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We hope all of you are keeping safe and healthy in these difficult times.
At one point, when writing this blog post, we realised we were entering a kind of existential, self-perpetuating, SEO wormhole of sorts. You’ll see what we mean shortly. But don’t worry, you’re quite safe, let’s get on with the article and all will be revealed.
We thought you might find it useful if we shared some steps that have improved our ranking on search engines over the last few months. Now, there are plenty of splendid SEO articles and top tip lists already out there, of course, just er… Google them. But, what we’ll share with you here, are some of the particular SEO techniques that have worked a treat for us - so you know they're going to be worth considering for your own site too.
Why did we need to improve our search engine ranking?
The main issues we wanted to look at from an SEO perspective included:
Although we’re only about 25 minutes from the centre of Oxford, our postcode isn’t OX but HP, which makes it harder to rank when users search for a website design agency in Oxford.
We thought it might be an idea to start ranking as a website design agency not only in Oxford but Aylesbury, Bicester and Milton Keynes too, as we had key staff living in those areas who could easily meet up with potential clients.
We had become an Umbraco certified partner so we wanted to be visible to users searching for an Umbraco CMS web design agency too.
The digital marketing agency
Over the years, we’ve recommended local SEO company Common Ground to any clients who are looking for some specialist SEO campaigns, so they were the obvious choice for our own website. They’re based in Oxford too, which is handy.
How we improved our SEO
The main chunk of work we undertook on our website involved:
Improving and optimising the copy on our website.
Creating location-specific landing pages for particular search terms.
So, we created landing pages for search terms like ‘Oxford web design’, ‘Oxford web development’ and ‘Oxford e-learning’. These pages aren’t linked to from the main site pages, but they do contain links to other relevant areas of our website, in particular, the website design, e-learning and hosting pages.
You’ll notice the URLs contain the keywords too, for example - https://www.intuitiv.net/oxford/web-design.
We hired freelance copywriters, as we were mindful that these pages should contain copy that still reads very well, and was still interesting to the user as the first point of call – after all, nobody likes to feel duped - but the pages also contained our keywords.
Headings, in particular, are a good place for keywords.
E.g., the not-so-subtle,
“Web design Oxford – your local Oxford web design agency”.
and the slightly more enticing,
“Looking for an incredibly experienced local web design agency in Oxford?”
“Web development in Oxford – much more than just a pretty face!”.
According to the SEO agency, the most common user journey is:
Therefore, we tried to make this journey super easy for any potential client. For example, on every top-level page, there's an ‘above the fold' link to About Us and the Contact page.
Another ongoing part of our SEO campaign is our new blog, for which the SEO company suggested some initial suitable topics based on their search statistics. Naturally, the blog posts are shared on our social media platforms too – all with the aim of informing and engaging the reader in an authentic way. We want to build trust, and thereby, of course, increase clicks and engagement with our website.
Mobile responsive website design is a must, of course. Additionally, though, we reduced page load speeds and created Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs) – important ranking factors in desktop and mobile indexes.
Here’s a small smattering of some other not-so-obvious advice that really worked for us:
Ask for reciprocal links back from your clients’ websites.
Set up reciprocal links from other sites, directory links, awards and review sites.
Use plenty of well-written copy on pages, that contains your keywords but still engages the reader.
Avoid cannibalisation – pages with copy containing similar keywords.
Set up Google My Business including photos and client reviews. Respond quickly to the client reviews.
Include client testimonials on your site.
The existential bit
This is where it gets a little mind bending.
In describing above how we improved our ranking for, say, ‘Oxford web design agency’, we have to write “Oxford web design agency”, which in turn is probably helping our own SEO right now.
In giving examples of how the URLs were structured, we’re providing links from this article through to our site, which again will probably help our own SEO ranking in some small way.
I suppose that’s the whole point of many, many blog posts. Write something to guide, advise, inform, amuse, enlighten, engage or help others, and you can end up helping yourself too, intentionally or otherwise.
The whole reason behind these paragraphs was to simply show that the above explanation of the methods we used to improve our SEO for ‘Oxford web design’ for example, will itself actually help our ranking for those terms, and so it goes on. Explaining an explanation of an SEO tip turns into an SEO tip in itself. Especially if I mention we’re an Oxford website agency again. Phew.
At least we’re honest about it.
Right, that’s enough of that. Let’s move on to the conclusion.
Our rankings and site stats have improved no end this year. We’re now mostly on page one for our targeted search phrases, and new business calls have increased.
Big thanks again to Common Ground for all their advice and ongoing support.
We’ve started asking how potential clients found us and what they searched for. It’s useful to know and shows that our SEO work is so far working a treat. We’ve also learnt huge amounts that we can feed into all our clients’ future projects with confidence.
So everyone benefits.
Survived that rabbit hole of existential logic and nonsense? Good.
We’d love to talk sensibly about your next project. We can help, and advice is always free.