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There are quite a few definitions of positioning to be found in the depths of the Internet. Let us briefly define positioning as a process that aims to bring a website to the top of organic search results in a given search engine. What’s the best way to do this? We’re here to reveal the secrets.
SEO – Search Engine Optimization
While positioning doesn’t exist exclusively in the context of Google, when we speak of positioning, it is most often within Google’s search engine. It is worth noting that positioning is a time-intensive process, and accordingly, divided into stages. A SEO specialist, at the auditing and strategy stage, will define the needs of the website being positioned, plan the necessary actions, and break them down into steps to be implemented. Positioning tasks can also be classified as on-site or off-site.
On-site tasks focus on improving the web page itself. It is generally referred to as web page optimization. The most popular on-site activities undertaken by SEO specialists are:
- Optimization of the head section, such as meta tags,
- Optimization of the page content itself,
- Optimization of graphics,
- Optimization of links throughout the page,
- Optimization in terms of friendly subpage URLs,
- Improvement of the page’s capability to be indexed by web crawlers,
- Removal of unwanted duplicates,
- Speeding up page functionality,
- Possible expansion of the site itself.
Off-site work does not involve any changes to the site itself. As opposed to on-site SEO, off-site work does not require website access. It is most often associated with the addition of new links pointing to the site. This is what is known as the backlinking process. Some off-site parameters are beyond the positioner’s control, however, such as the age or history of the domain. Important off-site parameters include:
- Work related to development and improvement of the site’s backlink profile
- The competitiveness of the sector/industry
- The client’s activity level across various forms of internet marketing (articles, interviews, sponsored articles, etc.)
- The age of the domain
- The domain’s history
Off-site SEO primarily revolves around tasks related to backlinking. SEO specialists audit a site’s backlinks, draft a linking strategy, and evaluate which existing links are superfluous, or even potentially dangerous for the site, and if necessary, remove them from the backlink profile.
If a site is currently being penalized by Google (i.e.: is being filtered out) for a reason related to backlinking, the SEO specialist will work to remove the violation and resulting penalty. Because every site has different requirements, we avoid categorically declaring that site X will increase their backlinks by Y inside a month, or sticking to only one type of link source.
On-site and off-site SEO work together symbiotically. Using them both usually yields far better results, than when only one is used. The order in which they are performed is also important. When, in the course of an audit, we notice that the site requires modifications related to, for example, subpage addresses, we perform those fixes first, and then work on backlinking. The rule of thumb is that backlinking is performed on a site that is already in good shape. This brings better results.
SEO for services and local positioning
Does SEO for services differ significantly from SEO for e-commerce? There is no definite answer here. For work on the section or page content, the backlinking process should be similar (though link sources may differ between the two). The differences will occur in the approach to key phrase selection (the meaning of long tail phrases for e-commerce) or in the meaning of phrases containing the city name, as well as introducing data that facilitates linking the site with a given location.
Google emphasizes matching search results to locations in searches related to services. This is based on the logical assumption that, if I am looking for “hairdresser Berlin” and this is the query I type into the search engine, then I am looking for to get my hair done in the German capital, and not, say, Düsseldorf.
It’s important, then, to make sure that there are clear pointers within your site as to what location you want it linked with, for web crawlers to pick up. One very simple method for linking your business with a specific location is to include a physical address on the contact page of your site. If your business has branches in several cities, it’s a good idea to create a contact subpage (with a physical address) for each of them.
SEO for e-commerce
SEO for e-commerce involves both on-site and off-site SEO. It is often focused on ensuring visibility for long tail phrases. Other aspects specific to SEO for e-commerce include:
- A large amount of content useful for positioning the site (product descriptions, categories and subcategories; a blog)
- Implementing rich snippets (previously, structured data)
- An SSL certificate is mandatory (you can easily tell if an SSL certificate has been implemented by the site’s URL — if there is one present, the URL will begin with https://)
- Ensure friendly URLs for sub-pages (if your e-commerce platform allows it)
- Dealing with external duplicates of product descriptions
- Making sure that any offsite links in your online store contain a nofollow attribute
- Properly implemented pagination, in order to avoid duplicate content and title tags
- Minimizing sub-pages with 404 errors
- Redirecting non-working sub-pages to ones that are functional (discontinued product pages, for example) Just as with service-oriented sites, it’s important to add new content to your website. Aside from a new section or blog, client reviews are a good way to accomplish this. Aside from their role in SEO, they can also positively influence purchase decisions.
