Search Engine Optimisation
Getting started with SEO
Rob Hurst, Tom Kelly
A search engine’s primary responsibility is to serve
relevant results to its users.
When a visitor types a query into a search box and lands on
a site, will they be satisfied with what they find?
This is the primary question search engines try to answer.
Billions of times a day.
First things first – the language…
There is an almost infinite number of
terms relating to search.
The following are the 10 most
The technology that a search engine uses to deliver results to a
Search engines utilise several algorithms in tandem to deliver a
page of search results or keyword-targeted search ads.
The amount of trust that a site is credited with for a particular
search query. Authority/trust is derived from related incoming links
from other trusted sites.
See also: link juice, Google juice
The percentage of users who enter a site and then leave it without
viewing any other pages.
The text/copy part of a web page that is intended to have value for
and be of interest to the user.
Advertising, navigation, branding and boilerplate are not usually
considered to be content.
HTML | Hyper Text Markup Language:
Directives or “markup” which are used to add formatting and web
functionality to plain text for use on the internet.
HTML is the mother tongue of the search engines, and should
generally be strictly and exclusively adhered to on web pages.
See also: META tags
An inbound link is an hyperlink to a particular Web page from an
outside site, bringing traffic to that Web page.
Inbound links are an important element that most search engine
algorithms use to measure the popularity of a Web page.
See also: backlink
The word or phrase that a user enters into a search engine.
See also: keyword cannibalisation, keyword density
Statements within the HEAD section of an HTML page which
furnishes information about the page. META information may be in
the SERPs but is not visible on the page. It is very important to
have unique and accurate META title and description
tags, because they may be the information that the search
engines rely upon the most to determine what the page is about.
Also, they are the first impression that users get about your page
within the SERPs.
See also: HTML
The search engine results which are not sponsored, or paid for in
See also: paid search
The Google algorithm which quantifies link popularity and trust
among other (proprietary) factors.
SERP | Search Engine Results Page:
The landing page for a particular search, showing all relevant
results, broken down by category.
Google has multiple SERPs, with some elements that may only
appear if your search is deemed especially local, shopping-
oriented or perhaps if Google thinks it has a direct answer.
There are (lots) more.
But to keep things (relatively) simple, you
can read them later in the resources
section at the end of this deck.
The days of a search resulting in 10 blue links
are well and truly over!
Google has multiple SERPs, with some
elements that may only appear if your search
is deemed especially local, shopping-oriented
or perhaps if Google thinks it has a direct
Increasingly Google is working to provide
answers on the SERP, rather than directing
users on to third party content.
Understanding the SERP (Search Engine Results Page)
Mega-SERP: A Visual
Guide to Google
The evolution of SERPS
How search works
What matters most?
In organic search, you cannot buy visibility with cash.
Instead, the working currencies are authority and
relevance. (Google‟s most important principles)
• Relevance refers to how well a documents content match
a search query. At its most basic level this is matching of
keywords to pages, contextually.
• Authority (trust) is ranking strength. At its most basic
level this is the influence of Links to the page.
Before Google, most search engines could
find relevant documents, but they
struggled with ranking them in an order
that surfaced the best matches.
Google recognized the conundrum so it
separated relevance from authority by
counting links. Every link became a vote.
Off-site links brought authority onto your
site while on-site links flowed that authority
through your website. Links signalled
popularity and trust. PageRank was born.
The birth of PageRank
Context – Understanding your audience
Google's New Multi Screen World Study
Long-tail search queries typically
have less search volume than head
terms, but they are also less
competitive. Its harder to rank for
"lawyers" than it is to rank for
“Corporate lawyers in London”.
There are very few interactions
online that show a user‟s intent
quite like a long-tail search
query, because they're more
specific in nature, the traffic you're
driving by ranking for them is more
Pick your battles - Long-tail search queries
Search engine ranking factors (2013)
• Links are still believed to be
the most important part of the
• Keyword usage on the page is
still fundamental, and—other
than links—is thought to be the
most important type of factor.
• SEO professionals feel social
factors are growing in
importance and will continue
An SEO copywriter walks into a bar, pub,
tavern, drinks beer, wine, cocktails…
The importance of keywords. (And
• The majority of searches are
made of phrases not
keywords (long-tail queries)
• Searchers often add more
words the initial search
phrase when unsuccessful
(refining search query
• Search engines results are
based on search phrase not
words (semantic search)
Why ‘key phrases’?
In English, please…
• Consider language used by your target market. Not your office!
