Search Engine Optimisation

SEO

Search Engine Optimisation

Search engine optimisation is defined as ‘the process of increasing the amount of visitors to a website by obtaining a high-ranking placement in the search results page of a search engine’.

With 1 billion search queries a day on Google alone, how do you get your brand noticed when only 6% of people even click onto the second page of results?

Many agencies promise you the proverbial SEO earth, and then fail to deliver. We won't promise to get you to #1 in Google; only Google themselves can do that. What we can do is improve your existing website to maximise its potential and more importantly, increase your brand's visibility online.

We've been working on the web for over 20 years, a lot has changed since the early days! 

Our team has gained valuable experience creating and optimising websites for a variety of companies based in the north-east and also abroad - helping businesses to succeed. We know how to enhance your website to make it search engine 'friendly'. We will analyse your traffic data to find its strengths and weaknesses, and build upon them. We can check usability, conversion and bounce rates to see where we can improve your online presence in order to assist you to increase sales.

Gone are the days of paying for a few dodgy links and tricking search engines with keyword spamming, but there are still many internal factors which will help boost your website's ranking - so improving your websites structure and content should always be the first place to start.

Competition for sought-after keywords is often fierce, so maximising the quality of your website has never been as important, the goal of good SEO should be to create the best content for each keyword - higher rankings and increased website visitors will then follow.

What you can expect

We'll get to know your business and listen to what you want to achieve, we need to know as much as possible about your business and industry before we can propose what we think is the best SEO strategy - detailing exactly which SEO services we can offer and which we think will have the most impact for your budget. If you already know exactly what you want, that's fine too - we're happy to complete only the tasks you want us to (we'll only charge you for the work we do).

If you require a full SEO service we'll give you a plan for the work we recommend, we'll schedule that work over a period of time to match your weekly or monthly budget and we'll report back on the results we're achieving. SEO is an ongoing process - don't expect immediate results, it isn't just a case of making some minor technical fixes on your website to solve all your problems.

We'll propose incremental changes to your website, to its content and to generate backlinks pointing to your website, prioritising the most important tasks first. We'll report back monthly (or bi-weekly if you prefer) on a list of keywords chosen by you - so that you can see the progress being made, and how you stack up against your competitors.

Gaining an accurate picture of your current organic rankings is an important starting point - rankings fluctuate on a daily basis so if you've only done the odd Google search to see where you rank for your most popular search terms you may not have an accurate representation of where you truly rank against your competitors. Developing a great keyword list will help identify areas where we should focus our efforts to improve your overall SEO performance is a good starting point. Our long-term goal is to get your website ranking higher, increase the amount of organic traffic to your site (traffic directly from search engine results pages) and increase the number of conversions your website achieves.

What we won't do!

The SEO industry seems full of false promises and so-called 'experts' offering things we know they simply can't guarantee.

We'll never promise anything we can't deliver on, we'd much rather undersell our services and over-deliver on the results they achieve - we'll never, for example, guarantee you first page rankings. We'd much rather explain exactly what we're going to do and why we're doing it.

We'll also never tie you into a long-term contract, whilst it does take time for implemented SEO work to have the desired effect, we don't think it's right to force customers into agreements which they're not comfortable with. All our SEO work is either completed on a rolling monthly contract (where you can cancel at any time), or for an agreed fixed price for each task we complete.

We're open with all our clients on the work we're doing (it's not a secret!) - so our clients know exactly what they're paying for and can judge our work with all the facts.

U Hold the Key Self Storage Client Testimonial Ean Parsons, U Hold The Key

"We have worked with Northgate Systems for over 6 years now and they have consistently helped us with all our IT requirements and on-line marketing. We now have superb interactive websites which allow customers to input their specific needs and find the best solution for their storage needs. The websites are the lifeblood of our trading and NS have helped us to achieve our successful business growth."

In The Paper Personalised Gifts - Client Testimonial Ian Phillipson, In The Paper

"My companies have worked with Northgate Systems nearly 10 years now. From the outset they have underpinned our e-commerce websites, always responding positively to the many new challenges in establishing and then constantly upgrading our software. The Northgate team really understand e-commerce and have the skills to implement effective on-line retailing activity."

On-Site - Things to consider

Great SEO includes a lot of things, below is a list of some of the basic things which you should consider doing to improve your website! Improving your website should always be the first thing you do for SEO - Google won't rank a poor website at the top of its results pages and other websites won't link to rubbish content. Making sure your website is better than your competitors should be your first priority!

