"Search Engine Optimisation in Action" (5 of n)

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Author: Mark Birkett - First published 4th April 2013 (Updated January 2014)

"SEO in Action"

Now we did warn at the beginning of this series of articles that there are no instant solutions to 'SEO success'. And we also said that it isn't always easy to monitor which of your SEO efforts has produced the results you wanted either. But we'll certainly try our best!

To recap; we've talked about the importance of focusing on the "Long Tail Of Search". In other words, we don't want to get fixated on the "Head" of a given phrase (such as 'web design'); we want to attract 'hotter leads' by narrowing our efforts somewhat onto phrases that describe what we do and which describe our geographical location more closely (i.e. "web design manchester").

But before we focus on this, we should point out that we have now done more keyphrase research into the phrases that could help generate new traffic for us. You should do exactly the same.

Refine your keyphrase research

There are five basic tasks to complete;

  1. First, list your products and services;

    First, we wrote a list of all our key products and services. This sounds like a pretty obvious task but it is quite easy to forget some of them, especially if you have lots on offer. In our case, we listed the following;

    web design / web designers
    search engine optimisation/ seo
    e-commerce website design
    corporate video / web video / website video
    sales / training / flash / powerpoint presentations
    email newsletters
    website design courses

    (You'll notice that we've included some linguistic variations on some of the phrases (i.e. "web design" and "web designers")).

  2. Second, list the towns and cities near you;

    Next, we made a list of all the key geographical locations we wanted to target. In our case - which involves selling multimedia services that can be published internationally - we obviously aren't strictly limited to any particular area of the UK.

    However, if we tried to target the whole of the UK (i.e. with 'generic' search phrases that didn't include locations), we might end up 'watering down' the impact our SEO efforts end up having. Also, it's fair to say - with experience - that our potential customers are more likely to do business with a company that appears to be reasonably 'local'. So, these are the major towns and cities within a 25-mile radius of us.


  3. Third, check the traffic potential for phrases that combine your services and your targeted locations:

    Next, we need to test all of those 'combination phrases' in Google's FREE Keywords Tool so we can see how much traffic each combination of services and towns carry the most potential traffic. For example;

    web design manchester
    web design rochdale
    web design oldham
    web design bury
    web design bolton
    web design stockport

    ...and variations of our services plus local towns and cities thereof.

  4. Lastly, in order to maximise you website's chances of being listed, try to come up with a list of article titles that your customers might be interested in reading;

    For example, let's imagine your business sold veterinary pharmaceuticals. Potential customers might be also be interested in reading an article on "How to pill a cat" or "How to innoculate my sheep". There is no reason why your website shouldn't provide some 'free' information to those people too. After all, they may well read the article and choose to buy pills or vaccines from you later. Similarly, in our case, it might be worth us writing articles on the following topics;

    how to design a website
    how to research keyphrases
    how to promote my website
    how to market a website
    how to advertise a website
    how to sell on the internet
    how to sell on the web
    how to convert visitors into customers
    what is pay per click
    what is seo
    what is search engine optimisation
    pay per click or seo which is best
    what is keyword density

    Of course, we can always add articles like these once we've seen what Google's Keywords Tool suggests.

  5. Make sure you keep the most 'efficient' phrase combinations and discard the rest;

    Of course, not all the generic phrases we first think of will actually have much traffic. And some may have no measurable traffic at all. So now it's a question of filtering the phrase results and discarding any that aren't much use to us, and keeping those that are. Don't forget, you need to seek out phrases that are:
    - Relevant to what you offer
    - Attract reasonably high levels of potential traffic
    - Attract acceptably low levels of competition *
    (* - deciding what constitutes a 'low' level of competition is not a very precise figure. Google's Keywords Tool only tells us whether a phrase has 'high', 'medium' or 'low' competition. This is calculated by Google checking the number of web pages that are actively optimised for those phrases. Use these competition indicators as a rough guide only).

    Thus, after examining all the combinations of services, locations and article ideas, we have narrowed our keyphrases down as the table below shows. We have ordered these results so that you can see the highest potential traffic phrases first. Some include towns and cities, some don't. However, all of them display a reasonably healthy amount of potential traffic - i.e. 'hot leads' - for us, as suggested by Google on April 4th 2013:

    Geo-located phrases:

