In this post, I’m going to try tackle one of the big topics – Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), according to Papertank of course.
The topic of SEO frequently gets clients a little stressed; sometimes we get stressed about it too. Primarily, SEO has morphed into a modern-day form of Snake Oil. We know that there are many developers and agencies who will bamboozle clients with the advanced technicalities of optimisation, and convince them of the need for thousands of pounds per month to ensure a high Google ranking.
What Search Engine Optimisation is not.
SEO is not marketing. Online and offline marketing are different of kettles of fish altogether. For a start, traditional marketing focuses the attention on grabbing the consumers attention – through advertising, word-of-mouth, promotions, etc. With search engine optimisation you are looking for a balance between creating a functional and attractive website for the end-user and simultaneously optimising your code and content for Google and other search engines.
Top page, top dog.
Ultimately, you’re looking for your website to be on the first page of Google at least, if not the first result. With this in mind, your optimisation must focus on the key words, terms and phrases that your users are searching for – in some cases even the most common mis-spellings. This is the real basis of optimisation – good content. Not sounding absurdly technical is it?
Watch our for companies who guarantee first-page results within a certain time frame or your money back. Guarantees should be, and are, impossible as search engine companies like Google continuously change and update their criteria. SEO results are often also a lot more gradual and techniques need revised over time.
While I don’t want to tar everyone with the same brush, chances are that companies that guarantee you top results are not looking for a gradual, long-term solution for you. In order to boost your ranking over a short period of time, companies may use so called Black Hat techniques. These include creating dummy websites to link to your own or hiding lots of keywords within your pages. These techniques may indeed get quick results in the short term; however, when Google updates their criteria or these Black Hat techniques are uncovered, your website will drop down the rankings like a stone. If you are aiming to build your web presence and online business properly, you will need a legitimate and long-term solution.
Papertank optimise for search engines.
Not taking SEO into account would be the equivalent of building a new town and expecting people to automatically know the location (i.e. URL). Continuing with this analogy, SEO is effectively like signposting your new town on road signs and maps so that people can actually find you.
I’ve never been a fan of bombarding clients with unnecessary details when it comes to SEO, and certainly not the quackery that some companies roll out. Instead of charging thousands of pounds a month, we build initial optimisation and consultation into the project price of a new website and advise clients about the next steps, including Google Adwords.
SEO is largely common sense – for example if you sell shoes online, rather than simply titling your category page ‘Boots’, you should rethink and consider ‘Women’s Ankle Boots and Knee-high Boots | Buy Shoes and Footwear from Example.com’ - especially as a Google search for ‘Boots’ will obviously mainly turn up top-page results for Boots the chemist.
In a nutshell, SEO boils down to making sure your website is well coded, well designed and your content is well written. Get these three things right, and you’re on the right track. No snake oil required.