Effective Search Engine Optimisation

Tom Pilgrim
Tom Pilgrim, Account Manager

The online marketplace is continuously evolving, triggering changes in search user behaviour, in the popularity of the particular search keywords and phrases, and tin the search algorithms used by search engines.  SEO determines how easy it is for potential clients to find you among competing websites. Maintaining your search engine ranking through regular reviews and updates is essential, not only because your rankings will suffer if you cease your SEO activities, but also because it is highly likely that your competitors will continuously perform SEO in order to outrank you.

Many factors combine to generate a higher search engine ranking. We have identified three key areas of focus for an effective SEO strategy: logical website architecture, keyword-focused copy, and thoughtfully crafted meta titles and descriptions. Ticking all the right boxes in these areas will go a long way to making your website search engine friendly, and helping you stand out from the crowd

Keyword-focused Copy

Search engines respond best to high-quality, informative and unique copy. For the purposes of SEO, keywords should be a central focus of your website’s content. Always conduct thorough research into what people are searching for. Identifying keywords can be a complicated task. Potential buyers will not always simply search for a specific product or service. They might search for a solution to a problem they are experiencing, a particular type of professional or firm that can offer a solution, or for availability in a certain location. You can determine the popularity of keywords relating to your area of expertise by using online tools such as the Keyword Planner from Google AdWords, which provides historical statistics of search engine activity and helps formulate new keyword ideas.

Perhaps the biggest challenge is to identify keywords that are realistic. Try to use phrases that are specific and targeted enough to generate search traffic, but not so niche that people are unlikely to search for them. Balance is key.

It is also crucial to achieve the right balance in terms of the number of times a keyword is targeted by a single page. The abnormally high usage of particular keywords and terms on a landing page or, ‘keyword stuffing’, will count against you. This tactic is considered unethical by Google and other search engines because it attempts to manipulate the algorithms that have been designed to enhance user search experience. Effective website copy reads naturally whilst targeting the necessary keywords

One way to improve website copy for SEO without keyword stuffing is to incorporate Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) into your strategy. LSI involves including synonyms or related words in website copy, in addition to core keywords. Search engines also consider how certain keywords are used in combination with other closely related words and phrases. You might find that you already use synonyms and variations for keywords as a natural element of the copywriting process and natural sounding copy is high quality copy.

Copy should be detailed, especially for professional services websites, because potential clients need to be assured that you are expert in the services you provide. Search engines also recognise that more detailed pages are likely to provide a better answer to a user’s queries. Additionally, writing longer copy also helps to maintain an appropriate keyword density and allows you to include more content that can be picked up by LSI. At the same time, copy needs to be broken down into focused, digestible segments with keyword-rich, engaging headings.

Website Architecture

Website content is not always sufficient on its own to optimise search engine ranking. The structure or ‘architecture’ of your website also plays an important part in SEO. After conducting research into the search engine behaviour of your potential clients and identifying realistic keywords you want to rank for, you should design an intelligent, user-friendly website architecture which efficiently maps keywords to content. Each page on your website should be optimised for one or two keywords with high quality search traffic and ranking potential.

This is why, when structuring your website architecture for SEO purposes, it is essential to find the right pages for all your keywords. Identify core landing pages for your main services and keep them closest to your homepage, as they take the least amount of clicks to get to. Specialist keywords can be effective in the sense that, even though they tend to have a lower search volume, those people who find your website by using these keywords are more likely to represent potential clients who are able to match their specific requirements with your service. These also have the advantage of being less commonly optimised for by others, enabling you to read page one of Google for these terms.

In addition, you might have additional search terms, which might be similar to your core keywords and that you might still want to rank for, but do not want to create separate service or product pages for. In these cases you can use alternative types of content which also contribute to SEO, such as case studies, news bulletins and blog posts, to target additional keywords, and search engines like fresh copy so there is an additional bonus inherent in news and blogs.

Another useful element of website architecture for SEO is internal linking. Internal links are hyperlinks that go from one page on a website to another page on the same website. Link relevancy has become an important metric for determining search engine rankings, and is determined by the content of the source page and the content of the text containing the hyperlink to a separate page, known as the anchor text. The keywords used for anchor text can also contribute towards SEO, hence it is essential not to fall into the trap of using “click here” or similar phrases as anchor text, and instead use words that are relevant to the content of the link.

Meta Titles and Descriptions

Meta tags serve multiple purposes, so getting them right is paramount. They provide search engines with a summary of a webpage’s content, incorporate keywords to boost search engine presence, and provide a title and description of the webpage which provide incentive for potential clients to click through. Meta tags and descriptions are subject to character limitations, so they should be written carefully, with an intelligent use of keywords.  Google typically displays the first 50-60 characters of a meta title tag, and the first 150-160 characters of a meta description tag. Nevertheless, although it is recommended that you do not exceed character limits, you also should not feel pressured to use all the available character space.

Your meta title is more often than not a potential client’s first encounter with your website, so it needs to be eye catching. Meta titles, particularly for professional services firms, should prioritise the service being offered (this is likely to be one of your keywords), or a solution offered to a particular problem. The name of the firm and the location in which it operates should also feature in title tags. You should use ‘pipes’ – the down strokes between words – to separate important keywords, giving your title tags a clearer and more professional look.

Be careful not to fill your meta description with empty words such as ‘professional’, ‘specialist’ and ‘experienced’, as these are bland keywords which do not tell people much about your brand. You can promote your credibility and specialism by incorporating facts and statements which demonstrate your expertise. . Each meta description should be unique in order to highlight a particular aspect or benefit of the service on offer on that page. On a basic level, meta titles and descriptions should, as with all professional website content, be grammatically correct, make sense and read well. This is because search engines tend to serve up content that is clear and useful, ahead of content which is disorganised.

Getting SEO right for your business

There is no such thing as a formulaic, one-size-fits-all SEO strategy. SEO is a continuous process which necessitates a thorough understanding of your business in terms of its values, its services and, above all, your potential clients. Thorough and regular research will help you determine your popular, relevant keywords to target throughout your website architecture, copy and meta tags. SEO is not just about keywords; rather, it is also heavily influenced by the quality and credibility of website content as a whole.

In the busy world of professional services, SEO activities can be difficult to keep on top of. At Maltin PR, we can help you boost your online reputation. Our SEO strategies begin with an understanding of your services and clients to identify the keywords you should be targeting. We combine this with bespoke copywriting and web design services which reflect your brand values and tone of voice, delivering these in an authoritative and impactful way, and driving you up the search engine rankings

Good SEO is good, clear website copy and structure, which will appeal to your clients, especially for niche keywords which matter to them and which reflect your expertise.