Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) – Key Points and Opinions
The Internet is undoubtedly the first port of call now for the vast majority of people who want to search for a product or service.
In the past everyone had a copy of the phone book or the Yellow Pages and this would be the main directory for local businesses of all types in your area.
Generally these directories were in alphabetical order and so there was no prioritising of companies within the directory itself. The main exception to this would be if a company paid for an advertisement that took up slightly more space and incorporated a bespoke design rather than standard text.
This meant that companies were generally not contacted due to their ranking in the directory itself. Customers were more likely to select companies on reputation, word-of-mouth or simply by random selection.
However now the main business directory is the Internet search engine and, of these, Google has by far the largest market share in the UK. This means that the ranking of businesses on Google is an essential component to the amount of traffic that the website will receive.
Depending on how reliant a company is on it’s website to generate business, it’s Google ranking can have a key influence on the success or failure of that business.
How do search engines rank websites?
This is an essential consideration when developing or optimising any website. The answer is that combinations of many factors are taken into account. When a search engine ‘robot’ reads a website it uses a combination of complex algorithms to assess important factors relating to the usability, relevance and speed of a website. The new Google algorithms place increased importance on websites being mobile-friendly and will now down rank sites that respond poorly to different screen sizes. Therefore a responsive website is essential and all of my websites are now constructed in this way.
Although the exact ways in which the search engine algorithms work is never revealed Google provide many guidelines for optimising a website to fit their specifications. . I have studied these recommendations in detail and constantly keep informed with any changes to search engine-ranking systems. I also use several online tools that allow me to analyse the SEO scores of websites and make improvements or recommendations where necessary. Therefore I am able to provide services to optimise websites for search engines.
My Opinions and a Better Solution?
Although I am skilled and knowledgeable in SEO and can follow the rules set down by Search Engines in order to gain higher rankings I don’t believe that the system is by any means perfect. Personally I have issues with the way the largest search engines display information and rank business websites. The main problem is that users will generally only click on the websites on the first page of a search engine. This means that only the first10 websites for a search are likely to see a significant amount of search engine traffic. Generally this means that larger companies with more resources are always at an advantage compared to smaller start up companies or sole traders, even though this might not reflect the quality of work and services provided by the respective companies.
My personal suggestion would be to display the results in some form of image grid system. This could allow for a lot more businesses to be ranked on the first page for a keyword search. The images could be a thumbnail from each website which would provide a more attractive and intuitive way for users to find the businesses they want. I have a similar way of arranging items on my portfolio page and the block system is a common way of navigating now and Operating Systems and Mobile devices. These businesses could still be ranked according to SEO but positions could change regularly in order to give smaller companies more opportunity to attract search engine traffic. There could also be filters at the top or left hand side of the page where users could arrange the companies by popularity for instance, or distance.
Maybe this is something that Google is working on, who knows? They tend to keep any improvements very close to their chest. However, as a company with such a huge influence on businesses globally there are many aspects of their software that don’t work as well as they should (Google + anybody?).
Yahoo and Bing follow a similar method of displaying search results which seems out of date considering the technological advancements of recent years.
However making huge changes like this would cause shockwaves within the industry so it would either require steady updates towards the new layout or a new company to bring a fresh approach.