What is SEO?

 approx 1 hour video

Nettl Academy SEO Live Event! Session 1

This session is the first in a new series of live events from Nettl where each week the Nettl SEO team explore a different subject relating to SEO.

What is SEO?

We’ll cover hot topics such as:

Google Search Ranking
SEO Myths
Organic & Paid Searches
How SEO & SEM differ
What will get your website penalised
How to maximise your chances with SEO
Expertise, Authority & Trust
Optimising Content
Search Intent
Easy steps to improve your SEO

The main idea is to go through the basics of search engine optimisation – a glorious part of marketing – which we’ve been involved with for maybe 10 years now and have a large amount of experience in this background. So hopefully we can share all of this with you today and add some transparency to what is normally quite a complicated subject.

We’re going to be running through understanding the difference between organic and paid search results. What is SEO and what is SEM and how they compete against each other, or how they differ from each other.

Check out the next video in our SEO webinar series


SEO is search engine optimisation and SEM is search engine marketing. Search engine optimisation as it was then – as in five, 10 years ago – and where it is now, and the huge difference that we’ve seen over the last five to 10 years. Understanding search intent and its importance in 2020 and beyond. Keyword research and how to effectively do that with intent in mind, and then ways to improve your own search ranking yourselves.

We’re gonna make you watch a short video, which is actually done by Google, to help people understand how search engines work and really to understand anything about search engine optimisation. You obviously need to understand the basic principles of what a search engine is and how it works so we’re going to dive into this for a couple of minutes and then we’ll move straight on.

Google search ranking

Google Search Ranking

Entire books have been written about it but there’s a good chance you’re in the market for something a little more concise. So let’s say it’s getting close to dinner and you want a recipe for lasagna. You’ve probably seen this before, but let’s go a little deeper. Since the beginning, back when the homepage looked like this, Google has been continuously mapping the web, hundreds of billions of pages, to create something called an index. Think of it as the giant library we look through whenever you do a search for lasagna or anything else.

Now the word lasagna shows up a lot on the web, pages about the history of lasagna, articles by scientists whose last name happened to be lasagna, stuff other people might be looking for. But if you’re hungry, randomly clicking through millions of links is no fun. This is where Google’s ranking algorithms come into play.

First, they try to understand what you’re looking for so they can be helpful, even if you don’t know exactly the right words to use, or if your spelling is a little off. Then they sift through millions of possible matches in the index and automatically assemble a page that tries to put the most relevant information up top for you to choose from.

Okay, now we have some results, but how did the algorithms actually decide what made it onto the first page? There are hundreds of factors that go into ranking search results. So let’s talk about a few of them. You may already know that pages containing the words you search for are more likely to end up at the top. No surprise there. But the location of those words, like in the pages title or in an images caption, those are factors too. There’s a lot more to ranking than just words.

Back when Google got started, we looked at how pages linked to each other to better understand what pages were about and how important and trustworthy they seemed. Today linking is still an important factor. Another factor is location: where a search happens. Because if you happen to be in Armenia, Italy, you might be looking for information about their annual lasagna festival. But if you’re in Omaha, Nebraska, you probably aren’t.

When a webpage was uploaded is an important factor too. Pages published more recently often have more accurate information, especially in the case of a rapidly developing news story.

Of course, not every site on the web is trying to be helpful. Just like with robocalls on your phone or spam in your email, there are a lot of sites that only exist to scam and everyday scammers upload millions more of them. So just because ‘instant virus download.net’ lists the words ‘lasagna recipe’ 400 times, that doesn’t mean it’s going to help you make dinner. We spend a lot of time trying to stay one step ahead of tricks like these, making sure our algorithms can recognise scam sites and flag them before they make it to your search results page.

So let’s review. Billions of times a day, whenever someone searches for lasagna or resume writing tips or how to swaddle a baby or anything else, Google software locates all the potentially relevant results in the web and removes all the spam and ranks them based on hundreds of factors like keywords links, location, and freshness.

Okay, good time to take a breath. This last part is about how we make changes to search. And it’s important.

Since 1998, when Google went online, people seem to have found our results pretty helpful. But the web is always changing and people are always searching for new things. In fact, one in every seven searches is for something that’s never been typed into the search box before, by anyone ever. So we’re always working in updates to ‘search’, thousands every year. Which brings up a big question: how do we decide whether a change is making search more helpful? Well, one of the ways we evaluate potential updates to search is by asking people like you.

Every day, thousands of search quality raters look at samples of search results side by side, then give feedback about the relevance and reliability of the information. To make sure those evaluations are consistent, the raters follow a list of search quality evaluator guidelines. Think of them as our publicly available guide to what makes a good result, good. Oh, and one last thing to remember, we use responses from raters to evaluate changes but they don’t directly impact how search results are ranked.

