SEO

SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)

SEO is how people optimise websites so that they perform online to achieve desired goals. Despite being shortened to just three letters, search engine optimisation – or search engine optimization for those who prefer American spellings – is a term that encompasses a whole lot.

Even an 18,000-word guide, which this is, could barely scrape the surface when it comes to this complex, fluid topic. Despite that, we’ll attempt to cover as much as possible and look at the key pillar concepts which help define a term that’s created an industry and transformed businesses.

Despite being so fundamental to online success, a lot of people glaze over when any mention of search engines, optimising etc. However, if you make money online, or enjoy a significant portion of your revenue from e-commerce sales, then your SEO education must be of a high standard. Further to that, it needs to constantly evolve, almost as many times as Google’s algorithm does a year (which is estimated to be around 150 times!).

So if you’re wondering “How does SEO work?” then this piece of content is for you because we’ll be covering:

At Embryo, we offer a free 30-minute SEO consultation. In it, we will show you how your website is performing on Google, and provide you with a level of insight that would usually cost £1000s of pounds. 

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What Is SEO?

Search Engine Optimisation (or, as we’ve established, SEO) is the term that describes all the ways that an individual, group, business, or anyone who wants to be found online for something, can tweak their websites to improve the performance of their websites on search engines.

Major search engines such as GoogleYahoo, and Bing spend their days – among other things – scanning new web pages, crawling them to understand their contents, and indexing them for the right thing.

Think of it like a librarian sorting books in the correct sections – fiction and non-fiction – and genres.

The search engine crawlers, or spiders as they’re often called, have a busy job of crawling BILLIONS of new web pages every single day. Once they understand what the pages, blogs, and other types of content are about, they then have to decide which search query or queries that page fits under. The final task is to decide – based on dozens of ranking factors – which of these pages deserves to be at the top of page one for the given keywords.

Nine times out of 10, the results that are the top of page one will receive the organic search traffic that comes its way.

You can see why so many people work so hard to essentially impress search engine algorithms. If they rank top, it’s the nearest guarantee to online success you’re going to get.

How SEO Works

If the Shoe Fits: A Basic Example of How SEO Works

Let’s run through a quick example to set the scene. Imagine you own a shoe shop and you want to increase the number of sales you make online. The natural next step is to be found for shoe-related keywords such as “black shoes for men”, “school shoes for girls”, and “what is the best shoe for runners?”.

The shoe shop would then – either in-house or by hiring an external search marketing agency – optimise their website in a variety of ways to ensure that they are found on page one of Google for the shoe-related keywords that matter to them.

That, in the broadest, most top-level sense, is what SEO is: Getting your website in front of people that are going to engage with your website, blogs, or pages.

Now, there’s a huge caveat here, and that is that the practice of enhancing your search engine rankings requires months of commitment, hard work, and holistic approaches that complement each other. Working on one aspect, e.g. link building, is not enough. That investment in links needs to be complemented by including relevant keywords throughout the website, ensuring your site’s Core Web Vitals are good, and a clear SEO strategy that defines what you intend to do over a period of time.

Given Google’s secrecy, there are no guarantees when it comes to ranking, it’s more about following (a lot) of best practices. These practices are relatively little in isolation but when added together they have a transformational quality – provided people have enough patience in the process.

To borrow a quote from Sir Dave Brailsford, the man behind Team GB’s Olympic cycling success, optimising your site for leading search engines is about “Incremental marginal gains”, all of which add up.

It might seem like a daunting thing to try and achieve but internet users type literally trillions of key terms every day. This qualified traffic which is, as you read this, going to your competitors if you’re not at least attempting to rank on page one for 80-90% of the keywords that matter to you, has a variety of different intentions behind them. These intentions, which we’ll touch on in more detail soon, are varied but almost always come from a user wanting to buy or learn about a product or service.

Add to this the fact that content in search results is constantly changing to provide the most seamless user experience possible, and the need to invest in internet marketing strategies is just emphasised further. Think about it, when was the last time you searched for a question on Google and didn’t have to click on a page to get your answer. Google’s page 0 answers (those which don’t require you to click anywhere) are just one of many features that are all skewed to make the user’s life more enjoyable.

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The 3 Pillars Of SEO

Any good house is built on sturdy foundations, and the same goes for search engine marketing, without the following pillars, the search rankings and increased online visibility simply won’t come. These pillars aren’t necessarily tangible practices or techniques, they are more conceptual. To get these strong pillars a lot of different work has to be carried out but it is essential to ensuring long-term success on search engines. It can feel odd to hear words such as relevance and trust when discussing something as technical as optimising websites and search engine traffic. However, they are essential to search engine guidelines because they all relate to the fact that search engines care about providing their users with the best possible experience. Therefore, every result for a search listing needs to carry an air of authority, be relevant to the keyword that’s been typed, and be from a source or website that can be trusted.

Authority

The first key pillar is authority. A need to be authoritative comes from the fact that there are millions of users posting billions of pieces of content trillions of times a day. The democratic nature of search algorithms means that literally, anyone can post a piece of content about a topic they want to. Authority is used to differentiate between the respected sources and the chancers.

Google’s authority-o-meter (not an official title) is designed to stop Joe Bloggs’s thoughts about the universe being treated with the same authority as Brian Cox’s. If both Bloggs and Cox write a blog about the latest revelation in astrophysics, the latter is going to receive a higher ranking. How? Because Google – who, remember, owns Youtube – and its algorithm will be able to see that Brian has a far greater authority on this topic than Joe (sorry, Joe). It sees all the content that has been previously posted and can decide in microseconds who should rank higher.

What is truly remarkable is that search engines do this for every single keyword, query and search that every user types into the laptop or phone.

Domain authority or domain ranking (DA or DR) is a metric used to measure the authority of an entire website, every page, all the blog posts and everything in between. The metric is the one websites should be aiming for as it will make it easier for the new pieces of content that they publish to rank quicker because they have all that background authority from their domain. If the BBC publishes a new article, it’s going to rank position one faster because they’ve shown their authority hundreds of times before.

Increasing authority is one of the most important ways to rank in search results. Search engine authorities’ main currency is in links. Achieving quality links to your site/page from websites that are already authoritative – called backlinks – is a great indicator to the Yahoos and Googles of the world that what you’re saying is worth showing up for relevant searches. Backlinks act as a sort of recommendation, an assurance that your work and what you’re saying is going to be of value to users.

Relevance

If your website isn’t relevant to the keywords you’re trying to target, why should search engines promote your content? This second pillar is used to make sure that the content created is relevant to the list of keywords it’s purporting to target. The better your service page or blog post matches a particular query the better you’ll rank because what you’re offering is the closest thing to what the user has typed.

Achieving relevance can be done via several means. Having visible text that’s relevant and ensuring the images and videos on the page are also closely aligned to what you’re trying to rank for are the obvious things that one can do. However, relevance isn’t just skin deep. Meta elements such as meta titles, tags, and alt-texts within images are all important ways of increasing the relevance of content. Other ancillary things like locations can also impact the relevance.

Relevance also comes back to links, which is a key factor in how search engines determine your ranking. Let’s say you’re a big fan of football and love writing about it, giving your thoughts and opinions etc. If, because of something you write, you get a link from the Sky Sports News website, this is as clear an indication as possible to Google that what you’re writing is high-quality content that is relevant to the target keyword.

Internally linking to relevant pages on your site is also a great way of increasing relevance because you’re showing to Google’s spiders that other pages on the site are relevant to that page. By internally linking, you’re showing you have a broad knowledge about other relevant topics. If you write about a blog about the best running shoes and then internally link to another piece of content that talks about the best running shorts, you’re showing this content is relevant. This is of course providing the link context itself is relevant.

Trust

It’s a big word, trust, and one that comes with a lot of emotion and nuance. But in terms of search engines, trust, for them, is everything in many ways. If they can’t trust your website, there is no chance they are going to provide you with the search visibility needed to achieve anything because they wouldn’t risk their reputation on it.

Trust comes in many shapes and sizes when it comes to search engine rankings. For example, does your site have a privacy policy, terms, conditions, and disclosure? Do the blogs and content on the site go over a certain limit, are they well written (i.e. by a human) and not duplicate content, do the contact details on the site correspond to the actual number and emails of the office. Yet again, links are important to establish trust because it shows that other sites have been happy to reference your work.

Increasingly, off-page factors have been given more importance as companies and individuals have a greater presence in areas such as social media. Achieving more likes, follows, and mentions on social media all build toward a more trusted business or entity which will lead to additional benefits. Other factors such as site loading speed and the average time a user spends are all great indicators that your site deserves to be trusted.

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White And Black Hat SEO

What Is White Hat And Black Hat SEO?

Ever since this type of marketing became prominent in the early to late 00s all sorts of techniques have been used to try and satisfy/beat (depending on your perspective) the search algorithms over the years. Now, while some come from an honest place of genuinely wanting to rank to offer the best product, service, or answer to a query, others, while still trying to achieve the same goal, opted to use cheap tricks and nefarious tactics.

These two approaches have now been split into two terms – White Hat SEO techniques, and Black Hat SEO techniques.

If White Hat SEO practices wielded lightsabers and wore Jedi robes, Black Hat SEO wear white helmets, carry blasters and march to The Imperial March. In between that, there are Grey Hat practices, which are techniques that may not technically be bad, are a little dodgy and should also be avoided if long-term success is the goal.

Understanding both the difference and the importance of opting for one technique over the other is essential to maintain the visibility, authority, and performance of your website.

Always, always opt for WHITE HAT SEO practices.

White Hat work is harder and takes longer, but it’s authentic, real, and the only way you’re going to become a dominant online force in your industry. Black Hat stuff may look and sound alluring but it’s the SEO version of a get-rich-quick scheme. Schemes which, if history teaches us anything, never really work.

