On average 65 per cent of visitors to a website find it through a search engine. Google is the dominant search engine accounting for 85 per cent of Irish search engine usage while Bing and Yahoo make up 10 per cent and others less than 5 per cent. Here we will explore the best practices to improving website positions and visitor traffic to a website.
Search engine optimisation is a practice of improving internal and external aspects of a website in order to increase the traffic the site receives from search engines natural results. Sponsored listings can appear above and to the right hand side of the natural results which typically are 10 to a page. Search engines have algorithms that assign importance to different elements of the website namely domain name, website structure, Meta tags, and link building.
1 Domain name: Search engines tend to prefer older domain names as there is more history attached to them and so tend to rank higher. However if registering a new domain name it is beneficial to have a domain that has a geographic location in the domain if it is a local business or a product related keyword, as search engines will rank domains higher for searches that have the word in a domain. It is important that if you own multiple domains that you have one primary domain which the others point to.
2 Website structure: the foundation of any search engine optimisation effort is to ensure the website design and build is search engine friendly. This means that the search engines can crawl the site, ie the content on the page is not prohibited from being accessed by the search engines.
3 Relevant keywords: In order to maximise optimisation efforts it is important to identify what users are typing in that is relevant to your business. The Google keyword tool allows website owners to submit their website and it will generate a list of search phrases along with the monthly searches for that key phrase on the search engine.
4 Content is king: Write original and descriptive content for each web page and make sure that the page has a specific focus. Using the keyword tool create coherent sentences within the website that include high volume key words relating to the theme of the page. If the target market is local make sure to include location specific words on each page as well.
5 Meta tags: The Meta title tag is part of the search result snippet in the search engines that is clickable to access the website of the search result - it is in blue. Each web page has Meta tags so it is important to have unique Meta tags on each page. Search engines only crawl the first 70 characters of the Meta title, so important key phrases such as “Athlone hotels, hotels Athlone, luxury Athlone hotels” would be a good Meta title for a luxury Athlone hotel. The other tag called the Meta description tag is the second part of the search snippet, this needs to be under 150 characters, it should have coherent sentences but with all the keywords to complement the Meta title and content of the site.
6 Link building: A sign of the importance and relevance of a website for search engines is the number and quality of other websites that point to your website. There are a number of ways in which you can boost the number of links to your website including exchanging links with other complementary websites example a wedding photographer adding a florist as a link on their website and vice versa, submitting to directories, and links from social media and bookmark and share tool websites.
These are the basic principles of search engine optimisation and are just one of the topics covered in Aró’s online marketing courses which run one day and one evening a week.
For more information log on to www.aro.ie/workshops