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Tuesday 11 December 2018 Digital ConsultancyDigital Marketing


Patrick Bray's picture
By Patrick Bray

Over the years, search engine algorithm changes have impacted SEO in various ways however, many of the old practices still apply which send Google reassuring signals around the relevance and suitability of page content for the organic search audience. 

The essentials of SEO are not hard to define and implement, but they do need constant monitoring, attention and management.

Trying to compact the world of SEO into 5 key tips is quite a challenge, but if you suspect that your SEO strategy needs a refresh, these will provide you a great starting point. Let's get started!


  1. Consider SEO as part of your overall Content Strategy

Unless you’re a news publisher, it’s best for your SEO-focussed content to be centred around ‘ever-green’ themes; capturing traffic all year round - or at least seasonally.

This content should provide useful and compelling articles for your readers anchored upon clusters of well researched keywords – keywords that you use throughout your copy, titles, headings, descriptions and URLs.

KEY ACTION: Define your process for effective keyword research

Social channels and email can be used to drive traffic to these pages as they are published and/or when they become relevant again. For example, an RAC page on preparations for ‘winter driving’ could be promoted on social and in email campaigns annually.

Great content is well written, focused on a key theme and attracts the attention of search engines, visitors and others sites that want to link to it.

A blog, sometimes with multiple sections or categories, can provide content to both keep your existing readers happy and gain fresh traffic for generic search terms – building brand awareness.

Use of video, audio, infographics and slideshows, along with user generated comments, reviews and ratings can make the experience much more ‘sticky’.

Key Tips:

  • Provide fresh, relevant content on a regular basis for both your audience and as a signal to search engines.
  • Provide intelligently placed links and promos to other content pages within your site and you’ll keep many of your users for longer (Bounce Rate is a signal to Google).


  1. Optimise Page Structures (Title, URL, Description and Schema)

The most important aspects on your content page are hidden elements, including title, meta description and URL as well as the visible elements, including H1 and H2 headings.

This advice has remained solid for many years now and is unlikely to change anytime soon. Here’s a quick recap of these key points:


Although titles do not appear visibly on the page, they form the title lines and link (blue and underlined) which appears in organic search results. It is important that you create a unique and meaningful title under 55 characters in length and ending with your brand name (usually separated with a ‘pipe’).

For example, Top 10 Personal Development Books 2019 | GreatReviews


Becoming increasingly clever, Google may decide to override your chosen description with a snippet of text it finds elsewhere on your page that is more suited to the specific search terms used. A keyword rich, well-crafted, compelling description, however, is still a valued search asset. As with titles, descriptions should be unique to their page.

URL (domain/directory/filename)

Search engines also actively promote secure server locations (HTTPS) more than insecure ones (HTTP). Historically, only the ecommerce pages of a site needed an SSL in place, these days search engines definitely prefer sites where all pages are secure.

If any other external resources are connected to any page on your site the browser may present an ugly warning that will cause some visitors to leave the site.


Unless your site has been designed as a single scrolling page with separate sections linked from a main navigation, it’s best to ensure you only have one H1 (main heading) on each page. This should be unique and keyword rich. It can then be supported by several different H2 (sub-headings) within the page. Again, these should be unique and keyword rich, every bit helps.

These on-page factors should be your first priority as you seek greater search visibility, but make sure your copy and theme developments are established on a solid keyword strategy – defined by search demand for relevant terms.

One final important piece of tagging to consider is the use of Schema tags. If a schema has been defined for your products or services, it’s worth adding their set of detailed tags. Search engines love this kind of detail.

Key Tip:

  • Use a site crawler like ScreamingFrog to quickly collate all the key SEO elements into a neat spreadsheet so you can review your current site status.


  1. Improve Loading Times and Mobile Friendliness

Content is king, but search engines notice how fast that content is being delivered. The speed of your page load depends primarily upon your page content and server specification.

Search engines would prefer to promote pages that provide a better user experience. A review of the below factors will go a long way to optimising delivery and will present positive signals:

  • Move to a faster hosting provider
  • Avoid over-sized images
  • Compress files used on the page, especially image files
  • Minimise the number of time-hungry HTTP requests by employing CSS sprites, instead of multiple small images
  • Avoid and/or remove unnecessary JavaScript files
  • Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN) service

Beyond this, fast loading sites tend be ‘stickier’ and there is almost always a notable correlation between site speed and site conversion rates. The longer users must wait for pages to load, the more like they are to abandon their journey.

