Search engine optimisation, or SEO, is relentless work. There's no time for rest even after securing a top position in the search results: the content of a webpage will lose its position if it isn't updated. SEO makes sense if you are an expert in your field and are building a serious business “to stand the test of time”. We began to optimise our website ten years ago and are still doing so to this day. Below you can find some of the processes necessary to promote your website in searches.
You will need to conduct an audit of the web, finding out industry-specific standards and the website's position in relation to your competitors. For instance, IT is a highly competitive sphere: there are thousands of software companies. Conversely, there are no more than 100 gold mining enterprises. We choose 5–10 websites covering a similar topic (the more the better), assess their structure, quality of design and content, identifying the best ones as our role model.
We then analyse the number and location of visitors as well as the link mass. If ‘toxic’ sites link to our website then it may be easier to create a new one that is untarnished by low-quality references. On the contrary, hyperlinks from popular specialised platforms improve ratings.
2. Choose a means of promotion
Depending on the activities and goals of the company we choose either search engine optimisation or contextual advertising.
Contextual advertising (Google AdWords) guaranties top positions for chosen search queries. You pay whenever a user is referred to your website by clicking on an advertisement. The price of a clickthrough is determined by the advertiser; the display places are distributed according to their price, with the company that pays the most securing the top position. We recommend contextual advertising for seasonal sales, short-term campaigns and special promotions.
Websites using contextual advertising are marked as advertisements in the search results, usually receiving clickthroughs from users who are willing to make a purchase immediately. AdWords is fast, charges a high fee, and doesn't require any special adjustments to be made to the website.
Search engine optimisation is a more complex method of promotion, suited to businesses seeking long-term existence. The top websites in search results without the advertisement marker are the ones most trusted by users. People visit these websites not only to make purchases but also to access information – SEO requires valuable professional content. For instance, we promote edsd.com as a commercial project but the articles are often read by people who want to become programmers or are looking for a job.
Search engines offer a page to users and if they stay on the site it is promoted in the search results later. Meaningless and boring texts won't be able to attract traffic. For example, our article “Software warranty and technical support” has maintained a top position in search results for many years now because users read it regularly.
It is not easy to create quality content and new texts have to be posted regularly. Websites that are not updated are rated poorly.
3. Adjust website profiles in search engines
For the United States the search engines in question are Google and Bing. You will need to register with Bing, Google Analytics, and Google Webmasters, or else the search engines won't be able to see users' behaviour on your website, which will hinder ratings. On registration the services will show a number of mistakes and recommendations of how to correct them which are important to follow up on.
4. Check the server location and language versions of the website
The server where a website is located is a hosting linked to a data centre IP address. Search engines determine where the server is located and offer the website to an audience targeted for its location. This is why the server should be located in the city where the target audience is based. If we are interested in several cities we will need to make cached versions of the website on several IP addresses covering every city.
If several language versions are stored on one domain it doesn't mean that the website will be seen by foreigners. Every language version is a separate SEO project: you have to purchase different domains and host each language version correspondingly. Only then will the website become ranked in the relevant country. If you are interested in the Polish market then the server should be Polish, the address and telephone number should be Polish, and the links should come from Polish websites.
A search system consists of search clusters which work for a particular country. If you create an English-language website in Tokyo, only 1% of traffic will come from the US. If a company works for the American market the server should be located in the USA. For instance, only 15% of visitors of the English-language version of our site were Americans, but when we moved the server to San Francisco visitors from the USA accounted for 60% of traffic.
Cities are segmented in the same way. If your target audience is Moscow residents, then your server should be located in Moscow. A page is ranked first in the city and then in the country. If we are operating across the whole country, the server should be located in the geographical centre or the capital.
5. Optimise the structure
You shouldn't immediately start inserting keywords into the texts of an existing site. First, you need to correct mistakes and optimise the structure of the website for search engines: name all pages by content and write proper page titles and URLs. Correct page descriptions in html and delete invalid code.
Only three months later will it be possible to assess the statistics and evaluate what kinds of search queries are being used to rank the pages. Inserting unnatural keywords into the articles can make them worse.
EDISON's instructions for adding a new page is a long list containing ten operations. This is why publishing just one long article will take 12 hours.
You must index the website pages. Google doesn't index websites perfectly if they are not registered in Google Webmasters, and websites without written page titles or a site map – a special configuration file with a list of all pages.
The value of a website is determined by the number of visits, the time spent on pages and its citations. Old texts can drop out of the search base, but a page which is cited will not disappear. This is why important articles are worth indexing by making sure they are linked from reputable websites: you should choose about 30 top websites and post your articles there with links to your most important pages.
7. Optimise page loading speed and conduct tests on various devices
Server access speed and page load performance matter. If two websites are competing for one keyword but the first one has an access speed of 100 milliseconds and the other 800, the second one will not be ranked as highly. Moreover, a website which has its server in the USA but has a higher access speed will be ranked better in Europe than a website with a European hosting but lower speed.
The website should work well on PCs, smartphones, and tablets. For example, a search engine estimates the website's interaction with tablets: if a user opens a page and leaves it immediately it means that the website either loads slowly or has no tablet-friendly version, and it won't be shown in the search results for tablets anymore. The website should meet certain design quality criteria and have a layout either for all devices or at least different layouts for PCs and mobile devices. A complete rework of the layout may even be necessary. The website should be in the PageSpeed Insights green zone for all devices.
8. Determine the core of search queries and compile a list of keywords
One page per key phrase.
From two to three months after optimising the structure you can analyse which keywords the pages are relevant to and work with the Google Analytics service to see what kinds of queries users create, thus obtaining a full list of keywords. The existing pages are then adapted for the chosen key words or new articles are created: one page per key phrase. The texts should be interesting and correspond to the chosen key words.
9. Check the content
“An SEO copywriter walks into a bar, grill, pub, public house, Irish, bartender, drinks, beer, wine, liquor…”
We need to critically inspect the content from the point of view of meaning and usefulness to the target audience. Read through all the pages, delete low-quality ones and correct or rewrite the others. It is necessary to write the keywords in the title and the first paragraph of the page and make sure that the style of the texts is uniform.
10. Develop content
At least once every two weeks we add a new article of about 5,000 characters or more. Search engines move the website up if a user spends a lot of time on a page, but an abundance of text repels some users, which is why we create and post topical videos, iconography and photos, making pages look beautiful by dividing them into blocks. It is important to create quality content involving experts, writers, editors, designers and photographers, or else we end up with junk text.
11. Create communities on social networks
Fасеbook, Twitter, Google+ are used to get free links to new articles. The presence of a link lends weight to the page and clickthroughs increase website traffic.
12. Buy links at various price tiers
Cheap links are needed if the website has no citations at all to “rouse it to action”. At a later stage only an abundance of content and links from good articles on trusted specialist platforms will produce the desired effect. The only way to get quality backlinks is to write interesting content.
13. Design adaptation
Only when the content has been processed and user activity on the website has been analysed can we proceed to design adaptation.
SEO works well for professional organisations planning for long-term existence.
Search engine optimisation requires time and financial investment, as well as the involvement of many specialists including experts from the client side. It is impossible to guarantee quick results on a competitive market. Even after the website is secured at the top of search results the promotion business is never over; the content should be regularly updated. Watch a video about time-based payment which we use to help companies to optimise their websites.