Implementing search engine optimization
The details of your SEO process depend on your objectives and the special characteristics of your operating field. Our expert consultants will take responsibility of your SEO project that proceeds through carefully crafted four stages.
1. Preliminary research – we find the problems
SEO is always carried out according to the needs and goals of your company. Preliminary research is necessary because the concrete measures for optimisation always depend on the starting point of the website.
Our consultant will determine the current state of your online service in order to be able to choose the correct measures. At this stage, we analyze the content, technical implementation, and initial visibility of your service, and study your competitors’ websites. For the foundation of the actual optimisation, the consultant will determine the popularity of different search terms. In this way, we ensure that your website is found with the correct search terms.
2. Implementation – we solve the problems
Preliminary research is an essential foundation for search engine optimisation. The optimisation measures are always chosen based on the preliminary research of your company’s website. The choice is based on the your online service – the technology and content management system as well as their possible limitations. If the online service’s technology sets limits on SEO, we suggest measures to remove the restrictions. At the same time, we try to find alternative ways to carry out the optimisation. In this way, your optimisation can be implemented at as reasonable a price as possible.
3. Measuring – we measure and report the results
We analyze and report the results. To measure the results, we use a visitor tracking program suitable for your intended uses. If necessary, we will install a tracking system. The most popular and common solution for small and medium-sized companies is Google Analytics, which is a very versatile tracking system – not to mention that it is also free. With a tracking system, your company can acquire information about visitors to your site, the sources of the traffic, and the productivity of different user groups. Therefore, the tracking system can help you improve your company’s results.
4. Follow-up and development – we continuously improve your site
Search engine optimisation can be carried out on a one-time basis. One-time optimisation always improves the site’s ranking in search results, but climbing to the very top takes perseverance and long-term work. The best results are achieved when results are monitored and the site is continuously improved. However, high rankings are not permanent because your competitors also use SEO. That’s why good rankings in search results require constant optimisation.
Four stages of search engine optimisation
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Ten tips for search engine optimisation
The following ten tips will help you take care of the basics of your company’s find ability. The results always depend on the competitive situation in the relevant line of business. If there are few companies or websites in the field, it will be reasonably easy to achieve a high rank. But if your site has many competitors, it will be a whole lot more difficult. It will require much more extensive search engine optimisation.
1. Find out the real search terms
You need to find out what exact search terms your potential customers use when they seek solutions to their problems online. Don’t make assumptions: carry out a search term survey, or have someone do it for you. There is no sense in doing SEO for words that no-one uses or that don’t generate sales.
2. Title your site properly
Two different types of titles are used in website text: one of them is visible in the actual content. The other title, the one more essential for SEO can be seen in the top bar of your browser. Pay attention to your page titles because search engines give them high priority. Page titles should describe the content or purpose of the site and contain important search terms. Titles should be page-specific. Titles are also presented in search results as page titles, so you should make them appealing.
3. Write an attractive meta-description
For each page of the online service, write a unique source code meta-description which briefly describes the contents of the page in question. Search engines display the meta-description in connection with the search results. For this reason, the most important purpose of the description is to get search engine users to click the link to your website. An attractive meta-description, together with a good search ranking can attract more visitors to your site than simply being number one in the results.
4. Remember to use the search terms in the text
Search engines emphasize the upper part of the page. That’s why you should write head-notes that contain your search terms. Other good places for search terms are sub-headings and the first sentences of paragraphs. If you want to rank high with the phrase “search engine optimisation” it must appear in this exact form on your site. Nowadays, search engines can also recognize inflections, though this doesn’t work particularly well just yet. But it is still worth using different forms such as “search engine optimized” and “optimized for search engines”.
5. Don’t use the search terms too much
Don’t exaggerate in adding search terms to your text and titles. First and foremost, the text needs to be clear and readable because search engines try to evaluate websites as “humanly” as possible. Users leaf through websites in a cursory way – they may only read the first couple of sentences, sub-headings, and lists. These must offer the visitor a sufficient idea of the content. Using search terms too often may have a negative effect on the search results because search engines can “see” if the text contains too many of the search terms. A good search engine doesn’t lead people to bad websites!
6. Keep navigation simple
Modern online services are often implemented with lots of graphics. However, navigation should always be done through text links – search engines understand text, not images. That’s why the use of images, Flash animations, Java, and ActiveX scripts for navigation can lower your rank in search results.
7. Use h1 and h2 headlines
The technical implementation of headlines has an influence on search engine findability. You should definitely use the standard h1 and h2 tags for your headlines. Search engines rank the information in these tags much higher than words in regular text. Line breaks and a bold font alone do not help search engines to identify the text as a headline. The outlook of the actual headlines can, of course, be freely formatted with CSS styles.
8. Use explicit URL addresses
The keywords in your URL address are valuable for search engines and increase your findability. Therefore you should write the URL in as plain language as possible. This helps users conclude the contents of the page already from the address. In addition, it is easy to dictate the address over the phone.
The keywords should be separated with short hyphens so they are more distinguishable (whitespaces should be avoided because server and browser applications change them into various strings of characters, making the URL harder to read).
9. Acquire links
External links are one of the most important things that have an effect on search engine find ability. According to search engine logic, more links lead to good sites than to bad ones. They should also be high-quality links because search engines do not allow artificial links created by the webmaster himself.
