Are you being conned by your own settings

01 November 2016

So, you have the best web design on the planet and now it has to yield results.
This article is about knowing where your website ranks, your competitors and getting into the mindset of the people who are searching for and would dearly love to buy your services if they only knew you existed.
When I  search for something on the Internet I want to get the most relevant results for my search term and preferably without having to refine my search too much.
As a website owner I want my website to rank as highly as possible for the widest variety of search terms as possible without using pay per click.
My searches will be affected by the search engine I use and thus Google is my slam dunk search engine of choice. However, If I have my "location settings" turned on then they will generate websites using the Global Positioning System (GPS). Similarly my historical cache of sites visited will also influence the results.
So I want to have a constant yardstick to measure the status and benchmark the impact of the improvements I make.
SERPS - Search Engine Results Pages

Serps is quite a handy tool in more ways than one to determine how your website stacks up against the competition on a global and local basis and what's more you can use it for free.
You can search by a word or phrase against your own domain name to see if your domain is listed in the top 200.
You can also search using filters as if you were doing a search on a mobile device (smartphone/tablet) vs a desktop machine.
You can search using the google search engine in the US, ( default setting ) the UK, Canada, Turkey pretty much anywhere - useful if you are targeting international sales.

I searched for "immobilier" (estate agent) using the France - French option and it did not allow me to use the department number and furthermore restricted me to cities as opposed to towns, so there may be a variation in terms of application internationally. 
The system also gives the option to search using Yahoo, with unsuprisingly completely different results to that of Google.
International Search Engine Ranking Tool
The information it actually spits out is pretty good and can help you in determining how you might want to focus your website.
Search term popularity
In the search instance depicted below I have searched for "web design" with a location of Woking, but you can also search by postcode.
Unfortunately, it omits searching by county unless you target the USA ( there is a Surrey and a Lincolnshire there ) so UK results are town or city based.

It will state per given phrase or keyword the number of times that phrase is used as a search term per month.
Number of monthly searches for the phrase
Before all the web designers in and around the Woking, Surrey area rejoice that there are 33100 searches for the term "web design" as shown in the screenshots, this is not, alas, the case.
When using the ranking tool you will find that whatever location and whatever country  is applied they all indicate the same, so this is the international number of searches per month.
Web site ranking search results

If the phrase is used infrequently then it shows that there is not much demand and you might think that there is not much point in pursuing it, however, it may have a value.
On the other hand if the phrase is used frequently then you know you are targeting the right area.
You can also search on the phrase to see what businesses are ranking for it and you can refine the results by searching by location.
Have a non-responsive website?

You can compare how your website ranks when searched on from a desktop and then from a mobile device. 

None mobile friendly websites rank lower on searches made on mobile devices.

If you are the only trade or profession of that nature in the locality then you might still rank at the top with a none responsive website.
However check to see how much of your traffic is from mobile devices (Google analytics gives a breakdown of this)

The fact is, the tolerance level for staying on desktop websites whilst viewing it on mobile devices has diminished and will continue to do so in line with all the positive mobile user experiences and mainstream adoption of mobile responsive technology and the greater reliance on smartphones for browsing the web.

Check your "bounce rate" in Google analytics to compare between, laptops/desktop computers and tablets and mobile phones.

In the instance below is responsive but still shows a positive of a single move up on page 1 when searched with the mobile responsive filter.

mobile websites rank better than non responsive websites


The results might show that the search term is hotly contested in general and by a defined location.
You can also see how much that might cost you if you used Pay Per Click.
I am never going to rank well using SEO.
Insurmountable odds?
At first glance you might consider that it would be hard to rank competitively in the short term using SEO and you may be right and you may be completely wrong.
I have seen activities in SEO make a positive difference in rankings in a few days, massive results will not appear overnight, but you will definitely see the results of your actions in the very short term and hopefully spurred on by your small successes you will be encouraged to progress to bigger ones, but you have to stick at it and take note of your successes.
As a side note there are more blog posts along the lines of "The top ten mistakes to avoid when planning a Pay Per Click campaign" than you can shake a stick at and they are expensive mistakes which are currently being learned every single day.
It's not so tough, you can make an impact in 30 days
With SEO, this might not be as difficult a task as it might appear and it all depends on a number of factors.
The key issue is that you have identified your competitors, because if there was no competition your website would be No.1 right?
So, step 1 is to study the competition that are ranking well and see what they are doing right.
If we assume that your website is responsive and structurally well built:
  • What content do your competitors cover?
  • How well do they do it - Is the content in depth?
  • You know your business - could you improve on what they convey?
  • Can you provide relevant content that is interesting and useful to your target market. 
Quality and Quantity  
If you can nail the quality in your content, then ( ok brace yourself ) deliver the quantity you are on to a winner.
However, if you can write a significant piece of content that is going to stay the course as a relevant piece of content linked to from other websites having similar subject matter then you achieve both traffic and back links.

