Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Improve your rank in Google

At Awaken Solutions, one of the most common questions we receive from our clients is how they can ensure their website appears in search results, and as high as possible.

This is an important question and giving a proper answer requires a bit of an understanding of search engines and how they work…

Search engines

The Internet is a vast landscape of information, and a search engine’s purpose is to make that information as easily accessible as possible to its users.

When people search for a specific topic on the Internet, they can choose from a number of different search-engines, but the three most popular are Google, Yahoo! and Bing.
Note: As of August 2010, Yahoo! search results are powered by Bing.

Although these pages may look similar and include a prominent search box where you can enter your query, the search engine results page (SERP), which is the list of websites you see after you’ve performed your search, will not be identical from search-engine to search engine.

How search engines work

A search engine works by crawling the web, indexing all the pages it finds, ranking those pages by relevance and then providing pertinent search results when a user performs a search.

Each search engine has its own proprietary technology for doing these four things. When a user performs a search, the quality of the results they see is a reflection of that search-engine’s technology, and usually determines if a user will keep using that search-engine or switch to another one.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

What is SEO?

Ranking highly in search engine results is an objective shared by almost every website on the Internet. This single objective has spawned an entire multi-million dollar industry of experts, consultants, conferences, guidelines, tips, tricks and everything in between. Often referred to simply as SEO, which stands for Search Engine Optimization, this industry is growing every day and is the cornerstone of any organization’s efforts to improve web-presence.

In short, SEO deals with the steps taken to ensure that when people perform searches on the internet for topics that are related to you and/or your products, your website will appear as high in the results as possible.

How to get good results – SEO in a nutshell

At Awaken Solutions, we employ honest and proven best practices to ensure that all the websites we create are optimized to perform as well as possible in search engine results. Our methods work not only for Google, but for all search engines, and are briefly outlined below.

Ensure your website is mobile friendly

hand_with_mobileOn April 21, 2015, Google announced that their search rankings on mobile devices would favour websites which were mobile friendly. This “Mobilegeddon”, as it quickly began to be called, has far-reaching implications (see this Wired article for a good explanation).

What this means for you is quite simple: your website needs to be mobile friendly. A mobile friendly website has a design that adapts to the screen size. The content is resized and positioned in a way that is optimized for a smaller screen.

To ensure your website fits Google’s standards for mobile friendliness, they have provided this tool which will quickly tell you how they judge your site.

All of the websites built by Awaken Solutions now employ a responsive design which is what Google recommends to ensure optimal mobile-friendliness. To discuss these features and begin working together, we invite you to contact us or get a quote.

Design your pages with useful content written for humans

In the past, it was common to see websites that seemed written for the search engine, not for the user, and that would even show different content to user and to the search engine. Search engines have gotten smarter since then and can easily tell when a page is trying to game the system like this (sometimes referred to as cloaking or black hat SEO). Today, the best practice is to simply and honestly create pages that have relevant content and that provide useful information targeted for human reading (white hat SEO). This is not only the right way to do business, it also gives the best results.

Properly title your pages using the <title> tag

Within the code of your website, be sure to properly define the title of each page within the <title> tag. In Google, this will appear as as the first line of the search results (the blue link) and will help Google and your visitors know what the page is about.

SEO title tag
SEO title tag in Google

  • Describe each page acurately but briefly (under 160 characters)
  • Give each page it’s own unique title to differentiate it from the others

Properly describe your pages using the <description> tag

The <description> meta tag is used to give Google and other search engines an even better understanding of what a given page is about. It is similar to the title tag, but you use it to give more detail what the page is about.

In Google search results, this description will usually appear as snippet of text below the blue title link to your website.
Note: Google explained in 2009 that they don’t use the meta description and keywords to rank websites. Nonetheless, your potential visitors will still benefit from seeing a clear description in search results.

SEO description tag
SEO description tag in Google

  • Accurately summarize the page’s content
  • Use unique descriptions for each page

Structure and name your pages well

Website Navigation Bar

  • The URL of your website appears in the browser navigation bar and in search results. Be sure that they are named intelligently and descriptively.
  • Ensure that the structure of your website is easy to navigate with a naturally flowing hierarchy starting from the homepage.
  • Ensure that there’s no duplicate pages or other redundancies in your links.
  • Avoid having navigation and main site content hidden inside images or Flash. Although these can be aesthetically pleasing, search engines can’t always read this information.
  • Use “alt” attributes when inserting images into your website to give search engines a better idea of the content.