White Hat SEO

What Is White Hat SEO?

As we mentioned, White Hat is good, and the option you want to go down. It covers dozens of ethical, legitimate ways of ranking highly and will help you remain visible and keep those hard-earned rankings, even after Google rolls out updates.

In short it:

  • Follows the guidelines and rules set out by search engines themselves.

  • Emphasises winning over the user, as opposed to the algorithm.

  • Is a long-term approach that has a truly lasting effect on a website.

There are instances where sites that are whiter than white will still be punished, but, like Google’s John Mueller explains, this isn’t to punish nefarious activity:

“If “the algorithms” flag the issues (basically just some software that runs at Google), or just don’t find the site as relevant in search anymore (basically changes in how Google does ranking in search), then it’s more a matter of improving the site, usually on a broader level. It’s like when a radio station no longer plays your music because it’s no longer considered great: you don’t just change the drum samples, you kinda need to rethink what you’re creating overall.

“It can also happen that a site’s time/usefulness has just passed. If you have an old-school-phone games website and nobody runs those devices anymore, no amount of tweaking of text on the pages will fix that. Spotting the change in the wind before it’s too late is a bit of an art, as is moving on in a way that lets you re-use some of your work.”

It’s important to understand that despite this, White Hat SEO strategies are still absolutely the way to go. With that in mind, here is a handful you can use on your website.

6 White Hat SEO Techniques

  1. Fast loading speeds: Getting your website to load, jump from page to page, and function quickly is one of the best ways of being seen as worthy in the eyes of ranking algorithms. Having a site that loads quickly keeps users happy when they’re on your site. If it’s slow, laggy, and not optimised, users get frustrated and leave. If you think that Google’s main priority is user experience, it’s easy to see why fast sites rank better.

  2. Relevant, authoritative inbound links: Backlinks are so explicit in the way they tell Google “This site is legitimate, reward it”. Working to manually build backlinks from sites with high domain authority takes time, and isn’t particularly fun but it’s priceless.

  3. Refined code: Messy, bloated code means it takes longer for crawlers and spiders to understand the context of your site and index it. Ensure your code – be it on the backend or in places such as the URL structure

  4. Keywords that are relevant to the content: This may sound obvious and 99% of people reading this will understand the need for this. Doing an ounce of keyword research is going to help the relevance and authority of your content 10 fold. Pick one target keyword and disperse that at the correct points around your content (not too much, not too little). Further, pick 3-5 supplementary keywords that you can use to support that target word. Beyond that, you can focus on the ontology of your piece, we’ll be touching on this later.

  5. Quality, long-form content: Creating lots of content circles back to our idea about White Hat SEO techniques taking longer and being more difficult. Yes, it might take a day or two to write two, three, or even four thousand words for an important service page. But by doing so you’re giving yourself the best chance of succeeding because you’re offering out more knowledge, answering more questions, and generally just proving that you’re worthy of a good ranking. Some may worry that content for users which exceeds a high word count will put them off reading it. However, it’s important to understand that Google can cherry-pick answers from any point on a web page to answer any query (you only have to look at the ‘People Also Ask’ section for proof).

  6. Metadata rich in target keywords: One of the easiest things you can do to improve your site, yet it’s so often ignored. Making sure that alt text is on images, meta titles and descriptions are filled out correctly – and include your target keyword – and page titles are relevant to what you’re writing about are all easy-to-fix things.

Black Hat SEO

Black Hat SEO Techniques

Black Hat SEO methods came out largely due to people’s impatience to perform well online. Whether it was digital marketing agencies looking for a quick win for their clients, or businesses looking to earn a quick, donning the Black Hat looked like a very attractive prospect.

For a while, while search engines were still in their infancy, a lot of these rogue tactics went by unnoticed but as internet users soared, the algorithms got smarter. They continue to get more and more intelligent, something we’ll be looking at later on. So while keyword stuffing and poor quality content got you some way, it didn’t last.

Now, as this writer types, a list of Black Hat practices is firmly established and Google etc have made it very clear what they are:

  • Focus on quick wins that get swiftly punished.

  • Are focused on hoodwinking users and algorithms to try and cheat the system.

  • Violate the guidelines laid out by search engine companies.

The consequences of continually putting resources into these irregular tactics are severe and are certainly not worth the benefits that they purport to have. After all, search engines have no legal right to index every page that gets published, yes your site is on the web, but it doesn’t have to be on Google, Yahoo, or Bing. Fines and site-wide shutdowns are just two penalties that can happen if you stick with Black Hat, along with a load of angry potential customers, a sky-high bounce rate, and a bunch of lost conversions from a market you wanted to dominate.

What are some Black Hat SEO techniques that will get you punished?

To avoid you and your lovingly-crafted website being penalised because you unwittingly dabbled in some unwise tactics, we’ve listed 5 of the main SEO Black Hat techniques. These should be avoided at all costs, no matter how easy they may seem to implement, or how great the benefits seem to be.

  1. Creating bad content for users: One of the worst things you can do is just be lazy and create rubbish content. It sounds obvious but the number of websites that either don’t bother to invest their resources in content or just rip it off other websites are more common than you’d think. Yes, it may have worked a few years ago but you simply cannot slip past the net anymore, you’ll be found out.

  2. Keyword stuffing: This is a common term for when webmasters will stuff their target keyword into the content in such a way that it looks unnatural. Keyword frequency needs to be relative to the length of the piece and not be crowbarred in. Years ago, a popular tactic was to write the target keyword a dozen or so times and simply change the font to the colour of the background!

  3. Stuffing keywords into metadata: A natural progression from overusing terms and phrases in content is to do so in the metadata. You have to start thinking about the lexicon of words around your target keyword when creating metadata. Sure, put it here and there but jamming it in at every possible opportunity is deemed amateurish these days.

  4. Cloaking content: A slightly more concept technique but one that gets used a lot. Content cloaking involves a site showing crawlers one thing – some source code that says this page is about X – and showing a user another, a video about Y. The so-called benefit of this is that the site begins to rank for more keywords, at least that was the theory. Now, if you’re seeing to be engaging in this kind of tactic

  5. Link farming: Ah, link farming. One of the most common Black Hat techniques. Essentially it involves getting your page’s URL on a website that, very often, has absolutely nothing to do with your site. Link farms sound good but in fact, they don’t provide a lot of traffic because they are coming from sites that themselves just host links and have no visitors. A quick scan by a Google spider will quickly eradicate these links and you’ll soon see your numbers plummet.

SEO Links

Linking is an effective tool to achieve a variety of online goals, as we’ll look at. Links are how websites tell spiders and crawlers what a particular blog or page is within the context of the rest of the website. Links also provide webmasters with an opportunity to show that they understand the topics they are writing about by linking to pages that are relevant to their content.

Links provide context and in the terms of backlinks act as a sort of popularity vote. Before we look at link building, let’s look at the two main types of links you can have on your site.

Internal links

Internal links are those which take a user to other parts of your domain such as the homepage, a contact form, a service page or other blog post. Internal links are a great way of providing context and telling Google which pages they should be most interested in. For instance, if you had a blog about the best hatchback under £10,000, you could internally link to another blog that looks at the best family cars under £10,000.

To internally link effectively, creators must use relevant anchor text. Anchor text is the term used to describe the text that is used to put or anchor the link on. The anchor text is in many ways as important as the link itself and both must be relevant to one another.

Linking to other important pages on your site not only keeps people on your site long but it gives search engines an easier time once you’ve set your site live. As they scan the pages they can jump from page to page and get a quicker understanding of the website’s context. Further to this, a thorough internal link building plan can help improve usability for readers. As they’re reading about this one topic, they can get further context or information about it by clicking on the anchor text and heading to another piece of content that explains something else about it.

External links

External links, or outbound links, are those that go from your domain to another URL that doesn’t belong to you. Adding links from other sites to yours that are authoritative and relevant to what you’re talking about can help improve the credibility of your website. This is because you’ve demonstrated that you’re aware of the authoritative sources in your industry or sector. When it comes to linking outwards, make sure you don’t link to spammy, irrelevant websites, you’re only going to suffer as a consequence.

In some instances, external linking can be a great way of getting your domain out there to fellow websites that may well return the favour and link to your site from there (called a backlink).

Both internal and external links should be given equal importance and are essential to creating a well-rounded piece of content.

How To Optimise Your SEO Links

So we know the two types of links that you can affect without having to outreach – internal and external. Ensuring these linking practices are done correctly is vital to SEO success. Plastering useless and irrelevant links across pieces of content is going to achieve very little.

To hone your linking practices, be sure to segment your pages and focus on the ones that are of most value to you. If you have a large website with lots of categories you might want to think about internally linking them all together so that they are all connected and semantic relevant. You could also link those important pages to the navigation menu, meaning that those links appear on every page across your site. Just remember, not all pages are of equal value.

Secondly, look to create silos of content that all link to each other. These silos tend to have the main topic at the top which comes in the form of a guide or service page. Then, underneath those, is reams and reams of content in the forms of blogs, for example, that cover subtopics which relate to the main topic. This kind of practice opens up linking opportunities and also gives Google enough content to crawl through to be convinced you know what you’re talking about. Let’s say you’re writing about the Premier League. Your main page would be about the Premier League and you would then have several other pieces of content that looked at each team, famous moments, and who has won trophies. Think of how many internal links could be put on all these pages.

When it comes to linking be sure to use anchor text between 2-20 words. By doing this you’re expanding the number of ontological phrases that the link is anchored to. A perfect example is Wikipedia, which links across several words and has an enormous impact. When creating an internal link structure, don’t neglect those older pages that were set live months ago, freshening these pages up by linking to them from newer pages will help boost their relevance.