    Keyphrases UK Searches/Month Competition
    Efficient phrases relating to web design services we offer...
    web design manchester 12100 HIGH
    e-commerce website design 12100 HIGH
    web designers manchester 8100 HIGH
    web design bolton 880 HIGH
    web design bury 720 HIGH
    web design stockport 590 HIGH
    web design rochdale 390 HIGH
    web design oldham 390 HIGH
    web designers bolton 260 HIGH
    web design altrincham 210 HIGH
    web designers stockport 140 HIGH
    Sub-total of potential monthly traffic 35,880  
    Efficient phrases relating to search engine optimisation services we offer...
    seo manchester 9900 HIGH
    search engine optimisation manchester 720 MEDIUM
    seo stockport 480 HIGH
    seo bolton 480 MEDIUM
    seo oldham 390 MEDIUM
    seo altrincham 170 MEDIUM
    seo bury 91 HIGH
    search engine optimisation oldham 73 HIGH
    seo rochdale 28 MEDIUM
    search engine optimisation stockport 28 MEDIUM
    Sub-total of potential monthly traffic 12,360  
    Efficient phrases relating to training courses we offer...
    seo training courses manchester 110 HIGH
    Sub-total of potential monthly traffic 110  
    Efficient phrases relating to video services we offer...
    corporate video manchester 210 HIGH
    Sub-total of potential monthly traffic 210  
    TOTAL potential monthly traffic 48,560  

    Non-geo-located phrases:

    Keyphrases UK Searches/Month Competition
    Efficient phrases relating to training courses we offer...
    photography training courses 22200 HIGH
    website design courses 12100 HIGH
    seo training courses 1900 HIGH
    search engine optimisation courses 480 HIGH
    web marketing courses 140 HIGH
    web marketing training 140 HIGH
    Sub-total of potential monthly traffic 36,960  
    Efficient phrases relating to electronic presentation services we offer...
    powerpoint presentations 60500 LOW
    training presentations 2400 HIGH
    sales presentations 1000 MEDIUM
    flash presentations 590 LOW
    Sub-total of potential monthly traffic 64,490  
    Efficient phrases relating to mobile application services we offer...
    mobile applications 60500 MEDIUM
    Sub-total of potential monthly traffic 60,500  
    Efficient phrases relating to helpful articles we could choose to write...
    how to design a website 823000 HIGH
    what is seo 823000 MEDIUM
    what is search engine optimisation 60500 HIGH
    what is pay per click 33100 HIGH
    how to sell on the web 9900 HIGH
    how to sell on the internet 6600 HIGH
    how to market a website 5400 MEDIUM
    how to advertise a website 5400 HIGH
    what is keyword density 3600 LOW
    how to promote my website 590 HIGH
    how to convert visitors into customers 12 LOW
    Sub-total of potential monthly traffic 1,771.102  
    TOTAL potential monthly traffic 1,933,052  

    All phrases:

    GRAND TOTALS UK Searches/Month  
    Efficient phrases relating to training courses we offer...  
    TOTAL geo-located searches 48,560  
    TOTAL non geo-located searches 1,933,052  
    GRAND TOTAL 1,981,612  

Applying this keyphrase research to our web pages:

So, after quite a lot of work, we do at least have 45 reasonably 'efficient' phrases which we can now incorporate into our various web pages.

However, since Google only indexes the first 66 characters of the <title> tag of any page, you will usually find that only one or two phrases can be used on any given web page. For example, given that 'web design manchester' carries some 12,100 searches per month and since we are based in the Manchester area and since we do offer web design as a core service, it makes sense for our HOME page to use that phrase in both the source code and the visible text.

(Note: the more observant of you will see that this figure was 14,800 some weeks ago and is - at the time of writing this page - now 12,100, so don't get too focused on the exact number of potential visitors...all you need to remember is that there is a lot of interest in that phrase),

Our title and description tags:

So we'd write our HOME page <title> tag as follows:

<title>Web Design Manchester | Your Guide to Web Success | Dalemedia | Rochdale</title>

You can see that the very first phrase is the one we have researched. We have then added a (hopefully) enticing phrase immediately afterwards to persuade someone why they ought to click on the search result. You'll notice we have added our brand name ('Dalemedia') and our actual geo-location ('Rochdale') last.

We then need to write some more enticing text for our description tag. Something that will concisely explain what the searcher is likely to find if they click through to us. For the time being, we've chosen:

Looking for a GREAT web design company in Manchester, Rochdale, Bury, Oldham, Bolton? Call 01706 345648 today! World-class website design and search engine optimisation (SEO) services. Website design courses, Facebook pages, Twitter pages, web video and much more...

The net result - when someone types 'Web Design Manchester' into Google - is a clickable link that looks like this:

Example of a search for 'Web Design Manchester' into Google

You can see that Google has picked up on the words 'Web Design' and 'Manchester' in our title tag and our description tags. And since Google may not manage to squeeze in our full description, we've made sure that our telephone number appears early in the descriptive text too.

Our visible textual content:

Next we need to ensure that the written and visible content on our HOME page does actually contain plenty of text relating to what we've 'promised' in the title and description. As we've mentioned before in our discussions on keyphrase density, our textual content needs to be:written in as natural a style as possible first. Then, and only then, will we examine the text for opportunities to add in the SEO-friendly phrases we've researched above.

