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Getting to the top of search engines

Getting to the top of search engines
3rd April 2017 Reece Taylor

Apprentice Blog – Issue #3

It’s that time again…

The time where I share with you the new things I’ve learnt from within world of marketing and apprentice-ing.

This month I’ve been doing some SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and paid search work for one of our clients. It just so happens that it crosses over with a topic on my college course, so, I suppose, this is one of those ‘win-win’ moments.


SEO – First Impressions

The first time SEO was explained to me, I understood the concept but not exactly how it was achieved, nor did I know how much depth there was to such a seemingly simple topic. I was intrigued though. Suddenly, I became thirsty for the knowledge of finding out exactly what it takes to get to the top of a search engine like Google.

I began by doing a little bit of SEO work on our (The Northern Foundry) website, picking keywords and writing the alt-text for images used in our blog posts. By adding the alt-text you’re essentially waving Google over to come and take a look, they then read the text and pick up any additional keywords behind the images. Google like this sort of thing and it can contribute to your overall ranking.

This was a smooth introduction. I found it fairly easy. But that was because I’d barely even scratched the SEO surface…


The Real SEO Begins

It wasn’t long before my eyes were opened by the amount of work which can contribute to your SEO ranking.

Initially, I was taught how to strategically choose keywords to implement on a website, so that it can begin to rank as highly as possible without paying a penny (otherwise known as ‘organic SEO’).

There are many facets to SEO, one that I have learnt is on-page optimisation. By including the keywords in the title, subtitle and paragraph of your content, you can increase your chances of being at the top when someone searches for that particular keyword.

For example, if you sell ‘vintage band t-shirts’ you want to include these keywords in as many places as possible on your site (without using it too much, because Google will penalise you) because Google will identify this as a relevant page for ‘vintage band t-shirts’. The user, or searcher, will also see these words first, and before you can say ‘Search Engine Optimisation’ they will know that your site is relevant for the keyword that has been searched.



Just like the fresh produce in your local supermarket, Organic SEO is 100% natural. It is achieved through a number characteristics such as: the use of keywords through on-page optimisation (as I previously mentioned); link building by creating engaging shareable content; use of correct meta-data; overall page speed and a whole lot more. It’s also free (unless you utilise the help of an agency like The Northern Foundry) because essentially you are using your own resources to try and cement your place near the top.

If your content is lacking in relevant keywords, or you don’t have them in the right place, then you can’t expect to be anywhere near the top of the search rankings. Competitors will pounce. It’s almost a guarantee that they will rank above you by having a broad spattering of keywords on their pages and in their meta-data, along with a raft of backlinks asnd ensuring their site is void of dead links.

Keywords are just the tip of the iceberg but are a great starting point. If you’re already wondering how to find your keywords, worry not, I’ll explain all that later.


What About Paid Search?

Paid adverts. This is where it gets a little more complex. They come in the form of PPC (Pay Per Click) which means you only get charged when someone actually clicks on your ad.

PPC ads could be described as a ‘quick win’, giving you the ability to leapfrog organic SEO methods straight to the top, (providing your budget is right and the quality of your ads are spot on).

I know what you are thinking, yes, you could keep clicking on someone’s ad to cost them money until their budget disappears. But that’s just plain mean.

When it comes to budgets, the power is firmly in your hands. You decide how much you want to spend overall and then spread that out across the CPC (Cost Per Click). If your pockets are deep, your ad is set up correctly and your budget is higher than your competitors, then your ad will show higher in the search than theirs.

Furthermore, if your competitor is spending 50p and you choose to spend £1 per click then you will rank higher, but if someone clicks on your ad it won’t cost you £1.

Complicated, I know, but this is because Google is doing you a favour; they don’t want to waste your money. Believe it or not, they care about user experience above all else and would, for example, only charge you 60p per click – or possibly less – because they see your ad as more relevant than your competitors. You can read more about this in one of our previous blogs here:

So, obviously, the aim is to get your cost per click as low as possible whilst also ranking as high as possible.

This does mean that, if there aren’t any ads that show for your keyword, you can try and be sly by just paying 1p per click. However, it’s probable that this search term isn’t popular and looking for keywords with high average monthly searches and a reasonable suggested CPC will be the best route.


The Engine Behind Paid Search: AdWords

Right, if you’re still with me, I’m going to tell you where the magic happens: Google AdWords.

The first thing you should do when you rock up here is look at how often the keyword you want to use is searched for, via the Keyword Planner tool. This will give you a clear indication on which words you should use and which ones you should leave behind.

Okay so, for instance, if the term ‘boots’ is searched for an excessive amount of times, and shows at least 3 ads at the top of the search, then, unless you have deep pockets, there is no point in competing. Chances are the companies at the top are going to be paying big money per click and you won’t be able to play with the big boys just yet.

If your product is more specific than ‘boots’, then you are better off streamlining your ad and picking some keywords a bit closer to home. For example, ‘women’s suede boots’ would be a much better option, because it is more specific, and you have a much better chance of being near the top of that search while also potentially paying a lower price per click.

Another tool you can use to get the most out of your ad is the location option, this means that your ad will only show for searches made in this area. You would tend to choose this option if you only delivered to a certain area, for example, you would select the UK if you didn’t sell overseas.

The Keywords Bit

Okay, by the time you get to this part, the majority of your ad may be built, but don’t think you’re done just yet…this is the important part.

This is where you choose your exact keywords and determine how you want them to be used. There are five different ways in which you can select your keywords to be used which are:

Broad match

Broad match modifier

Exact match

Phrase match

Negative match

Now, I could go through the motions and explain them all but I really would be just taking the words straight from Google AdWords Help. After all, they explain it best. They’re the experts!

AdWords is not short of helpful tricks and one that I did find very interesting was the ‘Keyword insertion’ which, as an example, is entered like this {Keyword: Boots}. What this means is that when someone searches with a keyword that is listed in your ad, it will display in front of the ad title so that it appears more relevant to the searcher.

For example, if I searched for ‘football boots’ then the ad would show as ‘Football Boots’ instead of just ‘Boots’. That’s the power of the keyword insertion.

It’s not deception, it’s just good practice.


In conclusion

So, basically SEO and PPC done correctly will benefit your business massively in the form of brand recognition and hopefully, sales also.

After that crash course in SEO and Paid Search, hopefully I’ve transferred some of my new found knowledge to you. Amongst my ramblings there should be some information that will help with your future search engine ranking endeavours.

Use this information to experiment with your own PPC ads and see how they perform and what benefits you reap from it.

If you want to know more or need some experts to propel your business to the top through SEO & Paid Search work on your own website, give us a bell.

Otherwise, I’ll be back next month with some more crucial apprentice insight!