So there you have it. Every time you click search, our algorithms are analysing the meaning of the words in your search, matching them to the content on the web, understanding what content is most likely to be helpful and reliable, and then automatically putting it all together in a neatly organised page designed to get you the info you need, all in 0.8 seconds.

seo myths

SEO Myths

Now, a few common myths. So first of all, ‘Google is the only search engine worth submitting my site onto’. This isn’t necessarily the case, although Google does have the market share in the industry, it has over 93% of the UK search market. Bing is quite far behind, with roughly 4% of the UK search market. And then there are a couple of others. However, what you may find is that within such engines, such as Bing, the demographic can be a little bit older. So whilst the average age of somebody using Google is around 20 years old, the average age of somebody using Bing it’s closer to 50 years old. So if you have a certain product or niche, which is targeting a particular demographic, it’s certainly worth exploring other search engines.

‘My home page needs more content’, or what is seen as the kitchen sink approach. This is when instead of spreading out content across a website to become authoritative on a subject, you put all of your content on one page and you try to rank all of the keywords in the world on one page, by putting thousands of words of content. You may see that this sometimes does work for certain phrases as for some of your competitors, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it will be sustainable. It is part of what Google is trying to filter and find as a bad experience for the end customer.

‘Somebody is guaranteed that your site is going to be first position in the search results in three months’ and that’s just a done deal and magically you’re paying just a couple of hundred pounds a month for such an amazing opportunity. It’s nonsense. It’s not real, it’s fake. There is no way to guarantee a listing unless you’re physically paying for it and even then that’s on a rotation basis.

So, when it comes to SEO, there is no guarantee of ranking top for a particular keyword, nor would you ever want to either. I’ll touch on that in more detail later around the misconceptions about keyword targeting and about how you, as the customers in these scenarios, don’t always know what’s right for you when it comes to SEO. So actually a company asking for a list of keywords may not be the best approach and it’s sometimes best to let the experts find the best keywords for you. As we found out from Google, one in seven of every search that goes through Google has never been searched before. So how can we possibly predict what those keywords are going to be?

‘My site changes will show in search engines immediately’. Nope. What we’re waiting for here is Google to send something called ‘spiders’ into your website, follow links, and then follow those links through to other pages on other websites that you’re linking to. That is how Google navigates the web. By sending what they call ‘spiders’ across websites, finding and following links from one page to another.

Some more myths for you. ‘More links pointing to your website the better’. No, not anymore. Maybe 10 years ago, yes. But not now. The volume of links pointing to your website is a negligible ranking factor. It’s helpful for getting Google to actually index and crawl your website but now Google’s artificial intelligence is so advanced, it can recognise how authoritative your website is on a subject based on a few simple principles, which we’ll cover in a bit.

‘The more pages I have the better’, this is a bit like the kitchen sink tactic but instead you’re just putting every possible variation of keywords onto your website. So it could be ‘butchers in Brighton’ and ‘cheap butchers in Brighton’ and ‘expensive butchers in Brighton’ and having an individual page for every single keyword variant. Not needed, it’s spammy, it’s not good for the end user.

‘I don’t need a mobile optimised website’. This is one of the most common things that we see, even F1 is guilty of it. We design things on our desktop, that’s where we start with designing things. But your customers are on mobile devices so we should be building designs and concepts mobile first. Typically more than 70% of your traffic will be coming from mobile devices, mobile phones, not many tablets anymore. Tablets are slowly starting to deteriorate and we’re just seeing a much greater rise in mobile traffic, at a faster rate than ever before.

organic v paid search

Organic & Paid Searches

So understanding search engine results, what is the difference between organic free and paid searches within the results? Organic search results are the webpage listings that most closely match the user’s search query based on relevance. And this is what we saw on that Google video. So what Google is trying to do is predict what somebody is going to search for, in three to four searches time, before they even search it. Paid search results are basically just advertisements at the top of the search results, which are triggered based on relevancy and usability of your website itself.

So here, there’s not a very clear difference, and there’s a reason for that. Google used to make it a lot more clear what was an ad and what isn’t, and now the only way that you can tell the difference is by that small, either black or yellow, highlighted ad part. For the ads, ultimately you can get a PPC campaign, a pay-per-click campaign, and you can become instantly visible, for pretty much any variation of keywords, which is actually a super effective way to test a certain keyword before targeting them for SEO reasons.

The last thing that you want to do is invest in an SEO strategy, which could take six to eight months to pay dividends, and then target keywords that don’t convert all your websites. So really you want to be trying and testing with some PPC budget to see how effective those keywords are, or those targeted key phrases are, against conversions and making sure that you track those conversions.

