- On-Site SEO [On-Page SEO]
- Off-Site SEO [Off-Page SEO]
- Understanding Google Search Console & Google Analytic
- Domain Name Change of Address Effect on SEO – Website Migration
- Recommendations for SEO
Search Engine Optimisation, also known as SEO, deals with ways of improving a website ranking in search engine result page (SERP). The ultimate aim of SEO is for a website page to appear in the first page of Google search engine results or even better occupy the first position.
Many regards SEO as a form of Digital Marketing since it promotes the business products and services to wider audiences on the internet. This form of promotion and marketing can be effectively achieved by careful consideration of the market and the business competitors.
SEO metrics and site statistics
To rank in the first page of Google results requires careful analysis of many SEO metrics in order to meet your site visitor’s interests and expectations. This can be achieved after extensive consideration of all the important SEO ranking factors, which are listed below, that affect the search engine optimisation process (SEO).
The ranking in a search engine, such as Google or Bing, is dependent on many factors.
This article describes all major terminology and metrics that are used within the field of Search Engine Optimisation SEO. These factors are grouped into two categories: On-Site SEO and Off-Site SEO. There will also be a good introduction on Google Analytics and Google Search Console tools and how best to utilise them. Finally, some important tips are offered on domain moves and its effect on SEO.
This tutorial can serve as a good reference guide and source of help for top SEO tips for beginners and best SEO practices. For those seeking a good fundamental understanding of the major concepts and techniques of SEO this informative article can also serve a good starting point guide for beginners seeking for successful implementation of SEO.
2. On-Site SEO
The definition or the the meaning of On-Site SEO is the Search engine optimisation activities that can be controlled internally within the website that can produce an impact on the site performance. This process of website optimisation, which is also known as On-Page SEO, relates to the techniques of improving website contents and structure to yield a higher ranking in Google search engine result pages. The process includes the following factors:
This is the most significant part in SEO strategy and represents the main words or phrases that will be included and emphasized in every web page of a website.The basic idea is to create a set of ranking keywords for every page. These keywords must relate to the actual words that an internet user or visitor may type in search engine. It is important therefore to research these keywords in order to target the correct audience.
For example, if a user is searching for “London Computer Repair”, then in order to optimise your web page you need to include the keywords London, Computer and Repair in the following sections: title tag, description tag, page heading, URL text, image alt text, internal links and external links.It is worth remembering that the allowed keyword repetition rate (word density) is around 2-3%. However, the recommended number of words for effective ranking improvement is around 2000 words. This means your keywords can be repeated around 60 times each before it can be considered as spam.
The term keyword density refers to the number of times a phrase or a word is repeated within a web page divided by the page total number of words. Beware, however, a high level of keywords repetition (keyword density) may have a negative impact on the page’s search rank as it could be considered as a form of spam.
- Page Contents:
This section represents a significant positive signal to the search engine therefore it must be given first priority. If you want to distinguish yourself and promote a unique website then you need unique contents. Neil Patel, a well-known SEO writer, quoted: “Your competition and industry leaders are writing 16+ every single month“. So you get the idea, and this will apply to every type of site including service providers.
- Title tag:
A small section within a web page that defines the text that will be shown in the title of the web page search result. For example, in a Google SERP the title is shown in bold as the first line entry in the search result. The title represents the major keywords within a web page and should be considered carefully for better search results ranking.
- Description tag:
A more detailed description of the contents of a web page is shown in this section. Once more, the description tag should be carefully constructed to attract visitors to your site. It must contain a good balance of keywords that reflects the service on offer and informative contents.
- Mobile friendly:
With more and more people using portable devices such as tablets and mobile phones it is important that websites are optimised to run efficiently on these devices. Approximately half of the searches are performed by mobile devices. All search engines gives greater precedence to websites that provide more mobile friendliness and efficient contents that can adapt to different screen sizes. Luckily, most website development platforms such as WordPress, Joomla and many others are readily compatible to support different type of devices.
- URL text:
Web page url should contain meaningful search keywords. A well structured url with keywords separated by hyphens seems to be the common convention.
- Images tags:
This is an overlooked aspect of SEO practice. It is important to remember that image tag serves two purposes; identify useful keywords relevant to the web page and also can serve as a placeholder when the image fails to load correctly.
- Heading text:
All web pages should follow a hierarchical structure of text organisation. Page title, heading 1, heading 2 and so. This can improve the readability and the organisation of the information to your visitors. Therefore it is no wonder that search engines favours headings structures and promotes well organised web pages. This is yet another opportunity to embed important keywords into these headings.
- Internal links:
Very often we hear about external links (backlinks), but equally important a website should have a well structured internal web pages linking. Many experts believe that this is an under-discovered territory and seems to be ignored as a ranking factor. A well organised website with good internal linking can direct visitors to other parts of the website hence reducing bounce rate for example.