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Backlink Building

Backlink Building: How Does a Link Building Strategy Help?

In SEO, link building is arguably one of the most effective, proven ways of establishing authority, trust, and relevance. All of which, as you’ll remember from the start, are the three key pillars of SEO. The practice of achieving links is often called link building and can be done organically or payments can be made to buy links from other sites. The former – the organic approach – is the one that is deemed a more important ranking factor as it’s proof that work has been done to earn that link.

Simply put, link building is the practice of getting hyperlinks to go from someone else’s website to yours. When scanning your page, search engines will scan the links between the two and reward the website that has achieved the backlink because they’ve demonstrated that their work is a quality piece that is worthy of a citation.

Despite advances in algorithms, links remain one of the best ways for indexers to decide what sites are serious, and which aren’t. Sites that have lots of legitimate backlinks are known to have lots of link juice.

Link Building helps your SEO because it allows your work to be spread across different websites and be shared by users who feel that others would benefit from this content. In Google’s eyes, there is no better metrics than that, as proven in their statement about the practice:

“In general, webmasters can improve the rank of their sites by creating high-quality sites that users will want to use and share.”

It was Google who we all have to thank for bringing in the concept of link building, and here’s why. Back in the early ’00s, the early search engines would decide on rankings based solely on the content in front of them, no context beyond that mattered one jot. Then Google invented the PageRank algorithm. What this did was judge the content based on, well, the content, but also the number of links that were sending users to that page. This added another layer of authority to pages and forced businesses, people, and digital marketing agencies to focus more on quality and those aforementioned White Hat practices.

How To Link Build

How To Link Build

So hopefully you’ve been convinced of the need to invest additional resources into link building practices. Now comes the hard part, getting the links.

Luckily, you won’t be the first to do this and there is now a well established link-building process in place that 99% of people follow and are successful with. It’s safe to say that we’ll be promoting White Hat link building practices, not Black Hat techniques. It means it takes longer but it’ll be authentic which is the only way to achieve search success that you can still reap the benefits from in 2 years.

Your first step when it comes to link building is to decide which link you want to promote. It could be that you want to boost the authority of a key service page that brings in lots of revenue. Or, you might have a blog written that details some news about your business that you want people to read. Once you’ve decided on the links you want to promote, it’s time to start looking at where these links would be well received.

Below are some things to keep in mind when looking for publications to outreach to.

What To Look For

Authority

Aim to get links on sites that have domain rankings (DR) above 20. Anything below that simply won’t give your site the full effect of a proper backlink. To check the domain rating of a website head to somewhere such as Ahrefs or Sistrix and search the URL in the search box at the top. Within minutes you’ll be able to see whether the site is worth the effort of contacting.

At this point, you might want to consider building a database of publications with their DRs as it’ll save you time and you can pass it on to colleagues who may be looking to link build themselves.

We’d advise here at Embryo that you put the time in getting three or four links from sites with DRs of 70, 80+ than 15 links from sites with very low DRs. It’ll take longer to get those three of four but the effect of it will be transformative.

Position of link

Take a look at the sites you’ve decided to target and check out their current link positions for existing backlinks. If the link is placed in a relevant position in the text then that’s a good sign that the website takes care to ensure the most impact is felt from the backlink. If the link is just thrown in anywhere, be wary that the site may have some spammy tendencies. You can communicate with the publication and ask them to put the link in a specific place but, ultimately, you don’t have control of where they put the link.

A link embedded in the content, amongst ontologically relevant words, is far, far more impactful than a link that is just buried in the header. This all circles back to the intent of the link in the first place. Is it there to educate and provide further information to users, or is it there to just achieve a quick win?

Relevancy 

Referring to another pillar of SEO – relevancy – is the link on a site that is relevant to you and your website? Sure you get loads of links by signing up to different forums and leaving a link to a website on your profile – but if those forums aren’t relevant to your site, the links just aren’t going to have the same impact.

Search for publications that have a high domain authority that is adjacent to what you’re talking about on yours. For instance, let’s say you run a meal prep company and want to expand your search visibility so you begin to write guest posts for sites. The guest post that features on a gym instructor’s website is going to be far more relevant to your meal prep business than a blog/link that’s on a website that talks about gaming.

Nofollow vs Dofollow

This is a bit techy but when you put links on your site you can decide if you want Google to count the link which is called a ‘Follow’ or ‘Dofollow’ link. This signal means you want Google to count the link toward your ranking scores and search visibility.

In other instances you can add a piece of code – <a href=”http://www.website.com/” rel=”nofollow”>Link Text</a – which tells Google to not follow or count the link. What you want to check when doing backlink research is to check the types of links that are typically being featured on pages – are they Dofollow (good for you) or does the webmaster set the majority of them to Nofollow (bad for you)?

This small bit of research will save you a lot of hassle and aggro, leaving you to focus on the sites that are happy to include Dofollow links.

To find out what type it is, simply highlight the anchor text, right-click, and press ‘Inspect’. On the right-hand side, you’ll see the back end code and the area highlighted. In there, you’ll see if the link is good or bad for you.

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Types Of Content That Can Earn Backlinks

Types of Content That Can Acquire Backlinks

When creating content for the sites that you hope will happily accept your work and give you juicy backlinks as a result, it’s important to be as altruistic as possible. Treat the backlink that you want to earn as an afterthought, especially when writing the content, work as hard as possible to create the best guest blog or infographic. If you provide quality work, the site receiving it is going to be far more inclined to give you an impactful backlink because what you’ve created benefits them.

Getting into that mindset when attempting backlink marketing campaigns will not only secure links now, it will help create a reputation for quality. Ultimately, you want people to come to you asking for content for their site (that’s the dream, at least).

  • Guest posting: Creating blogs for other people’s websites is the bread and butter of backlinks. Hundreds of sites – across more industries than you can count – are essentially guest blog platforms that accept content from people in return for backlinks. These guest blogs aren’t easy though and many places will have strict guidelines which need to be followed before they post your work. Expect to be writing 1000, 1500, even 2000 words of valuable content to achieve just one backlink. Our advice when it comes to guest posting is to do your research and find publications that have guidelines that align with your industry/expertise. It’s a bit of a commitment to guest post and write thousands of words so make sure the place you’re sending it to is going to provide the right link context for you.

  • Leveraging business directories listing websites: Years ago, the Yellow Pages was the SEO of the day. Now, while no one has a directory sent to them, sites like the Yellow Pages very much exist. These directories have high DRs and are ideal to get links to your site from. These sites constantly accept submissions and all that you need to do is fill out a small profile detailing who you are and what you do. Another good thing about business directories is that you can ask to be listed in specific areas. So if you’re a Manchester SEO agency you can ask to be listed in the northwest section of the listings.

  • Outreaching to sites that accept guest blog posts and building relationships: This isn’t a way to link build specifically, it’s more a part of the process. Building relationships with the people that decide if you’re content is worthy for their website is a great way of cementing long-term backlinks.

  • Offering valuable comments on forums and blogs: Good forums and blogs are out there! While some are spammy and complete nonsense there are genuinely insightful areas out there where users look to help one another. The golden rule for this type of link building is to point them to links that are relevant to what the blog or thread is about. With that link must come a thorough, genuinely insightful comment. Think authenticity and be prepared to offer advice.

  • Creating infographics: Reading thousands of words on a topic is good, being able to interpret everything about that topic by looking at an infographic is better. Spending time to collate data and build eye-catching infographics not only provide a visual element to a website but can be shared and distributed amongst thousands of people, potentially.

  • Providing quotes for newspaper articles: Publications and magazines are hungry for content, especially in an online world. The need to fill virtual column inches never ceases – this is something you can leverage to your benefit. Keep an eye out on #journorequests and follow publications that are relevant to your industry. Outreach to journalists, build relationships with them and soon enough they’ll come to you asking for comments on something. Your price? Just a bunch of links to your site – it’s a win-win!

The Importance of Quality Links

Getting a bunch of links from a load of random sites without putting in any work is the quickest way to failure, or at the very least, no results at all. The importance of quality in your backlinks is the single most important thing to think about.

Years ago, Google prioritised quantity over quality when it came to backlinks but now they value where those links are coming from instead of how many.

Backlinks are endorsements and as you well know not every endorsement is the same. You as a person would want to be endorsed by authoritative people that are well respected in your sector. You wouldn’t want to be endorsed by someone who has no credentials or is looked down on for whatever reason.

Backlinking is the same.

Invest your time in getting a handful of links. You might want to scan the backlink profiles of your competitors and during this, you may spot that, whilst they are ranking in the top, they’ll have a bunch of links from spammy sites.

Doesn’t that go against everything we’ve just said? No.

These wins will be short-lived, you only have to look at the history of Google updates to see that, semi-regularly, they’ll remove THOUSANDS of backlinks from sites that have indulged in spammy link building practices. This is when you’ll succeed because your link building profile is whiter than white and filled with quality sites from authentic websites.

SEO Keywords

You’ll have heard the term keyword more than two dozen up until this point of the page, and for good reason. SEO keywords are the centre of the digital marketing universe.

Everything in the world of organic and paid marketing revolves around keywords. They are because they are what users use to buy, find, sell, and learn about goods and services online. Everything starts with a keyword or key term. Therefore, choosing which ones are important to you is serious business.

Keywords aren’t simply words that people use when talking, the clue is in the name. They are key terms that hint at something or describe a product or service. The terms or phrases come in all shapes and sizes, some can be one or two words: “Apple”, “Window Cleaning”, “USB Lead”. Or they can be longer-question based phrases that are six, seven, eight words long: “What are the best running trainers for women?”, “How to reset an iPhone 8”, or “Shared working space near me in Manchester”. All of them are classed as keywords.