To give you an example, without thinking much about SEO, we might have written an opening couple of paragraphs about our services as follows:

Welcome to Dalemedia!

If you are setting up a new business and need a fabulous new website to go with it, why not contact Dalemedia? We are based in Rochdale and look after clients across the UK.

Now, although the above paragraph may be an accurate reflection of what we actually offer, it's not really making the best use of our researched keyphrases relating to web design in the Manchester area is it? So we'll perhaps re-write the paragraph to say:

Welcome to Dalemedia!

If you are setting up a new business and need a fabulous new website to go with it, why not contact Dalemedia? We are based in Manchester and look after clients across the UK.

Nor is it formatted with header tags in order to emphasise the importance of various elements of it for Google's benefit.

Use header tags:

So firstly - in the page's source code - we need to put the article header inside what's called an <h1> tag. This will tell Google that we consider this article header to be a very important part of the text to follow. It would look something like this:

<h1>Welcome to Dalemedia:</h1>

However, since many more of the customers we are hoping to attract won't know who on earth 'Dalemedia' is, and may well have searched Google for the phrase web design manchester, we're better to add in that phrase we've already researched along with the 'Welcome to Dalemedia' message.

In other words, something like this:

<h1>Welcome to Dalemedia - Web Design Manchester:</h1>

Use CSS classes:

And if we want to make the article header stand out a bit visibly on the page, we can apply a CSS (Cascading Style Sheet) 'style' to all instances of "H1" tags as follows:

.h1 {

font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;
font-size: 20px;
font-weight: bold;
color: #FF9900;


You don't need to worry about the technical detail of this. All you need to understand is the general principle. All that this little piece of code does is tell the visitor's browser to display any text marked with the class "H1" in a certain font (Arial, Helvetica or San Serif), with a certain size (20px), with a certain emphasis (bold) and with a certain colour (#FF9900 = Orange). We can then go to the source code and apply that class to the article header as follows:

<h1 class="h1">Welcome to Dalemedia - Web Design Manchester</h1>

The net result of this 'styling' would be:

"Welcome to Dalemedia - Web Design Manchester"

The key point is that by using the "H1" tag we have now told Google that we consider this line of text to be the most important piece of text on the page. So that means that when someone searches for Web Design Manchester our site is more likely to appear in the search results than it was beforehand.

Think about adding in phrases without spoiling readability

Next, we need to think about whether our researched keyphrase can be 'slotted into' the main body of text without spoiling its readability. Can we do it? With some effort and care, yes. We could re-write our paragraph as follows:

Welcome to Dalemedia - Web Design Manchester

If you are setting up a new business in Manchester and need a fabulous new web design to go with it, why not get in touch with Dalemedia? We are based in Rochdale near Manchester and look after a wide cross-section of clients across the UK. We offer every client a truly bespoke service, and with a guarantee to beat any equivalent quotation for a similar product. We are always happy to discuss your exact needs with a free initial consultation at your premises. This is where we make sure we’ve fully understood your business goals and exactly what you wish to achieve with your online presence over the next few years. We’ll then discuss the various options available, showing you plenty of examples of our previous work so you can compare our products easily. Finally, we’ll send you a full written proposal.

Now you can see that whilst we have managed to keep the general meaning and intent of the text, we've also managed to add in the phrases which have traffic potential.

Think about keyword density

Also, in this example, you will see that there are 150 words in total. And our phrases web, design and manchester make up 7 of those words. if we divide 7 into 150 we can see that our phrases have made up approximately 4-5% of the total content. This is the ideal ratio between researched phrases and the other textual content.

Don't forget, too many keyphrases makes for difficult reading for the visitor and risks being penalised by Google for 'keyword stuffing' To few keyphrases and you'll have failed to leave Google all the 'clues' it needs in order to correctly index your pages.

And since Google can now compare the phrases in the article header and the phrases in the visible text, it will be able to see that the phrase web design manchester appears in both. Thus, we now have a much better chance of our web page being presented as a relevant result when someone searches for that particular phrase in Google.

Make sense?

A reality check!

A reality check is probably advisable at this point when considering ALL the phrases we will use across the entire website...whilst we might quite enjoy the idea of 1,981,612 'hot lead' customers visiting our website every month, and have optimised our aticles beautifully, the reality is that we will have to work very hard to attract even the tiniest fraction of that figure. After all, web design and development is a very competitive industry and yours may well be very competitive too.


So we know what the task ahead looks like. We have to write really great articles around all of these phrases. We have to keep checking our results in Rank Tracker and Google Analytics to make sure our efforts are producing the results we want.

In the next article, we'll see our progress from January to June 2013 >>


Watch this space!

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

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