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07
Aug

First steps in your SEO optimisation | Understanding the basics

Guide to SEO Optimization

I have written a great many words about SEO over the years, and I usually write for people that have some understanding of what it all means. Today however, I think that I need to change my ways, I need to write something that gives everyone a better understanding of SEO, what generally an SEO practitioner needs to do on a site, and the most important, why on earth do you need to pay an agency to do it?

I am hoping that you will be able to read this post and take away a better understanding of most of the core concepts of SEO and digital marketing, but also have a deeper understanding of the work that it involves, so with that, lets get into it.

Website analysis

Web analytics for your site

What is it?

Web analytics is used for the measurement and reporting of internet data and user behaviour, for the purposes of understanding and optimizing web usage. It also gives you an understanding of your market, their wants and likes and then be used as a tool for making business and marketing decisions.

Why do I need it?

Web analysis is as important as having a business objective, it is a measure of your success or failure. Without understanding how users interact with your site, your business will not survive online. When people visit your site they are looking for an answer to a question, the analysis lets you know if you are answering those questions or not.

 

Google Tools Setup

What is it?

Webmaster tools is a service that Google offers to webmasters to track and analyse data from their websites. It will track your incoming links, your average rankings and so much more.

Why do I need it?

Without this tool you’ll be blind going forward with your online marketing strategy. These tools provide crutial data and information regarding your website that we use to define the strategy and effectiveness of the SEO campaign.

 

Keyword/ Keyphrase Analysis

What is it?

When someone uses Google, they type in words related to what they are looking for. ‘London florist’ or ‘low cost holidays’, for example. These words or phrases are known as keywords. Google will then come back with a list of websites, with content that relates to the keyword you typed.

Keyword analysis is the art of finding the best keyword for your site so that it comes up high in the search engines when someone types that phrase.

Why do I need it?

Although Google is now moving away from keywords, they are still important. Without analysis you will not know who your target audience is and what terms people are using to find services like yours.

There is different competition for keywords and terms and it is important that you are not targeting something that cannot realistically reach the top 3 spots in the search engines.

 

XML Sitemap Creation

What is it

An XML sitemap is an invisible map that search engines use to find pages on your website and index them, it also sends notice to the seach engines that you have new content on your site, when you post it.

Why do I need it?

Without this site map there is a risk that search engines do not find all the pages on your site and index them. Simply put, XML sitemaps are used by Google and co to crawl your site.

 

HTML Sitemap Creation

What is it?

An HTML site map is created for the visitor of a website to help them navigate through the site.

Why do I need it?

Having an HTML sitemap on your site is an easy way to provide your visitors with a snapshot of the structure of your site. It allows them to jump straight to their preferred page without having to navigate around.

 

Robot.Txt Creation

What is it?

The /robot.txt file gives instructions to search engines when crawling your website. In essence it tells search engines what pages to index, and what to disregard. When the file is created it is saved into the root directory of your website.

Why do I need it?

Although there are many sites that do not use robot.txt files, it is important to have one. By placing this file on your website you are ensuring that you’re not going to index duplicate pages on site, that you’re protecting pages that might have sensitive information and that the site is providing the engines seamless indexing

 

Sitemap Submission to Google / Yahoo / Bing

What is it?

After a sitemap is created it can be submitted to the major search engines, using the webmaster tools suite, provided by Google.

Why do I need it?

Submitting the site map shows the search engines exactly where your pages are, their urls and how they connect, and avoids the risk of pages being missed and not indexed.

 

Internal Linking Structure Analysis

Internal linking structure

What is it?

Internal links are links which point to the same domain that they come from. In Layman’s terms, this means that it links to another page on the same website.

Why do I need it?

It is important that your link structure is analysed and any issues corrected. Internal links spread link juice throughout the site and are the main navigation for users. A poorly linked site can even be penalized by Google.

 

Rss feed creation onsite

What is it?