- Page loading time:
Many visitors do not have the patience to wait for a slow loading page. It is important to optimise web page contents, especially images, so that the page can load at a reasonably fast time. A loading time of below 2 seconds is regarded as acceptable time. Many search engines send warnings alerts to website administrators alerting them of this issue, if applicable, for immediate rectification.
3. Off-Site SEO
Also known as Off-Page SEO, this concept deals with ranking factors that are outside the boundary of your website and hence is more difficult to control. This can include the following:
This concept refers to external sources (websites) that are pointing to your website via a url link. This can be a web directory, blogs and forums, profile sites or any other link that is pointing to your website.Backlinks have precedence over other ranking factors and therefore usually given more weight by search engines in terms of ranking a website.So if you only rely on page contents, it will be a slow process to improve the ranking of your website.Acquiring backlinks is not easy to start with since you need to establish some rapport with other websites to gain their trust.Backlinks gives a signal to the search engine that your website is trusted by established sites and has important pages that should be promoted in the result.
The strength of the backlink dictates the benefit that link brings to your website.Usually .gov and .edu are regarded as the highest trust type of domains and hence if you acquire few links of this type your website will be promoted significantly.In general, backlinks are grouped into two types: Do-Follow Backlinks and No-Follow Backlinks. The do-follow links provide a certified link that the referer has given to your site and hence has the a positive effect on the ranking of your website page.In contrast, no-follow backlinks offer no affiliation from the referer site to your website and hence has limited impact on the ranking of your web page.It is a common misconception that no-follow backlinks have no effect or a negative effect on your website. In reality, all websites require a good balance of both types of the aforementioned backlinks. From our experience a relevant no-follow backlinks has positive impact on your web page ranking.
- Social Media:
All businesses nowadays have some kind of presence in social media websites such as: Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and many others. Keeping a regular update on these websites can attract more customers and send a positive signals to search engines. In addition, you can add useful articles and links to your websites. This process enhances your website exposures and improve search engine ranking.
- Online reviews:
Many customers resorts to online reviews before deciding to contact a business. It is therefore very important to build a positive review portfolio to attract more clients and enhance the level of confidence in your business.We have seen noticeable improvement is search engine ranking following positive reviews from our clients. This was particularly important in areas further distanced from our service provision base.Google search engine link the address of the reviewer to the page in your website. So if you happen to have a service provision for a number of areas and cities make sure you receive some positive reviews from clients in those areas. Google will reward you with improved ranking for those relevant pages.
- Advertising and Promotions:
Many new websites and some reputable businesses resort to advertising campaigns to promote their website and services. One good example is the us of Google AdWords service where a business is promoted at the top of the search results page and is usually distinguished with the symbol Ad. The cost of these advertising is based on Pay-per-Click schedule, ie you pay per every viewer click. This is regarded as Non-Organic Search as compared to naturally displayed unpaid Organic Search results.
4. Understanding Google Search Console & Google Analytics
Google Analytics and Google Search Console are two advanced tools that provide website administration and extensive data analysis and statistics about search performances. It is important to understand the concepts behind these useful utilities in order to maximise your site performance.
Google Search Console is concerned with the administration side of your website. This includes site registration, site verification, adding web pages to search index and other related tasks. In contrast, Google Analytics focuses on data analysis and site performance metrics such as CTR, number of visitors, number of sessions, number of views and so on.
There are important metrics keywords that are used by Google Analytics and other SEO tools to express a website performance when it comes to search result and website ranking. In this section, we will discuss these important metrics to help you utilise these tools and benefit from its feedback.
SEO Tools – User Device Filter
- Click Through Rate (CTR):
The Click-Through-Rate, CTR, is regarded as one of the most important metric when it comes to web page performance. the CTR can be calculated using the following formula:CTR = Number of Page Clicks / Number of Page Impressions.This is a significant indicator that shows if a web page is attractive enough for the user that warrants a click.Think about it, if you have a page that comes up in the search results but nobody is clicking your entry this will create a low CTR value. A low click-through-rate should raise an alarm bell and hence requires re-examination of a web page in order to present it in a more attractive manner to entice users to click on the page link in search engine result page SERP.
- Total Clicks:
This is the number of times that the viewers click on your web pages when they appear in search results list.
- Total Impressions:
The total number of web pages that have been displayed in front the viewer of a search result page. This parameter is not concerned about whether the viewer clicks your web pages link or not.
- Bounce Rate:
The bounce rate parameter can be calculated as follows:Bounce Rate = (Total number of one-page visits / Total number of page views) x 100Very frequently this metric creates confusion since many people think that high bounce rate is bad for the website.However, this not true since even 100% bounce rate can still represents a good web page or a good website. The reason for this is that if the user find all the required information in one web page then there is no need to visit other pages within the website and hence exit after a one-page visit. Marketingland discusses in detail the effect of bounce rate on site performance.