Billions of these terms will be searched by different people every single day and it’s your (or our) job to optimise your website so that you are found for those keywords. Essentially, you want to try and speak the same language as your target audience.

Keywords can be ranked numerous ways, for example, you could order them on:

  • The search volume in your country.

  • Keyword difficulty (i.e. how hard it would be to rank in the top 10 for that term).

  • The cost per click for that keyword if you decided to opt for a paid route.

  • The global search volume if you want to target international markets.

  • The traffic potential.

Think of keywords as the cable between you and your target audience. For websites that are run by businesses, it’s easy to see why the idea of ranking for a dozen or so keywords that are being searched by an audience willing to invest money in services/products you offer, is so tempting. Further, both an exact keyword, and those that are one or two words out from being exactly right, provide us with clues as to what audiences are both wanting, and wanting to find out about. They also act as a focal point from which a blogger, business, or whoever else fancies it, can aim their content toward.

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Types of Search Terms

The sheer volume of keywords means that there are plenty of types into which they are segmented.

Choosing the right keywords, as you’ll see, is important. But before you go about doing that you’ll need to know which types of terms and phrases are out there so that you can segment and tailor content differently. There is a hell of a lot of types and all the relevant ones must be understood.

  • Branded and unbranded

The first set of terms is fairly self-explanatory. The branded phrases are those that include a brand’s name as part of a larger term or are just the keyword themselves. Branded keywords are usually a good indication that a company has a good market share and is known by its audience. Unbranded keywords are those which don’t feature a company’s name. For businesses or individuals, you want to rank for as many unbranded terms as branded terms. Both come with benefits, the intent behind branded terms is more sales-y. If someone is typing a company’s name in, the chance of them purchasing something from them is higher because they know where to go.

  • Page-specific and seed key terms

Seed terms are the broad keywords that could cover a multitude of subtopics. These types of terms are usually searched for in the early stages of the buying journey. On the contrary, page-specific terms related to those phrases are a bit more specific and are looking for one thing.

Think of it like this, the seed phrases will be relevant to most of your website whereas the page specific ones will only really be relevant to one, maybe two pages on your site.

  • Short and long-tail keywords

As we touched on, SEO keywords are so many because they can be almost any length. These are categorised into short and long-tail terms which are sometimes called ‘head and tail’ terms.

The shorter the keyword, the larger the search volume and the harder it is to rank for it. Whereas a long-tail term has lower search volume but is usually far easier to rank for. The keyword “socks” for example is going to take longer to rank for than “What are the best socks to wear with hiking boots?”.

Real inroads in search engine traffic can be made by aiming for those mid to long-tail keywords as they tend to have higher converting traffic.

  • Customer journey terms

A whole bunch of Google search terms can be segmented via the classic buyer journey. Different keywords will provide clues as to what stage in the buying journey someone is.

These clues can be used to leverage content toward them. The ultimate goal is to attract all the traffic from search engines for all the different buying phases so that you’ve constantly got different people, at different stages in the pipeline, coming to your business.

  • Local, national, and global phrases

These segments of phrases explain themselves in a way. Local keywords are those which include terms that are relevant to the area in which you are based or feature a term that’s unique to an area. National phrases expand on that and focus on entire countries, with global terms not having a geographical bent and being more generic.

  • Terms searched by audiences

Audiences, target markets, and sectors all type different things that are associated with them and their identity. For instance, Manchester United fans may type terms that are related to their club as they are interested in the team and see it as part of their identity.

These terms allow you to align your marketing to the customers and learn what types of things they are searching for. You write content to that and you have a pretty successful, if niche, strategy.

  • Evergreen and topical terms

Evergreen terms are phrases that never lose their relevance and are not affected by the time of year, outside influences, or changes in trends. Topical terms are the exact opposite and will suffer peaks and troughs depending on when people are interested in them and are searching.

  • Primary and secondary phrases

A primary term is the main phrase you’re looking to rank for when writing a blog or a piece of content. As with many key topics, there are usually 5-10 sub-topics within it, these are what secondary phrases are, the keywords that will help support the performance of the target phrase.

SEO Keywords

How To Choose the Right Keywords for SEO

So you know your business, your niche, or sector and you want to reap the benefits of Google search engine traffic. But how do you go about choosing the right keywords that are going to bring said benefits?

The trick, as with most things to do with SEO, is to plan, plan, plan.

Choosing the right keywords starts with intent. Without intent, your whole strategy will be based on nothing of real merit. Sure you’ll rank for things, maybe, but you won’t bring the necessary traffic of people who want to purchase things or are interested in learning more. You need to think like the customer you’re looking to target and plan out your content around how they would go about searching for things. From their first inquisitive search right through to their final query that is solely based on wanting to buy something, your content needs to be at every stage.

As we saw earlier, understanding the keyword types and how achievable each of them will be is a vital step when it comes to choosing the right phrases. Choosing terms that have hundreds of thousands of search terms a month just isn’t going to be beneficial for you in the short to medium term at least.

When choosing the right keywords, don’t be afraid to look at the competition! After all, they’re doing something right if they are ranking ahead of you (no offence). Look at the keywords they are ranking for and target the same ones (provided they are relevant to you of course!).

Tips for selecting the best keywords

  1. Pick between 5 and 30 different keywords of varying lengths, difficulties, intents, and traffic.

  2. Think like your ideal customer.

  3. Recognise the power of the longtail keyword.

  4. Leverage keyword research tools such as Ahrefs and SISTRIX, and SEMRush.

  5. Be patient once you’ve selected and targeted them, don’t expect results for the first few months.

SEO Keyword Research

How to Do SEO Keyword Research

Doing keyword research is a task that typically takes an hour or two – it’s not particularly intensive, the emphasis on it is more about mining data and finding those terms that will provide you with the best search visibility.

And, even better, you don’t need to be a digital marketing expert to carry it out, I mean, it helps but it’s not essential.

Step one

First off you want to brainstorm all the broad-based topics that your business or website relate to – don’t worry about them being too broad, we’ll refine them on the next step. Just write down all the services, products or topics that you think your potential customers would come to you for.

Once you have a list of these keywords you can refer to the monthly search volume to decide how important they are to your audience.

Step two

Take this list of broad topics, split them up and carry our research for each one. You’ll find that underneath the broad term will be hundreds of terms that are to do with it. For instance, under the keyword, ‘SEO’ there would be terms such as ‘content marketing for SEO’ or ‘how does SEO work?‘.

Get a list of these terms together for each of the main topics you found back in step one.

Step three

Here’s where the intent comes in. Underneath each keyword will be layers and layers of intent. It’s your job to decide what that intent is and how it relates to the buying journey. You can then target your content to satisfy that intent. The intent is so important in Google’s algorithm to the point where it surpasses things such as domain ranking and legacy authority. If you’re providing the right answer, putting out the best content for that query, you’re going to succeed. One of the best ways to decipher the intent behind a phrase is pretty simple – just Google that keyword and see what comes up.

Step four

Head to the related terms at the bottom of the search pages and check out the related terms. This added little trick is a great way of expanding the list of potential target keywords, especially if you operate in a niche sector.

Step five

Start creating your optimised, keyword-rich content that is optimised for leading search engines.

Top 9 Keyword Research Tools

Adding SEO Keywords

How to Add SEO Keywords to a Website

There are several ways that you can add keywords to your site. Getting the right ones on each page is fundamental to search engine optimization. The main way to add keywords to a website is by including them in the main body of content. Whether you’re writing a blog post, content for a service or product page, or the homepage, you can include the necessary keywords in the bits that people will spend the bulk of their time reading.

Crucially, you shouldn’t just fill your content with that same keyword. Known as keyword stuffing, it is a Black Hat SEO tactic that’s going to cause you nothing but trouble in the long run. What you want to do is include a handful of times, relative to the length of your content. As well as that, you want to include those sub-keywords, the ones that aren’t the exact match but are relevant to it. By including this, you’re showcasing to the Google search spiders that you haven’t just spammed one keyword, you’ve created natural, authentic content.

As well as adding the keyword in the main copy, you should be looking to add those keywords into places such as the H1 tag (a necessity), as well as a couple of the H2 tags. Image metadata and page metadata are also places where keywords should be added. For images especially, adding in keywords means your page can be found via image search.

URLs are one of the many things that are scanned by spiders which is why we’d advise putting the keyword in the URL itself. For example, for “embryodigital.co.uk/seo-liverpool” – the target keyword on this page is SEO Liverpool so we’ve put that term in the URL itself.

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Content

Content

The content on your site is the fuel that powers your search engine traffic and rankings. It’s a key factor in SEO marketing that often gets overlooked by people who don’t believe in the power of the written word or come to it with preconceptions about long-form content and how it can convert into revenue.

At Embryo, we class ourselves as a content-first agency among other things. This means that we prioritise content above other marketing practices, this makes us different from the crowd, but we’ll explain why that makes us right in the next few sections.

On a fundamental level, the words on your website will help to persuade, engage, or excite people to buy your product or service. Without a sufficient amount of content, you’re not going to win over enough people with that as an internet marketing strategy.

Content marketing has many purposes, and as well as acting as a tool of persuasion to users, it’s the most proven way to organically rank for the core terms and phrases you want to rank on page one for.

Writing words on your site is how you show Google you know what you’re talking about and signal to them which of the competitive keywords you want that particular page to rank for. There are some instances where these goals of persuasion and organic rankings can be achieved by writing 300-500 words but in this day and age, long-form content is the passport to success.

The term ‘content’ covers a whole host of types, all of which have different benefits and features. The key for you reader is to decide where to spread your content investment. It depends on a thousand different factors – e.g. what your KPIs are, the intent behind your audience’s searches, and what keywords you want to target.

