What is search engine optimisation and what can you do to improve your ranking

20th June 2022

What is Search Engine Optimisation and what can you do to improve your ranking

Do you have a website or are you thinking of making one? Then you might have heard about Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). SEO is a very important thing to consider for your website, but what does it actually mean, and what will you need to do?

In this article we will explain what SEO is, how we can help you, and what you can do yourself.

What is SEO?

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) refers to the steps taken to improve your website's ranking. There are many ways to help improve your ranking such as improving your website's content, code, and structure.

Your ranking is the position you're placed on search engines such as Google, Bing, and others. Your position will only appear when people search related terms to the products and services you offer.

On the surface level, SEO can seem quite simple. By improving the coding, adding keywords to text, and targeting the right audience, you can get an excellent ranking. However, when you dive into it deeper, things can get very confusing. No one really knows exactly how Google decides how to rank websites. They keep their algorithms a closely protected secret.

Google search home page

Image: Google search home page.

What can we do for you?

At Webfactory, making the complicated simple is our goal. We've tried to simplify the process of optimising your website with great results. As an outcome of this, most of our customers' websites rank well once they go live.

There are two sides to SEO that we provide: one is the SEO you can maintain yourself and the other is the SEO key phrases that we can add to the site for you.

Ongoing SEO for your website:

Our website packages (except the Essential package) include ongoing optimisation. With ongoing SEO we set up 3 key phrases on your website. These are the main phrases that someone would type into Google to find you. We can track these phrases to see how they are performing and provide you with their rankings. The phrases can be changed every 3 months. This time frame will give Google time to crawl your website and properly index the content. We do not recommend changing your key phrases often; persistence pays off.

Picture your website as a physical shop. The search optimisation is your shop window. The 3 key phrases would be the 3 things you're promoting in your shop window. Think about which 3 phrases would you want your customers to know about?

As an example, if you were a hair salon in Cardiff, your phrases could be:

  • Hair Salon Cardiff
  • Hair Colour Expert South Glamorgan
  • Kids Hairdresser South Wales

Although we ask you to specify 3 phrases, Google is clever enough to relate those phrases to variations around the theme so your rankings will also improve for similar searches such as 'hairdresser Cardiff'.

We find targeting more than 3 primary phrases tends to reduce the performance of the optimisation. To extend the earlier metaphor, the more signage you try to put in your shop window, the less impactful each sign will be.

Regular code updates to your website:

We make regular updates to the underlying code of your website. This helps improve various ranking factors including indexability, page load speed and more. These are factors that search engines look for in websites. If a website has been coded poorly, it can penalise websites with a lower rank. Competitors sites that are coded better and load faster, will rank above you.

All our website packages include an easy to use website editor which is a great tool to improve your SEO. We've put settings in place that will help you edit the website to optimise your ranking. Below we've outlined some of the things your able to put in place.

Add Meta descriptions:

You might not have heard of the term Meta Description, but you've definitely seen them every time you've searched for something. While not strictly a ranking factor, the Meta Description is the short snippet of text under each link in the search results. This can impact the number of people who go ahead and click on your website.

Meta Description Example

Image: How a Meta Description displays in Google search.

The ideal length of the meta description is between 50-160 characters. You can set the same Meta Description for the entire website in your general settings, or set a Meta Description for each specific page. You can add your Meta Descriptions by going to the settings on each page.

Video: Meta Descriptions on individual pages

Video: Meta Descriptions applied to all pages

Important note - Google and other search engines won't always use the Meta Description. If the search engine thinks there is a better snippet of your page's content it will use that. It takes a few days or weeks for search engines to update with any changes you make.

Add meta keywords:

Meta Keywords allow you to add keywords to the actual code of the website. These words aren't visible to your website visitors. In the past, these keywords were used by Google and other search engines to learn the content of the page.

Search engines have stopped relying on Meta Keywords for SEO. Unfortunately, it was being abused by something called "keyword stuffing". This meant that website owners were putting lots of keywords in the code of the site. This would trick the search engines into giving you a better ranking. Although you can still add the Meta Keywords, it's probably redundant now - but it can't hurt!

You can add your Meta Keywords by going to the settings on each page.

Video - Adding meta keywords to individual pages

Add page titles:

The Page title/Search Engine title allows you to set a more optimised title for each page. As a standard, our system will build a well optimised title out of the box. This title is made up of the current page name, site name and the SEO key phrases. Using the hairdresser example again, your page title might look as follows:

About Us - Snippy Snap Hairdressers | Hair Salon Cardiff | Hair Colour Expert South Glamorgan | Kids Hairdresser South Wales

The page title is important as it is the clickable link in the search results. Both the page title and meta description are there to entice the customer into clicking on your website. You'll want to stand out from your competitors, but also clarify the services you have to offer.

It can be a good idea to override the default title and set something more tailored for yourself. Going back to the storefront example before, think of the page title as the main store sign. It's a much bigger pointer than what appears in the window, but space is even more limited. Search engines pay a great deal of attention to the page title and you can get ranking improvements by optimising them. You can add your page title by going to the settings on each page.

Video - Adding search engine page titles.

Add 301 redirects when renaming pages:

If you've worked hard to build the ranking for a specific page, you do not want to lose that hard work if you decide to rename it. When you rename a page, it also changes its web address. For example, if you had a page named 'about us' and renamed it to 'about', the address would change from /about-us to /about. Once a name is changed, Google will still be showing the old page in search results for some time. If someone clicks on the old link they will be taken to a 'page not found' message. The reputation that /about-us page has earnt will not automatically be transferred to the new /about page. The solution for this problem is to use 301 redirects.

A 301 is what is known in the web world as a permanent redirect. It tells the search engines that address x has moved to address y, sending people and the reputation from x to y.

301 redirects can be set up in the settings of your website editor.

Video: Adding 301 redirects

Add image Alt text

Search engines are not always able to view the images on your site and interpret what they are. Image alt text allows you to describe your images for search engines to rank. The text isn't actually visible on your website and is hidden in the code to be picked up by the search engines.

Image Alt text is also important for accessibility. Visually impaired users might use a screen reader to read out all content on the website. The screen reader will use the alt text to describe the image for the user.

Alt text could also be useful to those who have a slow internet connection. If the images aren't loading or the browser doesn't display them correctly, it will show the Alt text instead.

Using alt text is a great way of adding more keywords to your website. You can set alt text for any image on your website by clicking on the image settings.

Video - Adding image alt text.

Making regular updates to your content:

Google likes 'active' websites, i.e. websites that are often updated with new content. Adding a blog or news page to your site where you can post new content regularly can improve your ranking. By publishing new content, it also gives you the opportunity to use more keywords on your website. You can make changes by logging in to our easy to use content manager.

The features above are available to you to get the most out of your website. As well as SEO, it's also recommended to use marketing tools such as Google Ads or Social Media marketing. This will allow you to get as much exposure as you can for your website.

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