Search Engine Optimisation: the devil is in the detail and its implementation

Visibility and the conundrum of keywords

Search engines use a complex equation called an 'algorithm' to catalogue, order web sites and their associated web pages and the keywords within those pages in unimaginably large databanks, constantly wired to the internet, daily checking all these billions of pages online with their systems, registering even tiny changes and altering their database accordingly. The most significant factor Google and other search engines record on their search databases are words and how often they occur, how these words are re-enforced with the sub-titles, names of pages, image names, video titles etc. More than 100 factors play in the 'keyword ranking' and different factors have different strengths and these vary with time as well.

These companies continue to build new data-farms, often in the most unlikely locations, and continue trying to perfect how their engines operate to separate the 'wheat from the chaff'. I follow these developments through forum discussions, though the exact algorithm formula is a company secret, but through monitoring I get a good handle on both the theory and the practice, that is the results of a search, and will bring this knowledge gained to the 'table'.

So the trick is to get a grip of words that people are likely to use in searches that mirror the services you offer in your web site. A good spread of words across a decent range of pages is easy to say, hard to practice, as in all cases the language has to be fluent and easy to follow. Over-repetition of certain keywords or too long blocks of bland text will thus go against the importance of keeping the web visitor on the site and encouraging it to commit. This is a fine balancing act, so often you need to think 'out of the box', think further strategies, such as extra pages, use of similar phrases to get the message across and all the while imagining and researching how users are likely to search for you and monitoring competition. Bettering the competition is a game in its own right, involving patience, strategy and finding their weak points, like a game of chess at times, going for the long term moves, as factors such as keyword indexing and page ranking are slow things to alter even with considerable SEO efforts. All this work will be done in internet approved practice - white hat methods - that will bring positive long-term results.

So a good web site is one that has a good range of keywords peppered through its various pages, to catch a wide range of similar words to cover the products or services it offers. Our job is predict all the different ways people will try to find us on our web site, and then match our content with this prediction. It is not a hit-and-miss affair, there are tools that inform us with what frequency keywords (or a string of words) is searched over a month in particular countries. We have other tools that then list both the variants from this 'stem' keyword and also words that have a similar or same meaning. Creating a rich readable web site text is an art and I feel this is one of the most important steps in creating a successful web site. I also believe this is one of my strongest points.

The starting point of design

If content is the cake, design and style is the decoration on the cake; it too has its purpose and function even if it has no benefit for search engine optimisation. Style creates the mood, hopefully calming the visitors and with the right choice helping set the right frame of mind to 'persuade' the visitor to the web site. Colour schemes, overall design, menu systems and the various alignments all have to be considered and again I will consult with you, the client, on any choices and the reasons for those choices. I will aim to create a harmony between the text content, fonts, positionings of images and backgrounds and we will try out different arrangements if need be a come to a result we are all happy with. The ultimate aim will again be commercial gain, but done with style, the visitor becomes 'persuaded' and then 'converted' and a sale is achieved.

How to spot a fraudster!

This is a real e-mail I got out of the blue in 2011: 'My name is Sarah and I hope you do not mind me contacting you. I have recently visited your website, ....., as I was hoping to be able to help you secure more traffic to your website via the Google, Bing and Yahoo natural listings. I work for an established optimisation and Internet Solutions Agency based in the North West of England. We have been involved in optimising websites for over 10 years and are confident we can help you in achieving your goals for the forthcoming year. Furthermore, we are so certain we can deliver first page rankings for your chosen search phrases, that we will also offer your money back against the fee paid for each keyphrase that we fail to push up to the first page rankings. Rather than simply sending you a general e-mail about our services, I thought I would point out a few simple facts about your website that are impacting on your current search engine rankings.'

People who promise for you to be on 'page 1 of Google' usually don't tell you that they will pick the keywords for you and you may indeed get top ranking on words that could be regionally specific, your village, town name etc. but this usually will not get you any new customers. For more ambitious keywords, say 'plumbers London' either reality has to be faced, that is the name is too competitive and it is impossible to compete with those who have established themselves at the high points of search engine ranking, or a strategy has to be formulated for the long haul, that can often involve a campaign of action and monitoring over years. From me you will get no promises up front, each web site and keyword challenge is different, needs to be examined and only then will I report back to you. I look forward to assisting you in this challenging field - read more about search engine optimisation myths.