ImagesMagUK_August_2021 AUGUST 2021 images 27 BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT important SEO ranking factor. Since mobile usage has increased over the last couple of decades, search engines want your website to work well regardless of the device a user may be using. With a mobile-friendly site, you provide searchers with a good user experience that other sites may not deliver, resulting in you appearing in results over them. ■ Page speed Another element of good user experience relates to your website’s loading speed. If your pages are slow to load up the content and information that a user needs, the chances of them sticking around low. That’s why you need to ensure that each page on your website is optimised to load quickly and offer searchers the answers that they are looking for instantly. Otherwise, you risk losing them to another site that offers what they are looking for. ■ Backlinks Backlinks refer to when other websites on the internet ‘link’ to your website on specific ‘keywords’ and content. These come hand-in-hand with high-quality content because if you are constantly pumping out good content that specific audiences may be interested in, other sites similar to yours will link to it. Backlinks are a very important ranking factor as they show Google and other search engines that your website and its content are relevant, deeming you an authority in your area of expertise. I f you own a website you’re more than likely to have come across the term SEO (search engine optimisation). SEO is the practice of optimising your website and its pages so that search engines like Google, Bing and DuckDuckGo show your links when a user searches for a particular search term that is related to your website. For example, if you own a print shop in Bristol and want your website to appear in search engine results whenever someone searches for ‘Bristol print shop’, SEO can help you achieve this. However, this isn’t an easy thing to do and it doesn’t just happen overnight. There are several very important ‘ranking factors’ that search engines take into consideration when deciding whether or not to show your website in their results. Here are some of the most important. ■ High-quality content The first way to boost your website’s chances of appearing in search engine results is to ensure that each page contains high-quality content that provides searchers with the information that they’re looking for. Quality, relevant content is probably one of the biggest ranking factors as Google prioritises content that is well researched, in-depth and answers the questions that searchers are asking. ■ Site security Ever since 2014, Google has deemed the security of websites a key ranking factor. Search engines want to drive users to websites that they can trust, not websites that can potentially put users and their data in danger. For your site to be secure, it requires an SSL certificate that creates a secure connection between a website and its users, adding an extra layer of security that protects any information exchanged between a user and your site. For a website to be secure, it needs to have HTTPS encryption at the start of the URL. ■ Mobile-friendliness Ensuring that your website is mobile- friendly and works well across mobile devices is another What are the most important SEO ranking factors? T here are a few different ways to get traffic to your website. Paying for advertising is okay, but the problem is sometimes it feels like you are throwing money into a huge black hole known as Google’s ad spend. You are left feeling deflated if it doesn’t pay off instantly. There is another way but it requires time, creativity and has far-reaching implications: the blog. The blog is basically a load of keywords and search terms you have spun into a readable post. Google will then systematically crawl your site and give preference for your site above others if it has fresh content that is deemed to be well- written and not spam. Writing a blog can seem arduous and lonely. However, in order to progress in the long-term it is crucial to set aside time for ‘studio development’. That is what we call these tasks in the studio. The difference with building a blog and spending money on Google Ads is that a continually updated blog will lead to high rankings, builds credibility and shows you are keeping up to date with current affairs. Spending a lot on advertising keywords has a more superficial and sporadic result that you can’t pass on to the next month. With a blog, you have something valuable that you can actually see instead of a short spike in orders. That is why I Blogs versus Google Ads would rather commission someone to write 500 words than spend the same amount on our Google Ads budget. This is something I have done for Squeegee & Ink as well as with another business we run, Blind Maggot. I have paid for a blog to be built as a foundation for my future marketing campaigns, and it will be loaded with keywords for Google to get its hands on next time it looks over our site. Chessie Rosier-Parker is director and studio manager of Squeegee & Ink, a screen printing and embroidery studio that also provides pre-exposed screens and film to printers along with tutorial videos and resources. learn-to-screen-print Joel Dear is from ETrader, one of the industry’s leading suppliers of websites to garment decorators across the UK.