Write Great Content

This is the most important point! Do this first, then fix all the other things, because without great content your page might as well not exist. Check what your competitors are doing - look for areas where their content is weak and do it better. Include keywords in your content that you want your page to be ranked for (but don't over do it).

Use relevant URLs

The url of your page is important - it should be relevant to your page and if possible not include any query parameters, for example, if your page content is about SEO - a good url would be '/seo' or '/search-engine-optimisation' not '/page2'.

Correctly Structure your HTML

H1, H2, H3, P, UL, OL etc. etc. The structure of your page is important - it tells search engines which is the most important (and least important) parts of your page.

Use The Relevant Meta Tags

Title, Description and Keywords have been around forever - but they're still important, maybe not as important as they used to be, but they're still worth including, they should also be relevant to the content of the page (not the site).

Optimise Images

Images are great for SEO - 'a picture tells a thousand words' after all, but make sure they're sized correctly - or you page speed will be too slow, have good alt text and titles - or google won't know what the image is, that they're named correctly and they're loaded only when they're needed.

Include Video Content

Users love videos, there's nothing better than watching a YouTube video to learn how to do something, including videos on your site will help increase the time users spend on your site and decrease your pages bounce rate.

More things to consider

Search engine optimisation doesn't just include a few things, unfortunately, it's not just a case of creating a good page, fixing a few problems and then that's the job done. You should always be looking for ways to improve your content - we're sure your competitors will be! Below is a list of some other things you may also want to consider.

  • Setup Google Search Console
  • Create and submit a sitemap
  • Create and submit a robots file
  • Setup 301 redirects from old urls
  • Create a custom 404 page
  • Add Schema Markup
  • Fix any javascript errors
  • Use image sprites for background images
  • Setup Google Analytics
  • Do keyword research
  • Do a competitor analysis
  • Use keywords in the correct places
  • Use keyword synonyms
  • Add external links to trusted authority sites
  • Add internal links to reduce bounce rate
  • Optimise your content for mobile traffic
  • Secure your site using HTTPS
  • Improve your page load speed (<3 seconds)

Contact us to improve your on-site SEO!

Link Building!

Link building isn't easy, it's hard and it's time-consuming, unfortunately, there isn't a magic site out there where you can simply enter your websites URL and suddenly everyone starts linking directly to your product pages and generating you sales.

So how does link building really work?

It all starts with content - if you have no good-quality content, you'll likely struggle to generate backlinks (links pointing back to your website). You need to have something to offer, if you have no valuable content - why would anyone add a link to their website pointing back to yours? Unless you pay them!

And whilst paying for links is an option, (and in some cases even recommended) - you don't want to pay for every backlink, do you?

Let's say, your online business sells TVs - it's going to be hard to get someone to link to one of your product pages directly - that's going to offer little value to other website owners. But what if you wrote an in-depth article on 'The top 5 TV's in 2018 for under £500' wouldn't this be more interesting for them to link to?

The starting point always needs to be great content! You need good quality content, that's related to your business and that's suitable for other website owners to link directly to.

How to generate links to your website

So you've written this great new article - it's got loads of images, accurate information and includes links to your product pages to make it easy for people to convert once they reach your site - what next? You need to find websites/people willing to link to your article.

As an example, why not do a google search for 'Best TVs for under £500' you'll likely find loads of similar articles to your own, including similar information (but obviously your article will be better - it needs to be!), why not find all the websites that link to each of those articles, contact them, give the reasons why your content is better - and suggest they link to your new article instead?

Or, why not do a search for 'Top 5 TVs in 2017' to find older articles, find the people who link to those, and email them and ask if they want to use your article for a similar feature this year - tell them why your article is great and send them a link to it.

This could generate you 50 or 100 potential leads which might be willing to link directly to your new article - sounds good. Now the hard part is convincing them that it's worth their time and effort to update their own website. The likelihood of a positive response will depend on a number of things, including - 1. How good your article is, 2. How good your website is, 3. How good your contact message is, 4. How easy it is for them to make the changes needed on their website.

Out of 100 potential leads, you may get 5 or 10 positive responses and new links! Which is great! So what next - you write another article and repeat the process, this time you make your article 'The best TV for less than £1000', you find a new list of leads, you email them, you get 5 or 10 more links.