Then the SEO results: the reason why SEO is, in my opinion, more important than PPC – and I practice both – but the reason why SEO is more important is that if you have a hundred people searching for SEO, out of those 100 people, 25 of those people will click on the ads. 75 of those people will click on the top two to three organic search results because they are part of what we call an ‘ad savvy generation’ who don’t want to be told what to click on by ads and prefer to trust the organic nature of a search engine.

How SEO & SEM differ

So what is SEO and what is SEM and how are they different from each other? So SEO is the process of optimising your website for the purpose of getting free organic traffic from search engines to your website. An optimised website is more easily understood by search engine crawlers – those spiders that I was describing – and this increases the chances of ranking higher in the ‘SERPs’ or otherwise known as the search engine result pages. Both processes aim in increasing overall visibility, however, search engine marketing is the overall strategy. It is all encompassing of all other aspects of digital marketing.

When we look at SEO or search engine optimisation in 2020 and beyond, it pretty much covers every channel within digital marketing, from PR to affiliates to graphic design to frontend and backend developers to content writing to social media – all of these areas are fundamentally important to affect SEO. And by not having one of those channels performing correctly, then SEO is never going to be working at its optimum value for you.

So search engine marketing, it covers all aspects of digital presence from brand visibility, paid and organic and even social media. So it is covering all different areas. The ad results are not always the most relevant to what you’re searching for online, which is why if you search for a red sports car, an ad for Porsche or Ferrari may come up, not an exact match for a red sports car but they have targeted somebody searching for ‘sports car’ in that scenario. Whereas organic results are typically pretty good at filtering out what’s most relevant for somebody on what they’re searching for.

So we’ve got SEO then and SEO now. I hope many of you remember back to 10/20 years ago to what we’re still haunted with to this day with the emails that come through to our inboxes. I’m sure you all get them, saying that ‘we will get you to the top of SEO on Google for 1.99 a month, send us 10 keywords and away we go and we’re on that magical journey’. The amount of people who have fallen victim to this over the years, means that SEO has a bit of a black eye. So that is ranging from people, keyword stuffing – so literally putting in the same words over and over. Like, ‘if you are interested in SEO, then as an SEO expert, I am the SEO expert for your business. So if you want affordable SEO, then use my SEO services today and I will be the best SEO that you can find when you search for SEO in your region against all other SEOs’. And this isn’t an uncommon thing to see on the web and some still slip through the filters but this is something which is frowned upon and will get your website penalised eventually.

What will get your website penalised

Buying links from private blog networks or PBNs is another catastrophic failure that is waiting around the corner. Any links swapping schemes, where you’re swapping links with another business or you’re buying links outright to point to your website, if that link source gets caught by Google or websites associated with that primary website they will also be penalised. Which in some cases can be complete de-indexation from Google.

So if you look at Moonpig a couple of years ago, they were actually completely removed from Google search engines for bribing bloggers, by giving them flowers, to give them follow links pointing to their website, which made them rank top for mother’s day flowers. Google’s retaliation to this was to completely remove them from Google search index. Ultimately costing them millions of pounds in revenue.

Now it’s not so drastic, but equally, I’ve seen many small businesses go under where they have tread that line too thinly and then been removed. And that’s your brand, if they search for your company name but you’re not showing any more but your competitors are, there’s a big issue about that.

Doorway pages. So this is manipulation and trying to trick Google into showing a page over another one. It is a dark art tactic which you probably won’t know much about and you probably wouldn’t even notice it happening, but it’s quite savvy and clever but equally a very easy way to get a penalty.

You’ve then got blog comments spam, which if you have a WordPress website, you will notice the amount of random spam comments saying about how you can get Air Nike Max and viagra online, ‘cheap, buy it now’. And these are comments left in forum spam by very outdated SEO practices which are trying to trick Google into passing page rank on one website to another.

You have meta-tags which go into manipulating the code of the website.

You then have the quantity of contents, so lots of people adding huge volumes of content to pages which add very little value.

Invisible texts so white text on white backgrounds, repeating the same word: ‘SEO, SEO, SEO, SEO’, over and over again.

And then we have a series of updates trying to eliminate all of these practices over the last few years. So what we’re going to quickly see is basically the difference between what a search engine sees and what users see.

This is just an example of something that we had on the previous slide, which was a bad SEO technique that people used to do. So they would try to show search engines and users a different version of a webpage which then essentially manipulates the search engine. So Google, for example, so that is something that we do not do in SEO today: you have to show the user and the search engine the same page.

This is just an example of keyword stuffing. So if your small business keyword is ‘cheap flights’, which it probably isn’t because a lot of small businesses wouldn’t have a flight company, but if the keyword was cheap flights, this would be an example of how many times can we put cheap flights into this section of the page. You would stuff it in there as many times as possible in order to get your site to the top of Google. Nowadays, it’s a lot harder than that so that’s not what you can do to rank right now.

