We're back with the second part in the series on what it takes to make a website successful. If you've not read part 1, you can find it here.

Keyword Research

Keyword research is a key area of search engine optimisation. Rather than guessing what your customers search for, use data which will give you the answers. You should be targeting the keywords and phrases that work best for your business.

Carrying out keyword research will ensure that your website’s content is optimised as best as possible, that you’re targeting phrases that have higher search volumes and lower competition levels and will, therefore, drive traffic and sales to your website.

Content Strategy

Now you have an understanding of keyword research, it’s time to create or optimise your content around those phrases.

Your website’s content is one of the most important aspects of your website. It will not only help with your search engine ranking positions, but it’s what you’re going to use to convert your website visitors into revenue-generating customers.

You’ll want to make sure that your content answers the searcher's intent. Google’s search engine has evolved over the years and its primary goal is to provide search results that meet a user’s needs and answers their query.

Its mission is to “Organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” Your mission is to optimise your content to meet theirs.

What is search intent?

Search intent is all about why people carry out a specific search query. Are they searching for an answer to a question, a specific website or maybe they’re looking for a product to purchase?

As Google has evolved, it’s become more able to determine the search intent query of the user and wants to serve them with the best possible results that will answer their query.

The 4 types of search intent

There are 4 types of search intent and it’s important to understand the differences between them.

1. Informational

As it states, the first type of search intent is informational. This user is simply looking for an answer to a query. It could be as simple as ‘what is the time?’ or a more in-depth answer such as someone searching for ‘SEO’. If a user is looking for information, then their search intent falls into the informational type.

2. Navigational

This searcher is looking for a specific website. They know what they’re looking for and are trying to get there quickly. It’s quicker to search for ‘Amazon’ and click the link than type the address into the browser.

3. Transactional

Next up, is transactional. This user is looking to purchase something. They know what they want to buy and are looking for somewhere that sells that product or service.

4. Commercial investigation

Sometimes, users are interested in a product or service but are not quite ready to purchase. They may be searching for product reviews, or holiday comparisons (as an example). These users have transactional intent and possibly partial informational intent depending on the query. These types of search intents are known as commercial investigation.

Understanding and optimising your content for search intent

Now that you understand the different types of search intent, you’ll want to make sure your content is optimised to fit the search intent of the user.

Doing so will help with reducing your bounce rate as your website visitors won’t be landing on pages that are not relevant to their query and as bounce rate is one of the metrics that tells Google if the user had a good experience and the webpage fitted their query – you’ll have more success in increasing your search engine rankings.

Let’s explain that again in a different way

Rankings move up and down. Your webpage could be 5th in Google search one day for a specific query, and 10th the next. Whilst there are hundreds of factors that determine where a website ranks, user experience is one of them.

Let’s assume that one of your web pages is steadily climbing the positions in Google. However, as it does, your bounce rate increases. This tells Google that the user did not have a good experience.

It could be that the page took too long to load, and the user didn’t want to wait. It could be that they landed on your webpage, but it didn’t fit their intent. If this is the case, you’ll find that you’ll start to slip in terms of search engine result positions. That’s why ongoing SEO is so important if you want to increase your rankings and keep them there.

Optimise your content and be sure to analyse the data – which we’ll cover in more detail further on.

SEO Tips & Strategies

Below are some SEO tips that you can implement to improve your search engine rankings. These are mini sections, though feel free to reach out to us if you’re looking for further advice in one of these areas.

Optimise your images

Images and videos take up the largest percentage of space on a webpage. Pages are made up of HTML, CSS, JavaScript (and maybe some other languages if you have something particularly special) but these don’t normally account for the largest percentage of the size of a webpage.

That’s normally down to the media that’s displayed on the webpage such as your pictures and videos.

It’s worth optimising these before upload as they can really slow a website down if not managed correctly.

For most people today, a smartphone comes as standard with a camera that can take photos that are 10MB+ in size. The average webpage, on the other hand, is around a third of this size.

Upload a few un-optimised images to one of your webpages and your site speed will suffer badly whilst your bounce rate rockets.

When uploading images, make sure they are resized to the size of the container, saved in the optimal format, and compressed using online tools such as TinyPNG. It’s very easy to knock 90% off the size of a photo/image if correctly optimised and will help your site to continue to run quickly.

Optimise your Metadata

There are different types of metadata, but if you only focus on four, make sure you fill out your page titles, descriptions and image titles and alt attributes. The most important of these will be your page title and description. When someone searches for something, they are presented with a set of results.

Ideally, these should contain your primary keywords and be compelling whilst answering the search intent. You’ll want to make sure your titles and descriptions are not truncated by Google. It doesn’t look great and yields a lower CTR (Click Through Rate). The limit for titles and descriptions is based on pixel width, not character counts as often reported.

However, it’s harder to measure pixel width (There are online tools if you really want to go down this route) but as a rule of thumb, keep your titles to 60 characters or less and keep your descriptions to 160 characters or less.

Structured Data

Structured data is an important part of SEO. It helps search engines understand what your pages are about and gives context to content and improves the way your pages appear within search results. The best way to do this is to implement Schema Markup.

Schema.org is a collaboration between Google, Yahoo, Bing and Yandex. It’s also used by smart devices when people carry out voice searches. Find out why you should be utilising Schema Markup on your website and how to implement it.

