Francesco Consultancy SEO Services

“SEO, or Search Engine Optimisation, is basically the art of taking a website and making it search engine friendly, with a view to getting the site on to the first page of major search engine listings such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing for the chosen search terms.

With over 90% of the UK using the internet to find products and services, it is becoming increasingly difficult to achieve a page one listing, especially since natural search (non‐sponsored) is evolving all the time. You can have the best website in the whole world, but if nobody knows it’s there, then it’s essentially useless. Search engines drive traffic to websites, and this traffic can ultimately be converted into sales. The higher up your website appears in the search engines, the more customers you will get. Running any business requires a great deal of time and effort and many individuals simply do not have the time, patience or indeed knowledge to attempt to optimise their own website. Gone are the days of simply loading a website with keywords to achieve top rankings.

Today’s search is much more natural and intelligent; as a result of this there are numerous options to consider when beginning a search engine campaign. This is why it is best to bring a company on board that is up to date with all of the latest algorithm changes, and whose speciality is knowing how the search engines actually work: We understand exactly how they think.”

Search engine optimisation

Increasingly customers are searching online to find products and services they require. It is now more commonplace for users to access websites via search engines rather than the web address. To ensure that your website is appearing prominently in the natural listings, ie the free listing on a results page, you can do certain things. Search engine optimisation (SEO) helps tune website content to improve visibility.

Search engine visibility is the key to online success. Search queries bring interested users directly to a website or service. However, the vast majority of those using search engines will not go beyond the first page of results. The higher you rank in a search engine’s index, the more visible you will be. This means more visitors, who can be turned into customers. This guide will show you how search engines work and provide practical advice on how to improve your SEO. It also advises on unacceptable techniques that can damage page ranking.

What is a search engine and how do they work?

Search engines allow users to search the internet for content using keywords. Although dominated by a few, there are a number of search engines that people can use. When a user enters a keyword or key phrase into a search engine, a results page is returned, ranking the found pages in order of their ‘relevance’. How this ranking is done differs across search engines.

How do search engines work?

Search engines use programs, often referred to as spiders, robots or crawlers, to search the internet. These programs are used by search engines to build an index of the internet. However, although most search engines will provide tips on how to improve your page ranking, in an attempt to avoid misuse the applied rules are a well‐guarded secret. Search engines also change these rules regularly. But by following a few well accepted search engine optimisation (SEO) techniques you can ensure that your website is well indexed and remains high in the rankings.

Different search engine methods

Each of the three main search engines use different methods to rank websites. Understanding these methods will help you understand the SEO strategies outlined in this guide.
The three main search engines are:

  • Google ‐ Google’s Page‐Rank assesses the value of a webpage based on the number of back‐links ie links back to your website. Each link is counted as a vote, from one page to another. Google also analyses the content on the page that makes the link. Votes cast by pages that are themselves seen as important by Google weigh more heavily and increase the ranking of the linked pages.
  • Yahoo! began as a manually edited directory. It now uses link analysis tools to determine page relevancy, though content is also important in deciding search relevance. Other factors that are important include back‐links and a good site design.
  • Bing ‐ Microsoft’s Bing search engine ranks websites based on the webpage content, the number and quality of websites that link to your pages, and the relevance of your website’s content to keywords.

For more detailed information on how to best optimise your website for a particular search engine, refer to their webmaster pages. All the leading search engines provide information and tools to help you improve your SEO but ideally you should consult a specialist company, such as Francesco Consultancy Ltd, due to the complexities involved.

Design your site for search engine optimisation

Some of the best search engine optimisation (SEO) results can be achieved by optimising site design and content to work well with the tools and techniques used by search engines to index web pages. Good site design makes it easier for search engines to index your site, and increases your chances of a higher ranking in the results pages. Basic SEO techniques such as site accessibility, high quality content, links to and from other websites, and the use of relevant keywords in your content, will all help in giving your website a higher ranking in the search engine results pages.

