SEO and Local SEO
SEO and Local SEO are crucial components of any website design and website building project. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the way in which websites can improve their chance of being found during searches. The two largest search engines by far are Google and Bing with Google currently powering twice as many searches as Bing. However, Bing is the faster growing search engine of the two and is to large to be ignored. Fortunately, both search engines use similar criteria for how they deliver search results. Below is a somewhat simplistic summary of the key areas to be considered when designing or building a website:
- Website name. Search engines want to deliver relevant searches. Leaving aside the other factors listed below, if someone searches for 'house sitting' or 'pet sitting', the search engines will be more likely to offer a site called: housesittingandpetsitting.com than one called minders-keepers.co.uk
- Website Loading Speed. Internet users will click away from slow loading websites, so a website's architecture need to be designed to be fast loading, particularly as the trend for searches to be carried out on mobile technology continues apace.
- Well-Written Content. Well-written content is essential for success. Search engines will punish sites that are badly written. Google and Bing check sites and demote those where they find incorrect spelling, poor punctuation and bad grammar.
- Images & Video. All images need careful optimising to reduce page load times while still maintaining the quality of the image's appearance. Slow loading sites are demoted in the search rankings. Other media added to websites needs similar treatment.
- Back Links. The single most valuable asset for SEO purposes is back links where other websites have a placed a link 'back' to your site. Having a website registered with good web directory sites can help build back links.
- Longevity. Subject to certain other criteria, Google do give preference to websites which have been in existence for some time over recently launched websites.
- Fresh Content. Websites on which the content never changes do not score as highly with the major search engines as sites which regularly introduce fresh content. Having a 'News' or 'Blog' section with well-written articles definitely helps a website's ranking with the search engines.
- Google My Business. Registering business details on Google My Business is a considerable help to websites wishing to be found in local searches.
- BingPlaces. As for Google, a BingPlaces business listing significantly improves a website's chance of being found for local searches.
- Local Business Directories. Listings on local authority, town or county directories and other local sources helps achieve visibility for local searches.
The image below shows Page 1 of the search results in Bing when searching for 'website design hitchin'. The first results displayed above the organic results and also to the right of them are paid adverts (shaded green), next up are the local search results with website links (shaded yellow), followed by a handful of organic search results and then further paid adverts (shaded green). Looking further at the organic search results highlights th efact that over half the organic search results are directories (shaded pink).
Trying to get a website as one of the handful of sites featured on page 1 of the organic search results in incredibly difficult. However, featuring in the local search results for Google and Bing is far easier to accomplish. Similarly, looking at the organic search results, it is apparent that over half the results are directories and businesses can register FREE with most of those directories. This offers another simple, great value, opportunity to be found for local searches. In addition, many of the directories do provide a back link to the websites registered with them, thus offering a further SEO advantage.