"Search Engine Optimisation in Action" (3 of n)

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Author: Mark Birkett - First published 24th January 2013 (Updated January 2014)

"SEO in Action"

Now that we have used SEO Rank Checker to assess our rankings in Google for various search phrases, we can also check Google Analytics to assess the amount of traffic that our ranking was driving towards the old site.

In the screenshot below you can see that In the month to 24th January 2013, the old website received 39 total visits, of which just 24 were 'unique' or 'first-time' visitors; a truly miserable performance; the site generated no interest, virtually no visits and precisely zero customer enquiries.

We'd like to improve that. Who wouldn't?

The old website received 39 total visits, of which just 24 were 'unique' or 'first-time' visitors

OK, so where do we start?

The first task was to create a much more attractive-looking website than the old one was. These are always subjective viewpoints of course, but hopefully we've achieved that here. A new website design is always a complex exercise, 'blending art with science' if you like.

For example, the site should obviously look good. Then you need to write interesting, entertaining or thought-provoking articles. Above all, you need to understand your target market and how to price your products and services accordingly. Technically speaking, you also need to make it easy for search engines to find you.

So here are the thought processes we went through...

New website-design - Layout and colour scheme:

Layout-wise, we've kept the width of the page to the industry-standard 960px. Why? Because this will help the pages to display reasonably well on most end-user desktop monitors - from 1024 px widths all the way to 1920 pixel 'widescreens'. We are also in the process of creating a mobile-friendly version of the site which will display on hand-held devices like mobile 'phones, iPads and so on (more on that later)

We've tried to use a consistently-colourful yet clean design, with lots of attractive, high-quality imagery. We've kept a consistent white / grey / orange colour scheme throughout the site. All the fonts are consistent in type, colour and size.

New website-design - Keeping products and services simple:

We've simplified all our products and services into a gallery of easily-understood adverts. Each advert is bulletpointed, showing the benefits of each to the customer. We've used some attractive, high-quality and 'friendly-looking' faces to attract the end user's eye.

New website-design - Navigation:

We've also incorporated a simple 'drop-down' menu system - where no page is more than one click away from any other. However, we have also remembered that Google cannot easily 'read through' such JavaScript menus, which can prevent it seeking out and indexing all the pages available. That's why there are a series of textual links to all pages across the bottom of every page too.

Customer conversion techniques - The 'Call To Action':

We know already how important it is to drive traffic to a new site. However, it's just as important to make sure that users do what we want when they arrive. In our case, we want to 'convert' visitors into customers. This conversion process is also known as a 'call to action' - in our case, for visitors to get in touch with us. To help make this contact happen, we have provided four simple methods of communication;

  1. A UK local rate number to call
  2. A 'type chat' live support facility (UK office hours)
  3. A quotation form on the right side of every page
  4. A 'Contact Us' page

Here's the result...

The new Dalemedia website design...

Build your site around your researched keyphrases:

We also needed to write lots of textual content that would appeal to our target users. We then needed to make sure we'd applied our keyphrase research to the pages we wrote and add the <title> and <description> tags the each page accordingly.

For example, if a particular page on our site is targeted at attracting people searching for web design manchester and web design rochdale, then it makes sense to write our source-code <title> tag something like this:

<title>Web Design Manchester | SEO | Manchester | Rochdale | Dalemedia</title>

You'll notice that we left our brand name 'Dalemedia' until last. That's because the customers we want won't necessarily know us as 'Dalemedia'. You'll also notice that there are fewer than 66 characters (inc. spaces) in the title tage. That's because Google won't 'read' more than that on any single web page.

You'll also notice that the above title tag is exactly what appears in our home page source code. After all, we definitely want to attract customers seeking 'web design' work in both 'Manchester' and 'Rochdale'. You can see this source code for yourself by clicking here, then right-clicking and choosing 'View Source'.

'Tell the world':

Now we will need to create an XML sitemap and submit it to Google. There are a number of tools to help with this. We use Sitemap Generator. Here's what we did:

Use the free XML Sitemap Generator to create a sitemap that Google can ‘read’ easily. Enter your domain name and click START. Download the result and then re-upload it to your website directory, i.e. www.mysite.co.uk/sitemap.xml

Sign up for a FREE Google account and submit your XML sitemap

Did the initial XML Sitemap submission achieve much straight away?

Yes and no. As you can see below, we did a test in Google some hours after the XML sitemap was submitted and did at least find that some of our recently-uploaded web pages had been indexed.

And you can check this 'link check' feature yourself on any website; simply type the following into Google's search bar: link: www.mysite.co.uk. You will then be able to see all the links that Google currently sees as pointing 'inbound' to your website.

However, as you can see from the screenshot below, the "4000 results" we got can be a little misleading. First of all, it's because links within your own website may be included in the figure. And secondly, there are a good number of automated websites that also create inbound links to your site. We're not interested in any of those.

What we really want to see are inbound links from genuine external websites, where a person has chosen to link to our because our content is good. Now, this is never going to be an exact science, but if you start to see more and more 'natural' inbound links, then you can be reasonably confident that your approach to SEO and inbound link-building is working.

So, as of 24th January 2013, our newly-uploaded website still had no inbound links to speak of. However, if we use that "4000 results" figure as our starting point, any significant increases beyond 4,000 results will become apparent.

Using 'link: www.mysite.co.uk' will show you how many inbound links Google 'thinks' your website has...

Use Social Media:

As soon as we can, we'll look at mentioning our new website on our Facebook and Twitter pages. A few brief articles on Facebook outlining our new services will hopefully help generate some interest. A few brief 'tweets' will hopefully do the same. More importantly, both will help to create some inbound links from anyone that 'likes' us or 'tweets' any of our articles.

Think laterally:

Don't forget, 80% of the SEO task is obtaining as many links as we can - preferably from large, 'popular' and 'authoritative' websites. So the bigger job is probably to do some lateral thinking. We need to think about ways to start working on encouraging inbound links to our well-written articles (well, we did spend quite some time writing them!). We need to consider harnessing the local press, and perhaps even the national press, TV and radio stations too. An inbound link from some sort of academic institution is always valued by Google so we'll perhaps look at talking to the local sixth form colleges.

What's next?

The first thing we want to know is; has the submission of our XML sitemap made any difference yet to our performance in Rank Tracker? Let's take a look...

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For any further information, please do call us on 01706 345648 (Mon-Fri, 09.00 - 17.00)

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