Rss stands for ‘really simple syndication’. The feed uses a number of formats to publish things such as blogs, news headlines, video and audio.

Why do I need it?

Once you realize the benefits of having a feed on your site you will become addicts like us! Rss feeds are excellent for bringing extra traffic, but more importantly, you can keep your audience up to date with your service, products, or business information.

 

Image Alt Tag Optimization

What is it?

Because search spiders cannot read images, the alt tag text informs the search engine crawlers what the picture is about.

Why do I need it?

Good website optimization ensures that all images have alt tags. Google for example does not like sites that are missing these tags and it can affect your rankings if too many are missing.
The other benefit is that you images can show up high in the search engines when optimized correctly, bringing more traffic to your website.

 

Meta Tags Optimization

What is it?

Meta Tags are used to tell the search engines what your site is about. Most important is the meta description. This piece of information is also what is shown for your site when it appears in the search engines.

Why do I need it?

It is important that the meta tags are optimized correctly. It should be a certain length, contain your main keyword, and have a call to action included to get people to click when your site is shown in search results.

 

Title Tag Optimization

What is it?

The title tag is the title which is shown above the description in the search results. Again, it also shows the search engines what your site is about.

Why do I need it?

Without a title tag, Google will choose a random one for you and this will unlikely be something that encourages people to click. Titles should be optimized for both the search engines and your potential visitors.

 

SEO Friendly URL writing

What is it?

An SEO friendly URL is one that is easily readable by the search engines, isn’t too long in length and doesn’t contain any funny characters.

Why do I need it?

A friendly URL will be indexed easier than one that the search spiders struggle to read. A clean URL will also benefit your returning visitors as they will be much easier to remember.

 

Competitor analysis

analyse your competitors

What is it?

This marketing strategy is an assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors.

Why do I need it?

This is a critical part of any online marketing plan. Evaluating the competition will let you know why your competitors are ranking high in the search engines, but will also help you establish uniqueness in your own services and products.

 

HTML Validation

What is it?

HTML validation is a process which checks that your website is free from any errors. It does this by going through all of the HTML coding.

Why do I need it?

Without validating that your site is free from errors you could be putting your site at risk of under performance. Sites which are slow to load,have errors or any other issues may also be pushed down the rankings by Google and co.

 

Incoming Link target list

What is it?

A list targeting potential opportunities to get back links pointing to your website.

Why do I need it?

Once upon a time it was a case of who ever has the most links will rank highest. Now, you risk being penalised for having the wrong types of links pointing to your site. It is now all about quality over quantity. Using a target list is wise to ensure that you have control over your link building and to avoid the risk of being penalized.

 

Image Optimization

What is it?

Image Optimization is a process to ensure that all the images on your site are both user and search engine friendly.

Why do I need it?

Images can be optimised in a number of ways. We discussed earlier the importance of alt tags on images, but it is equally important that the images load at the correct speed and are also the correct size and quality.

 

Social media post integration

What is it

This is the process of integrating your website and social media accounts together.

Why do I need it?

Social media plays a big role in both traffic and rankings nowadays. It is important that the posts and articles on your page have social media buttons that allow your visitors to share your content and bring social signals back to your site.

 

Google Places account setup

What is it

Google Places for business is a directory which was created by Google to provide more relevant local search results.

Why do I need it?

Every business should have a Google places account set up. This gives you the chance to rank highly for local business keyword terms. It is also linked to Google maps which allows people to find out exactly where your business is located on the map and get directions.

 

Broken Link Fixing

What is it

Broken links are a common occurrence and are where a link ends up not working or directing the visitor to where it was originally intending too.

Why do I need it?

It is important that all of the links on your site are working. Not only will your visitors be using these links to navigate, the search spiders use these to navigate your site. If you have broken links, the search engines will feel that you are not offering a good user experience and you may not rank highly.