Types Of Website Content

Types of Website Content:

  • Blogs: A very common type of content that can be leveraged by virtually every business in any industry. Blog writing allows you to write a lengthy answer on a topic to do with your business or a competitive term that your audience is regularly searching for the answer to. Blogs allow you to increase the total number of keywords you rank, and, as a key ranking factor, show to search engines that your website is active. Further, blogs give you a platform to link to important pages that you want traffic to go to.

  • Whitepapers: These standalone documents are great lead generators as you can put the paper behind a ‘paywall’ where users have to submit their email addresses to access it. Whitepapers can be about an upcoming event in your industry or a study that you’ve taken that provides people with new and interesting data. These documents can also set you apart as a thought leader in your industry.

  • Product/Service page: These pages are probably the most important on your site. The pages that showcase the products and/or services you sell need to be your main focus if actual content has been hard to come by in recent years. Within these pages, you should be looking to target one highly searched term and then within it mention several core terms that underpin it. Content on this page should look to answer every possible question about the keyword that you’re aiming to rank for. FAQ sections are perfect for these pages as they allow you to answer several related long-tail key terms/questions.

  • Case studies: What better way to showcase how brilliant you are than writing about how you helped a customer or client. Case studies are proof of your abilities to help people, and within them, you can provide stats, figures, and other data. Once written, whole case studies can be shared on social media or snippets can be broken up into smaller pieces of content.

  • Infographics: Not strictly ‘content’ per se, but infographics are like whitepapers in that they are great at lead generation and can be shared across social media. With the right image optimisation tool, these infographics can be found via Google images.

How To Write SEO Content

How to Write SEO Content: What You Need to Know

Writing SEO content is quite different to other forms of content. While you need to write for the user, it’s important to keep in mind who else will be scanning your wonderfully crafted content – search engine crawlers. So while your work needs to be beautifully written, witty, and engaging it also needs to adhere to set SEO practices to rank for relevant terms.

It’s a balancing act.

To write content for SEO you need to first understand what you’re writing in response to. Every Google search is a question, whether there’s a ‘?’ at the end or not. Two or three words on either side of a term can drastically change the intent of it and it’s up to you to plan and optimise your content to match it. You want to be the answer to the question, essentially.

Imagine a series of keywords to do with gearboxes. A quick search on Ahrefs shows:

  • ‘reconditioned gearboxes’ (800)

  • ‘how much are gearboxes’ (150)

  • ‘gearbox specialist near me’ (2.1k)

It’s clear that all these examples have very different thoughts and intentions behind them. ‘reconditioned gearboxes’ is a keyword that suggests the person knows what one is, wants to purchase one, and is in a position to part with their money in a relatively short space of time. There’s no asking what it is or how it works – it’s very direct.

‘how much are gearboxes’ is an informational sort of query, it’s clear that this person is wanting to understand how much gearboxes are and understand what sorts of prices/quotes they should expect to receive as they continue their research. ‘gearbox specialist near me’ is a term that indicates the person asking this ‘question’ has a problem with their gearbox and is looking for someone nearby to help. It’s a commercial investigation, your goal is to rank for that term by leveraging the power of local SEO.

While all three examples have the main keyword ‘gearbox’ in them, they are incredibly different and require different answers.

Once you understand the intent behind the term you can begin to organise your work/response accordingly. Researching before you write is a key factor in SEO marketing and will help you develop an authoritative piece of content that people can trust. You must take a different approach with each keyword and work hard to catch the attention of the searcher, satisfy their intent, and give them what they want.

Internal and external linking are both fantastic ways of showing that you’ve thought about your structure and how to respond to the question, as is having the target keyword in the title and structuring your content to provide the answer in a high position on the page.

Structuring your content is another important part of SEO writing. Breaking your piece of work up with relevant H1, H2, and H3 tags can make it an easy place for people and spiders to crawl the page with ease. By having one H1 tag – your title – followed by H2 tags for the start of each section, you make it easy for users to find the answer they are looking for. Having a detailed outline allows you to write a more authoritative piece of content because you know beforehand which sub-topics and questions you’re going to cover. You avoid meandering and can join each section together nice and easy.

Content for SEO is also all about achieving something – unless it’s your thing, you’re not writing content for the pure love of it. You want to gain something from it. Broadly, people either want to increase the number of products or services they sell, increase the leads and enquiries or signups, or become validated in their industry. You may have your own and whatever they are they need to be kept in mind while you’re writing.

Long Form Content

Long-Form Content Is the Key to Success, Here’s Why

Content is good, but long-form content is better. Writing truly long-form content on the pages that matter to your business is one of the more effective ways of showing Google how knowledgeable you are. Adopting a long-form approach gives you the best chance of ranking for more keywords, answering more questions, and proving that you’re more authoritative than your competitors.

Overall search visibility is one of the most KPIs in SEO because it tells you how visible you are for all the keywords you’re ranking for. The great thing about long-form content is that it helps your overall visibility by being so broad in scope that you naturally acquire more rankings for other keywords.

Generally, long-form content starts at around 700-1000 words and can be as long as you want it to be. At Embryo, we have pages that would equate to short stories – some of our content comfortably exceeds 25000+ words.

Long-form content is not meant to be stuffed with keywords or other Black Hat strategies. It is well-written and researched, and is intended to be read by the target audience to educate them on a topic.

With this type of SEO writing the length isn’t the point, it’s what you do with it that’s important. The point is that writing more allows you to explain topics in more detail. Content through search is all about context and by opting to write more than your competitors, you’re broadening the amount of context you can be searched for. You’re talking about a greater number of topics and linking them all together under one umbrella term.

We believe in this type of marketing so much that we underwent the largest study into online writing and its benefits. We analysed the search engine results page for over 24,000 different keywords and found that the average word count for position one was 2855. In other words, you need to be hitting that number as a minimum if you ever want to consider ranking in the top spot. Based on 24,774 keywords, here are the average word counts for each ranking position:

  1. 2855

  2. 2923

  3. 2683

  4. 2479

  5. 2422

  6. 2363

  7. 2267

  8. 2244

  9. 2230

  10. 2242

Sure, you could analyse more and more keywords but the point is that at least 2000 words are needed if you want to rank for a single keyword. It’s clear – long-form content is here to stay.

Ontology explained

Defined as “a set of concepts and categories in a subject area or domain that shows their properties and the relations between them” by the OED, Ontology is a rare term in SEO but it’s one we use regularly when talking to clients here at Embryo.

Ontology to us is the idea of including as many relevant words, phrases, and terms that individually don’t rank on their own, but are part of the lexicon around a key term that does rank, and is one that you want to be on page one for.

Essentially, you want to create a piece of content that is rich and relevant to what you’re writing, having thorough ontology will help you do that. By focusing on writing naturally, and knitting the keywords into sentences that are filled with those rank-less words, you’re naturally going to sound more authoritative.

Example:

Let’s take the England Football Team for our ontology example. Imagine you aren’t that familiar with football and are tasked with writing 1000 words about the Three Lions. Your work might look something like this:

“The England Football Team are the national team of England, play at Wembley Stadium and are managed by Gareth Southgate.”

A perfectly fine sentence, no doubt, but it’s not particularly in-depth. However, a more ontologically rich piece of content, from someone who has either researched the Three Lions or knows a lot about England, might say:

“The England Football Team is the national team of England and has won the World Cup once in 1966. They were then managed by Sir Alf Ramsey and Sir Geoff Hurst scored a hattrick in a 4-2 win against West Germany. Currently, the top scorer is Wayne Rooney with 53 goals. The team is now managed by Gareth Southgate and came closest to winning a tournament since 1966 in 2021 when they lost on penalties to Italy in the Euro 2020 final.”

You can see in the second example the sheer amount of additional information in there. The phrase “top scorer is Wayne Rooney” may not rank for anything but it is relevant to the overall piece. The same applies to “managed by Sir Alf Ramsey”, it is this added information, this ontology, that makes the difference in trust, authority, and relevance.

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Types Of SEO Services

Types of SEO Services

Optimising for search engines involves carrying out several different tasks and projects to ensure you meet your goals. As a result of this need, there are plenty of types of website optimisation services available for you to invest in.

These services all have different features and benefits. Crucially, they can work together to provide supercharged results. For instance, by leveraging the benefits of local SEO you can be found in your area for keywords that are being searched by potential customers that are nearby you. If you then combine that with SEO audits and Core Web Vitals (CWV) work you’ll be able to offer those people a lightning-fast website that is a joy for them to use. See how it works?

So, let’s take a look at just some types of SEO services that we offer at Embryo.

Tech SEO

Not the most glamorous service but one of the most important ones, technical SEO involves all the work carried out to ensure that the indexing and crawling phase is as efficient and optimised as it can be. Tech SEO work has nothing to do with on-page work and is all carried out behind the scenes. So, while the user may not see or appreciate the efforts made from a technical standpoint, there’s a good chance that the reason they are on your website is that your tech SEO has made your site irresistible to Google and it has thus been ranked highly.

As with on and off-page SEO, Tech SEO is a term that is packed with different practices. These practices include the more simple and rudimentary such as optimising your URL structure, adding breadcrumbs to your navigation, editing image filenames, and ensuring your website looks great on mobile. Technical optimisation work can also be extremely complex and include stuff such as structured data markups, XML site map optimisations, and canonical URLs.

Technical search engine optimisation is a big investment of time and resources but the value of it is immeasurable.

ECommerce

Virtually everyone you know will at some point have bought and maybe even sold something online. Added to that is the fact that the Covid-19 pandemic has brought about 10 years’ worth of change to online retail in just 2 and it’s clear that the need for rigorous Ecommerce SEO tactics for shopping sites is very real.

