Search engine optimisation (SEO) is often thought of as a box to tick when building a presence online. However, lifting the lid and looking into that box can show a dark and swirling mess of keywords, analytics and bounce rates which can cause alarm bells to ring. While some aspects of SEO are the domain of specialists, there are many factors that are within a website owner’s control and can significantly improve ‘findability’, helping to achieve commercial objectives.

Website content within your control

Search engines work out how relevant a website is and how highly it should be ranked by assessing whether the content matches the search terms. A primary factor within your control is therefore the structure of the website and its content.

A company may offer ‘office space’ but if the term doesn’t appear in the copy, the website won’t be deemed as relevant by the search engines and won’t rank very high.

The semantic structure of a web page is significantly more important than traditionally printed media. Search engines will look for headings and sub-headings to derive relevance which means that a page about ‘office space’ needs to include that term in these priority places.

It is also important to consider variations of keywords. Those searching for ‘office space’ could easily be looking for details like ‘serviced’ or ‘high-tech’. These need to be sensibly woven into copy without making the content unreadable for visitors. Research into topic areas and competitors is vital to ensure key terms are fully capitalised upon.

Sing from the same hymn sheet

A single page of content is like a small voice in a crowd struggling to be heard. It is important to make sure that a website presents a cohesive view and the pages ‘sing’ in unison. For example, writing fresh and relevant content (e.g. news) on how Covid-19 will affect ‘office space’ and then linking to an ‘office space’ page strengthens this voice and makes the overall website more relevant. This improves your SEO rankings and in turn, means that visitors spend longer on the website and are better engaged in the content.

Get your own house in order

Content is only one part of a good SEO strategy. The website code, underneath what a visitor sees, can have as much impact on rankings as content. Websites are ranked by search engines for factors like performance (speed), mobile usability, accessibility. Poor performance not only creates a bad user experience, but it can also seriously impact a website’s ability to rank highly. There are tools that can help identify these issues and give website owners an opportunity to discuss SEO with web developers. In fact, many web developers (Camargue included) will have SEO performance as part of their day-to-day processes.

With a good content strategy underpinned by a well coded site (admittedly most website owners will need help with this), the SEO failings of many businesses can be rectified. Get these fundamentals right and it allows for more involved strategies such as competitor analysis and pay-per-click campaigns to be deployed with greater precision and a better chance of success.

Pete Jones is head of digital at JFD