• Consider non-UK usage e.g. car leasing, auto leasing
• Consider non-UK spelling e.g. optimisation, optimization
• Consider Synonyms e.g. car parts, car spares
• Consider homonyms, homophone, homographs and
heteronyms e.g. bike, cereals (where searches for one
meaning of word yield results for the alternative meaning)
• Consider key phrase variations including plurals and reverse
• Consider apostrophes
• Key phrase stemming e.g. “low fat diet”, “lower fat dieting”
(take a basic but popular keyword and add a prefix and/or
suffix to make the keyword into a new word.
• Strategic positioning e.g. “cheap”, “luxury” if your products are
neither don‟t use these phrases.
• Ensuring the website is “search engine friendly” (setup correctly to
allow pages in the website to be indexed by search engines) and
contains relevant key phrases.
• Meta data
• Title tags
• Page content
• Search engine friendly URL‟s
• Search friendly images
Off-page optimisation (link building & increasing site authority)
• Build links from sites search engines consider “authoritative”.
• Other Factors include:
• Age of domain and location it is hosted
• Inbound links
• Social media indicators (increasingly)
• Regularly updated
On & Off-Page Optimisation
Ensure keywords are used prominently where
Google places prominence on them, namely
- Use <H> tags in CSS to define heading styles
- <h1>Main Heading<h1>
- <h2>Sub Heading Style</h2>
Google‟s Hummingbird update allows semantic
search, so the engine will understand synonyms
and words relating to the subject matter.
There is no need to „keyword stuff‟. The suggestion
used to be to aim for 5% keyword density. Ignore
this and focus on creating good, relevant content.
Meta data - Title tags
<Title>** (It’s truncated at ~70 chars, recommended: ~65 chars)
Meta data – Description tags
<meta name=”description” content=”…””/>** (The description is
truncated after ~160 chars (recommended: ~ 140 chars))
This is all about building your website authority. Earning links from trustworthy
sites is the key way to do this.
Links should be a by-product of great content and should not be obtained
„unnaturally‟ - the emphasis is on quality over quantity.
Steer clear of:
• Paid advertorials
• Link exchange networks
• Over-using exact match anchor text for generic
• Keywords e.g. in online PR and guest blogging sites
• Poor quality outreach campaigns
• Social mentions are also thought to be gaining increased
influence, as are brand mentions in the media/new/press.
• Trial key phrases - If you are ever concerned about targeting specific key phrases
consider using PPC to trial these phrases, identify which one are converting and
which ones aren't.
• Instant feedback - PPC can provide you with instant feedback unlike SEO which is
generally accepted takes a much longer period of time to settle in and stabilise.
• PPC key phrase performance/search term reports - If you already are running
PPC campaign use the data gathered from these to identify keywords. That are
performing well, consider improving your organic result for these. Use AdWords
“search term reports” to discover keywords.
• PPC & SEO - Its been found that running PPC ads alongside your organic listing
increase the overall click through rate.
Keyword research – Learn from PPC…
1. Google Keyword Planner
2. Google Trends
3. Rank Checker
In summary – Three tools to get ahead
Today Google‟s algorithms rely on more than
200 unique signals, some of which you‟d
expect, like how often the search terms occur
on the webpage, if they appear in the title or
whether synonyms of the search terms occur
on the page.
There are plenty of others we can‟t begin to
explain in detail. Here's how Google puts it...
According to Google…
Checklist - The elements of an optimised page
authority site A website which has many incoming links from other
related expert/hub sites. Because of this simultaneous citation from
trusted hubs an authority site usually has high trust, pagerank, and
search results positiont. Wikipedia, is an example of an authority
back link/ inbound link (inlink, incoming link) Any link into a page
or site from any other page or site.
click through rate (CTR): The rate (expressed in a percentage) at
which users click on an ad. This is calculated by dividing the total
number of clicks by the total number of ad impressions. CTR is an
important metric for Internet marketers to measure the performance
of an ad campaign.
inbound link / backlink: An inbound link is an hyperlink to a
particular Web page from an outside site, bringing traffic to that Web
page. Inbound links are an important element that most search
engine algorithms use to measure the popularity of a Web page.
googlebot (Spiders): Google uses several user-agents to crawl and
index content in the search engine. All Google bots begin with
"Googlebot"; for example, Googlebot-Mobile: crawls pages for
Google‟s mobile index; Googlebot-Image: crawls pages for Google‟s
algorithm: The technology that a search engine uses to deliver
results to a query. Search engines utilize several algorithms in
tandem to deliver a page of search results or keyword-targeted
alt text A description of a graphic, which usually isn‟t displayed to
the end user, unless the graphic is undeliverable,
analytics A program which assists in gathering and analyzing data
about website usage. Google analytics is a feature rich, popular, free
anchor text: The clickable text part of a hyperlink. The text usually
gives visitors or search engines important information on what the
page being linked to is about.
authority (trust, link juice, Google juice) The amount of trust that a
site is credited with for a particular search query. Authority/trust is
derived from related incoming links from other trusted sites.
frames a web page design where two or more documents appear on
the same screen, each within it‟s own frame. Frames are bad for
SEO because spiders sometimes fail to correctly navigate them.
