An introduction to search engine optimisation

SEO (or Search Engine Optimisation) is the name for a wide ranging set of techniques where the ultimate aim is to move your website higher up the search engine results for a particular set of keywords/keyphrases. The higher up in the rankings you move, the more visitors your website will receive.

There are two sets of optimisation techniques, known as Onsite and Offsite SEO.

Onsite Optimisation
This refers to optimising your actual website and covers a wide set of techniques.

Offsite Optimisation
Search engines consider it very important that a website has links to it from other websites. They count each incoming link as a sort of vote, and so the more votes you have the more popular you are, and the higher up the rankings they place you.

Opinions differ on how much importance is placed on onsite compared with offsite optimisation, but the vast majority of experts consider offsite optimisation to be more important.

A new set of optimisation techniques is rapidly gaining significance and is known as 'social optimisation' - i.e. how much your website features in social media.


The different aspects of onsite optimisation

For individual pages

Title Tag
You can find out more information about the title tag by reading this article.

Meta Description Tag
You can find out more information about the description tag by reading this article.

Heading Tags (e.g. H1, H2)
You should find that your website is automatically optimised for all these heading tags however if you need to change any of them on your site you'll need to edit the page files directly or contact us (there maybe a fee for this).

Image ALT Tag
The image alt tag is used by screen readers to describe the content of an image to a user who cannot see it (i.e. one who is blind or partially sighted). They are also used if the image cannot load for a particular reason. You can find out more about the alt tag by reading this article.

Content
What content is in place on a page is hugely important, it's the most important factor. You should ensure that each page is optimised for the search keywords you want it to rank highly for, i.e. has plenty of keyword-rich text that is well structured.


For the website as a whole

Internal Linking Structure
Internal links are links that point to a website on the same domain name. We recommend reading the article at http://moz.com/learn/seo/internal-link for more information. You shouldn't need to worry too much about your site's internal linking structure, except for placing links to important pages on your website's home page and/or header/footer.

Sitemap & Robots.txt
Two critical files to the online success of your website. The sitemap file is used by search engines to find the pages on your website, and the robots.txt file is used to determine which files on your site should be placed in their index. Both are generated automatically for you by our platform.

Site Speed
A slow site is a poor site. Users expect your website's pages to load quickly, and when they don't they will soon look elsewhere. Search engines monitor the speed of websites closely and penalise sites that don't load quickly.

Content
The most important aspect of onsite SEO. Your online content must be relevant, keyword rich, and linkable.

Other resources
Take a look at these external websites to find out more information:

http://moz.com/learn/seo/on-page-factors
http://pro.seomoz.org/tools/on-page-keyword-optimization
http://www.seomark.co.uk/on-site-optimisation/


Offsite optimisation aspects

Links to your website from third party websites pass on what is commonly known as 'link juice' to your website. Think of link juice as ranking power for your website, the more link juice you are getting the more ranking power your site has.

Search engines consider what others are saying about your website more important than what you say about it yourself and so offsite optimisation is seen as more crucial to a site's success than onsite optimisation.

Useful articles & resources

Take a look at these external websites to find out more information:

http://moz.com/learn/seo/external-link
http://pointblankseo.com/link-building-strategies
http://www.seomark.co.uk/off-site-optimisation


What to focus on

No matter how experienced you are with SEO and how well your website is already placed in search engine results, there are two factors to SEO that are critical to your success and should be taking up at least 90% of your SEO workload:

1. Website content
2. Links from other websites to your website

Too often, website owners get stuck in the minute detail of SEO like ensuring a particular image has an ALT tag or the right title tag. Many online 'SEO tools' will scan your website to see if it's got things like the correct number of H1 tags or a favicon. We've seen far too many customers get distracted with these tools and the process of making sure they're ticking all the boxes.

Google is far more interested in the content on your website, that your visitors read, and the links from other websites to your website than whether you've got an H2 tag before an H1 tag.

Even when you think you've done all you can on content and incoming links, you should go back and review your website again and do some more work on it.