So we have black hat SEO. Just to give you an idea between the two, we have – if you are a star wars fan – your Jedis and then you have your Sith Lords of the SEO world. So we like to see ourselves at Nettl as the Jedis of the SEO world because we try to follow the compliance to the T and still provide maximum value. Then you have the naughty Sith Lords who are still trying to find ways to trick Google and the major search engines into ranking websites quickly but carelessly and in a way which can actually cost whole livelihoods and businesses in this world.

How to maximise your chances with SEO

So now, where are we at with SEO and what is important in 2020 and beyond? And just to reiterate on this as well, Google and Microsoft list search engine optimisation as the number one hard marketing skill to master in the next 10 years. This will give you an idea about the importance of this as a subject and the demand for SEO services, since COVID has hit, has increased five fold and is at an all time high. It was already increasing year on year before but now it’s really at an all time high. So there’s more and more people trying to compete out there so it’s really important that you maximise your chances.

It’s all about quality over quantity. If you look into the patents relating to Google, they now have the ability, for example, to use natural language processing to understand if somebody who wrote an article on the Auto Trader website is, or is not, Jeremy Clarkson without that authorship markup. So just by digesting information about a professional inner subject over many, many years, they are able to understand that this person who wrote this is an expert in this field compared to, if I wrote an article in Auto Trader, they’d be like, ‘you’re just a random SEO, you are not an expert in cars so we’re not going to give you as much authority’.

When it comes to being a small business owner, it’s super important that you are passing on your knowledge and expertise into your website and trying to do that as much as, and as frequently as possible. And Google will reward you for this. If you are doing this alongside the technical SEO, like companies like ours can offer or are offering you right now as a service, that is the golden way to make this work and to increase revenue. It’s almost a dead set that will be an effective route for you.

Natural and relevant links are the next part. So this basically goes down to: are the links pointing to your website that you’re generating, are they relevant and are they useful, both for search engines and your customers? A great example would be that if you are based in Manchester and you are selling stationary then you would want, ideally, some links from maybe the local press based in Manchester and as well, maybe some blogging websites around stationary pointing to your website. You don’t want to be generating random links from irrelevant areas which don’t add any value. Picking only a few is a really super effective way.

One way that I really liked to do this, personally, when I’ve worked on campaigns, is donating money to charities and working with schools. So a really great link that you can get is getting a local school, sponsoring their football club, getting on their netball kit, get them to put a little blog article on their website talking about how this great company has helped them out and get them to put a link through to your website. A really nice, ethical way to generate a thing. And if you’re clever with your accountants, you can probably offset that on the tax perspective as well.

So then we’re looking into user intent and trying to predict what somebody’s going to search for before they even realise that they’re going to search for it. And this is where most people and businesses get it wrong when they get asked ‘what keywords do you want to target?’. Because they will naturally gravitate to the short tail ones like, ‘hey, I want to rank the top for HD TV’. In reality, nobody buys a HD TV. HD TV, although it has 250,000 monthly searches in the UK and above, and lots of companies are bidding against it, people are actually buying three or four searches down the line when they go in and go ‘I can’t have a 60 inch TV so I want a 32 inch TV. I don’t trust Panasonics. I want the Samsung one. I’ve seen these curved monitors and I really want one of those’. So then they end up buying at a phrase like ‘Samsung 32 inch HDTV OLED’ and that’s where they’re buying.

So that niche phrase is much more worthwhile for you as a business to pursue than the short tail phrase where all of the sheep and all the other businesses are heading to. So you’re more likely to get a conversion at the end of than you are with that really, really attractive phrase.

So user experience, making sure that the website is fast, that it is pure, that it is mobile friendly – that is really, really fundamentally important. And something from which your developers or your agency who you have working with you or, Nettl studios of course, will help and assist you with is making that website as accessible as possible.

And then we have your reputation. So reviews, are you engaging with your customers with reviews? Are those reviews real? What is the frequency of new reviews hitting your website? The descriptions in those reviews? Are they saying that this is the butchers in Bristol? Or are they just saying it’s good? Because obviously the first review is significantly better driving the accuracy of what keywords you want to rank for because people are naturally talking about your business in that way. So getting lots of reviews, focusing, if you can, on Google’s review system because we’re going to see more and more the death of TripAdvisor, the end of TripAdvisor, we’re going to see the end of yellow pages. We’re going to see a lot of that happening within, realistically, the next 12 to 18 months.

Then we have EAT. And we also have things being mobile first and ultimately data driven.

There is so much data available online, not just used for evil purposes, like Cambridge Analytica, but ways that we can use trend analysis in our favour to predict when the demand for a certain product is going to reach its peak and therefore when we should be optimising for those phrases compared to other times.

