Search engine optimisation for New Zealand Business
Search engine optimisation, or SEO as it's commonly known, is the practice of optimising a website to achieve specific and targeted results in the organic (free) search results of major search engines. Part art part science, SEO involves a number of techniques to inform google and other search engines which pieces of content on your website are most important and what they actually mean.
The most basic goal of SEO is to get more visitors to your website, without using a paid marketing program like Google Adwords. To do this, a SEO consultant will use multiple methods to increase the sites worth, or page rank. These methods include:
The optimisation process usually begins with keyword density research. At ByteMe, we have a number of tools that we use to do this; as most of our SEO clients are from New Zealand we find the combination of tools works best to filter out the American keywords which aren't relevant in our markets. If you're starting out, then you may like to try the Wordtracker Free Keyword Research Tool.
We use Wordtracker on a daily basis, as part of our SEO kit bag. Aside from the powerful search capabilities, we also choose Wordtracker in the beginning as they offer a free trial of Wordtracker keyword tool which is the full product that they sell. You can punch in as many keywords as you like, during the time based trial, and the keyword universe tool will suggest other relevant keywords which may be more effective than those you've entered.
If you're not quite ready for the keyword tools yet, then download this keyword research guide to explain a bit more about the benefits of researching your topical keywords before creating your website content.
Link building is the single most important aspect of SEO for todays search engines. Search engines count inbound links from relevant websites as votes for your site. Outbound links to relevant content are also important and help boost the page rank of individual pages on your website. Lots of relevant links will improve your website ranking and therefore enhance your placement within the organic search results on the search engines.Keep the following in mind when determining a link building strategy:
- Create content that people will want to link to. In other words offer some information, advice, an opinion, or some functionality.
- Try to get some of your keywords in the text of links back to your website
- Write posts on forums and blogs related to your website topic(s)
- Write informative articles; use creative titles for the articles
- Sponsorship of other websites or charities that are related to your site
- Use different words in links to your site; get a little creative here
Coming up with a suitable theme for each page on your website, is critical to your site ranking. The results of your keyword analysis will help you determine what the themes should be. Each page should have a completely separate and unique theme; for example if you sold paint, you may try the following themes: different types of paint, house paint, commercial paint, long life paint, art, artist supplies, how to paint a house, painters check list etc.
All themes should be connected to your core topic in some way or another. As you can see in the example above, art is a theme for a page on the paint website. Clearly those topics are related, although some people may not think of art if they're planning to paint their house, others will.
Meta tags are tags within the head section of a web page. These tags are used by search engine robots to index and categorise your website. It is very important to include Meta tags on your site, to let the robots know how you would like to present your site to the world.The most important Meta tags are:
- Description - The words that appear in the search results for your site
- Keywords - The relevant keywords for this page
- Robots - Let the search engines know what content should be indexed and which descriptions should be used
- Rating - Provide a rating for the content on this page
- Language - Language that the page is written in
Following web standards
One of the hottest topics within the web designer community are standards for building websites. Debate is often focused around which browsers support the standards. Developers of Internet Explorer, the most widely used browser in the world, are notorious for making up their own rules and creating methods which aren't considered standards in the web community.
Organizations, like the World wide web consortium create standards for the community to follow. At ByteMe Internet, we build standards compliant websites and make a point of keeping the website code simple. Rather than building the flashiest website in the world using the latest technologies, we choose to stick with PHP and HTML and build sites that both look great but also appeal to search engine robots; something that most sites built with emerging technologies, like flash etc do not do
Choosing a domain name
The two schools of thought on domain names are: 1) Pick a catchy brand / business name and market it to make your site successful. 2) Pick a domain name with your keywords in it so as to achieve high rankings. Neither approach is perfect and often it will depend on the nature of your business. For example, we own both byteme.co.nz and aucklandwebdesign.net.nz. After much debate, we decided to still with byteme.co.nz as our domain name as we had purposely chosen a business name that was easy to remember and hopefully would cause people to chuckle. Whilst aucklandwebdesign.net.nz would have helped us rank for website design services in Auckland, that isn't our sole focus. In fact, Auckland website design isn't even a theme on any of our pages at the moment, so it didn't make sense to push that to heavily. Additionally, our other pages like graphic design and marketing are related to website design, but we felt stronger about building the ByteMe brand.
However, if you sold printer cartridges, then you may well do better using something like inkjet.co.nz if your keyword research had let you know that inkjet would be an effective keyword to use.
Converting visitors into customers
The second and most important goal of search engine optimisation is to convert the traffic that is visiting the website into new business. By spending time up front selecting the right keywords and phrases, traffic that visits the site will be more qualified; significantly increasing the chance of a sale!
When the theme and content of each page is decided upon, your SEO consultant will start to explain the thought processes people will go through as they navigate your website. Data will also be captured to show which visitors are buying and the path they took before making the purchasing decision.
ByteMe Internet has SEO consultants standing by to provide you with a Free website SEO analysis. Just fill in the form below and we'll be in touch.
Search engine algorithms
Search engines run a series of complex algorithms to analyse the content that was discovered by their robots and spiders. Algorithms will often change multiple times per month; new algorithms will be rolled out and possibly rolled back quickly and always without warning.
Sometimes you may need to update the content on your site as it may not be ranking as well based on the new criteria. Other times you may be ranking better or it may pay to do nothing at all. At ByteMe Internet, our SEO and marketing clients are on monthly packages so that we can adjust the site as new algorithms are rolled out and rolled back; this service is all part of the monthly fee.
The rank of each page on your site is the most important aspect of search engine optimisation. On google, your page rank can be from 1 - 10. Most if not all sites will start off with a rank of 1 and many will not change from that position. A page rank of 3 or 4 is generally when you'll start noticing improved results by studying your website statistics and sales figures, but we generally aim for a page rank of 6 - 7 for our clients, as this puts them in an elite class and, depending on the competitiveness of their primary keywords, will often allow them to dominate their market.
Aesthetically pleasing graphics help keep people interested in websites, providing that they don't take too long to load. However, to search engine robots, the graphics are invisible. Robots can only process text, so they can't categorise the images. The images can be index in google images and other such picture search engines, but only if the tags are correctly labeled.
When including images on a web page, be sure to use descriptive filenames and meaningful alt tags in the hypertext. This way, your images will be correctly categorised. Also good to note that if you had images on your website but didn't want people to be able to search them, you can either opt out of google images, as an example, or you can use background images rather than the standard img tag.
Reporting and analytics
Getting people to visit your website is only half the job... You will also want them to do something when they get there! Whether that something be buy a product, fill in a form, register for a newsletter, sign up as a member, or even something more creative it should be tracked so that you can measure the success of your website.
A number of different reporting and analytics packages exist to help out with this task. One of the most popular analytics packages is Google Analytics, a free service that we also utilise for ByteMe customers.
Google analytics will tell you how many or what percentage of visitors were successful conversions, by allowing you to predefine up to four goals for your website. By way of example, you may consider a goal achieved if a person has filled in a contact form to ask for more information; shopping cart websites may have goals of a successful checkout; blogs may have criteria of a visitor becoming a member.
When selecting an SEO partner, be sure to have regular reporting included as part of your SEO package. It's important to see how the site is progressing to be able to know that the changes being made by your SEO consultant are in fact having a positive impact on your website traffic, and even more importantly a positive impact on conversions.