positive effect on your local SEO.

This is a straight forward and relatively easy way to get your business ahead of the competition, so it’s well worth implementing. Please feel free to get in touch if you would like more advice on SEO in general.

A Guide to Local SEO

If your business is location-based and you want to drive local search traffic to your website, in addition to your regular SEO activity, you should also consider optimising your website for local SEO too.

46% of all Google searches are local. So, if your website is not optimised for local search, you could be missing out on a huge opportunity to target local customers. By letting Google know where your business is based and what you have to offer in order to appear in the search engine results more often in front of a local and relevant audience.

What is Local SEO?

If you have a regular SEO strategy in place, you’ll know that it involves improving both on and off-page elements so that your website appears when users search for certain keywords and phrases. Local SEO is very similar. However, it is targeted at searchers within a specific geographical area or keywords and phrases referencing that location. With local SEO, your aim is to rank highly in the search engine results for local searches. This helps you to make sure that your local customers can find you when they’re searching for your products and services.

Why is local SEO important?

Did you know that over half of the searches performed on search engines are on mobile? This means that people are searching whilst on the go and Google looks to be a step ahead of search intent by using location to be a step ahead of search intent b using location to show the most relevant results in that specific moment. With almost every device we used being location enabled, optimising your website for location is becoming more important if you want to appear in local searches.

How do I optimise my website for local SEO?

1. Include contact details

It might seem obvious but many companies forget to include contact information on their website. Ensure that your name, address and phone number is included on your website somewhere. The footer is usually the best place because it appears on every page and this is where web visitors expect to find them. Your local search rankings are influenced by the search engine’s ability to find your business information online and whether that information is consistent and matches that which is provided on your site.

2. Local Reviews

Reviews are good for your overall marketing strategy because they help you to build trust with prospective customers. Focus on getting local reviews on Google My Business but also Yelp and other local directories to build credibility and direct even more people to your website.

Ask your customers if they would be happy to leave a review for your product or service, you could even offer them an incentive such as a discount on their next purchase for leaving a positive review.

3. Build local links

Links from high authority sites are important in SEO as acknowledgements that your content is considered useful and relevant to your target audience. However, in local SEO, rather than links from high authority sites, it’s better to gain links from other local websites that are related to your own business.

4. Optimise page content for local keywords

If you own a local business such as a restaurant and you rely on local business, make sure you optimise your website content for local keywords. Include your brand name and the area in which you operate in the meta titles of your page.

80% of the top pages in the search engine results pages have their location in the title tag and 65% have their business name in the title. Include relevant keywords too.

5. Embed a Map

Embedding a map into one of the pages of your website makes finding your business location much easier for your website visitors and helps them to get an idea of where your business is located in relation to where they are at that specific moment.

6. Claim online profiles

In order to gain a local presence and begin gathering reviews for your business, make sure your business is listed on review platforms such as Google My Business, Trip Advisor, Yelp and Facebook. This will make it much easier for you to appear in the search results and lets Google know that you are a local business.

Please contact us for more information if you need help with your local SEO strategy.

Do you Know How to Use SEO to Complement Your Inbound Marketing Strategy?

Welcome to the third part of our series of blogs based on inbound marketing. This time, we’re looking at the role that SEO plays in your inbound marketing strategy.

On the surface, inbound marketing and SEO appear to be two separate strategies. However, if you integrate the two together, they will work in harmony and you will much greater results.

What is SEO?

SEO helps you to optimise your website in order to make it more attractive to search engines, boosting your rankings.

Why is SEO important?

It helps to increase the QUANTITY and QUALITY of traffic to your website.

So where does SEO fit into an inbound marketing strategy?

SEO is one of the best ways to drive traffic to your website. Without SEO, you won’t find your target audience online or have a way to drive traffic to your website. Ignoring SEO will make your inbound marketing strategy ineffective. Without traffic to your website, it doesn’t matter whether you have a great user experience or the best, most engaging content because no one is ever going to find or see it.

