Search engine optimisation (SEO Manchester) refers to the practice of optimising your website to appear higher in search results and in line with more accurate search phrases. This is done through a multitude of techniques and is one of the most highly recommended practices by digital marketers when it comes to driving new customers to your website. Some of the areas involved in SEO include keyword optimisation, meta tag creation, copy-writing, link building and blog creation. SEO is typically considered a more organic approach to search engine rankings in comparison to paid marketing, as a result it can take a little longer to see your website climb the ranks of Google.
Lumos offer a range of services within the scope of search engine optimisation. Often we will focus on one aspect at a time and track and monitor the results. For example we may decide to focus on building backlinks to your website, in which case we will create a plan to gain you high quality backlinks using our existing directory of quality links and create content to generate links within your niche. Similarly, we may focus on keyword research and implementation for your website to help you match with people that are searching for what you offer and to make sure you are ranking for the right keywords. Ultimately we will discuss with you what options best fit the needs of your marketing
What you need to know about Manchester SEO:
Why do we need SEO?
So, the big question: Why do we need SEO? There’s only so far paid traffic can get you, that is without generating an abnormally large bill, perhaps still generating mediocre traffic, leads, and sales to your business or website.
SEO allows you to create consistent, free organic traffic to your website. While this takes time to create and rank, the results pay dividends. If your business is physical, for example, a local coffee shop or convenience store, this too will create additional footfall to your business.
Instead of paying for traffic (paid ads etc.), once SEO strategies are implemented the traffic is more or less self-sufficient, generating consistent results. This is much more cost-effective than paid traffic, perhaps also resulting in customers with greater search or buyer intent.
You may be wondering: what is buyer intent and why does this matter? Buyer intent, also referred to as search intent is the stage of purchase or decision the consumer is currently at. For example, if a consumer searches the phrase, “is it worth hiring a professional to clean my windows?”, their buyer intent could be perceived as low. On the other hand, if the consumer searches the phrase, “window cleaners available today in x area” then their buyer intent is high. To some extent, you can tailor your content, including keyword usage to target consumers with a higher buyer/search intent, thus equaling more sales compared to dead leads.
Adopting an SEO strategy not only allows you to generate free organic traffic, but this traffic may contain higher buyer/search intent. Consequently, this leads to an increased ROI (return on investment), with the only costs concerned with website management, content creation, outsourcing of content (you can also create this yourself if you have the time to keep costs down), and webmaster fees. While it may seem like a bundle of expenses, adopting an effective SEO strategy is much more cost-effective than consistently paying for traffic.
What is the difference between on-page and off-page SEO?
On-page SEO is focused on creating keyword-focused content and SEO optimised pages. On the other hand, off-page SEO is concerned with building backlinks, guest posting on other sites, and increasing the authority of your website.
All businesses and/or websites should adopt both an on and off-page SEO strategy. Think of on-page SEO as everything you or your webmaster can do on your website. For example, other than SEO-focused blog posts and content, this also includes alt tags, custom code, meta descriptions, headings, keyword usage, and more.
Conversely, off-page SEO is everything not physically on your website. As previously mentioned, this can include guest posting on other sites, building the authority of your site, and generating backlinks. However, off-page SEO also includes other factors such as social promotion, e.g. boosting Facebook posts, Instagram Ads, and pins on Pinterest, managing public reviews, setting up Google my Business, and the general reputation of your business in the public eye.
By this point, you’re likely wondering: is it best to focus on on-page or off-page SEO? The answer is both. Arguably, you should pay more attention to on-page SEO as this is what you have more control over. However, without off-page SEO, your website will struggle to gain authority and higher rankings in search engines such as Google.
As a general rule of thumb: dedicate sixty-per cent of your efforts to on-page and forty-per cent to off-page. Many businesses choose to outsource their off-page SEO strategy, as this is arguably the more difficult of the two.
Outsourcing may include guest posts to other sites, managing public reviews, and building up your social presence through methods such as Instagram influencers, features on popular blogs, and creating an exclusive Facebook community or forum. In particular, off-page SEO can be overwhelming, especially for beginners.