As many sites attract around half of their traffic from mobile device (smartphone or tablet) users, it is essential that website owners ensure their mobile audiences are properly catered for.

The user experience is key to maintaining site ‘stickiness’ – measured as ‘time on site’ and ‘number of pages viewed per session’ to lowering bounce rates. In addition to download speeds, these two metrics are telling signs that inform the search engines about the suitability of your site for a mobile audience. Google’s ‘mobile-first index’ will elevate those sites performing better for a mobile audience.

A responsive website, rather than a separate set of mobile-friendly pages is almost always a better solution – though there may be technical limitations that prevent this approach.

Key Tips:

  • Make use of Google’s free mobile friendly test that provides a range of useful recommendations you can immediately act upon, especially the Mobile Speed Test.
  • Google also provides a page speed insights test which is a free online tool that lists the specific site speed issues you need to address 


  1. Backlink Profile

Take time to assess and strengthen your website’s backlink profile.

The most important and effective way of generating a healthy volume of backlinks is to create magnificent content. The direct links and social signals that such content creates will all help to strengthen your search positions.

Keep an eye on lost links. Those lost through your renaming of files or changing directory structures can easily be reclaimed using server 301 redirects. Those lost from externally managed sites will require time and effort to reach out and encourage the site to add it back in. If you manage to speak to someone who can authorise the addition/reinstatement of the link, it’s good practice to have a few other links ready to other relevant pages you could encourage them to add on their website. This requires investment, so target only those that will benefit you the most. Monitor Backlinks and Ahrefs can help you detect lost links.

Some links from spammy and irrelevant sites can negatively impact your online reputation, so take action and ‘disavow’ poor quality backlinks through Google Search Console. Moz will help identify the quality of the links to your site.

Next, identify relevant sites with higher domain authority signals and find a good match between their content and your products/services.

Ask organisations that you’re partnered with to link to your organisation's website from their website partner page. If they ever refer others to you, provide them with an affiliate link (if on your domain) to enable them to benefit financially from the arrangement.


  1. Set up SEO Monitoring and Reporting

There’s no excuse for not having a clear view of where things stand in terms of your search configuration and performance. Set up and connect tools that will provide you with dashboard views of key metrics and allow for continual monitoring of what’s most important.

Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools provide extremely valuable views of important SEO factors including number of index pages and incoming links, lists of search queries (by volume), crawl errors and the number of internal links. They’re both free and cover most of the specific areas below, though there are third party services that often provide much deeper insights:

  • Technical Reports: monitoring the status of the range of server-based factors that might be affecting your SEO results
  • Keyword Visibility: showing the positions of each, estimated traffic, which pages they are driving to and where your competition is positioned for each. Use Authoritas and
  • Keyword Demand: use keyword planner and similar tools
  • Backlink Status: Google and Bing provide highly summarised views. Outside of these, MajesticSEO has the most extensive data on the web (many other suppliers such as SEMRush use much smaller data sets).


Key Tip

  • Every page of your site must be tagged using Adobe Analytics, Google Analytics or similar. Both Adobe Analytics and Google Analytics can present mobile-specific views of search traffic – views you can’t afford not to have available.



Whilst percentages of channel traffic do vary across sites types, you should expect to get at least 25-35% of your traffic through organic search.

Example Channel Acquisition Mix (Google Analytics – Anonymous Website)


Ensure you have a content strategy defined and understand how SEO, social, email and PR will all work together to amplify each others efforts.

Optimise your page URLs as well as page content within the specific tags of title, description and schema references.

Review the site speed and mobile friendliness of your site and use free Google tools to highlight key areas that require optimisation.

Check your backlink status and take the time to reach out to potential sources of long term, quality links.

Make sure you have set up comprehensive reporting of technical, on-page and off-page SEO factors and monitor these in the light of competitor status for each.



If you have any further questions, or you would like to discuss your SEO stategy further, please get in touch. If you would like to hear more on best practice digital marketing strategy, register for our 3rd annual Digital Marketing event taking place in March 2019. Hear from client speakers from big brands, our digital marketing experts and join us for networking drinks at the conclusion of the event - register your interest

Digital Marketing expert, Patrick, shares his top 5 tips for a great SEO strategy.