In the world of ECommerce or ECom, very little attention is paid to SEO. The visual nature of selling products, coupled with the need to drive sales, means that paid ads, PPC, and even traditional advertising is put ahead of ranking on page one for relevant phrases. The fact is that billions of searches are being made every day, and a large chunk of those will involve some ECom aspect. By ranking on page one for the phrases that relate to what you’re selling, you’re basically (and this is very rudimentary) earning sales from a ‘free’, organic marketing platform.

Invest in ECommerce SEO, and enjoy earning revenue on autopilot.

International

Reach new markets, audiences and sectors by investing in international SEO for your business. Made up of various tactics, international SEO is all about expanding your internet presence beyond your business’s country of origin.

The bulk of the workaround global search engine optimisation is about adding a variety of signals to your site to tell Google that your content is suitable for audiences outside of X country. For instance, a unified URL structure that includes the codes of different countries – ‘de’ for Germany and ‘es’ for Spain, for example – is one of the key ways of expanding your reach. As well as URLs, geo-targeting, and hreflang tags are other techniques that will help you be seen by people across the world.

The benefits of international SEO are fairly obvious. Done right and you open yourself up to a limitless market of billions that flock to your website, bringing you more sales and revenue.

Local SEO Services

For businesses that want to become the market leader in their local area, optimising for and investing in a localised SEO strategy that targets specific places, towns and cities, is incredibly potent.

As with international SEO, its ‘Local’ sibling is all about structuring a site and its various profiles in such a way that it sends signals to Google’s crawlers to say it wants to be indexed in a certain way. For Local SEO, these involve optimising your Google My Business (GMB) page and building important name, address and phone number citations in websites that are being used by people looking for your services.

Crucially, working on optimising for local audiences is all about ranking for relevant area-specific keywords. It’s by writing and optimising key areas of your site for these phrases and terms which will bring you that online dominance in your local area.

Local SEO can also be quite a cost-effective solution as your budgets are focused on just one specific area, not the entire nation.

Technical SEO Audit/Core Web Vitals (CWV)

Carrying out an audit is the best way to understand the current state of your website and online presence. Audits done on sites such as SE Ranking or SEMRush will scan through your sites, rate your score out of 100 and highlight major red flags that need addressing. Audits, in many ways, are priceless because they provide you with the information you need to succeed – they are telling you what to do to improve your rankings.

Audits tie in nicely with Google’s Core Web Vitals which is the programme by which they judge websites on how fast they load, their user-friendliness, and technical merits. Search engines obsess over the user experience and are constantly looking for a way to provide the best answer (i.e. website) to the question/search term someone has just typed in. If you can combine the best content with Core Web Vitals scores that are in the 90+ percentile your website is in a fantastic position to be rewarded.

Web Migration Services

Undergoing vast, fundamental changes to your website to future proof it and improve the long-term performance of it all is an extremely delicate and serious job. Undergoing website migrations can be overwhelming and cause a great deal of damage to your site from an SEO point of view if done wrong. That’s why 99% of the time it’s best to invest in web migration services that will handle the entire process from start to finish.

Web migration can include moving from one domain to another, restructuring URLs, rebuilding the architecture of your website or a combination of all. Anything you do on your website that fundamentally changes it can be classed as a migration-like practice. They can be extremely beneficial, no doubt, people don’t do these sorts of things for fun. The long-term benefits will arrive as long as the short-term migration is handled with the utmost delicacy.

National SEO

If local search tactics target your nearby area and international SEO aims to expand your presence globally, it stands to reason that national optimisation techniques are about getting your name out across the country.

Investing in National SEO is ideal for businesses at a certain growth stage who are looking to expand their brand to places beyond their current location. In a granular sense, optimising for national attention is just a scaled-up version of local SEO where instead of trying to rank for one area, you’re working to be visible across multiple.

One of the key ways of achieving national SEO success is to create bespoke content for different locations. Having multiple different URLs and pages that target Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, and York, for example, would be an example of a national search engine optimisation campaign. Optimising GMB profiles, developing a coherent website architecture, and conducting thorough keyword research are some of the most important elements of national SEO.

Mobile SEO

According to Sistrix, around 64% of all searches are made on mobile devices such as phones and tablets. With three out of five people tapping rather than typing into Google, investing in mobile SEO is an absolute must. Almost every industry should think of their internet presence as mobile-first, meaning that everything you do, and every investment you make, should be geared toward making your site run on mobile well first, before you even think about the desktop. This is especially true if you’re in an industry like the Food & Drink sector.

Attention spans are the lowest they’ve ever been and if users land on your site and find that JavaScript or CSS is being blocked, images are slow to load, and the pages weren’t optimised for the device they are on, they’ll simply go elsewhere.

All these little steps need to be resolved if your mobile SEO is to be the best it can be. Once it is, your site will be nothing but a joy for people to visit, meaning they’ll come back time and time again.

On-Page SEO

Making all the visual elements of your website the best they can be can drastically improve rankings and visibility. Known as On-Page SEO, this type of service is about getting all the elements of a page that a user can see to be as optimised to your target keyword as possible. On-Page SEO includes multiple ranking factors like URLs, heading tags, images, heading tags, alt-text, and metadata.

On-page SEO is the total opposite of Off-page SEO which focuses on carrying out things that happen off your websites such as guest blogs and backlink building.

Working on the front end optimisation has become so important in the last few years as Google’s algorithm has become more nuanced and intelligent. It’s judging how presentable and optimised your site is for the user to the same degree it’s looking at your schema markup and URL structure. The proper on-page investment will aid search engines and users in their quest to understand the context of your website.

More and more, Google is aligning its ranking factors to the factors that make a user want to click on your site.

Tech SEO Audit

A technical SEO audit is a process by which you or a digital marketing agency checks the technical aspects of your website to make sure it’s optimised and healthy. The need to remain relevant and respond to Google et als ever-changing algorithms. Carrying out technical SEO audits once every few months ensures your site is optimised for the newest and most impactful ranking factors.

The stark reality, and the reason why you need to carry out technical SEO audits, is that 93% of clicks are made on page one.

Technical SEO audits can be long or short. However long you intend to make your tech audit, just ensure it is thorough and well planned out. Creating checklists and giving every on and off-page aspect of your site a pass or fail mark will help you determine what areas you need to work on and which areas need to be left alone.

Our technical audits are by their nature rigorous and performed by experts who’ve done hundreds of them between them. We’ll look at the front end factors of your site such as URL structures and the sitemap, as well as back-end elements like indexing and hosting. We also, as standard, examine the areas that impact your websites such as link quality and current backlink profile.

Small Business SEO

Loosely related to local SEO, small business search engine optimisation refers to how those new companies make themselves known online. Often with a small investment or available funds, small business SEO is all about maximising budgets and ensuring optimum ROI. While some small businesses shy away from investing resources in search, it should be seen as an opportunity to disrupt the bigger competitors. With so many keywords, small business SEO can be clever and target those lower value, long-tail keywords that aren’t being covered by rivals.

Startup search engine optimisation can also leverage free tools such as Google My Business and free backlinks from directories or guest blog sites to grow their presence for a cost that is within budget.

In our experience, businesses that are fewer than 50 staff can use clever, in some cases more radical tactics to rank well. Spending time writing long-form content, for example, is just one of the ways that a business can include ontology, earn greater keyword visibility, and steal ranking positions from legacy businesses that have neglected their website.

Video SEO

You might be surprised to learn that videos can be optimised for SEO, as well as text! That’s right, video SEO is a type of optimisation service, one which can be very effective if you’re a business whose main industry is visual.

From the outset, it’s important to know that there is only so much you can do with video SEO, and it’s not as powerful as ‘regular’ SEO. This is primarily because the video itself – i.e. the visual and audio elements – cannot be altered after it’s been filmed. That’s not to say it can’t be beneficial, the transcripts, descriptions, titles, and tags can all be changed and tweaked so that they are more relevant to the terms you’re looking to target.

Why People Search

Understanding Intent: Why Do People Search?

Search intent is how we describe the ‘Why?’ behind a search query. Every time someone types something into a search engine, they are doing so for a reason. These reasons can be mundane or very serious – from searching for a funny GIF to looking for a specific insurance policy.

The intent behind a search gives us, the marketers, a lot of clues as to what they want to find by searching for that particular term. They could be looking for a particular product, want more information about something happening in their local area, or have a specific brand in mind that they wish to purchase from. There are millions of reasons why people search.

Understanding audience intent is vital if you want a successful SEO strategy. Google itself has put a great deal of emphasis on refocusing its algorithm to better serve search intent, which should give you some indication as to the importance of understanding the ‘Why?’ behind the query.

While the traditional ranking signals and markers – backlinks, keywords et al – matter, the fact is that if your page doesn’t satisfy the intent of the search, you’re never going to rank.

Before you begin writing your content that targets a particular keyword, break down the term and understand what it’s saying.

For instance, an example keyword such as “Quick Vegan Recipes” might not seem that interesting but, when broken down, there is a huge amount of intent behind that search.

  • “Quick” – The intent behind that is fairly obvious. They don’t want to be spending hours cooking, anything under 20/30 minutes should be your aim with your content/recipe.

  • “Vegan” – Creating your content cannot involve anything that involves an animal – be it meat, cheese, eggs, or other animal-based products.

  • “Recipes” – The user isn’t interested in ordering a vegan takeaway, they want something homecooked.

If a user searches for quick vegan recipes, lands on your site and your particular recipe takes 1 hour to cook, they’re simply going to leave your website until they find your competitor’s website which has a recipe that takes just 15 minutes! What they’ve done is understand the intent of the query.