The decision regarding whether you should outsource this ultimately depends on your SEO experience, budget, time constraints, and dedication to learn these SEO practices. Even the most novice in SEO can become sufficient, if not experts through practice, dedication, and the willingness to learn. However, you will make mistakes on the way, so be sure to have someone on hand to help should these occur.
If you want to understand SEO, it’s important to know the basic terminology. Below you will find a few basic terms and their definitions to further help you understand the process and complexity of SEO practices:
- SEO – search engine optimisation;
- Backlinks – a hyperlink from one site pointing to another;
- Branding – name, design, icon, or symbol associated with a business, person, or website;
- Webmaster – a person who maintains one or multiple websites;
- Analytics – a method of measuring the success of a website, e.g. views, bounce rates, etc.;
- Bounce rate – the percentage of people who click off your website without interacting with your content or clicking another page;
- Domain authority – how well a website will rank (how established it is);
- Page authority – how well an individual page will rank;
- Keywords or key phrases – words to target for optimal organic performance and reach;
- Alt tag – text that appears when you hover over an image or when the image is unavailable;
- White hat SEO – SEO strategies fully compliant with search engines’ guidelines;
- Blogger outreach – relationship building with other bloggers in your niche;
- Grey hat SEO – SEO strategies mostly compliant with search engines’ guidelines;
- Clickbait – provocative content designed to intrigue consumers and increase clicks to pages;
- Black hat SEO – practices breaching search engines’ guidelines (not recommended);
- Impressions – the number of times your page has been seen (not necessarily clicked) in search results.
There are many more SEO terms; however, these are some of the basics you are likely to encounter. If you’re unfamiliar with other terms, seek advice from your webmaster, SEO team, or even perform a quick Google search – the internet is full of knowledge.
However, if you’re serious about your SEO efforts, learning this terminology is essential. While it may seem a little overwhelming at first, refer back to this course chapter to refresh your memory. With that being said, getting stuck in with SEO efforts yourself is a great way to pick this terminology up, allowing you to speak to your webmaster, content writers, or other freelance creators as accurately as possible for the best results.
Remember: you don’t need to know every term in the theoretical “SEO handbook.” However, familiarising yourself with the basics is a great way to analyse your current efforts, allowing you to greater understand the success or shortcomings of your current SEO efforts.
How can SEO help a business grow?
Now that you’re clued up on some of the basic SEO terms, let’s discuss how SEO can help a business grow. Adopting an SEO strategy increases the authority of your website, allowing users to find your site and particular pages or pieces of content easier. The higher you rank in search engines (e.g. Google, Bing, Yahoo, and Duck Duck Go) the more traffic your site will generate.
The more traffic you receive, the more leads, sales, shares, and general engagement you will experience. Remember, if you have a physical store, this too will increase footfall, with locals and tourists easier able to find you.
Once again, it’s important to note that SEO results will not happen overnight. For this reason, many businesses steer clear of SEO efforts and opt for paid traffic alternatives such as Google Ads, Facebook and Instagram Ads, and other paid strategies.
However, if you’re looking to grow your business, maximising ROI and minimising expenses, then adopting an SEO strategy is essential. Furthermore, quality SEO strategies (e.g. quality content, a clean and professional website, and optimal user experience) allows you to build trust and credibility with your desired audience. As you likely already know, the more a consumer can relate or trust a business, the more likely they are to make a purchase or other engagement (e.g. signing up to your mailing list).
This trust and credibility are built overtime, and for this reason is why SEO is a long-term method of organic traffic and reach. Often, with many businesses, SEO efforts compound – results take a while to appear, but once they do they manifest altogether. We like to use the analogy of a train, slowly picking up speed throughout the journey. For example, if you create ten SEO long-form blog posts on keyword focused topics in your niche, these will likely not rank too well, to begin with (this is not always the case). However, as your site authority builds, a handful of these will perhaps dominate search engine rankings. And thus generating further organic traffic – the train has begun to pick up speed and your website will continue to grow, creating this compound organic effect.
Competitor analysis is an important SEO strategy and component of keyword research. However, this is often overlooked. To understand competitor analysis, we first need to define the term. Competitor analysis is the process of examining your competitors’ websites, individual pages, content, and overall SEO strategy.