The Google search engine is like an avid reader with developed tastes. They like original, interesting and expansive content on a web page. So how can you make sure you cater to their taste with some tasty content?
- Distribute keywords throughout all your site’s sub-pages.
- Make sure that you cover a given topic exhaustively on one subpage; do it once and do it well, without spreading yourself too thin. This is the formula for success!
- Don’t take the easy way out and copy your own text between pages – Google will sniff out duplicates.
- Match the style of your writing to the feel of the page itself – you would use a different tone on a business blog than you would on the FAQ, and a different one still when describing products.
- Add a few internal links – for example, you can link to products you write about on your blog.
- If you use copywriters, take the time to come up with some clear guidelines for them to follow, and mutually agree upon a schedule.
- Even the best copy means nothing, if it never gets published. Don’t stick it in a drawer (or a folder on your desktop) and forget about it.
- Click through your site and ensure that everything displays correctly.
The most common SEO problems
Let’s be frank — SEO is a service that requires a great degree of interaction between the client and the specialist. This often means that it’s not only the tangible, measurable results that determine client satisfaction, but the relationship itself: communication, mutual understanding, timeliness, etc. Below are some selected areas that can become contentious during the SEO process:
- Communication problems — these can involve terminology used by both sides (language that’s too technical, lack of a common vocabulary, etc.) or miscommunication in defining priorities for both sides.
- Implementing site changes — deciding which party is responsible for implementation, establishing, timelines for implementation, who verifies the changes, dealing with additional costs that are generated, etc.
- Difficulty in defining goals and setting realistic expectations — these could be inadequate from a budget standpoint, or with regards to the deadlines, or technical scope of what is planned.
- Technical problems with the site, down times.
- Problems with indexing by web crawlers — missing elements that crawlers need, unnecessary elements being indexed (such as login screens).
- Difficulties with matching key phrases to the site content, incomplete product offer on the site.
- Lack of content with the necessary key phrases on the site.
- SEO is not connected to other marketing activity, and there is a lack of communication in this respect.
Best SEO practices
We present below a list of 10 best practices related to Search Engine Optimization:
- Make sure your website is robust and complete. It’s a good idea to present your offer on sub-pages dedicated to each category or product.
- Don’t forget about a clear and logical menu! If you want effective SEO, it’s best to avoid one page type sites. Don’t forget about a properly implemented SSL certificate!
- Avoid duplicates — content, sub-pages, main page, even the entire site, external and internal duplicates. Uniqueness is important not just when it comes to people!
- Pay attention to friendly subpage URLs. It’s best to avoid using capital letters and diacritics. Correct URLs have an impact on SEO and whenever possible, it’s also a good idea to use as many keywords as possible in URLs as well. A URL such as https:// our-store.com/womens-footwear/ incorporates keywords, as opposed to one like https://our-store.com/ladies/.
- It’s also good practice to not let your URLs get too long. For example, something like: https:// ourcompany.com/about-us/our-team/ management/ is overly long, and could be easily be shortened to something more friendly like: https://ourcompany.com/management/.
- Use Google Search Console and Google Analytics — they are sources of very important information about your site.
- Removing or modifying site content — it’s worth consulting any changes with a SEO specialist in order to avoid any drops in ranking or site traffic.
- Don’t shut your site down for holidays. There are better ways to communicate a temporary disruption in service or communication that don’t interfere with the position you’ve fought so hard for.
- If you plan to build a new site or revamp your existing one, it’s a good idea to talk with an SEO specialist about making it SEO-friendly from the ground up.
- Create an attractive 404 page — it can keep a potential client from leaving your site.
- Maintain a blog or news section on your site and update it regularly with new content.
SEO Experts reporting for duty
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This is a chapter from Adbook 2022 – the ultimate Digital Marketing Guide from Verseo. Check the full Guide in Verseo Academy!