This is the search engine results pages. This is an example of, if you were on your mobile, and you typed in cake, for example. Many years ago, there would just be a long list of results for pages relating to cake. The way things have changed now is, for example, here on the left-hand side, you have top stories. So you have the story, for example, ‘are we all cakes in disguise?’. And then, you have the list of the top stories. And then on the right hand side, you have all the information that Google knows about cake. And then you have cake decorating books, for example. This slide is just to reiterate that in SEO and search engine results pages now there are lots of different types of results that you can appear for as a business. And you need to ensure that your website is optimised to appear for the results that are relevant to your keywords.

Then another example: we’ve got nutrition facts about cakes, videos about cakes and people also searched for, so Google likes to tell you people always also search for cookies if they are looking for cakes. Then cake shops in the local area and that’s where, as a local business, you need to make sure you’re in that local ‘map pack’ is what it’s called so if people are looking for cake shops, make sure you are at the top of that. And the way you do that is through SEO.

Expertise, Authority & Trust

So now I’m going to think about ‘E-A-T’. So EAT, to put it quite simply, is about expertise, authority, and trust. And this is something that search engines are increasingly saying is more important in SEO today.

So as a website, you need to show a high level of expertise, authority, and trustworthiness. For example, on a ‘your money, your life website’, which is another theory that Google puts out is ‘your money, your life’ which is any website that could impact people’s happiness, health, wealth, or finances, for example. So depending on the type of business you are, if you have a website or a business that is selling a financial product or you have blogs talking about health, you need to ensure that your content shows a high level of expertise, authority, and trust. And there are many different ways that you can do that.

So a few tips here to show that is to invest in your business reputation. So this is what we were talking about earlier. Reviews are more important than ever. It was only yesterday that a new article came out from one of the top people in Google who said that Google will be able to see if there is a lot of negative sentiment about your brand online. So I know as a small business, it can be really difficult because people are always going to leave negative reviews but they don’t always leave the positive reviews. But as a business, you don’t need to be an SEO person to try and tell your customers to leave positive reviews about you on Google. There’s lots of different ways that you can do that and incentivize them.

So another thing to improve EAT is to invest in a secure website. Security is super important now, there’s a way you can do this, it can be a bit complicated but just ensure that your website has a secure certificate on it. Also company information pages: so best practice for any business, whether you’re a small business or big business, is to tell people information about your company. Any website should have information like about us pages, contact us pages, anything that if you were a customer and you’re looking for something, you need to be able to find that information about that company.

Then also relevant relationships and content on your website. If you are a business that offers seamstress services, for example, or if you offer food and you’re a local takeaway, if you have a website then your website should have information about takeaways or food on the site.

So just to reiterate that all of what we’ve actually spoken about so far, it might sound a bit complicated – talking about EAT and all these different words: expertise, authority, and trust – but the biggest thing to reiterate is that SEO today is hard, is one of the kind of hardest skills. So that’s where sort of working with your like central SEO team can really be of benefit because they can help teach you and make you understand what you need to do on your website and for your business to increase your visibility.

Now we’re going to dive into a bit more about how to optimise that content, the search intent, and hopefully, we’ll try and make this as easy to kind of sink in it as we possibly can. This is touching on what I was mentioning before: the ability for us to try to predict before somebody is going to actually search for it.

Optimising Content

Now a really nice way for you to do that is to take your primary subject and where you’re trying to offer your product in and then just go ahead and type that into Google. Before you click search, have a look at what Google is suggesting that you might be searching for relating to it and taking notes or some of those keywords. Also scroll to the bottom of Google and you see after searching for your initial phrase things like ‘people also ask’, and then a list of questions relating to that subject. And then I just go right to the bottom, you will also see what people typically search for next.

Now, if you collate all of that information and you use a service, like asked.com which will leave a little note at the end, this will create a whole stream of different content ideas. And these are not just ideas, these are actually the questions that people are searching for relating to your business and the subject. The more of these answers that you create as an organisation, the more authoritative you become and the more likely you are to answer a question that somebody has asked before it’s even asked. And that means that Google will reward your website with more visibility online which is really, really, really useful.

Not only that, it’s worth noting that if you also invest in PPC right now that’s going to drive down your cost per click, there’s going to be an efficiency saving there because your website increases when it comes to authority and relevance.

So a nice little tactic to get more traffic to your site is optimising your content for what people actually use and not what you actually think they should be searching for. So using keyword volume checkers, and when you actually run an SEO audit, we can help with some of that keyword research, to make you understand, yes, there may be 800 searches for this particular phrase, but actually this phrase, if you’re here, which has a lot less competition, a lot less volume, but you only need a fraction of those convert to get it paying for itself, those are going to be much easier to target and to achieve.

