What Is SEO?
The term SEO or search engine optimisation is everywhere, even if you don’t work in marketing you are probably aware of it. Having a solid understanding of what SEO involves, understanding everything from meta tags or descriptions or alt tags other ranking factors cannot be undervalued in importance. SEO can be an extremely powerful tool for businesses across any industry. It is the process of improving the quality and quantity of traffic to a website or a web page from search engines. Search engine marketing drives unpaid traffic for your site. A good search engine ranking means that when someone types the service or product you’re offering into Google, your website will be one of the first on the results page. The higher the website’s position the more likely the prospective customer will click on the url.
How Does SEO Work?
Complex algorithms determine where you rank on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). Search engines use crawlers and bots in order to gather information from websites. This information is then used to assess the websites’ relevance and quality.
In order to rank highly on SERPs there are certain techniques that can be used to help ride the algorithm. A key reason that SEO can be so frustrating, is that the algorithms employed by search engines are ever changing. Techniques that may have worked well previously may no longer have an effect. The exact metrics that search engines such as Google actually use to evaluate websites are unknown to the public. Through extensive research marketers have established many of these ‘ranking factors’ and can use them to boost their websites ranking.
We also know many website fundamentals that can affect SEO performance positively for certain. These will never change regardless of changing ‘ranking factors’. These include:
- Ensuring your website is optimised for both mobile and computer use
- Having a fully responsive site that loads quickly
- Inbound and outbound links to and from your website
- Using the correct keywords
- Ensure that the meta tags, alt tags are supporting your keywords strategy
- Making engaging content to ensure that searchers spend significant time on your page.
Why Is SEO Important To Marketing?
Statistics emphasise just why SEO is so important:
- 68% of online experiences begin with a search engine
- 75% of people never scroll past the first page of search results
- Conversion rates fall by 4.42% for every extra second that it takes your website to load
- 63% of all shopping begins online, even if the purchase itself happens in a store
Ranking on the first page of search results is clearly incredibly important for a business’ to drive traffic to their websites. Only 25% of potential customers even click through to the second page of search results; if you are on the fourth of fifth pages you are practically invisible. A higher ranking in search results immediately lets the searcher know that your brand is highly relevant to what they are searching for. Trust is instilled in your business straight away in this scenario. SEO is clearly one of the core foundations of any marketing department.
Aspects Of SEO
There are countless aspects of SEO. However, in this article we are focusing solely on Meta tags (also called meta descriptions) and Alt tags.
A ‘meta tag’ is a section of HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language) code used to describe the content of a web page. This description is displayed below the title and URL of a page as it appears in the search engine results. The snippet of information is up to 155 characters long.
‘Alt tags’ are a phrase or sentence embedded in HTML code that describes the function or content of an image on a webpage. An alt tag will be displayed in place of an image on a webpage if the image fails to load on a user's screen. The text helps screen-reading tools describe images to visually impaired readers and it is also used by search engines to better crawl and rank your website.
Why Are Meta Tags And Alt Tags important?
Crawling is the discovery process in which search engines send out a team of robots (known as crawlers) to find new and updated content. Search engines process and store this information they find in an index. When a search occurs the search engine picks content they deem to be most relevant to the query.
Alt tags can serve a direct SEO purpose if keywords are included in the alt tags and used in the correct way. They provide readers with a description of the image if it has not loaded correctly. When websites are being ‘crawled’ the websites currently can’t see the images, therefore it is essential for alt tags to be in place to describe the image to the crawlers. If there are no alt tags the website misses the opportunity to include an important keyword and support efforts to rank the page.
We have been told by search engines that meta tags do not directly have an effect on a website's ranking. However this does not mean you can ignore them. A well-written meta description will garner more click-throughs which in turn will have a positive impact on CTR (Click-through-rate). CTR is a key ranking factor. If your page has a good meta tag the CTR rate will be higher and in turn the page will rank more competitively.
Tips For writing Meta Tags And Alt Tags
What Makes A Good Meta Tag
When writing meta descriptions, addressing the reader's potential question/query should alway be in mind. However it is paramount to make sure the description is incredibly relevant to the page and written in a concise manner. The meta description can be considered as the invitation into your webpage; writing a motivating piece can compel the searcher to click. Use the active voice and make it persuasive in tone. Also add a call to action, for example ‘Learn More’ or ‘Find Out More’ to entice the searcher and increase clicks.
What Makes A Good Alt Tag?
When describing an image it is important to be as specific as possible. It is recommended to keep alt tags short in order to retain the reader's attention, up to 125 characters is ideal; remember the key to writing any metadata is being concise. Describing the image is the most important objective of alt tags, if keywords can be used appropriately, then certainly use them. It is really important that they are only used if they occur in a natural manner otherwise it could be considered keyword stuffing, which is detrimental to your ranking. Search engines know that alt tags usually describe an image, therefore it is unnecessary to include phrases such as ‘picture of…’ or image ‘showing…’.
How Can You Tell If Your Meta Tags And Alt Tags Are Missing?
We have established that meta tags and alt tags are very important to your website health. Going through your entire website to check if you have meta descriptions and alt tags in place can be extremely time consuming even if you are using a CMS (Content Management System). However, there are tools that can crawl your website to identify exactly what's missing. Here at Prophecy Marketing we offer a free SEO audit which does just this. Take advantage of a free 1 hour consultation on ways you could take your business further with SEO. Find out more below!
For more information about SEO. Read another of our articles!