Sitemaps and Robots

Every website should have a sitemap and robots.txt file. It tells Google and other search engines where all your content is among other information. We have a dedicated blog post on creating and optimising your sitemap and robots.txt for improved SEO.

Noindex ‘Thin’ Pages (AKA Low Quality) or 301 Redirect Them

People make the mistake of asking search engines to index every single page. However, this shouldn’t be done as your ‘thin’ pages don’t contribute to your SEO efforts.

Having these pages indexed can hurt your overall search engine rankings so it’s important that you only ask search crawlers to index your high-quality content that provides value to your users.

Pages such as category pages (for most users), tags, shopping carts, duplicate content and similar pages should be set to noindex. This requests that search crawlers ignore these pages and don’t include them within their search results.

Sometimes there are alternatives, and this depends on the page itself. For example, you may have a blog with several similar posts or products that are similar in terms of description. In cases like these, you’d be better off updating/consolidating these pages into one, and setting a 301 redirect to the main page.

Internal Linking

Internal linking are hyperlinks that link to pages on your own website. If used correctly, you can send link authority to less valuable pages. Internal linking also helps search engines understand the structure of your website.

You can also use internal linking for the purpose of guiding your website users to another page. Consider using this SEO strategy to always have a CTA on your website. Correctly used will help with keeping users on your site longer and it will help with reducing bounce rates.

Use A/B Testing to improve conversion ratios

If you’ve carried out keyword research, you’d know that there is a search query per phrase, per month. You can’t make more people search than those who do. Therefore, there’s a finite number of visitors you’re going to gain per keyword/phrase.

The true key to digital success is using A/B testing to increase your conversions and sales. You cant get above the top of the search results. You can increase the number of visitors that convert into revenue-generating customers.

Use SEO tools to measure and improve performance

SEO tools will help you on your path to success and there are plenty to choose from. Some are free, and some are paid for. However, the first three (which are free) should be utilised by all website owners. Using these tools you’ll be able to optimise and improve your conversion rates.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a free tool that allows you to analyse in-depth details about how your users interact with your website. You can use it to measure and analyse various metrics including where your visitors have come from, what pages they’ve looked at as well as their traffic flow throughout your site.

There are various reasons to use this free popular tool, but one stand out reason would be to measure the bounce rate on a per-page basis and optimise those pages to reduce the number of users landing on a webpage and leaving without navigating through your site.

It’s a good indication as to which pages don’t answer the user’s intent or provide a less than optimal experience. If you’re not already using this free tool from Google, make sure you sign up and start using it.

Google Search Console

Another free SEO tool worth utilising is Google Search Console. It offers a collection of tools to analyse data. You can submit your sitemap, view search queries that resulted in users visiting your website and identify errors with your website among other things.

GTM (Google Tag Manager)

Google Tag Manager is another free tool from Google, that enables easy conversion tracking of events on your website. For example, you may want to track which users convert into leads or sales.

Let’s say you have a webpage with a CTA for a signup form. Wouldn’t it be great if you could measure which users signed up and which ones didn’t? That’s one of the main purposes of GTM.

Using GTM and Google Analytics together means that you’ll know where your conversions came from. Was it from social media, organic traffic or paid advertisements? Using this data, you’ll be able to optimise your conversion rate, yielding a higher ROI.

SEMrush

Looking for a premium all in one SEO tool that offers all the functionality that you can think off? If so, SEMrush is defiantly worth checking out. This premium tool features a plethora of features including:

Organic research

Discover your competitor’s keywords, where they are getting their traffic from and their CPC for advertising campaigns.

Backlink research

Conduct deep analysis on backlinks to any domain, find backlink opportunities and disavow spammy backlinks before they negatively impact your rankings.

Keyword research

Probably one of the best features is the ability to carry out keyword research, find untapped phrases and optimise your content for high volume, low competition keywords.

Traffic analytics

Discover where your competitors get their traffic from, organically, paid and other online sources.

Website Analysis

Set up audits on schedule to be informed about key areas of improvement and be made aware of all errors as soon as they happen before they negatively impact your rankings.

Content optimisation

Analyse all page one search results for any keyword and optimise your content in real-time to ensure you have the best possible chance of ranking for those keywords and phrases.

The above is just a small insight into what you can do with SEMrush. Yes, it costs a monthly fee but if you’re serious about your digital marketing and SEO strategy, you’ll want to leverage such a tool.

Analyse, Optimise and Improve Conversions

A website should evolve as do SEO algorithms that are forever rolling out. That means staying up to date, following best SEO practices and always striving to improve user experience and conversions.

Using just the free tools mentioned above will give you the data you need to improve your click-through rates, reduce bounce rates and improve user experience overall. Do so and you’ll find that you’ll not only improve your search visibility but also your return rate.

Closing Notes

As we mentioned at the start, there are hundreds of ranking factors and listing them all would make for an extremely long post. We’ve therefore covered key areas to aid with your digital marketing route to success. Be sure to bookmark/follow our blog as we regularly post informative/detailed SEO tips, strategies and digital marketing news updates.

Speak to an SEO strategist

Growing a business online is hard, but it doesn’t have to be. Speak to our SEO strategist today and find out how we can help you drive organic growth. We'll also provide you with a free comprehensive website audit with actionable recommendations. Give us a call on 01432 483163 or send us an email.