When setting up a website, especially with a new domain name that has not been previously listed in Google, it is important to ensure certain elements have been covered to assist with search engine optimisation.
Our websites are constructed with SEO in mind and built to ensure they are easy to navigate and include the basic information to help gain a position in Google. However, there is no magic button to push a website up to #1… BUT there are some basic techniques that will help.
There are various different factors that play a role in a websites position in search engines such as Google etc. We will go through some of them below to advise and provide information on areas that might need to be considered before you write and prepare the content for your website:
Page titles should be descriptive and concise. Avoid using vague descriptors like ‘Home’ for your home page. Also avoid unnecessarily long or verbose titles, which are likely to get truncated when they show up in search results. Keep the title within 60 characters, the words relevant and closely matching the page content, with the most important key words at the beginning.
An example page title might be:
“Property to buy & rent in Bath | Baxters Estate Agents”
What are Meta Tags?
Meta tags are HTML codes that are inserted into the head of a web page, after the page title tag. They are not seen by users, instead the tags main purpose is providing document data or directions to search engines.
When people refer to Meta tags they are usually referring to the Meta description tag and the Meta keywords tag. Other Meta tags are also included as standard such as Meta Author, Meta Robots and content type.
It is recommended that a unique and different Meta Description should be used for each page, and no more than 160 characters. You should also avoid repeat words or phrases within the descriptions as this doesn’t help the user, and such keyword ‘stuffing’ can make your results look ‘spammy’ to both Google and the user.
The description should not only describe the page, but sell the page, because this is the first introduction the user will have to the site when scanning search results.
An example Meta Description on the home page might be:
<meta name="description" content="Baxters Unreal Estate Agents specialising in residential sales and lettings, covering Bath, Somerset, Bristol and surrounding areas."/>
However, on the Our Services page it might be:
<meta name="description" content="Our services include residential sales and lettings, FREE valuations, mortgages, conveyancing, property management and much more."/>
The Meta Description will appear like this in Google’s search results:
The words highlighted in bold above, are the words that were used within the users search term “Expert Agent”. So Google looked at the Meta Description and found the words agency, agent and expert, matching the users search term. This further demonstrates the need to include useful key words within the Meta Description tags and also the page text content.
Meta keywords no longer play as important a role in a websites position as they once did, and their weight is now very low in search engines ranking algorithms. However, some prefer to still include a small number of important keywords, and therefore the following guidelines are recommended:
1) Keep your list of keywords or keyword phrases down to 10 – 15 unique words or phrases.
2) Separate the words or phrases using a comma (you do not need to leave a space between words separated by commas)
3) Do not repeat words or phrases
4) Put your most important word or phrases at the beginning of your list.
Some example keywords might be:
<meta name="keywords" content="Baxters Unreal Estate Agents, sales, lettings, selling, buying, rentals, for sale, to let, bath property, house, apartment, residential"/>
The following website is a handy tool for preparing title and meta tags for your page, to visualise where it will get cut off by Google, and to see how it will appear to your customers.
The quality of content also plays a very important role in SEO, as Google will ‘scrape’ the page to obtain important and relevant keywords and information. It must be clear, informative and on topic. The more well written the text content is, the more visitors are likely to read it and refer others to the site. But the more it contains important keywords relevant to your business, the more information Google will pick out, thus helping search results.
Include the keywords and phrases that have been used in the Meta tags, which should make up approx. 5% to 20% of your content, but being careful not to overcrowd (so not to be penalized for spamming). Important keywords should be in the beginning of the page as they are given more ‘weight’.
It is also important to ensure that all images within the content have descriptive ‘alternative text’ applied to them, such as “Baxters Estate Agents, Bath and Somerset”.
If you have an image slideshow, we can also add descriptive alternative text to those images as well, such as “Bath Estate Agents”, providing another association to the business.
It is useful to name each image you provide to us according to its description or how you wish for it to be referred in the ‘alt text’ field. We will then use this within the website.
It is important for each page to have a Header tag (which our themes do), and to be used as effectively as possible, such as “Welcome to Baxters Estate Agents, covering Bath, Bristol and the South West”.
This is an internal link that points to another page on the same website, for example a home page ‘call to action’ might link to the Services page, on the same website.