Make your site accessible

The most important part of making a website search‐engine friendly is designing it well, which also ensures visitors stay to browse and buy.
Well‐written, easy‐to‐navigate pages ‐ with interesting information and well‐designed e‐ commerce systems ‐ will get repeat visitors as well as satisfied customers. When building a website consider the technologies to be used and whether they lend themselves to SEO. Although SEO can always be improved, it is harder to do so once the technology is in place and the website has already been built. If you use a content management system, does it produce SEO friendly pages?

More technical considerations include the use of friendly URLs, standards‐compliant code and dynamically created XML sitemaps that can be used by search engines to index your website. Find out about standards‐compliant code on the World Wide Web Consortium website.
Some technologies, such as Adobe Flash, do not currently support SEO very well. These technologies should be evaluated on a usability, customer experience and SEO basis, before being added to your website.

Have high quality content

Regularly updated, well‐written and relevant content will improve your SEO and provide other websites with a good reason to link to you. The use of social media such as blogs provides an excellent way of keeping your content fresh and is well received by search engines.
Search engines will also index specific terms or keywords that have been used in your content. Your content needs to describe your products and services clearly, in order both to sell them to your visitors and to help search engines index your site. If necessary, pay to have content written professionally.

Improve links to your site

A site’s position in a search engine results page depends heavily on the quality, not the quantity, of links to your website. Use search engines to find other websites that have good search rankings for the key terms and phrases that are relevant to your site’s products and services. Contact them to ask if they’ll provide reciprocal links, ie will they include a link to your website if you will include a link to theirs. Strong content may also generate social media links to your website, providing you with potential customers as well as valuable back‐links. Google’s approach to assessing the value of a webpage, ie Page‐Rank, counts the number and quality of back‐links to your website. See the page in this guide on how search engines work.

Use of keywords in your content

It’s important to define keywords or key phrases ‐ recurring terms that are used in the body of your text ‐ that describe exactly what your site offers. Choose keywords that are unique to your product or service, so that your site gets qualified leads rather than general visitors. Be as specific as possible; e.g. pick an appropriate two‐ to three‐keyword phrase for one of your products. If you’re selling tropical fish, appropriate keywords might be ‘tropical aquariums’, for a computer shop, ‘custom‐built PCs’. Once you have chosen these keywords target their use in your content.

Using keywords to improve your search engine optimisation

Keywords are essential to ensuring that your site will be visible on search engines. Think about the terms and keywords that customers will use to search for your website and which keywords and key phrases best describe your products or services.

Using keywords

Choosing keywords is the most important step in building a search engine‐friendly site. These keywords need to be specific to your product or service. The density of these keywords in your website will also impact on search engine results. Look at your competitor’s website and see how they use keywords in their websites. The choice of keywords and the optimal keyword density are difficult to define, although there are tools available that can help you analyse this. Use keywords in your content, page titles, page headings, subheadings and in any metadata that is included in your page code.

Plain English works best

It’s important to use real sentences rather than just keywords in your content, and never sacrifice the quality of your page to fit in more keywords. If you are found to be keyword stuffing ie using keywords indiscriminately in an attempt to improve page ranking, search engines will penalise you. See the page in this guide on search engine optimisation tactics.

Keep up to date on how your keywords are performing

In addition to doing the obvious searches on keywords to see where your site comes in the listings, most search engines allow sites to check their status in their indexes. You can use these to monitor your search position to see how changes affect your search rank, and to determine what keywords to add in future.

Submitting new websites to search engines

When setting up a new website for your business, you will need to let search engines know about it. This allows them to start including it in the search results they give to their users.

Registering new sites

You will only need to inform search engines of new sites with newly registered internet domain names. You can do this by filling in search engine forms with the address of the home page for your site.

The webmaster programmes run by some search engines, e.g. Google’s, allow you to submit maps of an entire site. This tells the search engine to start using programs called spiders, robots or crawlers, to index your website. See the page in this guide: what is a search engine and how do they work?
This can take time ‐ especially if you are including niche engines in addition to the main, more popular, services. Some, like Yahoo!, offer paid directory submissions, which can increase your visibility in their index. While this can get you into the index quickly, it can affect your reputation with certain users, who prefer to trust the natural or organic search engine rankings over paid index inclusion.

