There are aspects to SEO that, when you step back and think about it, are obvious. Keywords for example.

We find that a lot of people think that if they set their keywords in a small bit of code in the header then the content of the page can include whatever they want, and they will still show up for those keywords. This (in my experience) just isn’t the case. We treat the keyword tag in the header as a rough guide to where the customer wants the focus of the website to lean towards. In reality, we come to an agreed amount of keywords and focus primarily on content optimisation.

Back in the day, where you could copy and paste your keywords into the background of a page and be ranked number one for that term, SEO wasn’t an art. Well, SEO wasn’t the art it is today. It was more an art of finding tricks to get round Google’s algorithms and get that top spot, regardless of content.

My my my, how times have changed.

Google hasn’t told me this but I think they will agree. Their ultimate goal is to replicate you. Well, replicate a version of you, comprised of 1’s and 0’s and without a coffee addiction. Now this is not an easy task, but given time and years and years of fine-tuning the software, they have come a long way to completing their goal.

With multiple algorithms feeding each other information and bouncing ranking factors off each other, the only thing to do to get to that top spot is make sure your website has a great user experience and is showing up to the relevant people.

The art nowadays is to make sure that the content triggers the right exposure in the right places. It is an incredibly rewarding feeling when you start seeing improvements, and I mean that. It is good for the client, it is good for the SEO companies reputation and there is a satisfying feeling of personal accomplishment that you can only get from succeeding at your goal.

This is a feeling you can’t put a price on (unlike the work involved!!)

So, now with keywords placed a bit further back in the queue we can move on to layout.

There is definitely a better way to lay out your website for SEO purposes without detracting from the aesthetic goals you have. A simple example would be the immediate section of the page you are confronted with upon landing on the site (the element line).

Time and time again we come across websites that have good content on the page but the immediate content as you land is a big photo. This can look very good but simply having information for the user straight away can have a big impact. You should populate this section with your photo but also consider having a paragraph of text with key phrases placed throughout. Remember to get this paragraph to read fluidly, this can be tricky with keyword placement but you don’t want your opening welcome to read horribly and staggered. This simple act could take the users' attention away from the site and get them focusing on grammar.

Another thing to consider is having an immediate CTA (call to action) as the user lands. A well worded, easy to use CTA can mean immediate interaction with the user. It may not be the appropriate place for a subscription form but having a brief “for a free something something something fill this form in” it is ideal, everyone likes the word free!!

Now you have the users' attention you need to focus on what’s down the page. Heading tag 1 should be knocking about somewhere here. (remember, you only want one of these per page) If it can be a keyword or key phrase then all the better. Heading tags stand out a bit more than paragraph text so pay attention to these.

We work on the phrase “content is king” so you want to make sure all your written content is engaging, relevant and incorporates smatterings of the terms you want to be found on Google for. Do not neglect the visual appeal, written content is great for SEO purposes but user experience is also a major factor. Keep the text spacious and incorporate images alongside to make the user experience enjoyable. Having a good user experience (and a relevant one for your search terms) will decrease your bounce rate, the term used for people landing on your site and not exploring it. Having a decent amount of engaging content will increase dwell time, the term used for how long a user stays on your site. There are no “ideal” dwell times set by Google, but we usually aim for around 3 minutes depending on the focus of the website.

Another quick point before I sign off and get back to actually doing SEO instead of writing about it.

Site load speed.

A very important factor because, although Google doesn’t give out any set load speed times, the quicker your site can load, the better the ranking factor for this specific algorithm. We come across a lot of websites using some of the lesser known building platforms that do not have much in the way of options to manipulate this factor. Content is something you can optimise with regard to compressing images and making sure there are no loading issues but with the basic builders, this is where it ends. There are routes to go down but it usually starts getting a bit technical and requires a bit more of an in depth knowledge into the field.

These are some basic starting points for you to take on board when thinking about building your own website. Just remember, before you go all out and start building it, check on the functionality of the different builders out there and select one that will work best for you. Some are free and some you need to pay for but the free ones are free for a reason and the paid ones cost money for a reason, get this important factor nailed at the start then the rest is just learning as you go.