Can you see how SEO is about so much more than improving your rankings and appearing top in the search results? It helps you to draw in more potential customers, give them the information they’re looking for and pull them into the top of your sales funnel. From here, your inbound marketing takes over by helping to solve their problems quickly and easily.

Now, do you see that, as the two strategies work together, they begin to form an effective and cohesive strategy? The strategies work together to attract the relevant traffic to your website and then convert that traffic into customers.

SEO drives site traffic

Remember the four stages of inbound marketing that we drew out in our first blog post? Attract, engage, convert and delight. SEO helps you to ATTRACT those customers whilst inbound marketing convinces them that they want to buy from you.

Although SEO works within each stage of the process, attracting traffic is its biggest role. Without this site traffic, your website visitors will never encounter your user experience or great content which is designed by your inbound marketing strategy to help them convert.

Your inbound marketing strategy involves creating content which is targeted at your desired prospects and SEO makes this content more attractive to search engines and your audience.

As SEO brings in the initial leads, there is little effect in investing in one without the other.

Content and SEO

We will delve further into how content and your inbound marketing strategy work together later in this series but we’re just going to touch on it now. SEO relies heavily on the content you create as part of your inbound marketing strategy. Content such as blogs and whitepapers are the magnets you use to pull people in and so drive traffic to your website. SEO can survive without inbound marketing because you simply need an offer to pull customers in. However, inbound marketing cannot exist without SEO because if there’s no traffic on your website, how will you convert visitors?

How to Avoid Disaster When Your Search Rankings Fail

You’ve spent a huge amount of time, resources and effort in getting your website into the top organic search results for your chosen keywords and phrases. You wake up one morning and realise that traffic to your site has fallen significantly along with your search rankings.

Why can this happen? How long will it take to gain back those rankings? It can be disheartening to see your hard work result in a rankings drop but, before you run around in a panic, it might be worth checking on the below factors first.

Competitors

For any given keyword or phrase, if one website’s rankings improve, someone else’s website has to fall off the top spot. So, if you find that your rankings have dropped, you might want to see what your competitors have been up to and try to adjust your strategy accordingly to regain your position.

This is the reason why your SEO strategy must be ongoing. SEO is never finished because your competitors are always improving their website in order to rank more highly. To avoid competitors outranking you, keep an eye on their websites and social media profiles in order to understand their strategy and what they’re doing so that you can keep your site ahead of the game at all times.

Google Algorithm Update

Google is constantly updating its algorithms and, although they’re not all as big as Penguin or Panda but when it does change, rankings can be affected negatively if your website does not comply with the new algorithm. The best way to combat this is to follow SEO blogs and guidance to keep ahead of changes and update or change your site or strategy accordingly.

To make sure your site is likely to remain compliant, follow the Google Webmaster Guidelines to ensure you follow best practice at all times.

Lost links

If you know anything about SEO, you’ll know that backlinks to your site show Google that your website has authority and contains quality information that lost of people are interacting with. So you spend a huge amount of time building relationships in order to build links organically. However, sometimes those links can be removed or become temporarily unavailable, causing your rankings to fall.

When links are lost, you will have to spend time trying to find out where from and if you build or replace them. Spending time on a ongoing link building strategy will help to minimise the impact of losing links.

Site Speed

Site speed is a major Google ranking factor so it’s important to keep an eye on your page speeds to prevent a drop in rankings.

Page Changes

If you have updated pages recently, Google may have changed the rankings because it no longer sees it as relevant as it used to be. The below factors could have affected the page’s rankings so, if you’ve experienced a drop, you can always revert the page back to it’s previous state to regain the rankings:

  • URL change
  • Keyword removed from page title
  • Lower keyword density

Changing Internal Links

If you have added or removed internal links it could change the way Google values your site.

Stale Content

Google looks at how recently and how often a website is updated when ranking the site. If your site hasn’t been updated for a while, think about putting some fresh content on there or on your blog page to try and breathe new life into your rankings.