Get other sites to link to you

A website is not only judged by its content, but also by how other sites link to it. For example, if a reputable recipe website links to a page on your website about healthy eating habits, your website has improved it’s “reputation” (or, as Google calls it, its “PageRank”) and is therefore likely to see improved positioning in search engine results.

This is difficult to force, and usually will happen organically over a longer period of time. But steps to help speed up the process include being an active member in online blogs and websites related to your website so that you can promote your own content, as well as partnering with other websites in order to cross promote each others’ services.

Submit your website to search engines!

As soon as your website is complete and ready for the world to see it, you will want to tell the search engines about it. This can be done easily through the submission forms at Google (here) and Bing (here).

Keep Learning

For more information, an excellent introduction to search engine optimization can be found in the Google Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide (PDF).

This guide, written by the search engineers at Google, offers insight into how the Google search engine operates and the best practices to use when building a website to ensure good search engine ranking.

To get the most out of this guide, you can start by reading about how Google crawls, indexes and serves the web.

And for even more information, which is kept more up-to-date than the Google Guide linked above, we recommend you read Moz’s Beginner’s Guide to SEO.

We also recommend you run a speed-test on your website to ensure it loads quickly, since this can affect visitor conversions as well.

Implementing SEO

At Awaken Solutions, we employ honest and proven best practices to ensure that all the websites we create are optimized to perform as well as possible in search engine results. Our methods work not only for Google, but for all search engines.

No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google

Google themselves are very clear about the fact that nobody can guarantee you a number one position in their search results. So, while no reputable SEO firm can guarantee search engine results, Awaken Solutions does stand behind their expertise in optimizing your website to obtain as high a ranking as possible. We will work with you to establish relevant content, pertinent keywords and a sound website structure so that your website performs to the best of its ability online and in search results.

The current search engine landscape

As mentioned above, users have a choice of several different search engines to use when looking for information on the web.

April 2015 North American search engine share

April 2015 North American search engine share

As can be seen from the numbers, Google remains the leader in this field, controlling roughly 65% of the North American search engine market share. Furthermore, Google is showing an even stronger dominance in the mobile segment, which is outpacing the desktop segment.

comscore_desktop_vs_mobile

Mobile internet usage compared to desktop internet usage (millions of people)

As a result, optimizing your website for excellent Google search results is our top priority. However, in taking these steps, we are inherently optimizing for other search engines as well since their best practices are much the same. Thus, we are ensuring your website improves its positioning in all search engine results.

Analytics and continuous improvement

There are various tools, paid and free, that allow a firm to monitor and track their website’s performance, and take advantage of such information to improve results even further.

google_analytics

Google Analytics panel of an Awaken Solutions client

One such tool is Google Analytics, who’s dashboard is shown here. This tool is free, user friendly and very powerful, allowing you to track website metrics such as:

  • How many visitors do you get per month?
  • What region of the world are they from?
  • What browsers and devices are they using?
  • How did they find your site?
  • How did they navigate through your site?
  • How long did they spend on your site?
  • And much more…

There is a wealth of information your organization can track and numerous benefits that can be obtained from properly analyzing and acting upon this data. We work in tandem with our clients to ensure the tool is properly installed and that the information is put to good use for sustaining and improving their website.

Awaken Solutions SEO Package | $200/month

Our Search Engine Optimization (SEO) package ensures that your website will appear as high as possible in the search engine rankings of Google, Bing, etc via on-site SEO. All of this is done by our experts without you even needing to think about it. The package includes :

  • Integration of Analytics code throughout your website.
  • Complete and regular analysis of your website performance.
  • Fixing website errors and dead links.
  • Analysis of your website visitor behaviour, time on each page, ‘drop-offs’ (what page they’re on when they leave your website).
  • Necessary adjustments to your website to ensure as high a ranking as possible for your website in Google searches for the keywords related to your products and/or services.
  • Quarterly report on results (Google search ranking for related keywords).

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