- Total Visits:
The total number of visits to a website including returning visitors.
- Page Views:
Total number of pages that have been viewed. This usually includes repeated views by the same user. Please note that one visitor can have several page views in one visit.
- Average Time on Site:
This metric refer to the total time a visitor may stay on a website. It may also be referred to as Average Session Time.
- Pages per Session: (Pages/Session)
The number of visited pages per session is the average number of pages viewed during a session. Very often, a repeated view of the same page is also counted.
- Number of Sessions:
Total number of sessions (visits) where a user was engaged with the website. This figure also include returning users and it is possible to have multiple sessions in one visit. A new session is added after either inactivity for 30 minutes or rejoining the site.
Example: If a user visited your website 10 times and in each visit 3 pages are viewed then the following metrics can be calculated as follows:
* Number of users: 1
* Number of views per visit: 3
* Number of sessions: 10 (because the user had 10 returning visits)
* Number of page views: 10 x 3 = 30 (10 sessions x 3 views per session
- Average Position:
The site position in a search result is calculated as follows:Average Site Position = Total positions of all pages / Number of website pagesThis parameter can be a little misleading since it may not reflects your actual site performance. If you have few pages in your site that are not optimised and have very low number of visitors it will compromise the overall ranking of your website.
- Organic Traffic:
This metric refers to all traffic of visitors that have arrived directly from search engine results. In contrast, non-organic traffic represents advertising campaigns and pay-per-click (PPC) activities. Therefore, it is important to distinguish this parameter from other type of traffic to establish the most effective source of visitors.
- Domain Authority (DA):
Created by Moz, Domain Authority is a search engine score that shows the performance of a domain. It ranges from 1 to 100 and based on a logarithmic scale with the higher score represents a superior position on search engine results page. It is usually easier to increase the DA score within the lower range and as the DA value increases it becomes harder to progress further. Amongst other parameters, it takes into account the number of backlinks that are pointing to the domain.
- Page Authority (PA):
Yet another metric created by Moz which reflects the performance of individual pages of a website. It is therefore very common to see some pages have much higher score than others within the same website. In general, we pages that are visited more frequently have a higher page authority score. Again, the calculation of this parameter depends on many other variables such as Domain Authority, backlinks and data collected from search engines.
Screaming Frog – SEO Tool
5. Domain Name Change of Address SEO – Website Migration
The process of changing a website domain name, while maintaining the same contents and structure, is known as site move or website change of address. It is also refered to as the process of site migration, domain migration or domain move.
Often the reason for a site change would be because a better and more relevant domain name has been acquired. The new domain may contain better keywords, easier to remember or it could have higher domain authority hence its superior ranking can be better utilised.
This process of domain move should not be taken lightly and should only be used as a last resort. The consequences of website migration can result in significant traffic loss and be devastating to any business if not implemented with great care. In this article, we look at best practices and pitfalls associated with changing business website domain name also known as domain change of address process.
There are conflicting reports about the effect of domain name change on the ranking of a website in search results. According to Google guidelines, there should be no negative impact during a site move on the performance of the website and search engine results. There are Google recommendations that must be implemented in order to minimise the impact of this process and maintain a healthy website search ranking. The process of domain change of address involves the following:
- Both old and new sites must be alive and verified in Google Search Console.
- Transfer your old site using 301 redirect command for the whole site pointing to the new site. This process should transfer all pages to the new site maintaining the same url structure.
- Register your site move using Google change of address tool. This is an important step to minimise disruptions to your website. The process will be seamless and you can check the progress in due time. Be aware, however, that this is a slow process and will take several months to complete.
- If you are moving site A to Site B, both sites must have similar structure. In order to pass a web page credential from one site to another, the page must be maintained with similar contents. This is an important aspect which is usually overlooked. If you make significant changes to the same page in the new site B you will notice a drop in the ranking of the page after migration. This is because the page rank credential, also known as link juice, is not passed across to the migrated page.
- Allow up to 6 months for the process to complete according to Google guidelines. During this time you should never interfere with the automated process of site transfer. For example, do not attempt to un-index your old site pages as this will be automatically carried out. Similarly, you should not request re-indexing the new pages on the new domain except if you are adding new pages.To check the progress of your site move use the following co commands in search engine search field:
site:new-domain.comThe above commands display the number of pages that have moved across from your old site to the new one. As time progress, you will see more entries in the new websites, and fewer entries in the old site. This is a good indication that your domain move process os working as it should. Just remember, for this process to complete it will take several weeks/months depending on your domain importance and website size.
- Use Google Search Analytics to monitor your site metrics such number of visitors and site average position and compare it to the data prior to the move process.