Avoid Blackhat SEO Techniques

Whilst tricks such as fooling Google with hidden text or placing artificial links across the web may have worked in the past, Google is now able to detect these things and may penalise your site as a result. Make sure you follow best practice to maintain your position and don’t be tempted to pay for quick wins because they could cost you your rankings in the long-term.

PPC vs. SEO: Which is Best for Your Business?

We all know that an online presence is essential for business growth in the modern marketing world. Search engines help you to make sure you’re seen by the right people, at the right time. Making sure you’re at the top of the results when someone searches for your products or services is extremely important if you want to see more leads and sales coming in.

Both channels have their pros and cons and the age-old question of which is best has always remained unanswered. In reality, whether you use SEO or PPC depend on your goals, budget, target audience and your business. Most businesses use a combination of both rather than one or the other. Both can be beneficial for your business in different ways and have pros and cons of their own.

SEO

SEO is all about optimising your website and content in order to rank highly in organic searches. When people search for answers to their problems, you want to be there to offer your solution.

One of the biggest advantages of SEO is that it tends to bring in much better quality leads than PPC. Many users ignore the paid results when searching on Google. Data suggests that visitors who find your website through natural search are more likely to trust you, your business and your products or services. Ranking on page one of Google shows your credibility and how influential you are in your industry.

Visibility on search engines is great for brand awareness. If you conduct research and find out which keywords, phrases or solutions your target audience is looking for you, you can carefully craft your content to match and boost your rankings in order to get your business in front of the people who are looking for it.

In contrast to PPC, SEO can be more sustainable in the sense that the traffic will not stop as soon as you stop paying. If you make efforts within your website to develop your rankings, these efforts will not be wasted if the budget should dry up. As long as you continue to put work in to maintain and improve your rankings, your website should still appear in similar positions. Not only is this sustainable but it also helps to give you a strategic advantage over your competitors. It’s not easy to improve organic rankings so if you put the work in and establish yourself, your competitors are not going to be able to simply buy their way back in. So, if your competitors are relying on paid search, you’ll have a great advantage.

SEO is a great way to get your business seen online however, it can be a slow process and, depending on what you do, your competition could be high. If your keywords are dominated by large brands, you might need to rethink your strategy. Never fall into the trap of favouring SEO because you think it will cost you nothing. SEO takes time and whether it’s your own or you hire someone to take on the strategy for you, SEO is definitely going to cost you something.

SEO sounds great, right? However, don’t give up on PPC completely just yet! There are a few advantages over organic traffic. If you set campaigns and ads up properly, PPC actually has one of the best ROI rates of any other marketing channel.

PPC

In contrast to SEO, PPC is about paying for advertising space based on targeted keywords for your brand. However, always remember that you will never get to the number one spot through PPC simply by being the highest bidder. The main priority of a search engine is to provide the best and most relevant results for the user. Imagine if Google simply showed the ads with the highest bidder rather than those that the searcher is actually looking for! Everyone would have switched to a different search engine a long time ago. So, before you take on any PPC strategy, remember to research your keywords carefully and structure your account to allow you to optimise ads and improve relevancy.

One of the main advantages of PPC, if you can gain one of the top positions, is that paid search dominates above the fold content. That means that when someone searches, they will see the ads first before they scroll to get to the organic pages. This also improves your brand visibility because it’s going to get you seen when customers search for you. Even if they go on to conduct their own brand research before they buy, the visibility for your brand is extremely valuable.

PPC allows you to target your customers more closely. Rather than improving your site rankings and hoping that potential customers are going to see and click on your website, you can target your ads using relevant keywords, time of day, day of the week, geography, language, devices and audiences all based on data you have about potential customers and previous visits to your website. In addition, you have much tighter budget control. You determine how much you’re willing to pay per day and fix the budget so you never run over. The budget can be easily adjusted depending on your results. A PPC account that’s well managed, monitored and set-up can be a low-cost way to generate new leads for your business.