You will probably not need to do this for websites that have been up and running for a long time, because existing links from other sites will have already led search engine crawlers to your site.

Submit sites manually

Where possible you should submit your website manually, rather than use an automated tool. Use of automated submission engines can lead to sites being banned by search engines. Manual submission can take longer but usually only involves completing an online form and is only necessary when registering a new site for the first time.
It can take up to a month for a site to appear in an index after it has been submitted to a search engine. In practice the quickest way to appear in a search engine index is to be linked to from a site that is already regularly crawled by the major search engines.

Use the Open Directory Project

An alternative to submitting sites to search engines is to apply to have your site included in the Open Directory Project, often known by its old name of DMOZ. This is a manually edited site, which categorises websites and lists them for users to find.
DMOZ is used by many search engine crawlers as a source of sites, and an entry here will mean that your site will be indexed by the major search engines.

Search engine optimisation tactics

Optimising sites for search isn’t hard, but doing it well can be a challenge, especially if you’re making changes to a website that is already built, rather than creating a new one.

The following steps will help you turn an existing website into one that works well with search engines.
Start by picking your target keywords. Use descriptive phrases rather than generic terms. Search engines are more likely to give sites offering ‘organic Shropshire apples’ a higher rank than one offering just ‘apples’. Keyword Placement. Place keywords on your pages ‐ generally the higher in the page, the better. Put keywords in the page title and introductory paragraphs. Keywords should also be used as part of sentences, but avoid ‘keyword stuffing’ ‐ the practice of using keywords indiscriminately.

Simplify page layout. Complex layouts don’t work well with search engine crawlers. If it’s easy for a human to read, it’ll be easy for a search engine to work with. Make sure your content attracts incoming links. Good quality, relevant content brings in links from other sites. You can increase the quality of incoming links by offering services and useful applications related to your site subject.

Avoid attempts to manipulate search engine indexes

It’s important to avoid certain activities often referred to as ‘black‐hat’ search engine optimisation techniques, which search engine operators consider to be attempts to manipulate their indexes. Attempting to use any of these techniques will make a website look bad, and may lead to sites being banned by major search engines.

The best way to avoid this is to remember that websites are for visitors rather than for search engines.
Things to avoid include:

  • websites that automatically redirect visitors to pages
  • hidden text on pages
  • pages with nothing but keywords and links to other websites content intended only for search engines
  • links from websites that replicate content belonging to other sites

Working with a search engine optimisation agency

Search engine optimisation (SEO) agencies, such as Francesco Consultancy Ltd, can provide useful services, from writing content for your pages to advising on site architecture and suggesting directories to submit your website to, if you don’t want to handle your site’s SEO yourself.

Francesco Consultancy Ltd will need to work with you as a partner, helping you manage your site effectively. Effective SEO requires a deep understanding of the site that is being optimised, including knowledge of the service business model and the target audience.

Engaging a search engine consultancy is like working with any other business service provider, whether it is IT consultants or accountants. You need to ensure that they are right for your business and Francesco Consultancy is just such a Company.

You should expect any relationship to be long term, as search engine rankings can change dramatically ‐ either due to the actions of your competitors, or with changes in how search engines index pages. Make sure that you communicate regularly, and that your SEO partner Francesco Consultancy will provide you with regular and auditable reports.

Choosing a search engine optimisation agency

Once you have decided to work with a search engine optimisation (SEO) agency, you need to choose one that is appropriate for your business, such as Francesco Consultancy. This is an important decision, as choosing the right or wrong partner can have a significant effect on your business.

The following checklist should help you make this decision:

Do they claim to guarantee high ranking? Any service offering this is to be avoided. Google and the other search engines change algorithms frequently to prevent SEO agencies from doing this. Search engine rank changes regularly, and a site that was on top today could be further down the page tomorrow.