To enhance that intent, be sure to create a great user experience. It doesn’t matter if your content is exactly what the user is after, if it’s horrible to read through on a phone, or is taking ages to load, they’ll go elsewhere. Make sure that your text size is big enough, ensure your content is split up with headings so that users can find their answers quickly, and don’t spam them with popups.

Types Of Intent

The intent of a search comes in four different forms, broadly speaking. By understanding the categories of intent you’ll be able to create near-perfect content that answers the question and matches the reason for the initial query.

Informational 

This is a pretty big category of intent. Informational intent manifests as the kinds of queries that are looking for more information about something – be it the weather, the merits of a new diet, or how their football did on the weekend. Informational intent-based queries are often tweaked by Google to ensure they are as relevant as possible.

For example, if I’m searching for information about the 6 Nations Rugby Tournament, search engines know that I’m interested, primarily, in getting the latest scores or to know the times/dates of upcoming fixtures, rather than the history of the tournament. If I wanted to know about that, I’d have enough intent in me to scroll down and find that info. For certain queries, Google will also know the type of content that is most relevant. If someone is searching for a how-to guide, a video may appear as the top result.

Other examples of informational queries include:

  • ‘Best cricket blogs’

  • ‘How to rank for a keyword’

  • ‘Why is sugar bad?’

Navigational

This type of intent is pretty specific and usually involves people searching for a specific website or brand. Those who are typing navigational queries aren’t interested in learning about something, they just want the search engine to get them from A to B.

Broadly, these types of keywords are only good if your site is the one people are searching for – just ask Facebook, Apple, or Amazon. Even if you did rank on page one for that keyword, it can be hard to drive traffic there as you being positioned on the same page as them is inconsequential to the user. Nothing is going to make them click on your site, their intent is set.

Just three examples of navigational queries:

  • ‘Twitter Log In’

  • ‘Manchester City Council’

  • ‘Wembley Stadium’

Transactional 

ECommerce on the internet is massive – billions of pounds are spent online every hour of every day. As a result, there are a lot of transactional type queries where the user intends to purchase something.

With this specific intent, users tend to know what they want and are in a position to buy it relatively soon. If you sell products then your SEO strategies should skew to match these transactional queries.

There are billions of examples of these queries, here are three:

  • ‘iPhone case’

  • ‘England shirt’

  • ‘Black hi-top Converse’

Commercial

Closely related to transactional queries, commercial intent searches are usually made by people who are interested in purchasing a product but aren’t quite ready yet and want more information. The people in this category need more time and more convincing to purchase a good. Your goal is to create enough relevant content that answers their questions and educates them. That way, when the time comes to purchase an item, you’ll be the person they go to because you educated them when they were further up the sales funnel.

Commercial queries can look like this:

  • ‘Best washing machines under £400’

  • ‘What are the best running trainers for beginners?’

  • ‘What size TV is best for my living room?’

SEO Strategy

How To Create A Bulletproof SEO Strategy

SEO checklists tend to be fairly generic and not very helpful to the reader, there are a lot of basic things in there that don’t go beyond ‘do this, do that’. To create a bulletproof SEO strategy you need to always be thinking about the “Why?” behind whatever it is you’re doing. Further, everything must be aligned back to your overall KPI, sure great keyword rankings are important but if they don’t bring you new revenue or increased traffic, then what’s the point?

Set goals from the very start

Setting goals is so important when making a plan for your search engine optimisation tactics. Goals will ensure everyone knows what the point is behind what they are doing. In addition, work will be done with that goal in mind, making it more relevant and impactful.

With your goals set you can start to decide which platforms and types of content to invest your time in, as opposed to just throwing money at things and not knowing if they are relevant to you. If performance isn’t where you expected or it’s not helping you get to where you want to be, you can make small adjustments because you set goals at the start and have a north star to face it.

Your indicators of performance could be anything, they just need to be specific, like doubling the traffic in 6 months, increasing sales by 30% in one year, or increasing the number of page one keywords to 50. Whatever they are, goals will help you measure ROI which will allow you to budget more effectively going forward.

Research your competitors, what are they doing?

No matter your industry, you’ll have competitors who are online and ranking on page one for the keywords that are just as relevant to them as they are to you. So when the time comes for you to invest in SEO make sure you research the content your competitors are putting out. Check out their backlink profiles, keyword rankings, online reviews, blog strategy, everything. After all, they are winning in the online world.

Analyse your competitors and the people who are ranking for the key terms you want to rank for. The latter may not be direct competitors but at the end of the day, they are doing something right and are therefore worthy to be analysed.

Undergo extensive keyword research

It sounds obvious but with it being so integral, it’s certainly worth a mention. Undergoing extensive keyword research is vital if you’re going to create targeted content that ranks for what you want it to rank for.

You wouldn’t believe the number of businesses that write and write and write without thinking about what it is they are targeting. Advanced keyword research allows you to avoid cannibalizing rankings (this is where two pages of the same domain end up competing with each other for the same ranking) and reducing the impact of the pages that you’ve worked so hard to complete.

Keyword research equals better ROI, there’s no greater incentive to do it than that.

Invest time and money is attaining good quality links

A strong backlink profile that is packed with external links from authoritative websites is one of the best signals to Google that your site is authoritative and worthy of strong rankings.

Spend real time earning quality links over a high volume. The value of those high-quality backlinks (those with a DR of 60, 70+) is worth far, far more than 10 links from spammy websites that aren’t relevant to what you do as a business.

Once these links get indexed and scanned by Google, your rankings will rise.

Align what you create with the intent behind the targeted keyword

Your content could be the wittiest, most engaging piece of work you’ve written but if it doesn’t match the intent of the query it’ll never succeed. Certain keywords you’re looking to target may be driven by a particular type of intent that just doesn’t match what you’re creating.

Be sure to analyse the intent of the first 10 or so results for a keyword, you’ll get a better understanding of how the content is matching the intent.

Optimise the back end of your website from the very start

A car is only as good as the tires it runs on. The same principle applies to a website. If your website isn’t technically optimised then your on-page content isn’t going to perform to the best of its abilities. Providing the best user experience starts with back end optimisation – removing bloated code, reducing image sizes, ensuring your site has breadcrumbs, these three things just scrape the surface of what needs to be done from a backend perspective.

Building a website is a great opportunity to get these back-end practices in as you’re building them rather than having to put them in after. Doing them as you build them is a great way of ensuring your website’s launch has the fullest possible impact.

Measure results in 3-month chunks

SEO is a long game, with so many different pieces of content to index every single second, getting ranked online can take a while. Once you’re indexed, the process of moving through the rankings takes a great deal of time. All the while you should be looking to add fresh content to that page to further enhance its relevancy and potency.

Once your blog, page, or entire site is published, the hardest part is to wait and let it index. You really should wait 3, 4, 5, or even 6 months to check your website’s online visibility, rankings, and traffic.

Things An SEO Strategy Needs

8 Things It Needs

  1. Original content across all pages.

  2. Relevant internal and external links.

  3. Great Core Web Vitals.

  4. A website that is fit for mobile.

  5. Easily navigable pages.

  6. Relevant calls to action across the site.

  7. A good balance of short and long-tail keywords.

  8. Patience, SEO success takes time!

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I Haven’t Got All Day! How Long Does SEO Take?

It can be tempting when looking to hire an SEO agency to find that one that offers quick wins, immediate results, and ‘guaranteed’ success. “Get ranking on page one in just a few weeks”, they’ll cry! They might even have a convincing argument but the truth is that SEO simply will not properly impact your business in weeks, it takes months.

At Embryo, we’ll be the first to tell you that SEO takes a fair amount of time for your business to feel the effects and benefits of ranking on search engine optimisations.

The length of time SEO takes also depends on the goals that you want to achieve from it and the fact that algorithms and search engines have become far, far cleverer. A few years ago, SEO agencies would’ve been able to provide their clients with ‘quick wins’ by dumping backlinks from useless websites and spamming their websites with keywords. They’d look fantastic to their clients but these wins would only last as long as Google didn’t update their algorithm, the moment they did, sites like that would suffer and digital marketing agencies wouldn’t look as brilliant as they once had.

Nowadays, Google and co recognise and reward hard work, authentic link building, and overall visibility. These practices take far longer but they are platforms from which long-term SEO performance can be founded. These things cannot be cheated anymore.

While it takes longer, businesses should take comfort from the fact that what you are doing is the proven method to success.

Why SEO Takes So Long

Why It Can Take So Long

The reasons why SEO takes so long are two-fold. Firstly the researching, planning, and creation phase take time. Keyword research and competitor analysis need to be done, and entire websites need to be built in some cases. To do this properly takes weeks and weeks – this is a good thing. You want your search engine optimisation planning work to be as thorough and detailed because when your site goes live you want it to have as big an impact as possible.

The second is the reason it takes so long is to do with what happens after your site, blog, or piece of content goes live. It has to be crawled, understood, indexed, and placed in a ranking position by search engines. The amount of content that goes live on the internet is astonishing which means your piece of content is, effectively, in a queue waiting to be looked at. Your rollout of content can be affected by many things, for instance, news websites get their pages indexed in minutes (for obvious reasons). Similarly, more important websites will take precedence over yours which can extend the amount of time your sites indexed.

Even after all that happens which can take a month or two, indexing doesn’t mean ranking. You can be indexed for a given keyword and be put on page 10! It’ll then take even longer for your page to move higher up the pages.

At Embryo, we generally say to clients that they can expect results from month 6 onwards. While there are exceptions, with some companies doing better than expected, the general trend is 6-12 months, even then ‘success’ (whatever that looks like) is dependent on a variety of factors such as:

  • Content quality.

  • The level of competition in your industry.

  • Current website architecture.

  • Geographical location.

  • The level of social activity.

  • Age and speed of the website.

