Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is hugely important when developing a new website, or updating an existing one. Each and every website is at the mercy of the various search engines and their numerous closely guarded algorithms.
So what is Search Engine Optimisation?
SEO is the ongoing process of constructing, updating and promoting your website such that it appears near the top (or hopefully in position #1) of a search engines search results.
What is a Search Engine and what do they do?
There are many search engines available to the web browser, but none are more famous or widely used as Google (owned by Google Inc). Each search engine routinely spiders (the act of crawling through) the many millions of websites that are publicly available on the internet. Whilst doing so, they pick up all relevant data that each individual page holds, before passing it through their many algorithms. These algorithms assign rank to the page based on the millions of search terms used each day.
The simple aim of the search engine (Google in particular), is to output to the web user, a list of search results which they believe to be most relevant for the particular term that the user has searched for.
Webmasters and SEO experts have therefore focussed on the Google algorithms in particular, in their attempt to deduce the inner workings and therefore the correlation between page content, marketing and page rank. However, Google (and the rest) are continually modifying these algorithms and hence the SEO experts are always playing catch up in a never ending race.
Black Hat Techniques
Before continuing on, I would like to mention an approach to SEO known commonly as the "Black Hat" approach.
In an attempt to quickly get a new website to the top of a search engines results list, a developer can try and deceive the search engine (Black Hat) by stuffing each individual page with a high volume of keywords and/or meta data, in order to appear to the search engine as being more important than it really is.
For example, should a website sell many types of cheese, the developer can write in white text (assuming the background of the page is white) the name of the cheese many hundreds of times all over the page (they may even set the text to display somewhere off-screen). To the web user, they may see nothing wrong - white text on a white background is obviously invisible to them. Or, when writing the page copy, the developer can stuff the paragraph with many references to itself - "This blue cheese is the best blue cheese since I last ate some blue cheese". Clearly, this sort of sentence is not relevant to the web user, but is keyword rich.
In the past, Black Hat techniques have resulted in good search positioning, but it is now thought that these techniques, whilst producing a sudden good listing, are often followed by a huge fall down the rankings.
An example of a more advanced Black Hat approach is where a developer intercepts the IP address of the individual, identifies it as being an IP used by a search engine, then outputs a completely different set of data only intended for the search engine. This often means that the user never gets to see any relevant information at all, even though the site appears high in the rankings.
Please be aware though that the search engines have some extremely clever (and hugely complicated) systems which analyse the data, and they are certainly aware of the many Black Hat techniques that are being used to deceive them.
Please note: here at e-volve, we keep clear from any Black Hat approach!
So how do we optimise a website?
This is the million dollar question. In all honesty, nobody has a definitive answer on this, but, it is fairly clear that Google rewards honest, relevant, informative websites with good search results.
At e-volve, we like to start with the basics, and try to get a good organic search listing. Organic search results are results based only on the specific algorithms. There is no influence on the results due to any paid-for advertising.
To achieve this, we ensure each page within a web application has a good and sound document structure, i.e. each page has a unique title, a unique header #1, and specific copy written for the item in question. We write all the text ourselves (although this is a long and sometimes extremely dull task!) to ensure that each page is relevant and content is NOT duplicated throughout the website.
Ensuring a good, solid document structure will result in the website climbing the rankings, but how long this may take is dependent on many, many factors, most of which are beyond our controls.
It is also thought that Google weights the ranking of an individual website based on the volume and quality of inbound links. For example, if the BBC links to your website, Google's algorithm might see this as being important since the BBC itself is a hugely important website.
Therefore, a good link building program is often developed in order to promote the website.
It is also widely believed that websites that do not change over time, often fall down the rankings. There are two distinct reasons for this:
- The search algorithm deduces that the importance of the page degrades over time
- Your competitors are working hard to overtake you and steal your web traffic
Therefore, we believe in a good, sound commitment to continuous development. In accordance with this, we firmly believe that each page must be created with the user in mind, and not the search engine.
Since search engine optimisation is clearly a huge and complicated topic, we would be happy to talk you through the processes involved, or show you some examples. Please give us a ring on 01670 501 599 and we will be happy to help.