What is SEO, really? Like REALLY, what is it? Is it magical? Can you just wave a wand and hope the site is whipped up Google’s search engine? In a nutshell, it’s not magic at all. You are best to liken it to baking a cake – there are ingredients, instructions and the cooking time.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) rightfully gets a bad name, because it’s historically been more associated with various methods attempting to trick a search engine or finding loopholes in their algorithms to make your brand more visible.
We take it from a different perspective at reinteractive.
We design and develop custom software applications. We are all about ensuring that your application is designed correctly from the start, looks good and has the right information prioritised. And when you tick all the right boxes, you also generate good SEO results.
We don’t offer any kind of link-building service. If you come to us with an existing website that someone else built, what we are looking at and advising on is how your application is built and whether it’s done correctly per Google’s requirements. Was your app or website designed and built so that it can be listed high on Google’s directory and therefore be discovered by as many relevant people as possible? That’s what we are interested in.
What is SEO – Search Engine Optimisation?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the technology which makes your website unique and able to be found amongst the millions of other websites on the Internet. That’s a pretty broad description of a very technical subject, but it is a good place to start.
Running a successful business on the internet is not about trying to trick your users or trying to drive false traffic to your site. It is about providing a product your users want, telling them what you do and then making sure you do a great job delivering that product.
We’re long past the point where users blindly trust any website and enter their credit card details whenever we ask them to. Customers stay loyal when they trust a brand and have good experiences. This is composed of many factors, all boiling down to providing a great product or service and delivering what was promised consistently: good communication, fast complaints handling process and a really easy to understand process to engage with your company.
Let’s look at the four biggest reasons a website exists:
- To provide contact information or a means to contact you.
- To sell a service or product/s online.
- To raise capital or awareness (outside of point 2 above) such as for a charitable cause or community event.
- Give information or knowledge in the form of text, audio or visuals.
- To facilitate a tool for logistical, the management or organisational purposes.
But what has all the above information got to do with SEO? It all relates to the term: “Relevancy.”
People use the Internet to search for something. They type their query into a search engine, clicking enter, then they select what they feel is relevant to their query. If a website is not relevant to a consumer market, it’s going to be ignored, or it will create bad publicity for your business.
Search engines read websites using bots (intricate pieces of intelligent programming) to examine the many facets of a website (more detail on this later in this piece) to determine the order in which the site is to be placed in their directory of billions of pages. The easier it is for a bot to examine your website, the more likely the individual pages of the website will appear in the first couple of pages of a search engine’s directory. Moreover, the more relevant the words it reads on your site are in relation to your search terms, the more accurately it will place the site’s pages in the relevant market.
By default, search engines show ten results per page. Most of the time people click on the first page results only. The website ranked at the top of the search engine receives the most amount of visits. Pages listed on the second or third directory pages might get only a small percentage of the search traffic.
Just as there is a technology for printing a newspaper on a press, so too there is a technology for making a website. Break the rules of either format, and you’ll get a mess, and no-one will want to read it—even Google will ignore it.
A website that didn’t factor incorrect SEO during its design and development is an incomplete website and is a detriment to the business.
SEO is not something you should do after the website is built. This is way too late and requires work to fix. Depending on how poorly the website was programmed, sometimes it is impossible to correct and it is better to rebuild the site from scratch. When a house is built the foundations need to be perfect, or the structure will fall over. If your site is built incorrectly, it could fall off the search engine directories.
There are over one hundred factors which make up a correctly built website. It is essential you have yours built right so that you WILL BE at the top of more search engine directories than your competitors.
Let’s start with the basics. Your website needs to be properly and simply designed to elegantly and simply say what you do, with no ambiguity.
It needs to say in the words and in the images who you are, what you do and clearly give your users a means to take advantage of your services.
You could look at a website or mobile application just like you would a print brochure or magazine. A website is a promotional piece which you have created and put into the consumer market to attract, interest and deliver a message to procure a response from your target audience.
Two essential points which also are a key factor in a search engine friendly website are:
- The code must be clean and well written
- The website must load fast
Of course, there are many factors, other than well-written code, which makes a site run fast, such as the speed of the hosting computer where the files of the website lives (aka host) and the size and number of images or videos used. We help our clients achieve this with our OpsCare® and CodeCare® services to ensure a clean, fast-loading website or application.
Naming Images Correctly
On the topic of images, each image file name should be named relevantly so that the search engine knows what it is looking at. It can’t view images as a human can, but it can read words. That allows the search engine to:
1. Check the content of the page to see if it matches the image.
2. Place that image in the search engine for people to find when they search.
For example; you write a blog about pineapples and you put a photo of a delicious-looking pineapple above the text. If the image is named 123.jpg, the search engine may ignore it. However, if it’s named, “Smooth Cayenne pineapple.jpg” then the search engine may check the article’s title, description and the text for those words to see if it is relevant. If it considers this article useful (it also checks for duplicates and plagiarism and doesn’t consider it favourably if you are found guilty), then it may place the article on the search engine listings relevantly. It may be favoured above similar articles that don’t have these factors.
That image may also be used on Google Image Search tool as well, so if someone searched for “Smooth Cayenne pineapple” the chances are that image may appear high in the listing and therefore increase your chances of someone reading your article.
Titles and Text
The article text, title and description are equally important, and again, relevancy is vital. Google checks the title, description, bolded words, and words which have H1, H2 and H3 tags to determine if the article/page is well made. H1 tag tells Google that this is the main heading, H2 tag tells Google this is a subheading and H3 indicates a sub-heading or less important heading. Here’s an example of an article on pineapples that Google would consider useful:
You would need to write at least two times more information about pineapples than the example above, but as you can see, it has one H1 title, one H2 title and two H3 titles. This is a good structure base for article text. Adding heading tags is very easy to do in most website content management systems.
Here is what it looks like when the article titles are coded:
<h1>7Benefits of Eating Tropical Pineapples This Summer</h1>
<h2>Research` Has Found These Pineapples are the Healthiest to Eat</h2>
<h3>Smooth Cayenne Pineapple</h3>
This is an example of an image tag:
<img src=”cayenne-pineapple.gif” alt=”Smooth Cayenne Pineapple” height=”42″ width=”42″>
Notice the alt tag? It stands for “alternative”. If the browser fails or is set not to show graphic images, the alt name will display instead. Google looks at the image source (img src) name (aka file name) and the alt tags to determine what the image relates to.
Some other tags (aka meta tags) inform the search engine on:
- how often to revisit the website
- what pages it should or shouldn’t look at
- the author of the article
- social media links
- that there is a video or audio file
- song names
- company street address and much more
Here is a complete list of meta tags if you are interested: github.com/lancejpollard/1978404
Google looks for many other tags throughout an article and the website structure. The more of these you have set up on your site correctly, the better Google understands your site and therefore the higher is can place on their listings.
Even the URL, the address of the article on the internet, is factored in. An SEO friendly URL for this article would be:
Every word in the article plays a role in how the search engine may treat your article. You’ve probably heard of “keywords”. These are the most relevant (there is that word again) words in the article relating to the subject. You should use these main keywords in the first one or two paragraphs of the article. You can bold them and even link them to other pages on your site or a relevant site to give them even more recognition by the search engine.
There are many more factors to making sure your website is search engine friendly. Here we discussed: making sure your code is written exceptionally well, website page speed, naming and tagging your images correctly, writing and tagging the titles of the article correctly, making sure the URL is also relevant, and writing your article using keywords. To learn more about these and other factors of SEO, I suggest you read Google’s Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Starter Guide.