No website is perfect, we can always learn from one another. Perhaps one site achieves greater social shares whilst the other dominates organic rankings. At the most basic level, you can perform competitor analysis by analysing your competitors websites. You should pay attention to the following:
- What do they do well?
- Is there any content that is greater received than others (e.g., more social shares/comments)
- Is there a view count on the posts?
- Could you also write content on rival topics?
- We can also take competitor analysis to another level, using keyword research tools – more on this in the next section. However, entering a rival website’s details into one of these tools reveals it’s backlink portfolio, most popular keywords, estimated traffic (and traffic value) and SERP (search engine results page) features.
Use this to your advantage and outrank your competitors. For example, one popular method of gaining backlinks is finding a rival post with several high-quality backlinks. Then, you create a similar, but improved version of the same post. Ensure the post is not too similar, however, more in-depth and a much more valuable resource. Next, email all websites providing a backlink to the rival site, emailing them to inform of your new in-depth resource.
Avoid asking for a link directly as this can be seen as forceful. If you do ask for a link directly, offer something in return. For example, sharing their post on your social media accounts, creating a unique pin for their Pinterest account, or sharing a piece of their content with your mailing list.
Remember: this, and many other SEO practices are based on an exchange of value. Provide something in return to increase your success rate, very few websites and owners will link to your resource just because you sent them an email telling them too…
Keyword Research Tools
Nowadays there is not just one keyword research tool, there are hundreds. Keyword research tools do exactly as they say on the tin; they are useful tools to find frequently searched keywords and phrases.
These tools provide an estimated search volume of the phrase, difficulty to rank for, and related terms to also include (depending on the tool). Keyword research tools are indispensable, providing you an edge over your competitors and allowing you to target keywords that actually rank. Not only does this save you time creating content, but this also increases organic traffic. You’ll also see results much sooner compared to writing whatever you “think” will rank.
This is a big mistake many novice content creators and website owners make: they create content in hope of it ranking with little to no real strategy. Adopting SEO strategies such as keyword research will no doubt produce quicker results. Take our word for it.
Nonetheless, popular keyword research tools include:
- SEM Rush
Both Ahrefs and SEM Rush are premium tools, whilst Ubersuggest is free, but also comes with a premium upgrade for enhanced features. The price on these vary; however, Ahrefs begins at £77 per month, SEM Rush at £78, and Ubersuggest £29 per month.
Your choice of keyword tools is dependent on your intended use, for example, how often are you going to use the tool? Are you going to use other features other than keyword research? And can you make use of a free one?
As you’ve likely already figured, in general: Paid keyword research tools are better than free ones. Paid tools often show greater metrics and are also more accurate. For example, Ahrefs has a database of more than seven billion websites, second behind Google. Therefore, the metrics provided are more up to date, providing you with reliable and the best keywords to outrank your competition and thus increase organic search traffic.
There are numerous types of keywords you can rank for, two of the most popular are known as “trophy” keywords and “long-tail” keywords. These will be discussed in more detail in the following sections.
How to Identify Trophy Keywords
Trophy keywords are the most popular, but often most difficult to rank for. For this reason it may be best to pay less attention to these keywords, instead devoting greater attention to long-tail keywords; more on this later.
Let’s use the example of a local coffee shop in Manchester, England. Examples of trophy keywords could be as following:
- Manchester coffee shop
- Coffee in Manchester
- Best coffee shop in Manchester, England?
As you can see, trophy keywords are fairly straightforward. However, this also means they are the most difficult to rank for, especially if your competitors are also utilizing SEO strategies.
Trophy keywords often provide the greatest number of organic traffic, but are also the most difficult to rank for. However, you should allocate both time and effort to at least attempting to rank for these.
If you’re just beginning an SEO strategy, perhaps also just created a website then your authority is likely low. This makes it more difficult to rank for these terms. If this is you, focus a large percentage of your attention building off-page SEO, e.g. guest posting on other sites in exchange for backlinks, commenting on other blogs in your niche, and generally getting your brand name out there. The higher your authority the easier it is to rank for all topics.