- Continue to add new contents, especially relevant articles and blogs. This will accelerate your site recovery during the transfer process.
- Be patient, your website will for a short period of time plummet and your website traffic will decline. Keep your cool and you should regain your site ranking within few months.
- If your website has not recovered after several months, you can change your mind during the initial 6 months period by requesting a site transfer reversal. This is not something recommended, but if you have to do it you need to initiate a site transfer in the opposite direction from (new site B) to (old site A). You should bear in mind that the transfer process will restart and therefore you should allow more time for the process to complete.
- If your new or old site has a Google penalty against it then the penalty will remain intact after the transfer process has completed. It is important that you check the status under Google Console that both new and old domains are not under any restriction by Google.
We recently changed our website name and have to endure significant loss of ranking in search engine results. The two diagrams below show our site performance before and after the transfer process. It does appear that our site has almost recovered after around 2 months time since the process started Please note that our domain is a fairly recent one and hence our traffic data is fairly modest.
Based on experiences of many other users, there seems to be variations in the effect of domain name change on the site ranking. While some users reported minor decline in the site search ranking after a site move others reported a lasting negative effect on their business.
It does seem therefore that the type of website, its number of visitors, number of pages and contents all have some impact on the effect of site move on domain ranking. In general, it seems that higher ranked domains will be less impacted during a site move than a basic domain.
As stated earlier that you should allow up to 6 months for the process of site move to be completed. This is documented by both Google and Bing search engines. It does therefore seems that this extended time that is required to complete the process of change of address has been deliberately set for several months. It is possible that this lengthy approach to processing domain moves is to combat a possible misuse of domain name change by some users in trying to get some express advantages during this process.
The figures below shows our site performance before and after migration.
Our website performance before migration
Our website performance after migration
Finally, the Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) process is a slow one so you need to allow weeks or even months to see the effect of your hard work. There are SEO utilities available which can help you to check your progress but you need to utilise many of the available SEO tools for data regarding your site performance.
6. Recommendations for SEO
All websites have to be optimised by following a best SEO practices because without it a website will not be found by visitors. Ultimately, all sites are aiming for ranking in the first page of Google search engine results. The aim should be to strike a good balance between satisfying SEO requirements for search engines and making the website more user-friendly and easier to read and navigate.
Please observe the following SEO recommendations to improve your chances for better search engine ranking:
- keywords research:
This is your number one priority in order to reach the first page of Google search results or first page of Bing search engine results. Make sure that you list important words and phrases that relate to your business or website and make sure that it is used efficiently throughout your site.
- Google Algorithm:
Try to understand how major search engines use ranking factors for SEO purposes. This is an evolving process so make sure you satisfy all recommendations from search engines for better search results. It is believed that there are around 200 different ranking factors that are used to rank a website. However, the most important factors, only a handful, should be considered first, and they are discussed in this tutorial.
- Site index:
Your first task towards search engine optimisation SEO will be to register your site or business with Google, Bing and other major search engines. Google provides approximately 70% of all searches so a special emphasis should be placed on them. Remember, your site will not be visible without being indexed in the search engine catalogue.
- Online Directories:
This is your first point of call to acquire backlinks. Make sure to register with important website directories as this will send a positive signal to search engines about your business authenticity.
- Avoid spam:
provide useful contents that searchers find interesting.
- Social media:
Build a good presence on social media by promoting your site and business services.
- Add images and media:
Make your website is more interactive by adding images to your website. Having solid texts with large paragraphs should be avoided.
- Users reviews:
An excellent search ranking feature that you should take advantage of and especially if you are a startup business. Invite your users to add a review for your site and help other users make an informed decision in using your site or service. Your online reputation really depends and thrives on positive reviews.
- Sufficient Contents:
If you aim to rank in the first page of Google search results you need not just relevant contents but also sufficient contents. Most available statistics suggest that web pages that appears in the first page of Google or other search engines contains a minimum of 2000 words. This is your benchmark so ensure you have enough contents to satisfy your site visitors.
- Add useful articles (Blogs):
Provide interesting and informative research articles because search engines such as Google regards these articles as a positive signal and ranking factor for your website. This is especially true if you have a new website and you have to compete with well established competitions.
- Use Site Monitor Tools:
Use Google Search Console and Google Analytics as your first point of call to understand how your site is performing. Make the necessary modifications on a regular basis to improve your site ranking. For larger websites, you may consider using paid for site monitoring software such as Site Explorer , Semrush, Majestic, Moz pro, Screaming Frog SEO spider tool and many others.
- Continuous Update:
Search engines bots regularly scan websites for updates. This is an automatic process that happen frequently. However, once these bots discover that your site has not been update regularly its frequency visit to your website is reduced. Adding contents on regular basis to your site send a good signal to search engines that your site is alive and dynamic and hence worth indexing higher in search results.