Impression proudly sit at the geeky end of the SEO spectrum. We started out as developers and we’re so interested in the technicalities of how search engines work we could probably write a book on it. Maybe one day we will.
But, because you’ve probably got better things to do than read pages and pages of tech speak, here’s our a top-level summary of the on-page and off-page ranking factors we mentioned earlier. If you’d like to find out more – and talk about how all this relates to your own business – just get in touch.
.There are two important ones here. First – whether the search engine can access, understand and navigate the website. That means using descriptive code that can be recognised and indexed by Google. Our top tip: match the copy on the page to the terms that your audience is likely to search for
Second – the quality of the site content. Interesting, unique content is recognised and picked up on by Google, as well as by your audience. Think about using interesting formats such as video or infographics to get you messages across.
This firstly means the number of good-quality sites linking to yours, which builds ‘authority’. We would definitely recommend going for quality over quantity here. Google grants ‘seed’ status to websites that are believed to be of good authority – bbc.co.uk is an example. If a seed site links to your website, Google returns the favour by recognising you as a trusted source. Poor-quality sites, however, will impact negatively.
The quality of your content impacts of off-page ranking factors too. Providing useful and valuable content means people will use it and credit you as the source – hence the term ‘content marketing’. If you have something really interesting to say and word spreads in social media circles, the number of links will multiply.
We have a proven approach to performing well in organic search engine rankings, using content marketing, PR outreach and creative link building. It’s all backed up with a strong strategy from the start, as well as industry-standard and bespoke tools.
Although we’re a relatively young agency, we’ve gained plenty of experience from working both agency and client side on large accounts. We recognise that each and every client has different needs and expectations. And for all clients, we’re transparent with every aspect of the account and our methodologies. You can know as much as you want about the work we’re doing on your campaign.
We’ll begin our work with you with an initial technical audit, plus any quick wins, or short-term improvements we can make. From day one, we’ll constantly be refining our methods to achieve your goals. We don’t work to a fixed menu system and if your needs change midway through our relationship, we’ll change our service to suit.
Selecting key words and phrases
Deciding which keyphrases to go after can be tricky. We consider:
- Search volume. More popular search terms will attract more users, but will also have more competition.
- Relevance. Users have to find what they’re looking for on your site.
- Intent. How far along the buying journey are your potential customers? A general phrase may attract many people who are just browsing, something a little more specific is likely to attract fewer people who know what they want and are closer to purchase.
- Strength of competition. Consider the number of different sites already ranking well in the search results.
Search engines assess each link between pages, and from another sites to yours. Pages and sites with more inbound links will rank more highly. But it’s not just quantity you’re looking for, it’s the quality of the links too. This is determined by the relevance and popularity of the site linking to yours. One link from a high-authority site could be worth 100 from lesser sites.
We’ve always been very strong at using online PR to climb the search rankings. It’s more than simple link building – it’s about building relationships, and using them to get the best-quality links you can. It’s likely we’ll spend a high proportion of our time building contacts and sharing useful content with them in the hope that they link back to your site.
Another tactic is to identify an authority figure in your company to act as a thought leader, extending your company’s online presence beyond your own site.
While every client we work with is different, every project benefits from following a clear process. It begins with careful planning and strategy.
Planning and strategy
We’re big believers in taking the time to formulate your plan of action. There are three areas to cover here: content, structure and authority. Where content is concerned, it means creating rich, compelling content that addresses the search enquiry and demonstrates (to search engines, as well as users) that you’re an authority on your topic. Planning the structure is about configuring the site in a way Google can understand. And gaining authority means maximising link development.
It’s helpful to think of planning in five stages:
1. Set your goals
These should be realistic and quantitative. Some of the most common goals are based on position, visitor volume, outcome, market share, cost or value.
2. Select keyphrases
Getting this right is crucial. Why ‘keyphrase’ and not ‘keyword’? Because search engines like Google rank a page more highly if you match an exact phrase.
3. Assess current performance
Understanding how your site is performing currently – in terms of your share of search, how efficient the site is in converting visitors into customers or service users, and how cost effective this is – is really important.
4. Benchmark competitors
Try to identify competitors who use SEO well, and learn from them. We use a range of industry-standard tool (plus a few bespoke ones of our own) to provide accurate analysis.
5. Select strategy
Part of this is deciding how to split activity and budget between SEO and PPC and determining your target keyphrases. Here, it’s all about finding the perfect balance – phrases that attract high volumes, high user intent and, where possible, low competition.
It’s claimed that at least one in five searches on Google is related to location. This means either the user enters a place name as a keyword (‘pizza delivery in Nottingham’), or Google has returned search results based on your GPS coordinates (you were in Nottingham and searched for ‘pizza delivery’).
The later is especially relevant when users are browsing using their mobile, which is usually location enabled. But even with a desktop, local results are given where appropriate and show above normal listings. Google is increasingly returning maps and Google Places within natural results as part of universal search pages. And the even better news is that research suggests there’s a possibility of getting into the lower positions on the Places listings organically.
For all these reasons, Impression is a big advocate of local SEO. It instantly narrows down the competition and means the customers searching are likely to have higher intent. There’s another advantage too – it’s much easier to build relationships on a local scale. Getting into the local media or news is easier because the content is relevant. And bizarrely, the publicity you can generate could feasibly go offline too. Local newspapers like local companies, so weaving in a quote or opinion from your spokesperson could be yet another way to drive traffic to your site.
1. City and state in the title tag.
Arguably one of the most important places to include city/state information. We've seen many small businesses jump up in local rankings from this alone.
2. City and state in H1 heading
Hold on, don't interrupt. I know it doesn't HAVE to be an H1 heading... So whatever heading you've got on the page, it's important to also have your city/state info included.
3. City and state in content
Clearly, it's important to include your city/state info in your content.
Most of the Local SEOs who really live and breathe local agree that citations aren't the amazing powerful weapon that they used to be... but that doesn't mean they're not still incredibly important. If you don't know what a citation is, it's commonly referred to as NAP information in Local SEO circles - Name, Address, and Phone number. Google expects local businesses to have their NAP information on certain other websites (Yelp, social media sites, etc.), so if you don't have citations on the important sites, or your citation information is incorrect, it can really hurt how your business is ranking.