SEO, or search engine optimisation, is the process of making your website visible in the organic search engine results for the keywords and locations most associated with your products or services.
With an effective SEO strategy in place, over time you can drive more traffic to your website and individual web pages, generate more relevant leads for your business, boost sales and ultimately achieve more revenue and profit!
Why you should care about SEO
In its simplest form, consider where the first place you would go to if you were looking to buy a product. For 9 out of 10 of us, we’d heard to our preferred search engine, probably Google in most cases, and pop into the search exactly what it is we are looking for.
By incorporating good SEO practices into your digital marketing campaign, you can ensure that your website is visible in the search results when people do just that- search for products or services that you have to offer.
Google in control
Google is the most used search engine in the world, so when implementing SEO best practices on a website, they are usually in line with what Google looks for and their extremely complex algorithms.
Whilst nobody outside of Google knows exactly what their algorithms look for, we do know some of the key things that makes a website perform well in the search results:
- High quality, relevant content and information in line with what the user is searching for
- Relevance is determined by Google ‘crawling’ your website to identify whether the content on there is relevant to the search query, and is mostly based on the use of keywords
- Quality of your website is determined by lots of different things, with one being the number of other high quality, relevant websites that link to your pages and website as a whole
- How well people engage with your site- do they stay on your website for a good period of time or do they bounce straight back to the search results?
- Whether your website is mobile responsive– therefore works on a combination of mobile and tabloid devices, not just the traditional desktop format
- How fast your website loads– people don’t like to wait around for a website to load, so if yours takes too long, they’ll soon go elsewhere and Google will recognise this too
- The amount of unique content you have- Google loves content, especially if it is your own and unique to your website, not just copied from somewhere else
- Submit an XML sitemap to make it even easier for search engines to understand the make-up of your website
The important thing to remember is that Google factor hundreds, if not thousands of different elements into their ranking processes, and they are constantly updating, adding and changes these too so one can never be sure exactly what is going to work and what isn’t.
However, by ensuring your website meets most of the key principles, you should soon see your website moving in the right direction.
Good SEO vs Bad SEO
In order to achieve long term success for your website in the search results, following white hat techniques (the good stuff) is the very best option. This involves putting emphasis on the delivery of high quality content marketing based on well researched keywords.
Black hat SEO (the bad stuff) is to be avoided, and includes filling content with keywords, gaining low level links from irrelevant websites and using content from other sites rather than writing your own.
Finding what people are searching for
The first step in optimising your website for search engines is to identify exactly which keywords and terms people are searching for in line with the products and services you can offer them.
Google has their own keyword planner tool that can help you identify some of the search terms you should target, whilst also enabling you to see how many times that phrase has been searched for on a monthly basis and the level of competition in regards to other businesses targeting the same phrases.
The key to good keyword research is to fully understand who your customers are and what they are likely to be searching for. If you can successfully tap into this, you’ll be on the right path to identifying the keywords and search terms that will bring you the results you crave.
Once you’ve identified which keywords you’d like to target through your website, the next process is known as on-site optimisation, whereby you set your website up to perform as well as possible in the search.
A well optimised website provides the perfect platform for success in the search results, and incorporates lots of different factors, including:
- Implementation of title tags and meta descriptions
- Production of high quality content for each individual page on your website in line with targeted keywords that delivers valuable information to a visitor
- Alt descriptions on all images- a brief description of what the image shows in order for Google to crawl and understand all images
- Internal linking- linking up different pages of your website through relevant keywords or terms that appear naturally within the content
- Clear, uncomplicated URL structure that makes navigating through the site, and back to previous pages, simple and easy
Alongside great on-site optimisation, you need to put into practice off-site optimisation too in order to help you build high authority links through to your website and start to build yourself up as an authority in your field.
The process of content marketing involves creating informative, engaging, interactive and exciting content for your audience that can be posted onto other websites where your target audience are likely to be spending some of their time online.
Creating content that is shareable can be difficult, but with some advanced planning and even spending time engaging with your customers, you can create some great pieces which organically build your backlink profile.
- Think of content ideas that could help answer someone’s question or solve a problem
- Explore what content is already doing well and is popular in your field before identifying a way of showcasing it differently or making it even better
- Promote some of the things you like, which could be products, apps or other websites, as you might get a thank you, a share or a link from them back
Whilst your social media profiles might not have a significant impact on the performance of your website in the search engines, it can be used as a fantastic platform to promote your business, link through to some of the great content you’ve produced on your website and start to build a following of people.
Achieving the desired results through SEO will take time, and will vary depending on the competitiveness of the industry you’re in, the keywords you’re targeting and the amount of work that goes into content production and link building.
However, by following white hat SEO techniques, implementing effective on-site optimisation and continually producing great content that is shareable and starts to generate links back to your website, you’ll see your website start to climb the rankings, the traffic steadily start to rise and the sales or enquiries increase.