Published on February 16, 2014
Improving your website traffic Neil Creagh and Alan Davis
Pathways to your website 4 How do search engines work? 6 Organic search results 7 What can you do? 8 ‘Best practice’ advice for Search Engine Optimisation 9 Paid or ‘sponsored’ search results 13 Traditional forms of advertising, marketing & communications 14 3
Pathways to your website 4 Improving your website traffic 5
How do search engines work? Organic search results Search engines are the telephone directories of the web. They catalogue the entire world wide web, and allow you to search that catalogue to find what you are looking for, providing results based on your search criteria. There are two types of search engine results you need to be aware of: Let’s take Google as an example. When a person enters a search word or term into Google, it does the following... 1. Organic search results 2. Paid or sponsored search results a. Discards all web pages that don’t contain those word(s) or terms b. Lists the remaining results based on an order determined by the following: i. The focus and ‘relevance’ of the keyword(s) on the pages Is the content on the page actually relevant to that search word or term? e.g. Is it used as a heading on the page or in the page title itself? ii. The ‘page rank’ of the websites Google then re-shuffles these results based on their page ranking, which is basically a measure of your website’s incoming links and their importance. Incoming links are simply any websites that link to you. Google awards every website a ranking from 0 – 9. Google places a high-ranking site over a low-ranking one when ordering their search results, so the higher you can get this ranking (by getting incoming links) the better. The ‘importance’ of these incoming links is judged by their own page rank, so every website that links to your site will help to increase your page ranking, and the higher their ranking the better. 6 Improving your website traffic 7
What can you do? 1. ‘Best practice’ advice for Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) 1. Follow ‘best practice’ advice for Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) The message from Google is very clear: 2. Invest in paid or ‘sponsored’ search results through Google Adwords 3. Don’t forget about traditional forms of advertising, marketing & communications do not focus your content on search engine optimisation. Instead try to deliver the best possible content for your users. Google’s algorithm will try to ‘read’ your content exactly like a human being would, so sentences that don’t make sense or don’t read well should be avoided. Ensure you have a modern, well coded website A search engine friendly website is well coded to the latest web standards and uses CSS (cascading style sheets) for layout and styling control, resulting in very clean and accessible code for both search engines and screen readers. For example, a website using images for text is not ‘search engine friendly’. ...our advice for webmasters is to focus on creating high quality sites that create a good user experience. Matt Cutts Google’s head of search spam The biggest mistake is not having your site crawlable (i.e. searchable by Google) Matt Cutts Google’s head of search spam Increase incoming links (to improve your page rank) You should try to get as many incoming links as possible, by requesting links from other businesses as well as registering with any relevant Irish directories or site’s relevant to your business, including Blogs that might cover relevant topics. Ask associate businesses and friends to link to your new website and announce your web launch on Facebook / Twitter or on LinkedIn. 8 Improving your website traffic 9
You don’t want to just say “Mount Everest elevation”, you want to say words like “How high is Mount Everest?” Matt Cutts Google’s head of search spam Target your keywords correctly Decide on what key words and phrases you most want to target. 2 1 More content focus = more targeted results Make sure that your search keywords appear in the following areas: 1 . The URL eg. www.yourwebsite.com/yourkeyword 2 . The page <title> tag. This is the text which appears at the very top of your browser window. 3 . The page and paragraph heading(s) using <h1> or <h2> tags throughout your page. 4 . 5 . 6 . 3 The actual paragraph content itself (but not too many times… don’t overdo it!”) In the Meta Description tag* The Meta Description is sometimes picked up by Google as the description of your website under the link in the search results. This should be two sentences in plain English <meta name=”description” content=”We’re a fami On incoming links: If possible, change some of the incoming links to your website to feature the target keywords eg. “Click here for to see our Capel Street tool shop” or add a short description with your link that includes your keywords. 3 * Google have stated that they no longer include Meta Keywords in their algorithms, and other Search Engines (Bing, Yahoo!) do not prioritise them - so you do not need to use Meta ‘Keywords’. 4 4 6 5 10 Improving your website traffic 11