Once your authority is somewhat higher, consider ranking for these trophy keywords. Tailor your content around these, adding these phrases and similar variations to your most popular pages (homepage, landing page, or about page) increasing your chances of ranking for these terms. You can also build backlinks directly to these pages, further increasing your rankings in organic results on search engines such as Google.
If you’re just starting out, and even if you’re not, you shouldn’t solely focus on trophy keywords. Instead, include these throughout your content, ensuring these are not forced. Overtime, as your site authority naturally increases, and as a result of your off-page SEO efforts you will slowly begin to rank for these terms.
So, what do you do in the meantime? Other than inserting these keywords and phrases across the board, where should you devote the majority of your attention? The answer lies within long-tail keywords; a goldmine in terms of generating organic traffic.
What are Long-Tail Keywords?
Long-tail keywords are commonly referred to as “low hanging fruit”, for good reason. These keywords are longer than standard keywords, often five or more consecutive words or phrases. As these phrases are used less, fewer businesses or SEO efforts are devoted to ranking for these terms. Despite having lower search volume, the difficulty to rank is much easier.
However, just because these phrases are searched less does not mean they aren’t searched “enough.” Targeting multiple long-tail keywords will likely generate equal amounts, if not more traffic than one or two generic, “trophy keywords”, with less effort, too.
Ranking content with long-tail keywords is easier, there’s less competition and little need to build backlinks to individual pages or blog posts (although we still recommend this). Also, creating content whilst targeting this “low hanging fruit” may also result in increased rankings for these “trophy” terms, as previously discussed. Consider adding a small handful of these in your content, but only if they are relevant.
So, how do you find these long-tail keywords? As a first point of contact, you want to use a keyword tool, such as those covered towards the beginning of this chapter. Our favourite tool is Ahrefs, allowing you to search keywords adjusting metrics such as:
- Keyword difficulty (set this between zero and twenty)
- Keyword length (between three and eight is ideal)
- Search volume (set this above 100)
This method of keyword research for long-tail keywords allows you to find ideal words and phrases to rank for, with much less competition than other keywords. Ahrefs also suggests “similar keywords”, look to include a handful of these in your work too.
For most SEO novices and some experts alike, this is where their SEO strategy ends. However, there’s another important step: Performing a Google search to identify other long-term keywords and phrases. Once you search a keyword or phrase in Google, scroll down to the bottom of the page where it says “searches related to keyword.” If these are relevant include these, perhaps as headings. The same applies to other keyword suggestions by Google, i.e. what you could be searching for. This increases searcher intent, also informing Google that your content is relevant, accurate, and the best fit for the searched phrase. Do this correctly and you significantly increase the likelihood of ranking for these long-term and even trophy keywords and phrases.
Setting up a keyword question
Finally, alongside both trophy and long-tail keywords, there are also what is known as “keyword questions.” Keyword questions are exactly as they sound: Questions with a high search volume. As with all keywords, the difficulty to rank these depend on several factors (e.g. word length, website authority, a post/page’s backlink portfolio), but are great for determining topic or blog post ideas.
Think of keyword questions somewhat as an “umbrella term.” A term that sets the scene for your content, allowing you to incorporate primary trophy and long-tail keywords on the page or post. For example, if you run a coffee shop, a keyword question could be as follows:
- Where is the best coffee shop in Manchester?
- Who sells the best coffee?
- Is there a coffee shop that sells homemade coffee in Manchester?
As you can see, often questions are fairly basic, but as we mentioned set the scene for a piece of content. However, besides setting the scene and creating topic ideas keyword questions also earn their place in the frequently asked questions (FAQ) section of a post or page.
FAQs are hidden SEO goldmines. Not only do you get to include multiple “keyword questions”, thus generating further traffic to your website. But Google loves, and rewards those who include FAQs – especially if they are relevant. With the addition of an FAQ you are likely to gain SERPS, increasing website and post exposure by featuring on the first page of Google. Also, answering these questions promotes your post as more “relevant”, increasing the likelihood of it ranking well amongst other, similar posts.