 

Website Architecture

What is it

The website architecture refers to the framework that a site is built on, There are many different languages that a web developer can use, and those languages are built into a framework, that standardises the way things are built.

Why do I need it?

Sometimes, a developer will build a site in a way that isn’t very SEO friendly, its slow or outdated technology, or its just not the right framework to use for your particular site. Maybe it wont handle the volume of traffic you have well, or maybe its just the wrong code to use for your site.

 

Content strategy

content strategy meme

What is it?

The goal of content strategy is to create meaningful, engaging, cohesive and sustainable content both on your site and throughout the web. Content doesn’t just include the words written on the page, it also includes images and multimedia that are used.

Why do I need it?

One of the key factors in ranking a website these days is to ensure that your site is kept fresh with new quality content that is informative to the reader.
You may have heard the term Content is King, well that is as true today as it was when coined.

 

Add Blogging Functionality

What is it

Blogging functionality allows you to add a blog or article section to your website.

Why do I need it?

We always recommend that everyone has this functionality on their website. The key to good rankings is to ensure that your site is always kept fresh with updated content that offers value to your visitors.

 

Content Optimization

What is it

Content optimization provides search engines with essential data that helps the engines to decide what your site is about.

Why do I need it?

If you do not ensure that your content is properly optimized then it may not be visited by people that it can essentially offer value too.

 

Onsite Articles

What is it

This process involves the publication of content to the blog on your site each month.

Why do I need it?

Following this process is the key to good rankings and improving the overall user experience of your site. The more content you add to the site, the more traffic you will eventually receive. This is because you start ranking for additional keyterms.

 

User experience strategy

What is it?

A user experience strategy is a long-term business plan which is aimed at improving, measuring and managing the customer experience through a range of digital channels including your website.

Why do I need it?

Consumer behavior and attitudes are changing at a fast pace so it is important that your website and marketing platforms keep up with the changes. You need a roadmap and analysis combined to know where to make changes when needed. It is key that your website offers a fantastic user experience.

 

Infographic creation & publishing

What is it

Infographics are images which include text and are most often used to tell a story.

Why do I need it?

Infographics are important because many people prefer looking at images rather than lots of text. An infographic can get your message across in a more fun way. Research has shown that people are much more likely to share infographics than images and articles alone.

 

Heat Mapping

Website heat maps

What is it

Heat mapping shows how your visitors are engaging on your website.

Why do I need it?

Running a heat map on your website allows you to know exactly where your visitors are clicking and visiting. This then allows you to change, preserve, or delete parts of your pages that do well or push users to complete the actions that you want them too. We at DSA use a tool called Hotjar, its one of the better applications on the market, as it has heat mapping, form drop off mapping and many other features.

 

Bookmarking

What is it?

Boorkmarking refers to 3rd party websites that exist online, where communities of people submit and vote on links they find around the web. The most popular of these are sites like product hunt or Reddit.

Why do I need it?

There are a few reasons why its important to submit your site to these bookmarking communities, firstly it will assist in getting your site or pages indexed in google, as they take a lot of notice of these sorts of sites. Secondly, it can drive a great deal of traffic to your website and lastly, it can put your site in front of a community of people that are very interested in what you have to sell. There are many niche bookmarking sites online and with that, comes great opportunities.

 

Monthly Performance Tracking & Recommendations

What is it

This involves reporting monthly on the performance of your site and offering recommendations for improvement.

Why do I need it?

If you have no progress updates or performance data you will not know whether your site is doing well or not. Monthly tracking and reporting allows you to see where improvements can be made to your website and online marketing plan.

So with that, I hope that you now have a slightly better understanding of what it takes to get your site off the ground, but also, what your SEO is talking about when they discuss your site with you!

If you would like to talk to DSA Global about your site and how we can take these first steps with you, please don’t hesitate to get in touch, or read about our SEO methodology here.

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Chris is an expert in internet marketing campaigns, content management, social media marketing, article marketing and digital marketing in Thailand and South East Asia.