2. Paid or ‘sponsored’ search results Other steps • Install Google Analytics (www.google.com/analytics) & validate your website with Google in the process • Adding your business to Google Places (www.google.ie/ places) will allow it to appear as a business listing on Google maps • Create an XML sitemap file and register it with Google Webmaster Central (www.google.com/webmasters) Avoid SEO ‘techniques’ Almost everything outside of the above could be seen as ‘spammy’ or ‘black hat’ SEO techniques. Google will penalise a website (drop in ranking) for anything that it sees as ‘spammy’ or ‘black hat’ search engine techniques such as: We encourage you to focus on developing high-quality content rather than trying to optimize for any particular Google algorithm. • Lists of words or phrases that don’t make sense Paid or ‘sponsored’ results are the links that appear in the box adverts on the right side of the Google search results pages, and also in the pale yellow box above the organic search results. These results are created using Google Adwords (www.google.ie/ adwords). Adwords is a ‘pay per click’ (PPC) service which means that you only pay when people click on your ad. You set your preferred price for the PPC and are then effectively in a bidding war with other competing adverts which have bidded for those same keywords (in the same region). Whoever pays most (per click) will appear at the top of the paid search result. You can set a monthly cut-off budget for your ad. It will then stop appearing in search results when you’ve reached that limit, so you won’t rack up a huge Adword bill. You start the process, write your own advert text and then choose which keywords will trigger the ads: the fewer keywords you choose, the more ‘targeted’ the search result will be. Amit Singhal Head of Google Search • Words or phrases repeated too often • Tiny text or blocks of hidden/almost invisible text. • Use of ‘Link Farms’ / Doorway pages / Duplicate Content etc. 12 Improving your website traffic 13
3. Traditional forms of advertising, marketing & communications Terminology AdChoice A paid web banner advertising service used by many popular websites such as YouTube.com and Amazon.com. Adwords Paid (sponsored) advertisements that appear in Google search results. While it is not possible to ensure your placement in search engine results through monetary means (i.e. you cannot buy your way to the top), there are a number of other, more traditional ways that you can increase web traffic: 1. Traditional marketing & advertising such as Print, Radio and TV advertising. There is no doubt that the more put your website URL ‘out there’ into the public domain, the more website traffic you are going to receive. Including your web address on every item of communication you send (from your business cards, to email signatures) is the first step. You could also consider running specific advertising or marketing campaigns to drive traffic to your website with the call to action of ‘making a purchase’, ‘finding out more information’ or ‘availing of a service’. Regardless of your advertising or marketing budget, whether you can afford to place a full page advert in a national newspaper, or whether you were thinking more of placing a ‘classified’ advert in a local newspaper, there are plenty of great opportunities out there to promote your website. PPC Pay Per Click is the billing model used by Google Adwords in which you are only charged when someone clicks your Adword search result. Search engine A website which catalogues the entire world wide web, and allows people to search that catalogue to find what they are looking for. SEO Search Engine Optimisation involves, tailoring your website to a desired search result. URL Uniform Resource Locator or in everyday language... the website address. Further Information Video: A short video from Google entitled ‘How Search Works’ http://youtu.be/BNHR6IQJGZs Moz.com: Beginner’s guide to SEO (Chapter One) http://moz.com/beginners-guide-to-seo/how-search-engines-operate Smashing Magazine: The Inconvenient Truth About SEO http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2012/12/11/seo-the-inconvenient-truth/ 1. Online advertising: Paid ‘banner adverts’ on popular and relevant websites. We’ve all seen banner ads on our favourite websites. Websites such as YouTube.com and IrishTimes.com rely on this form of advertising for revenue. The model is simple: take a popular website which delivers interesting content, and gets lots of traffic, and sell portions of the web page to advertisers who want to connect with that audience. Some websites such as IrishTimes.com manage their banner advertising themselves, whilst others such as YouTube.com hire other companies (such as YourAdChoices.com) to do it for them. 14 Improving your website traffic 15
Neil Creagh runs Fuel, a graphic design and website development consultancy specialising in web design and content management systems (CMS). Alan Davis is a graphic designer and brand strategist who works as both a designer for print and online for a wide range of companies, organisations and individuals. www.fuel.ie www.alandavis.ie Version 1.1 2013 © Neil Creagh and Alan Davis
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