Many people also ask: What posts should I include in an FAQ? This depends on numerous factors, however, if upon performing keyword research you realize an abundance of questions, create an FAQ; even if this is just two or three questions. So, to summarise: if there’s questions to be answered (e.g. people are searching for these) then create a short FAQ at the end of your blog post or page, but only if it’s relevant. Don’t go out of your way to add random questions to a post in the hope of generating more traffic. Instead, this will likely result in a Google penalty; disrupting the growth and SEO of your website.
How to Implement keywords
So, you’ve done your keyword research and now it’s time to implement those keywords. Perhaps you’ve got a list of popular trophy, long-tail keywords, and questions, but don’t know where to begin. Don’t worry, we’ve all been there.
Before we get into how to implement these keywords, it’s worth mentioning that SEO content writing isn’t for everyone. In some cases, businesses or individuals may be best off outsourcing their content for better SEO results. Also allowing them to spend time on other, perhaps more important tasks. However, even if you’re not writing the content, you can create an extensive SEO plan containing your keyword research.
But, still: how do you start? To begin with, it’s worth implementing keyword questions first. Often, these questions can form headings (H2/H3), setting the tone of your content and allowing you to incorporate other related keywords under these headings. If you don’t have any keyword questions, consider creating some yourself using your primary or secondary keywords. For example, if your primary keyword was: “best espresso coffee,” your question could be: “Who sells the best espresso coffee in Manchester?”
Once you have the questions down on paper, it’s worth creating other related headings. Each heading does not need to contain your keywords. In fact, “keyword stuffing” is detrimental to SEO performance, decreasing your ability to rank well in search engines. The term “keyword stuffing” refers to the overuse of a particular keyword. Avoid this at all costs, it’s best to use keywords sparingly, but enough for the search engines to pick it up.
There are various SEO plugins for WordPress websites, with one of the most popular being Yoast SEO. Yoast has both a free and premium option, but the free option works just fine. Simply plug-in your keyword and work towards achieving a green SEO light (there are three rankings; red, amber, and green). As well as informing whether or not you’ve used a keyword too many times, Yoast SEO also illustrates other SEO components you can utilise to further optimize your content, for example, alt tags, meta descriptions, title tags, and internal and external links.
Furthermore, although not related to keyword implementation, Yoast also provides a readability score for your content. Once again, aim for a green light on this.
How Can Manchester SEO Services Help You
Will SEO work for my business?
Yes! SEO will 100% work for any business if it is done properly. SEO tends to be the primary source of website traffic; it is a huge part of most businesses’ website performance. Google owns a large portion of the search market thus it would be beneficial for your business to show up on Google, which is what we can help you with.
SEO helps your business to build its trust and credibility. SEO establishes a strong foundation for an appealing-looking website with a clean, effective user experience that is easily discoverable in a simple Google Search. Users are more than likely to trust businesses with that type of website as they are clear and easy to use.
Having good SEO means a better user experience. This must be your number one priority. You want your website visitors to have a good user experience on your website, with as few headaches as possible. All businesses want better organic rankings and maximum visibility, however, to do this optimal user experience is essential.
SEO helps your business to establish brand awareness, you want your target customers to be able to recognise your brand straight away from the website and become familiar with it. SEO makes sure that your product/ brand/ business is easily found in an organic search. When you remain on the top ranking, people will begin to see you more easily and help you to generate more leads for your website.
Using SEO ensures that your website is mobile-friendly. This is essential in today’s day and age as most of the time, people search the web straight from their phones. We do not mean that SEO improves your website’s mobile-friendliness, we mean that to use SEO to the best of your advantage, you need a website that looks and functions well on mobile phones. 66% of all web traffic now comes from mobile devices and if your website does not function well on mobile, potential customers and audience will lose interest and not come back to your website.
Another advantage of SEO is that it improves your website speed. Did you know that website speed is one of Google’s user experience signals and it can now seriously affect your web ranking? The loading time of your web pages can influence how each of them competes against other pages that have similar content. You will want to optimise your content to avoid its shifting position on the page while loading. Optimising your content will improve both your position in organic search and speed up your website.
SEO puts you ahead of the competition. By making your brand more recognisable and building trust and credibility you will have your position as industry leader and authority within your field. Customers will always click on a website that provides them with more security and less risk. If your website ends up on top of the SERPs this shows that they have already trusted, you and you have provided what they want from a website.