Google juice (trust, authority, pagerank) trust / authority from
Google, which flows through outgoing links to other pages.
Googlebot Google‟s spider program
HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language) directives or “markup” which
are used to add formatting and web functionality to plain text for use
on the internet. HTML is the mother tongue of the search engines,
and should generally be strictly and exclusively adhered to on web
index Noun - a database of WebPages and their content used by
the search engines
black hat Search engine optimization tactics that are counter to best
practices such as the Google Webmaster Guidelines.
bounce rate The percentage of users who enter a site and then
leave it without viewing any other pages
content (text, copy) The part of a web page that is intended to have
value for and be of interest to the user. Advertising, navigation,
branding and boilerplate are not usually considered to be content.
conversion (goal) Achievement of a quantifiable goal on a website.
Add clicks, sign ups, and sales are examples of conversions.
conversion rate Percentage of users who convert - see conversion.
crawler / Googlebot / spider (bot, spider) A program which moves
through the worldwide web or a website by way of the link structure
to gather data.
duplicate content Obviously content which is similar or identical to
that found on another website or page.
latent semantic indexing (LSI) / semantic search This mouthful
just means that the search engines index commonly associated
groups of words in a document.
link An element on a web page that can be clicked on to cause the
browser to jump to another page or another part of the current page.
link bait A webpage with the designed purpose of attracting
incoming links, often mostly via social media.
link building actively cultivating incoming links to a site.
link juice (trust, authority, pagerank)
long tail longer more specific search queries that are often less
targeted than shorter broad queries.
keyword - key phrase The word or phrase that a user enters into a
keyword cannibalization The excessive reuse of the same
keyword on too many web pages within the same site. This practice
makes it difficult for the users and the search engines to determine
which page is most relevant for the keyword.
keyword density The percentage of words on a web page which
are a particular keyword. If this value is unnaturally high the page
may be penalized.
keyword research The hard work of determining which keywords
are appropriate for targeting.
keyword stuffing (keyword spam) Inappropriately high keyword
landing page the page that a user lands on when they click on a link
in a SERP
pagerank Google algorithm, which quantifies link popularity and
trust among other (proprietary) factors.
PPC (Pay Per Click) a contextual advertisement scheme where
advertisers pay add agencies (such as Google) whenever a user
clicks on their add. Adwords is an example of PPC advertising.
redirect Any of several methods used to change the address of a
landing page such as when a site is moved to a new domain, or in
the case of a doorway.
Schema.org is an initiative launched on 2 June 2011
by Bing, Google and Yahoo! to “create and support a common set of
schemas for structured data mark-up on web pages
search engine (SE) a program, which searches a document or
group of documents for relevant matches of a users keyword phrase
and returns a list of the most relevant matches. Internet search
engines such as Google and Yahoo search the entire internet for
META tags Statements within the HEAD section of an HTML page
which furnishes information about the page. META information may
be in the SERPs but is not visible on the page. It is very important to
have unique and accurate META title and description tags, because
they may be the information that the search engines rely upon the
most to determine what the page is about. Also, they are the first
impression that users get about your page within the SERPs.
natural search results The search engine results which are not
sponsored, or paid for in any way.
nofollow A command found in either the HEAD section of a web
page or within individual link code, which instructs robots to not
follow either any links on the page or the specific link.
noindex A command found in either the HEAD section of a web
page or within individual link code, which instructs robots to not
index the page or the specific link.
organic link organic links are those that are published only because
the webmaster considers them to add value for users.
SERP Search Engine Results Page
spider (bot, crawler) A specialized bot used by search engines to
find and add web pages to their indexes.
Snippet - Google's generation of page titles and descriptions (or
"snippets") on the SERP . It is completely automated and takes into
account both the content of a page as well as references to it that
appear on the web. The goal of the snippet and title is to best
represent and describe each result and explain how it relates to the
text link A plain HTML link that does not involve graphic or special
code such as flash or java script.
time on page The amount of time that a user spends on one page
before clicking off. An indication of quality and relevance.
URL Uniform Resource Locator - AKA Web Address
white hat SEO techniques, which conform to best practice
guidelines, and do not attempt to unscrupulously “game” or
There are more.
The following sites offer more complete glossaries.
• SEO Book
• Search Engine Watch
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