Acquiring quality links requires expertise. An easy way to do a small-scale linking campaign is to add your website to web directories. Another way to increase links is to invest in high-quality content. Good content makes it attractive for other websites to link to yours.
10. Be patient
Search engine optimisation, improving online find ability, and achieving results take time and patience. Don’t panic, and don’t expect your site to rise to the top right away – patience and continuous improvement will be rewarded in the end.
Instructions for online service providers
A well-functioning online service consists of three elements:
● Visual appearance
These also influence the findability of the website. There should be plenty of unique content, the technology should follow standards and be fast, and the visual appearance should be pleasing for users without hindering search engines. By following the six instructions below, your optimisation will be on solid ground.
Use meta-descriptions of your content
HTML makes it possible to describe the website’s contents with different meta-attributes. They are extremely significant in building a search engine-friendly and findable service. That’s why the website’s code and content management system must support page-specific meta-elements.
● Description & title: The technology of the online service must allow for page-specific meta-descriptions and meta-titles.
● Keywords: Leave the keywords empty.
● Language: Mark the document language as <meta name=“language” content=“en”> if the site is in English.
●URL addresses: If possible, the address structure should be clear, for example, www.company.fi/services-products/ or www.company.fi/services-products.php. This improves the user experience and makes it possible to create descriptive address structures. It is also good if it’s possible to modify the addresses later on.
Design a clear structure
A clear structure makes your service easier to use and manage, and helps search engines understand the structure and contents.
● Structure: Create a structure with which users can access every page of the service with a maximum of three clicks.
● Unique content: Don’t recycle content from other sites. Avoid duplicate content. For example, you shouldn’t be able to access your front page with the addresses www.company.fi/index.php and www.company.fi/frontpage. The most important thing is to avoid creating identical pages. Partial occurrence of the same information on different pages doesn’t matter unless the overlap is significant.
● Site map: If possible, build a site map for your online service. It does not have to be a dominant element in the service. Usually a little link to the site map is enough.
Search engines and users look for content
You should not publish pages without content. For example, different types of entry pages are usually unnecessary for both the user experience and search engine findability. Use promotion boxes to lead people to the desired sections of the site. Keep the contents clear and easy to understand. Promotion boxes are brief summaries of important content on subpages. For example, if you have an important product, place a brief description of it on the front page to guide users to the product page.
Publish content that is interesting to your potential users. Product and service descriptions are usually more appealing to users than corporate introductions. Present important sections on the home page. Don’t fill your home page with various company introductions or news. Users who come to your site because of search engine results or advertisements are interested in your products or services. Tell your customers how you can benefit them instead of using empty words about strategy, mission, or vision. Tell them what problems your service can solve or how your product will make the customer’s life easier.
Search engines love content. Try to create meaningful content on subpages so that the important pages have at least 500 characters of content. This significantly improves your chances of acquiring visitors through search engines. Often even more content is necessary. That’s why blogs are such popular ways of gradually increasing content on websites.
The content should be easy to read. Therefore, use
● Bold fonts for emphasis
These make it easier to read long texts and to quickly get a picture of the contents.
Keep the technology simple
Technology is a good assistant. Unfortunately, many of the technologies used on the web nowadays strongly hinder the operation of search engines. Using such technologies weaken your visibility in Google results.
● Flash: Avoid animations. Flash-animations reduce find ability. If you want to be found easily, avoid Flash technology, and never use it to present all of your content. Although Google and Adobe co-operated in 2008 to integrate Google with a technology that reads Flash content, Flash content cannot be indexed as well as text in search engines.
● Standards: Follow standards. Search engines love standards. For this reason, the code of an online service must be according to standard (xHTML, HTML, CSS). Use a W3C validator to make sure your code markup meets web standards. We recommend that websites are made with the xHTML 1.0 Transitional markup language. If possible, the layout of your online service should be performed with div elements. Only use table elements for actual tables.
● Semantics: Code your online service semantically, or meaningfully, by using HTML elements (H1, H2, Strong etc.). Semantics make it possible to emphasize different things in a way that search engines understand. For example, search engines cannot identify the tag Title as a title. Respectively, if a title is marked as <h1>title</h1> search engines identify it as the main title.
● Technology: The technology should allow the use of links, images, and other important element extensions (e.g., alt and title tags).
● Linking: Use absolute links. For example, “http://www.company.fi/optimisation/” is better than the relative link “optimisation”.
● Images: Avoid replacing text with images. Page titles and text should always be in HTML.
Keep the site small and fast
Keep an eye on image sizes. Although high-speed internet connections are commonplace, search engines evaluate website accessibility based on, e.g., download time. The difference between two and ten seconds is immense – it can make or break your sale!
In addition, pay attention to the speed of the server your service is using. The cheapest web hosts aren’t fast enough – even for small-enterprise sites!
Do not camouflage content
Camouflaging content means offering different content to service users and search engines. Search engines have prohibited content camouflaging because the use of this technique prevents search engines from giving accurate results.
Usually, content camouflaging is technically based on identification by user agent or IP address. All significant search engines (including Google, MSN Live Search, and Yahoo) have prohibited camouflaged content. Using the method can lead to the removal of the site from the search engine’s index.
The starting point of developing a search engine-friendly online service is high-quality coding, content, and structure. This gives the best possible foundation for find ability.