Internal links allow users to navigate a website, helps search engines browse the pathways of a website, and also helps spread link juice (ranking power) to flow throughout the entire site, thus increasing the ranking potential for each page.
However, it is also important to not have too many links on one page because it dilutes the amount of equity passed to each link.
External links are other websites that links to your website. Much the same if you link to another website, this is also considered an external link.
External links are considered to be the single most important objective for attaining high rankings by SEO experts, with Google themselves highly recommending this technique. This stems from the idea that it is one of the hardest metrics to manipulate, and therefore one of the best ways for them to determine a websites popularity. Search engines basically consider them as ‘third-party votes’.
There are many factors used in determining the value of external links, some of these include:
1) The trustworthiness of the linking domain.
2) The popularity of the linking page.
3) The relevancy of the content between the source page and the target page.
4) The anchor text used in the link.
5) The amount of links to the same page on the source page.
6) The amount of domains that link to the target page.
7) The amount of variations that are used as anchor text to links to the target page.
8) The ownership relationship between the source and target domains.
This is something that you can maintain, ensuring that your website domain name appears on external websites, following the recommendations above.
We will upload a sitemap to the website after it has gone live against the domain name, which will list all pages within the website so that Google can locate them easily.
Create a Google My Business account, this way if your potential customers are searching estate agents in your area then you will show up alongside others, and on the map. More information can be found here – https://www.google.com/business
If you are looking to track the effectiveness of your web presence and the websites search engine optimisation then Google Analytics is a good tool to use. Its free, and will allow you to view stats on many different areas of your website helping you to build a picture of what your users are looking for on your website, and if you are providing it successfully.
It can help you determine how engaged visitors are with your website, i.e. how long do they stay on the page, an indication of search results, and what visitors are looking for prior to visiting your site. Also where the visitors are going in the form of outbound links. When they have visited your website, what do they do after that? Plus other useful information such as page load times, visitor hits and frequency.
A website can be tracked using Google Analytics by a script automatically generated upon registering. Providing this to your web designer will allow them to drop this into the site, and tracking will begin.
You can register for a Google Analytics account here http://www.google.co.uk/analytics
*Please note – you will still need to register for Google Analytics, even if you already have a standard Google account.
Don’t have a Google account?
If you do not already have a Google account, you can sign up here https://accounts.google.com/SignUp. Its best to setup a company google account which you can use for any business related matters, without using a personal account.
What else can I do?
Set up social media pages for the company, such as Facebook and Twitter, and link to it from your website, and vice versa. Search engines are now looking at social media sites more and more, so any connection between the two will helpfully aid seo, if not now then in the future. Perhaps also consider a Google + and LinkedIn account too!
However, it is important to use the social media pages to your advantage where SEO is concerned. They are now a very good and popular form of marketing your business.
The following article provides some basic guidelines for using social media to help with SEO campaigns – http://smallbiztrends.com/2016/09/social-media-and-seo.html
Setup a Blog Feature
A blog feature is an extra method of engaging with your audience. They allow you to keep the website fresh with new content, showing customers you are active and in business. It also helps increase search engine traffic in addition to traffic generated from social media pages, should you post there too.
Blog posts can be written to contain important keywords and phrases relevant to your business, and can be conveniently planned to coincide with marketing campaigns.
Ask your allocated Designer for more information.
Extra landing pages for ‘Area Guides’ can prove useful for search engine optimisation, based on the areas you cover. They can provide useful information for your customers, such as general information about the town, property prices, facilities etc, and could also show a selection of properties. By containing useful keywords relevant to the area and your business they can help direct traffic back to your website.
Speak to your allocated Designer for live examples.
Still thinking of hiring an SEO guru?
Google provide a useful guide and advice on what to consider if you are thinking of hiring an independent seo company – https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/35291?hl=en
No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google.
Beware of SEOs that claim to guarantee rankings, allege a “special relationship” with Google, or advertise a “priority submit” to Google. There is no priority submit for Google. In fact, the only way to submit a site to Google directly is through our Add URL page or by submitting a Sitemap and you can do this yourself at no cost whatsoever.
Finally, the key point to remember throughout all of the information above is ‘enough, but not too much’, and ‘quality over quantity’!