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Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Search Engine Optimization or SEO as it is commonly known is a way of optimizing a website so that it will achieve organic ranking in the search engines. It is still widely believed even today that by placing the keywords a website is trying to achieve organic rankings for in to the meta keywords tag is enough to rise to the top of the SERPS. Nothing is further from the truth, in fact the meta keywords tag is no longer even a ranking factor.

What are organic rankings?

When a search is performed in the major search engines a list of results are returned. Typically the top three results and the listings down the left hand side of the page are paid listings, that means every time a paid listing is clicked the advertiser pays for that click, this is known as Pay Per Click (PPC). The listings below theses are organic listings. The major benefit of an organic listing is that it's a free source of traffic to a website, no fees are paid when an organic listing is clicked.

What are SERPS?

Search Engine Listing Page (SERPS) are a list of results returned by the search engines in reply to a search inquiry. Most major search engines return paid, organic and local listings in their SERPS.

Dublin SEO | SERPS | Paid & Listings

What are ranking factors?

Ranking factors are factors used by search engines to determine if a page should rank organically in the SERPS. It is rumored among the SEO community that Google uses in excess of 200 ranking factors. This is pure speculation as Google and other search engines keep their ranking algorithms secret. However through client research we have complied a list of factors we definitely know influence organic rankings.

  • Page title.
  • Page description.
  • Page structure (Use of H1 & H2 tags)
  • Quality inbound links.
  • Social signals from Google+, Facebook & Twitter.
  • Bounce rate.
  • Responsive design.
  • Page load speed.
  • SSL Certificate.

Page titles

A unique page title should be used on every page and reflect the subject of the page. Page titles should be approximately fifty five characters long, any longer and they risk getting truncated in the SERPS. However this is just a guide as each letter has a different pixel width and Google uses pixel width rather than character length for both titles and descriptions its displays.

<title>Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Services Ireland</title>

Page descriptions

A meta description tag should summarize what a page is about and a unique description should be used on every page being optimized. Google does not always display the meta description in the SERPS, however this does not mean that a meta description should not be used as it is still a great way of optimizing a page for specific keywords. If the meta description is displayed in the SERPS it is also a great way of providing a call to action which can result in a higher click through rate from the SERPS.

To make sure the meta description does not get truncated in the SERPS it is advisable to keep it to a maximum of one hundred and fifty five characters.

<meta name="description" content="Expert Digital Marketing are a Dublin based SEO agency with corporate and SME clients Worldwide. Get your FREE website audit now."/>

Page structure

Another important SEO ranking factor is page structure and the inclusion of H1 and H2 tags. Every page should contain one H1 tag. The H1 tag is the page heading and indicates to the search engines the subject of the page.

<h1>SEO Ireland</h1>

H2 tags should be used for subheadings on the page and to further bolster the subject of the page.

<h2>SEO Dublin</h2>

Further H tags such as H3 to H6 can be used to structure the page even further if required.

<h3>SEO Service</h3>

Inbound links

Inbound links are one of the most important ranking factors when it comes to search engines. If a website on the internet links to another website this is seen by the search engines as a vote. This is especially true if the website linking back is in the same industry. Because inbound links are such an important ranking factor it has been abused by Webmasters for many years, so much so that Google rolled out an algorithmic update called Penguin

Google update Penguin was announced to the public in April 2012 and penalized Webmasters that tried to influence the SERPS by manipulating the amount links pointing to a site by either purchasing inbound links or by participating in link schemes. At the time of writing there have been a further five Penguin updates since the original in April 2012.

For a website to recover from a Penguin penalty requires the analyzing of all links pointing to the website. Once this is done the process of determining which links are bad should begin. Once bad links are identified a disavow file should be created and submitted to Google. More information on disavowing links can be found here. After a disavow has been submitted and when the next Penguin update rolls out the algorithm takes in to account the links that have been placed in the disavow file and if the algorithm deems necessary the penalty will be removed.

Google have announced that a live Penguin update will be included in the algorithm in late 2015. This should help websites that been penalized by Penguin recover quicker as the disavow file will be processed in real time.

Be careful when disavowing links, certain tools used to analyze website links often show a link as bad because the anchor text pointing to the site is overused. If the content the link is included in is relevant and of high quality instead of disavowing it reach out to the site owner and ask to have the anchor text changed. In the example below the anchor text would be SEO as it appears between the opening and closing A tags.

