Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of improving your site so that it ranks well in the search engines.

It includes making changes to the way your site is architected and the content that is included, as well as getting other sites to link to it.

The benefits of careful and responsible search engine optimisation are vast. With more and more searches conducted daily on Google, Bing and Yahoo, the opportunities for businesses to reach new customers are increasing. But with added opportunity comes greater competition, and ranking highly in the results is not as easy as it used to be.

Whilst not exhaustive, the following list provides a good summary of the process used to increase your rankings.

Keyword Research

This is the process of discovering what keywords your potential customers are actually searching for.

Common Mistake: Thinking that ranking #1 for your company name is the answer.

Sure, it’s great to rank for your company or brand name, but often that’s not what people are searching for. More often people are searching for terms that include the solution to their problem eg ‘how to deploy sharepoint to production’ than your company name.

Understanding which keywords to target is the first step in any SEO process. After all, if you don’t know what your customers are searching for, how can you expect to appeal to them?

Once the right keywords are discovered, site changes can be recommended, implemented and tested.

Keyword research is often performed in conjunction with AdWords testing, and analytics analysis.

Analytics Implementation

Analytics analysis gives insight into the ‘real’ engagement with your site. What are people showing a lot of interest in, where do they come from, how long do they stay, what path do they follow through your site, where do you lose them, what do they download, what do they ignore, and much more.

Common Mistake: Setting up Google Analytics and only checking weekly visitor numbers

Yes, increasing traffic is a key goal, but just because your visit count has gone up doesn’t mean your sales and other conversions have as well. Too often, only a cursory check of traffic is made and nothing actually actioned for improvement.

By carefully analysing your analytics, understanding your different visitor segments and tracking goals, you can gain amazing insight into the best ways to increase business.

We’ll help you understand key terms (like bounce rate), identify the key goals for your company, as well as highlight and explain the most useful reports for you to analyse. XEN staff are Google Analytics Qualified.

On Page optimisation

Often simple changes make a big difference. Things like giving your pages appropriate title tag, properly formatting your headings and images, using appropriate categorisation and submitting proper sitemaps.

Common Mistake: Using the same keyword in all your page titles

Most people understand the importance of page title tags. But then they go and use the same broad key term on every page, thinking this will help. Often, it works against you.

At XEN we provide detailed recommendations on improvements to pages, including individual page titles, headings and keywords to use.

Site architecture

Google and Bing are placing more emphasis on proper site architecture, and often the structure you use will be reflected in search result listings.

Common Mistake: Changing site architecture without proper redirects

Unfortunately, developers sometimes get excited and change around the whole structure of a site, but neglect putting 301 redirects in place. As a result, entire sections of a site can get dropped from the search engine indexes.

At XEN we analyse and recommend appropriate site architecture changes PLUS detail the process for implementing changes for maximum benefit in the engines.

Link Building

Gaining quality links from other sites to yours is the single biggest contributor to increasing your rankings. Once your site has been optimised for the keywords your customers are searching for, you then need other people linking to you with those terms as well.

Common Mistake: Submitting your site to hundreds of free directories

Whilst it’s true that getting listed in some directories will benefit your site rankings, it is much better to have a consistent increase in links over time. Imagine you are Google. If you suddenly saw a site appear in hundreds of web directories wouldn’t you consider it suspicious and low quality? But if instead you saw a steady increase in reputable sites linking to it you’d consider that a much better indicator of quality.

And so it is with link building. It’s hard work. You need to engage with other sites, find points of benefit for them to recommend (ie link to) you.

This can be time consuming work, but at XEN we’ll help you with the hard work, how to find appropriate sites to approach, what content they’re interested in, and how to provide value.

Learn More

To learn more about XEN Services please click here.