Search Intent

Understanding search intent. You can use the tool ask.com, which I leave in the notes at the end, but ultimately it’s who, what, where, when, why and how, and why are they searching? Are they searching because they have a question? Are they searching for a specific product? Are they searching because they want to buy something? So a really good example on this, you may end up optimizing for recruitment jobs but you don’t know if that’s somebody who’s looking for a recruitment job, somebody who’s setting recruitment job software. You don’t know the nuances and the niches relating to somebody searching for that short tail phrase and what typically happens is then spreads out to the more niche and relevant search results after that generic initial search phrase.

So conducting keyword research – really, really important to understand what the intention is of somebody searching for it and don’t get too hooked up on the actual keywords themselves because so many phrases have never been searched for before. And that’s because people are searching for longer and longer phrases. And we’re also seeing a huge rise in voice searches, which obviously somebody is not just going to go ‘pizzas!’. They’re going to say, ‘what is the closest pizza restaurant to my house?’. And then that’s where they’re going to get the result. They’re not just shouting pizza, or they might do, my gran and certainly would. But, yeah, they’re probably more likely to ask a question relating to it. So get those questions nailed down.

What you can then do is use a tool like Google trend analysis to in put that question or phrase or topic and you can then see seasonal demand for that subject which allows you to construct marketing campaigns around data. Not once again, around, ‘hey, this is when we’ve always been busy. So that’s when we’re going to be busy again’. Really, really big faux pas is following what’s always been. You know, I think that the definition of insanity, it’s just repeating it over and over again. So use actual data of what people are searching. Although your brand and your business may have its own trends and seasonal trends, it’s likely to be different to the common market.

So we’ve kind of covered through a lot of this, using Google trends where possible, trying to when you’re describing products and your website – if you’re running an e-commerce store – not just to take the generic description of that product. You have to invest time, whether that is paying somebody to update every product description on thousands of products that you have listed, or you’re adding a description for the overview of the products in a range. Either way you need to make sure that you are creating unique, original, and useful engaging content.

This is an example of using Google trends and how you can map the trends when it comes to hand sanitizers, in this scenario, and how you saw a huge spike in demand. This is a free tool that is available to everybody. Also, if you already have a live and existing website then you can use ‘search console’, which is pretty much the heartbeat of Google’s positioning of your website online. So Google search console, you can connect your website for free by adding a bit of code into the header. If you get stuck with that, you can ask your friendly local SEO crew to help you out with that. And once you’re in there, it will give you over a thousand different variations of how Google finds your website relevant on the web and where your position for those keywords is, straight from Google’s mouth. And it will tell you where your position is and how you can even improve upon it as well.

So why are my changes not showing in the search results? Kind of touched on this earlier but it’s ultimately down to how fast Google and other search engines are crawling your site. Google will not crawl your website if it’s been stagnant for a number of months. It goes, ‘I’m not wasting my time and competing power to go over to this website, to see if there’s anything new when historically they haven’t been updating anything new in a long time’. If you start having fresh links pointing to your website, new reviews, a buzz or brand comments on social media or new, fresh content on that website and then there’s a new link pointing to it. Google will index it and then say, ‘you know what? I’m going to come back next week and see if there’s anything new again’. They come back next week, if there’s something else and it’s time stamped and it is only a day later, the next time it will come back every day. Sometimes Google can revisit your website dozens of times a day which is where you get more instantaneous results and changes with your site. But you really have to be a giant like Amazon or something like that to have that privilege.

Easy steps to improve your SEO

So it’s some easy steps to improve your SEO. Let’s go through a few of these: number one, eliminating duplicate content where possible, meta descriptions, meta titles, keywords, body, copy, all of this, refresh it, bring it up to date. Look at who’s ranking above you for your target key phrases and make it better content, make it more relevant, put your expertise as a business owner on that website, no matter how silly you think it may be like giving some advice on how to fit a carpet of yourself, or you know what cleaning products you can use on the carpet. If you’re a carpet fitting website, that’s all going to help increase your authority.

When it comes to ranking, eliminating broken links, running a report. You can run an audit, we’ll leave a link at the end of this session. If you run an audit, it will tell you where all of these broken links are, it will tell you where you’re falling down. With all of that information, you are then able to go and fix those broken things so that you’re not annoying the search engines because they rely on those links working to access information. If you have lots of broken links, you’re going to annoy the search engine and a search engine will punish you by not coming back for a little while longer. And it also won’t find the content which you’re linking to, which is really important.

