At Akira, we build websites.
The best websites we build, by far, are created from the ground up with SEO (search engine optimisation) at their heart.
However, we know that to some clients, SEO is a mystery.
It looks like we’re just adding services that they can do themselves, such as writing content.
(We do explain, but sometimes we get that glazed "I don't talk techie" look back!)
So, why do ALL websites need SEO, and how does it benefit your business?
We’re not going to tell you.
Instead we’re going to let one of Google's Webmasters tell you!
Why every website needs SEO
(as explained by Google themselves)
The guys who actually create Google’s algorithms have been talking about how to ensure your website ranks well, and why that’s important. To be honest, it’s exactly what we’ve been recommending for years, but it’s nice to have it confirmed, direct from a high-up honcho employed by the biggest search engine in the world.
Watch, read or both
Take 10 minutes to listen to the YouTube video below, and read on whilst its running for our summary and notes, written from well over a decade of experience in developing business websites and expert SEO services. (Time codes refer to the video.)
What is a search engine? (0:57)
The analogy Google uses in this video is that a search engine is like a librarian; they show you the section you require, which contains many books on your chosen subject, but not a specific book. What Google crawling does is that it opens every book, has a look inside, and indexes (catalogues) it according to two key criteria:
- What is this content about?
- What purpose does it serve?
Let’s hit the pause button right now. This word ‘purpose’ will come up time and time again in the video. In this case, it means:
The purpose of your website in terms of the user, not your business.
So, you need to decide from the start of your website project:
- What is the purpose of each and every page on my website?
- Does it serve a real purpose for the user, i.e. potential clients and customers?
Hold that thought for a minute, because the next think that Google does is assess which websites it has indexed serve that particular purpose. According to Martin Splitt, WebMaster Trends Analyst for Google (the guy with the beard), Google uses over 200 signals to work this out.
What are Google signals? (2:51)
Signals are simply website elements that Google use to analyse. It’s similar to a checklist. The more ticks there are, the ‘better’ the website. What’s really interesting is that from the 200 signals available, Martin highlights just five:
- Page title
- Meta description
Hit that pause button again! Let’s look at those five signals in a bit more detail:
• Page title
This is the meta title for the page. The page title text appears in the browser tab when you run your mouse over it. It’s NOT the URL (address).
Lots of web developers just let this auto-fill with something like “Home - Fido Services”. That’s doesn’t tell Google much about the content of the page. Change it to a keyword-rich title, however, and Google laps it up. (More on meta tags below.)
Does Akira do this? YES It's included in our SEO copywriting service.
• Meta description
This is a short paragraph that describes in more detail the contents of the page. It doesn’t appear on the actual website page, but might appear in search results. If you don’t write your own meta description, some systems auto-paste in the first paragraph of your page. To Google, this is just you repeating yourself. And Google hates repetition - it’s not useful to the user.
Does Akira do this? YES It's included in our SEO copywriting service.
This is the biggie. Good content:
- serves a purpose,
- is useful to the user
- gives Google the best idea of what you and your website are about.
It also should be specific to the page. Google wants to fulfil the purpose of the user’s search, after all. So, if the user is searching for “dog nail clipping service”, they don’t want to end up on a page about “dog cuddly toys”.
At Akira, we believe every page should earn its place on your website real estate and do the biz even if it’s the only page of yours a user sees. That’s because it’s the only page that they need to see, as it fulfils their purpose.
Does Akira do this? YES - it’s our SEO copywriting service!
Martin isn’t talking about images as decoration, he’s talking about images that add something to the whole experience. Make sure your images look great and fulfil a purpose (getting a theme here?).
Does Akira do this? YES, we can add meaningful stock images to any website if you don’t have good quality images of your own, as part of our website design service.
Links come in three flavours, in order of priority:
- Internal: page to page within your website
- Inbound: links from other website to yours
- Outbound: links from your website out to others
Does Akira do this? YES as follows. Internal links are included in SEO copywriting, inbound links are created as part of our social media service, and outbound links are used sparingly where appropriate (you can easily overdo outbound links!).
Right, onwards with the video.
What are the top 3 things I should do to make my website discoverable? (3:17)
Oooh, we love this section! This is as close to Google saying “Do this and you’ll rank” as we’ve ever heard. They are:
1. Good content
Yes, content again, content that users need and/or want. Martin also says that the content should use words the user is using. It should speak their language, not yours. You may call it a 'Canine BV8 2000D nutrition distribution system', but that’s not going to get you ranked if your user is searching for a dog bowl.
Does Akira do this? YES, yes, and yes! At Akira, we ensure your website content speaks your user’s language by conducting in-depth keyword research. This discovers the real phrases potential customers are typing in every day to Google to find products and services like yours. It shows hundreds of words, ranked by how effective they would be, and what the level of competition is like.
What's more, we then establish your website’s brand ‘voice’. This ensures your website contents ‘says’ the right words, and says them in the right way so that users feel your website and your services are just right for them. We then write the right length of content, in your brand voice and include the best keywords in both content AND your meta tags (see above).
2. Meta tags
Does Akira do this? YES. We know the formulas that work, and how long meta tags should be, etc. All part of our SEO copywriting service.
This is the ‘under the bonnet’ stuff that Akira Studio excels at. A high performance website is quick to load, attractive to look at, and is constructed so that it is easily discovered, is more visible. In short, performance enables users to get to their content quickly.
Does Akira do this? YES, it’s at the heart of our technical website design and development. Speed and reliability are also key elements of our website hosting. A website’s speed is only as good as the server it’s hosted on. If your server is slow, your website is slow. Ours are fast, robust, secure, and located in the country you do business in. Our hosting prices are also very competitive!
And finally, the big question:
Why is it important for a website to appear in the top search results? (7:52)
In short, users need to know about your business. If they don’t know about you, they won’t find you. They won’t be searching for a brand or a product they don’t know about yet. They’ll be searching with a specific purpose, such as finding dishwasher-safe dog bowls. At that stage they won’t care if they are ceramic, metal, or made by Gucci or Poochie.
Once they find your website listed in the search results, they can click through and THEN discover why your dog bowl is so much better than the rest.
Ranking #1 in Google
Let’s be clear here; nobody can rank #1 in Google in every single search. That’s because of the influence of the other 196 signals Martin mentioned, PLUS the precise words the potenital customers uses, PLUS the effect of your geographical location, PLUS the actions of your competitors. They all want that top slot too.
Also, if your content on stainless steel non-slip hygienic dog bowls is much more in-depth and useful than your content on pretty ceramic dog bowls, guess which page will rank better.
And that’s the key. At Akira, we write content that allows your website to be found for a whole range of keywords, not just one or two.
We’re also realistic.
You won’t rank No1 in Google for dog bowls even with a massive marketing budget and a team of 200. Amazon will beat you every time. However, focus on a specific keyword, such as “dishwasher safe stainless steel dog bowl” and look what happens:
Searches and snippets
OK, eBay is top in this search, but look at that “People also ask” section. That’s what Martin describes in the video as ‘rich snippets’. You can find out all about them in our blog: https://www.akirastudio.com/blog/entry/user-intent-rich-snippets-1.
Below that are a lot of independent retailers websites and even a blog dating back to 2012. (That’s why we also offer blogs as part of the social media service!)
This is just one on a series of videos - find them all at the Google Webmasters Channel for great info direct from the top search engine’s top guys.
Or call us to discuss your website design and SEO copywriting requirements’ we’re happy to help with as much or as little as you need.