Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
As an integral part of our web design service Picture Engine undertake SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) on your site. This is the dark art of making your website appear high up in search engine listings. After all, it’s not much help having a great website if no-one can find it. The major search engine providers (basically Google and Bing, with a few others trailing behind) have incredibly complicated algorithms that determine how relevant your website is for any given search term and therefore where it should rank in the results.
Anyone with a website will almost certainly have been contacted by companies offering SEO services, promising to get you to “the top of Google”. Beware; a lot of these use hacks and try to cheat the algorithms, and in fairness this often works for a short time. Then Google find out, and not only is your advantage removed but – and here’s the thing – they mark your site down for having cheated in the past!
There are quite a few tried and tested ways to improve your site in the eyes of search engines (and at Picture Engine we make sure we use all of them). Some of the easiest and most important ones include:
Responsiveness: meaning the site responds to the device it is being viewed on, and is therefore “mobile-friendly”. This is hugely important and probably the best “quick fix” if you don’t already have a mobile-friendly site.
SSL (Security): Have a security certificate; search engines now actively penalise sites perceived to be “insecure”. If your site doesn’t have that little padlock in the browser bar at the top, you WILL be losing traffic!
Relevance: Have relevant content; make sure there is stuff on your site that is relevant and useful that people want to read. Don’t worry much about it being too long – search engines love lots of content, as long as it’s relevant.
Easy to Navigate: Keep the navigation simple. If it takes more than three clicks to find something on your site, an amazing number of people will give up and move on. This is bad, obviously.
Inbound Links: Build links; get people to link to you, preferably people with credible and busy websites in a related field. If you’re a dog walking service, find the top-ranked local vets and groomers, and ask them if they’ll link to you. Sometimes people ask to be paid for this – that’s fine, as long as they actually get you lots of traffic! Make sure you set up things like Google My Business, and have social sharing links on your content.
On-page vs Off-page SEO
The first four are part of what’s known as your “On-page SEO” – in other words the stuff that we’ve got direct, immediate control over. We can restructure the text, make it responsive, make sure all the images are relevant and have titles that make sense (“Picture-of-dog-being-groomed.jpg” rather than “1865746257.jpg”), add a security certificate, that sort of thing.
The fifth is part of the “Off-page SEO”, which is harder to control because it largely relies on other people/sites, but we can certainly influence it! One way to think of Off-page SEO is that it’s like votes – lots of links to your page are lots of votes for your content. Some of those votes don’t count, some count double or triple, and some count hugely because the site they come from is itself highly rated.
There are lots of other things we can do to optimise the way your site appears to search engines, but we won’t share all of them here. It’s worth remembering that good, organic SEO (the kind that will keep you high in the results for the long term) can take up to 6 months; anyone promising a quick fix is almost certainly trying to cheat the algorithms.