Increase your page speed and load speed. That means less vanity images, less big pictures on homepages, which float up the speed. More cutting straight to the chase, delivering the fastest possible experience for your prospective customers to get in touch. It doesn’t have to be pretty. Look at Wikipedia. Look at Amazon. Look at eBay. They are not pretty sexy, stylized websites. They are functional and pure. Buttons are texts so that you can click on a button and it tells you what you’re going through. It’s not an image button which Google cannot interpret or understand.

Update your XML sitemap. This may be one for your friendly SEO team, or if you have WordPress you can install a tool like Yoast.

Update a site map. A site map is basically telling the search engines what pages, products, and information you have within your website. It is signposting it for the search engine to crawl. So go ahead and update that and then connect it to the search console so Google can reindex your content more frequently. And obviously once again, reach out to us if you need any help with that.

Improved mobile friendliness. You can use Google’s own mobile friendly check. You can use a tool called GT metrics.com or run an audit with the link that we’ll share with you at the end and it will come back with how mobile friendly your website is and some quick, easy tips to improve that and make it better for the user. But you know what? Sometimes it’s best, we’ve all got mobile phones. There’s more mobile phones on earth than there are human beings right now. So pick up a mobile phone, practice trying to find information on your website which are calls to action.

A classic mistake, in my opinion, is when people put a phone number on a website that you cannot click on, there is no way to click on that phone number that it can call straight away. What ends up happening is you end up having to write down the phone number and go back in time and find a pen and write down the phone number, then go back into your phone and call it. You want to avoid UX areas like that, where possible make this a smooth process. So make it user friendly, make it engaging and keep visitors returning.

Video wise your content, the average mental age of somebody reading a website is that of a seven-year-old. So you need to capture their attention as much as you can. A great way to do that in this world with people who have short attention spans is grab them with a video. Talk to them like they are right here to you guys about what you need to do. And, and that’s the same in every single industry, whether it’s ‘how to cut a slice of meat’, ‘how to bake a loaf of bread’, ‘how to install a carpet’: the more content that you add that’s relevant for your target audience, the more relevant you are for the search engines and the more you will be rewarded. Also then don’t forget, who owns YouTube? Alphabet. Who owns Google? Alphabet. The more things that you align with this major, huge corporation, the more that you will be rewarded along the journey.

Don’t forget. You can go to nettl.com/uk/getaudit and you can go and fill out your details and we will personally go through and audit these websites and give you some useful feedback in tips. And we can help you improve your website.

Q&A Section

Domain authority

So domain authority is basically a scale from zero to a hundred developed by a company called Moz and it’s not anything that Google uses but it will help give an indication of the authority of a website and the ability for that website to rank. So the higher domain authority, the closer to a hundred, the better, but you shouldn’t take domain authority as the only answer. You need to look at different metrics and also look at where you’re ranking and look at different competitor pages. But ultimately the higher domain authority, the better, but don’t only use that metric. It’s just one metric that an SEO company developed and it’s not used by Google.

Image-based websites

What are your thoughts on images or photographers websites? I’ve worked a fair few wedding photographer accounts over the years and one of the best ways that you can do this is by putting your images out there on social media. But when you take those images that you saved into your computer, you want to compress them and that’s called ‘lossless compression’. So you can use a free tool like smush.it when it comes to a WordPress website or if you search ‘lossless image compression’ on Google that will shrink down a really, really big image into something digestible for a computer. And then if you label that image practically, and don’t just call it ‘image series nine dot JPEG’ and call it a ‘castle outside Wales, hyphen surrounded by water’, not only does that give Google a better understanding about web images, so it will help it when somebody searches for that in the future. But if you then put Sarah and Dave’s wedding at Balmoral castle separated with hyphens, that is the perfect way to label that image. If you do underscores, crazily enough, Google combines words that have underscores between them, but it separates words with hyphens. So you want to separate as many words as you can with hyphens rather than using underscores where possible.

You can also use the latest image file names rather than using gifs and PNGs and traditional JPEG files. You want to use some modern file extensions. And there’s also ways to do that online for free. So just take some time going through that and make them digestible, uploading them within the website, ideally not through one of these third party I-frame tools where you can load those images because Google can’t access those. You can only access things natively on the website. So you want to upload those images to your actual website itself.

Google ad words

Would you recommend using Google ad words? Yes, absolutely. You want to test some of your keywords and target keywords using Google ad words. If you do a phrase match modifier – so if we are targeting SEO as a business we are putting SEO as a phrase match and target a region. Then I would go in and analyse what phrases people are actually searching, relating to SEO, who are then clicking on my ads. And then I would use that to go and target my organic campaigns. But using both Google ads with SEO compliments each other perfectly because it’s all about getting the best possible answer to your prospective customer as soon as possible.