Ranking does not mean success
Ranking well on the search engines does not mean great customer conversion, but it's a great step to getting traffic and then if it isn't converting you can determine using analytics what to improve onsite to make it happen.
Two Distinct Areas:
  • Get traffic (the right sort)
  • Convert visitors to sales or enquiries once they arrive.
SEO is "Search Engine Optimisation" and it is about content - you are optimising your website to be indexed positively by the search engines. 
You want to rank at the top of the organic listings.
However, if you rank well on the search engines and the content is devoid of value for your visitors then you have shot yourself in the foot.
Avoid doing this:
  • Trying to stuff keywords into web content in excess of what might be considered reasonable by people who actually read it and the search engines that can suss this out in a nano second. 
  • Copying "scraping" content and pasting it on your site. Originality wins every time.
Do this:
Put yourself in the place of people who might want this information can bring about results through the use of Long Tail Keywords.
You know that every time you put in a search you find that 99% of the time no matter how obscure the question, somebody has already asked it in five different ways and in reverse?

Maybe you had to tweak the search term around to get what you wanted ?
Consider as an example the following "long tail keywords"as alternatives to a blog or news article main heading:
Instead of the "hard term" of  "Search Engine Optimisation" or "SEO" try from a users perspective.
  • How to rank well on the search engines

  • Top tips to optimise your website

  • How to get more traffic to your website

  • What is the best way to get more website visitors

  • Cheapest way of getting traffic to your website

  • Proven strategy to a successful website
The  "long tail" keyword or key phrase works on this basis, recognising that this is what people might search for - the end result as opposed to the activity of SEO to arrive at the end point.
You are still going to have the "hard terms" of Search engine optimisation and SEO on your website as well, but adding long tail keywords (single word search terms are harder to compete for than phrases) can bring results especially when competing with long established websites either organically or on PPC.
Identify and align your website with popular search terms
OK, If you have done all that, so is that it?

Well, that was the hard bit, you have written a few articles  and you are probably feeling a bit pleased your rankings have gone up, business is coming through the door, but you could probably do with a bit more.
So there's more to do.
How about you pick out one or two of those articles, and send them to a few people who will realise you really know what you are talking about and as a result will want to come over and see what other gems of wisdom are on your website?
That would then be called traffic right?

Then Google (the living entity) thinks mmmm, a bit popular, I had better put the website further up in the rankings because people seem to like it.
In summary:
  • You know who your competitors are
  • You have studied the competition
  • You have at the very least addressed or exceeded all the relevant points that they contribute.
  • You didn't copy and paste
  • You have shared the content with existing customers.
  • You have shared it on social media
Who is Copying Who ?
There is a website called Copy Scrape that can determine if you are using content that has been copied from some other website and more to the point if all the hard work that you have applied to your own content has been copied by someone else.
The above information is on many websites and in many instances in served up in bite sized chunks, as it can all be a bit overwhelming and can at times can seem to pose more questions than answers.
However looking at the content on other websites is educational.It saves you a heap of time, gives you perspective and in many instances affords you a benchmark - a minimum standard to achieve. 
Will the best content prevail?
Alas, just because it is the best the answer is no.
It is the best promoted content that will prevail. 
In due deference to the above "promoted content" if you found this blogpost of use please comment. I would love to hear your views and your experiences.
If you would like further topics going straight into your inbox hot off the press, then subscribe to our newsletter, there is some exciting information coming your way.

Finally, it may not seem much, but if you do share this on facebook and twitter it really fulfills the strategy outlined above perfectly and is a big help to us.
Many thanks, Bill

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