As you can see, there are many pros and cons to both strategies. In reality, SEO and PPC shouldn’t be competing against each other, they should be used together for maximum results. If you’re still confused about how you should be utilising SEO and PPC for your business, contact RDM for more guidance.

Does Google Have a Love Hate Relationship With Your Website?

Why does SEO matter? Why does what Google thinks about your website matter? Think about the last time you used a search engine, which results did you look at? We bet you only looked at the first three and didn’t even click on the second page. Are we right? If we are, you’re just like the majority of searchers on Google! That’s why SEO is important for your site. If your competitors are ranking on page one and you’ve been left on page two, the chances are that your leads and sales are going to be much lower.

Google’s algorithms are complex and take into account over 200 factors when ranking your website. Whilst we can’t possibly know how the algorithm works in detail, we can use the factors that we know are definitely able to improve your site rankings. Here’s a list of just a few of the things that Google loves and hates about your website. A quick look at these factors could help to give your website a boost.

Sitemaps

Your sitemap tells Google about the structure of your site and exactly how it’s organised in order to allow it to crawl your site much more effectively. Sitemaps are an important method of communication between your website and search engines. Not only do they tell your users where to go, they also tell search engines where to go and how pages are organised.

Sitemaps are easy to generate using third party tools and some CMS systems even have plug-ins which will create and update sitemaps for you.

Be Social

As we increasingly use social media to communicate with our friends and the brands we love, Google have recognised the importance of social channels in the way it ranks your website. Google sees information and content that has been shared or talked about on Twitter or Facebook as relevant and useful.

Make it easy for your website visitors to share your blogs or news by including sharing buttons on your website. You must remember that simply adding these buttons is not going to improve your rankings automatically. Your content must also be relevant and interesting enough to be shared on those channels. Once Google can see that visitors are engaged enough with your content to send it to their friends, it will start to boost your rankings.

Site speed

We now live in a world where information is at our fingertips and only a click away. As a result, humans now have an average attention span of 8 seconds! So, if your site’s not loading quickly, you could be losing precious leads and sales.

Since we’re well past the age of dial-up internet, people are no longer willing to wait for websites to load, Google have recognised this and site speed is now included in their algorithms. If a certain page or, in fact, your whole website, takes a while to load, your site will be penalised.

Loading times are especially important when it comes to mobile optimisation. If you’re targeting mobile users in particular, you need to seriously think about putting site speed at the top of your priority list.

Unique and Good Quality content

Although the back structure of your website is important, the content front of house is also important. Google looks for relevant content that’s easy to understand and clear to read.

Google hates to see duplicate content so, if you’re producing blogs or guest blogging, be sure to make sure all of the content is unique. Don’t copy others – Google doesn’t want to see content that it’s seen hundreds of times before. It can make it difficult for it to work out which content is the authoritative copy.

Google HATES poorly written content so be wary of churning out articles for the sake of updating your website because it could actually have a detrimental effect. Google has moved away from simply counting the number of times keywords have been mentioned but also the way in which they’re mentioned. If you’re padding the page out with copy in the vain hope that it will be recognised and ranked highly by Google, you’re going to damage your site’s chances of appearing on page one.

Internal linking

Even though your sitemap can tell Google where your pages are and how they’re organised, this doesn’t mean that your site is user friendly. Internal linking and easy navigation will make your site more user friendly. Make it clear where you want users to go and how you want them to use your website. Sites that are well organised and clear to use will tend to have much better rankings.

Broken links and 404 errors effect user experience and can really drag your site down. Make sure you check your site regularly and make sure everything’s in working order.

Regular Updates

No one wants to land on a website that hasn’t been updated for months or even years and, it’s more likely to make them leave more quickly. Google recognises this too. A blog is a creative way to regularly update your site with content. Plus, it gives your visitors something to share.

Google ranks new information higher than old information so if your competitors are updating their website with content every week and you’re only posting every few months, your site is likely to slip down the rankings.

If you’re still struggling to improve your website rankings, our expert team at RDM could help. Contact us to book a call with one of our SEO experts.