SEO Never ‘Ends’

Optimising your site for search engines doesn’t stop once the site has gone live and you’re ranking for a keyword or two. Once you’ve reached your goal, it isn’t the time to stop – optimise, optimise, optimise!

Even if you’re ranking number one for a keyword, you have to continue to add fresh content and optimise the page to keep that spot. There are also thousands of other related terms and phrases that you’re going to want to rank for which will require work. Algorithms change all the time and to remain in a stable position you need to be in a position to react to them so you don’t suffer. Constant work – by your in-house team or an advanced SEO agency such as Embryo – needs to be carried out every time Google makes a change.

Tracking Success: The 7 KPIs That Will Determine Your Success Online

Success in the online world is entirely relevant to you and your business, it depends on dozens of factors such as:

  • The age of your business.

  • The industry you operate in.

  • The kinds of goods and services you sell.

  • The location of your business.

So before you carry out any work on your site you need to decide what key performance indicators (also known as KPIs) to track, value, and base future decisions off. It is vital to have these in place as it’ll allow you to judge your return on investment and determine whether it’s good or bad. It’ll help you measure your success and give greater clarity about how valuable your SEO has been.

With so many different indicators of performance to choose from, it can be tricky to decide which ones to value. Having done a few SEO campaigns in our time, we like to think we know a thing or two about KPIs, so to help you, we’ve outlined seven of the most important SEO key performance indicators that you should be tracking (among others).

1. Keyword Rankings: The way you’re judged online, in its most basic form, is by your keyword rankings. These rankings are where your specific keywords are positioned in major search engines, the higher you are to the top of the search engine results page (also known as SERP) the better. Within this KPI are elements that you should focus on more, for instance, your branded keywords will come naturally because they are your name. The non-branded keyword rankings are the ones that need to be paid the closest attention. Movements in keywords are the first entry point to other online success. Increased keyword rankings will likely lead to increased traffic and leads.

2. Bounce Rate: A bounce rate is a metric that measures the rate at which users wait for a page to load before leaving, without completing any action. A high bounce rate indicates that the page isn’t aligned with what the user wanted. This is what makes it such an important KPI – Google, Yahoo, and Bing all want to provide their user with a result that matches their intent which is why they select/prefer web pages that have a low bounce rate. A low rate of bounce is an indication that your site is providing the answers that users are after for that particular keyword.

3. Average Sessions Duration: This metric is just a fancy way of saying “This is how long people spend on your website”. High session duration is what you want as it’s a sign that you’re doing something – be it navigable web architecture, engaging content, or good site nav – right. People spending longer on your site is an indication that there is enough of an incentive for users to continue going through your site. If you notice a drop in session duration check if changes have been made to your site that would have affected it.

4. Page Load Time: Pages and websites that load quickly are rewarded by Google because they provide a faster, more immediate answer to the user. Fast loading times are an indication that a website is working well and will thus be rewarded. To clarify the importance of load times, put yourself in the user’s shoes. How many times have you got frustrated at a website taking ages to load and just left? If slow load speeds are present there stands a good chance that that user isn’t going to interact with your content, let alone purchase a product or service from you.

5. Crawl Errors: If your site is flagging up crawl errors, it means that the search engines who are indexing your site are struggling to access content that’s on your site, meaning they can’t index it. Crawl errors can be at the URL or server level, if you notice a spike at either level be sure to fix them as they will affect the core usability of the site.

6. Organic Sessions: When people visit your site via Google or other search engines, spend time there, and then exit, it is known as an organic session. Crucially the metric measures the organic sessions, not the paid ones. It won’t measure sessions that started by clicking on an advert. Organic sessions are probably the most important metric because it is the one so closely associated with SEO – getting people to come and visit your site.

7. Goal Completions: Organic traffic, sessions, and rankings are all fantastic indicators of success but if they don’t result in anything, be it a lead, a sale, or an engagement, then you have to ask what the point of them is, no? Growing your customer base and increasing the sales funnel are both core business objectives, SEO or not. Goal completion is one of the only KPIs that relates to this, making it an essential one to track.

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How Long Does SEO Take?

Understanding Google’s Algorithm: How to Track It, and Why

Underpinning everything that is done on Google, is its algorithm. It’s multiple algorithms, not just one, that decides when and where to index content on the web. The search algorithm is there to make sense of the billions and billions of web pages that are set live every single day – without it, the internet would be chaos.

The algorithms look at all the aforementioned ranking factors such as search query, speed of website, location, relevance and other things in a fraction of a second and provide the user with – nine times out of 10 – the right answer. These tools will also react in real-time to live events too so if a game in the World Cup is happening the SERP for those keywords will show you the score first, as opposed to the Wikipedia entry for it.

In this fast-paced world of content-hungry people, Google must constantly refine its algorithms and the way it scores content to keep up with changing intent and trends. As a result, it’s estimated that the search engine giant changes its algorithm around 150 times a year, which works out at around one every two days!

The algorithm is cloaked in secrecy and despite having a good inclining, there are only a few factors that we’re sure Google values, which are:

  • How fast your website loads. Page speed is so important to Google because fast websites mean users get their info quicker, thus improving their experience.

  • Your content has to be relevant to the keyword that it is attempting to rank for.

  • A well-designed website is always going to be preferred by search engines because they, again, provide the user with the best experience.

  • The quality of links that point back to your site is a good indicator of how authoritative your site is.

  • Having a website that looks as good on mobile as it does on a desktop is an important signal to Google.

  • Having SSL certification and thus an HTTPS Status is a good sign to Google that you have a secure website.

  • If you have high bounce rates and not many returning users, it’s a sign that your user engagement is low, amend this and you’ll find your favorability among Google increases.

How Many Times Does Google Update Their Algorithm?

As we’ve mentioned, the algorithm is tweaked every other day, however many of these updates are so minor that you don’t need to pay much attention to them – these won’t affect your site. What will affect your website are the one or two major updates that Google releases every year, such as Panda in 2011, Penguin a year later, and Hummingbird in 2013. These updates are for various reasons and will have a direct on your page performance if you’re either not aware of it or not ready to adapt to it.

You must be aware of upcoming changes to the algorithm, luckily, there are plenty of things you can do to ensure you’re up to date about any changes being made.

One of the best and simplest ways of tracking updates is by setting up a Google alert. Once you’ve set it up, you’ll get an email in your inbox showing you all the content that mentioned algorithm updates. On Twitter, following Google Search Liaison is the best way to receive news about Core updates. You can read their statements and decide if these updates are worth tweaking your site instead of it.

A retrospective way to view rankings is through Google Analytics. Through one of Google’s flagship platforms, you can view your traffic and conversions and spot any unusual activity. Activity that would indicate how the latest update has affected your site.

How To Avoid Being Punished By Google’s Core Updates

  1. Make sure your website is optimised for mobile from the get-go. Approach site design as a mobile-first practice and you’ll avoid major punishments from future updates.

  2. Review all the internal links across your site. Check that they work and make sense within the context of the page. Inbound links that are up-to-date show that your website is ‘alive’.

  3. If your website is slow and unresponsive you bet your page one rankings that are going to be heavily punished in the next update. Having a fast website provides the user with the best experience which is Google’s number one priority.

  4. Keep all the content on your website unique and avoid duplicating it at all costs. It might seem tempting to copy some work here and there but, without sounding harsh, it’s lazy, and Google will spot it, and reward other sites over yours.

  5. Rather than duplicating content, invest time and resources into creating informative, rich content that looks to authentically answer the key terms.

  6. Related to point 5 is the need to naturally include your target keywords. Stuffing phrases into the pages isn’t for the benefit of the reader which means it will be punished in a Core Google update.

  7. Make sure your site is easily navigable – a website with good architecture will provide the user with a more pleasurable experience and make it easier for Google spiders to crawl the site.

How To Improve Your SEO

Results in the Doldrums? Here’s How to Improve Your SEO Ranking

If you’re reading this guide and are panicking because your SEO rankings or website performance are nowhere near where you want them to be, don’t worry. Virtually everything in the world of search marketing is fixable, providing you have the patience and resources to make changes.

In a broad sense, improving your rankings starts by following the best practices we’ve spoken about regularly on this page. So, make sure you have unique, long-form content (that you’re updating and adding to regularly), and outreach to sites so that you can guest blog and have links pointing back to your site.

Further, remove any bloated code using an HTML cleaner to streamline your site and optimise your images so that they have titles and alt-text which are semantically relevant to the page on which it sits.

All those practices, plus many more, are all things you should regularly be doing to constantly improve your rankings and performance. These are very long-term things to implement though, if you want to immediately see an impact, here’s what you should do.

Check your XML Sitemap

Your XML sitemap describes how your site has been built in code form. Once you’ve downloaded it you can compare it to a regular sitemap and spot any errors or inconsistencies. These errors can include 303s and 404s, missing key pages, no indexed content and orphaned URLs – all of which can impact the fundamentals of your site.

Check that Google’s crawling your site

If Google isn’t crawling your site you’re invisible online so it is vital you know whether or not your site has been crawled by their spiders. You can use Search Console and click ‘Fetch as Google’ in the ‘Crawl’ section. Once you’ve put your main URL in there you can request that Google indexes your site.

Find out how many pages are being indexed vs how many you have

This step is super simple. Head to Google, type “site: {ENTER YOUR WEBSITE}” then view the number of results that are shown. This will tell you how many pages Google has indexed.

If you then view your website from the backend, you can see how many pages you have on your site. If the numbers are drastically different, you’ll be able to see whether or not you have a problem with duplicate pages.

Set goals on Google Analytics

In your Analytics, you can set and determine what goals you want to track. It could be when someone signs up for your newsletter, makes a reservation, or completes an online payment. Choose the goals that are relevant to you and you’ll be able to judge the value of your current SEO practices.

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