Search engine optimisation (SEO) is the process of achieving good rankings for your website on Google.
But because Google continually refines the algorithm that determines rankings, optimising your site is like trying to hit a moving target. The trick is to keep moving yourself
Read on to learn how to do search engine optimisation in 2015.
Google’s job is to find the best content for an internet user in any given situation. So the first step to getting ranked on Google is to forget about Google and focus on that user.
“Ask yourself: would my customers find this interesting? Is it better than information elsewhere?” explains Denis Butler, web analytics manager at Atom Content Marketing which publishes the Donut websites.
That’s not to say that if you write it, people will come. You also need to consider these SEO basics:
Don't let anything put you off putting your users first. "It’s all about delivering the information that users are searching for," reaffirms Denis. "Google is good at spotting which sites do that best."
When determining how to rank your website, Google examines which sites link to it. This 'link juice' is important.
"Link building needs to be a gradual, ongoing process," explains Danielle Haley, co-director at Freelance SEO Essex. "Paying for hundreds of links from an unknown website won’t get you where you need to be.”
"You can find linking opportunities in every aspect of your PR and marketing," she continues. "Try hosting Q&A sessions on your blog, or let journalists know they can contact you for quotes. That can get you links from important sites.”
The rise of smart phones has changed how we use Google. The majority of searches could soon come from mobile devices, so some experts think the search giant may begin to prioritise sites that display properly on small screens.
“Google can detect what device you’re searching from,” explains Denis. “If your website causes errors on mobile devices, you might find you get penalised in results when people search from a smart phone.”
“Find a way to make your website mobile friendly, perhaps by moving to a responsive website design."
This increase in mobile devices is also fuelling growth in local searches, as people hunt for businesses while they’re out and about. To help them, Google shows a map of results when it thinks you’re looking for a local business:
As this map appears near the top of the page, it's vital your business is listed in this important space.
Ever since its ‘Hummingbird’ update, Google has been getting better at interpreting questions.
“This is partly driven by the increase in voice searches made through services like Siri, Apple’s virtual assistant," explains Denis. "People often type questions into Google too - like 'how do I wire a plug?' - so Google keeps looking for ways to provide better, more accurate answers.”
Keep this in mind when creating web pages. Certain types of content - like help articles - can work well as a set of frequently asked questions (FAQs). Because these include the questions on the page, they help Google recognise what answers you’re providing.
“Google sometimes shows extra information alongside results,” continues Denis. “These ‘rich snippets’ include star ratings, which can really influence whether people click your listing.”
You might need to make technical changes to your website to enable this. Before doing so, keep in mind that Google shows a score aggregated from a variety of sources. All reviews are taken into account - both good and bad.
SEO is an ongoing job, although it needn't consume a vast amount of your time. "Set aside half an hour a week and plan how to use that time in advance," advises Danielle.
"You could spend 30 minutes scheduling posts on your social media accounts or writing a blog for your website. A little time spent seeking out new opportunities will have a positive impact on your search engine presence."
Finally, remember that emerging topics offer good opportunities to get one over the competition.
"It's easier to claim your spot on Google if you’re in there first,” confirms Denis. "Keeping your ears open and monitoring trends is something everyone can do - not just your SEO manager."