Do this twice a month and in a year you could have 240 new links all bringing traffic to your website.


Contact us to get your link building campaign started!

Local SEO - For Local People?

Does your business serve customers directly from a physical shop or storefront? Do you only offer services to your local community? or operate within a close distance of each of your physical locations? If you do local SEO is vitally important to your business' online success.

For example, if you're a dentist, florist or car garage operating from a physical location - or a restaurant with a few locations, then local SEO is ideal for you. It helps your business get noticed by people searching for your services near you!

So - What does Local SEO really mean?

Take our business as an example, we're located in Stanhope, wouldn't it be great if potential customers living within our catchment area, searching for products and services we offer (like software development, web design and seo) could easily find our website on search engine results pages. Wouldn't it be great if customers located in nearby cities like Durham or Newcastle are also able to find us? Optimising your website for location-based search terms is vital if your business relies on local customers! Location variants like County Durham and Weardale may also be searched for - so try to cover those terms as well.

More and more online searches are being done via Mobile, in fact in many ways, mobile browsing is king - having overtaken traditional desktop searches. If you've ever searched for anything using the browser on your phone you'll know that most mobile search results pages show a map with local listings before any traditional results - if you're not on that map (you should be and) you're missing out!

Do I just need to set up my Google My Business Listing?

No - but Google My Business is an important aspect of local SEO, ensuring your GMB information is correct and up-to-date is important to let Google and everyone using it know where your business is located, using GMB helps to get your site listed in Google's advanced search features such as Local Search, Maps and Google+.

Don't forget about Bing Places - whilst it may not be used directly (by the vast majority of us), Bing search results are used more than you'd initially expect (Alexa anyone?)

Adding location specific content to your website is another important aspect of local SEO - including location keywords such as the town, city and county where your business is located naturally within your website copy is also important, as is adding schema 'Local Business' tags. Adding a Map and your full business address to your contact us page or website footer also wouldn't hurt.

Citation Site Listings - ensuring your business is listed on a variety of local directory sites, and that your information is consistent will also improve your local SEO.


Interested in optimising your Local SEO? Get in touch!

SEO Jargon!

We like an acronym as much as the next guy, but there's nothing worse than someone using them just for the sake of it!

We love to keep things simple, why overcomplicate things! We've compiled a list of the commonly used abbreviations, 'industry' terms and acronyms realted to SEO, to help clear some of the confusion.

Alt text (aka Alternative text)
Used to describe images, alt text should describe to search engines and end users what the image is, Alt text is not usually visible to the end user (unless they're using a browser which doesn't display images) but should be added to all images on your website to help identify what each image is.
Analytics (aka Google Analytics)
A program which tracks actions on your website, useful to identify trends and patterns users follow on your site, such as popular exit pages.
Algorithm (e.g. the Google Algorithm)
The process search engines use to rank their search results. Each search engine uses their own propriety algorithm in order to organise all the web pages they index.
SERP (Search Engine Results Pages)
e.g. "a page 1 SERP ranking" would be a ranking on the first page of the search engine.
Back Link (inbound link, incoming link)
Any clickable link on the web that points back to one of your pages. Increasing the number of good quality backlinks pointing to your website should be the aim.
Black Hat SEO
Tactics to improve search engine rankings by going against best practice, results achieved via black-hat techniques may lead to short-term success but in the long-term will have detrimental effects on rankings.
Bounce Rate
A web pages bounce rate is a percentage value (generally the lower the bounce rate the better), a 50% bounce rate would suggest that half the number of visits to the page leave the site without visiting another page on the website.
Canonical (aka Canonical Url)
A web pages 'canonical url' is the preferred url for the page. Setting the canonical url of each webpage is often suggested when the same content can be viewed on multiple urls - it identifies the original version of the content.
Conversion Rate
A % value indicating how many visits complete a desirable action, e.g. a conversion rate of 50% would suggest that 1 in every 2 visitors completes a desirable action or 'conversion'.
Authority
The total amount of credibility/trust that a site currently has - calculated by the combined quantity and quality of inbound links from other sites. An 'authority site' is a site which has achieved a high level of authority, a site that has a significant number of links from other quality/credible websites. Wikipedia is a good example of an authority site (lots of sites link directly to it and its achieved a perceived level of quality).