Are they a personal recommendation? Services recommended by friends and colleagues are worth considering, as word‐of‐mouth recommendations are a valuable source of information about a company.

What do others say about the company? Online sentiment can help you evaluate prospective partners. Popular services generate a lot of online comment ‐ as do those that have a negative reputation.

Do they have references? It’s important to hear about an agency from its customers. Customer references are important, especially if an agency is happy for you to contact customers directly.

Is their site optimised? Explore the agency’s own site and look to see just how well optimised it is. You should be able to see the site’s keywords, then search on them to see how well ranked the agency is. One that doesn’t make the rankings is unlikely to be a suitable partner.

Do they attempt to break search engine rules? It’s important to find out if a prospective SEO agency uses unapproved or ‘black‐hat’ techniques to list sites on search engines. Avoid sites that use automated submissions or run their own link farms, ie a group of websites that all link to each other in an attempt to improve their page ranking on search engines.

Do they get links from real sites? Some agencies run their own sites full of links as a way of delivering the back links search engines look for. These techniques go against search‐engine rules and a good agency will provide back links from real, relevant sites.

Will they work with you for more than just one SEO campaign? Site SEO is an ongoing process and any SEO partner should be willing to work with you over a long period, helping to keep your site competitive.

Francesco Consultancy Ltd complies with and can meet all of these requirements.

Tracking your search engine optimisation results

Search engine optimisation (SEO) should be treated like any marketing campaign, and keeping track of the results of an SEO campaign is a key part of the process.
Without feedback, it will be unclear what search terms are being used to find your site, or which site elements attract the most traffic. Monitoring your site’s search engine traffic will show the aspects of your SEO programme that are effective and which need to be changed in order to direct traffic to appropriate areas of your site.

Use your web server logs

Analysing the contents of your web servers’ log files will show how a visitor got to your site, including any search terms used.
You can then use these to determine the correct choice of keywords, as well as showing the pages that are accessed the most. The results of log‐file analysis can be used to refine the keywords used, and to improve the search rank of pages that are being bypassed by users.
Make sure that your hosting provider gives you access to your web server log files. You can use web‐log analysis tools to analyse this log data.
You can download log‐file analysis tools from many sources:
find out about the free tool on the Webalizer website get a free log file analysis tool on the AWStats website find out about the free tool on the WebLogExpert website

Using web analytics

If you can’t get access to your web servers’ log files, you can use web analytics also known as page tagging or tracking. A tracking code is added to each page of your website which collects user data. This can then be analysed with a free tool like Google Analytics which uses these codes to give you access to clear reports about how users are interacting with your site. You can find out about Analytics on the Google website.

Get reports from SEO partners

If you use an SEO agency such as Francesco Consultancy, it should provide regular reports showing how their optimisations are working, along with any plans to improve current search engine ranking. It’s also important that any reports include output from SEO analysis tools and from the site analytic services run by the major search engines.

What you should do next

Once you have had a chance to review all of your options available with regard to SEO and you have come to the conclusion that SEO is a vital part of your Company or Business’ promotion and marketing strategy, you need to enter into a formal agreement with an established and reputable SEO provider, such as Francesco Consultancy Ltd.

Francesco Consultancy Ltd will review your site and analyse your keywords for free, and then make suggestions as to how much work is involved in order to get you to, or as close to as you can afford, the top of the rankings. Choosing the right partner to undertake SEO on your behalf is an important decision to make – we at Francesco Consultancy believe we are the right partner for you.
We cannot guarantee to get you to the top of every search engines top rankings, but what we can guarantee is to do all that is possible to ensure that your website is optimised to achieve the very best that it can on your behalf. Francesco Consultancy Ltd. will do all that is possible to maintain that position and to ensure that your website is generating the maximum business generation and return on investment for you.

Please contact us today for a free initial consultation or just some impartial advice on: 0844 292 0842 or e‐mail us at: info@francescoltd.co.uk
We have produced this introductory guide to SEO, which is based around UK Government Business Link advice to Companies and Industry Best Practice Standards, to assist you with your important decision.