<a href=''>SEO</a>

The best inbound links are links that are attained naturally to great content. So a priority for any website is to publish great content. If a link is attained naturally, contacting a Webmaster and asking to change the anchor text of a link should not be a problem if a website finds itself in a situation where it has been penalized for overuse of inbound anchor text

Of course in real life a website can have the best content in the world, but getting other websites to link to it is next to impossible if they don't know it exists. By creating a useful tool or useful information that is relevant to an industry and then contacting Webmasters in that industry to let them know it exists can be be a great way of gaining inbound links. As long as the links are not paid for, this breaks no Google guidelines. Picking up the phone to contact Webmasters instead of emailing them yields better results and can also can create other opportunities.

Social signals

Social signals are becoming a very important ranking factor and it is recommended that any website that is serious about SEO should setup and build a following on at least the following social platforms.

To encourage followers regular relevant content should be posted to these networks. Another great way to attract followers is by offering discount vouchers or by adding a competition. However be sure that you abide by the social platforms guidelines on competitions or risk having the social network banning the account.

Twitter can be great way to keep customers updated and should be considered as a customer service tool. This is a great way of keeping a Twitter account updated and can also help customers resolve issues that have been encountered by other customers.

Bounce rate

Bounce rate is a measurement of visitors who land on a webpage and then have no further interaction with the website. This can be an indicator to the search engines that the website has no real value so the visitor ends up leaving.

To ensure a low bounce rate publish content that is relevant to a websites target market and also have a strong call to action on the webpage.

Responsive design

Responsive Website Design (RWD) is a method of website design that enables a website to viewed and accessed across multiple browsers on multiple devices. It use to be a case where a website would be designed for the desktop first and mobile devices second. It is now good practice to reverse this process and design for mobile devices first.

By using RWD will ensure all visitors have a good browsing experience no matter what the device is being used, this will in turn lead to a lower bounce rate.

An update rolled out by Google in April 2015 dubbed Mobilegeddon by Webmasters, gives priority in the SERPS on mobile searches to websites that are rendered correctly on mobile devices.

With mobile search now overtaking desktop search in major countries worldwide, it is wise to invest in a RWD. Google have provided a tool at PageSpeed Insights that grades how mobile friendly a website is on a scale of 1 to 100.

Page load speed

A slow loading page can lead to a poor user experience and a high bounce rate. Both Google and Bing use page load times as a ranking factor, so it's very important to code pages and configure the web server to provide a fast loading time.

Coding a website and configuring a web server to provide the fast page load speed can be a very time consuming process and require a lot of technical know how. Google have gone some way to provide an easier solution to this by making available a PageSpeed module for both Apache and NGINX web servers. Once installed the plugin takes care of complex configuration issues and provide a significant PageSpeed increase out of the box.

SSL certificates

Google have stated that security is a top priority for them and by default all Google services now have a secure connection to them. Beyond Google's own services they have also stated that they want to make the Internet more secure. By using HTTPS as a ranking factor encourages Webmasters to implement HTTPS and is achieving Google's goal of “HTTPS Everywhere”.

Why choose us for your SEO project?

Expert Digital Marketing Ltd. are a long established digital marketing agency with both corporate and SME clients worldwide. We have developed our own crawler called Seoplerbot which we use to SEO audit websites. Data collected by Seoplerbot is used compile a comprehensive SEO analysis report outlining both on page and technical issues that are found during the crawl. Here is a sample website audit report. We provide a full website audit report before any SEO campaign begins so the customer knows exactly what issues their website is experiencing and can benchmark our performance rectifying these issues and gaining rankings. Order your Free website review now

All SEO projects are overseen by our CEO Graham O'Shea who holds a Post Grad in Digital Marketing from the Digital Marketing Institute as well as 14 years SEO industry expierence. Graham also has a wealth of technical knowledge built up over the last 20 years working in senior technical roles for companies such as Hewlett Packard.

SEO resources

Wordpress is not just a blogging platform it is in fact a very popular and powerful Content Management System (CMS) that is used by millions of Webmasters worldwide. Yoast SEO provide a great plugin for optimizing WordPress websites. It allows Webmasters to adhere to good SEO practice while creating pages in WordPress.

Yoast SEO Plugin

Another great resource for anyone starting out with SEO is Google's Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide

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