Search Engine Optimisation explained
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO): internal links, keywords, site structure – the list of digital enhancements is ongoing and changes rapidly with new features being introduced almost daily. Learn more about the basic SEO tools and how they decide where you rank.>
Gaining a place on the first page of the search engine results pages (SERPs) remains one of the most desirable objectives for any organisation seeking to grow engagement with its target audience via the internet. Google remains the leading search engine, accounting for an estimated 92% (according to statcounter, 2019) of all search traffic globally, with Bing, Yahoo! and Baidu accounting for most of the remainder.
So, developing a search engine optimisation (SEO) strategy that meets the needs of Google’s search algorithm is therefore your priority to secure audience engagement and an ongoing stream of web-based leads.
What is a site structure?
How your site is structured might not always spring to mind when it comes to SEO, but it should not be overlooked. Search engines determine the site structure the same way as real people do. People want to find what they are looking for at the place where it makes most sense to find it – such as finding an address under ‘contact’.
Having a good site structure lowers the bounce rate (because it improves user experience) and therefore boosts the time spend on the website, makes it easier for crawlers to find information and increases the appearance of sitelinks. Sitelinks (see an example below) help increase the click through rate as well as shorten the conversion funnel. An excellent site structure is the basis of a good performing SEO.
What are the different types of links?
An internal link is when a link directs from one page on a domain to another page on the same domain. These links can be used in an article, navigation bar or any other place that can substantiate including a link. The SEO reason for using internal links is to divide link equity, also known as the ranking power.
Linking pages is important because web crawlers should be able to access pages on a website that can help find what the searcher is looking for. If the pages aren’t linked (and if there is no decent site structure) the crawlers are unable to identify the existence of the page let alone use it for the rankings.
If there is no link to a page or if it is buried deep in the website, crawlers are unable to recognise it which results in the page not being used.
Tip: it is recommended to use the so-called anchor text when using internal links to make it as easy as possible for the crawlers to go through your website.
SEO experts believe that external links have more impact on the link equity than internal links. The page where the external link directs to is distinguished as a third party and these parties are more important to search engines as it is believed that what others say about you is of more value than what you say about yourself.
Following this can turn external links into a fantastic SEO tool. The keywords that are used on the page you are using the external link on should refer to the page you are linking to. Do not work with the same keywords as that can potentially be marked as spam. When implementing external links pay attention to things such as the trustworthy of linking domain, anchor text, relevancy and popularity of the linking page.
How to use keywords
Keywords are also a well-known tool for SEO. When done right, implementing popular words (also referred to as head keywords or seeds) and phrases (combination of several terms also known as long-tail keywords) can drastically increase your search engine ranking.
A keyword research starts with a seed. This can come from your industry knowledge or online tools. Being involved in forums and private groups, for example, allows you to read what language potential customers use. There are also online tools to figure out how popular a keyword is. It is recommended to use these as it will give a good indication whether the engine ranking will significantly improve or if more/ other keywords should be used. For every new piece of content, a new keyword research is essential for a good ranking.
When deciding on which keywords to use, keep in mind that long-tail keywords (‘men’s tennis shoes with black laces’) have less competition than seeds (‘tennis shoes’) but seeds have higher search numbers. A basic way to include keywords on your page is to make use of the URL, meta description and alt attributes. Don’t forget the title and introduction as both searchers and crawlers need to know that the page they are on will provide the information they are looking for. A vague title may get more hits because it fits in more searches, but these are quantitative numbers not necessarily qualitative.
Creating a keyword map helps using keywords on a more strategic level by identifying which keywords are performing well to optimise the content. The map is also helpful to determine if similar or other content needs to be created in order to increase traffic – depending on the performance of the keywords.
So, to conclude, there are basic, easy steps that can be taken to start or improve your SEO adventure. It is just a matter of knowing where to start and how to implement all the different, incredibly helpful, tools.