Video and load speeds

A question about video slowing down your website. Yes, but there’s something that you can use called ‘lazy loading’, which if you have WordPress, you can use like a plugin to lazy load videos that they don’t load as soon as the person goes onto the website they load when they scroll to the video. That’s not a reason not to use videos because videos are really good for having people engage and stay on your website and understand about your business and brands. So videos are good.

And also if you use something called a content delivery network, which basically spreads out all of your media powers across numerous places on the web which not only adds an extra layer of security for your websites, if you don’t have an SSL certificate, you can get one free from cloudflare.com and you go ahead and go on that, there’s no affiliate. A really, really great service. You may have noticed who uses cloudflare when about one third of the internet went down recently. Normally it’s very, very good. It adds an extra layer of security and it speeds up your websites by spreading all of your content out rather than having a single track road for all of your content to go through.

Optimum website size

Your remark on quality first, what is the optimum size for a website? There is no optimum size because you have things like content delivery networks which you can put in play which spreads it out. The optimum speed is sub one second, which you can use Google page speed to find out if you are loading in that time. I would hazard a guess that most of you on here will be anywhere from six to 10 seconds. So there’s an easy one to gain and increase, and you can check it out for free with the audit as well.

Website changes

How much of a change to a page needs to be made to recognise it as a change and if a sub-page, a monthly blog, is added to a site, does Google still see the homepage as stagnant? No, it is seeing the whole website which is why we bundle in content creation into most of the SEO packages that we offer because it gets Google to come back and reindex the website. Ideally, with any SEO campaign, this is not something – with any business – you could ever – at any level – just say, ‘here’s a couple of hundred pounds a month, go away and make me rich;. This has to be something that you’re passionate about and you actually want, this is not a box ticking exercise. If you have the expertise for your industries in your head, you need to find time to add that value to the website. While companies like Nettl will add the technical value and the complex parts which we don’t expect you to understand. But even when we work with big multinational organisations, so, Hotel Chocolat or other big high street brands, they are still doing a lot of the legwork because they have the knowledge. We have the knowledge of SEO, not your individual speciality. So in answer to your question, not a huge amount of change but really you do want at least one large, new thing happening to your website to get Google to come back and reindex.

SEO keywords

Where do you go to put in SEOs? So I think what you mean by that is where do you put in keywords? It may well be that if you’re completely new to this and you didn’t catch the whole thing you actually do fill out this audit form and get one of us to reach out and speak to you and we can get you started. We’re not going to try and pressure anybody into buying SEO. That’s not what we’re here to do. Ultimately, if you want to work with us, you would end up working with us, that’s the way that we see it.

SEO training

So you only ever speak to people who are trained in SEO? Yeah, I would go ahead and fill out the form and get some feedback from whatever experts get you going.


I was told the more backlinks you have on your website pages, the higher ranking SEO, is this a myth or is this still true? No, that’s a myth, sadly. So, actually, even if you have three or four backlinks and they’re super relevant and super high quality, then you’re going to end up ranking.


So what do you recommend when product pages are showing on audits and that you do not have enough content? You’ve got to create more content and a good way to do that is actually look at what Amazon does. They get every customer to upload a description, sometimes that description is shared but underneath that you have loads of product reviews and product reviews are free, fresh, unique content. So trying to get reviews from your customers and partners on the product pages is super useful. So I would focus on getting some reviews and trying, where possible, to create compelling new content.

Alt text

How best to use alt texting in filings at the moment, the alt type and text and image powder, are they same? Yeah, absolutely. So just keep on being as descriptive as you possibly can. So alt text, you really want to describe what’s in that image and a file name you want to be a short tail or keyword focus. So once again, it’s ‘Balmoral hyphen castle’ for the image alt text, and then maybe the alt text is, ‘Stephen and Dave’s wedding, at Balmoral Castle’ as an example.

Keyword checkers

Best keyword checker site? We’ll hopefully share with you guys the Nettl’s own SEO tool soon, so you can get dived into that soon enough. But there are some if you just go onto Google and type in ‘free keyboard checker’. There are some free ones you can do up to a hundred. The tool that we’re releasing is free, and you can add as many as you want and you can also do a trend analysis.

We mentioned earlier about connecting your site to Google search console, a good way to find keywords is to find the words that people use to come to your site, which you can find in Google search console under queries.

Repurposing content from social media and publishing that on the website, it’s a great way to get unique content.

SEO audits

How often would you recommend doing an SEO audit? Depends on how frequently you’re updating content on the website. I would say every week is ideal, especially to keep up with the times.

If you’re not a Nettl SEO customer already then inquire, find out, it’s super affordable. It’s probably the most affordable technical SEO that you can get and buy in the UK. I’ve been in this industry for a long time. This is not like yellow pages and other nonsense out there. This is proper technical SEO. You are getting the same level of expertise as the high street brands. Feel free to pop in anything and keep an eye out for the next one.