If you’re just starting out in business you may have never heard of SEO before. Or perhaps you’ve been so busy focusing on other, perhaps more traditional methods of marketing within your business that you’ve completely overlooked the power of digital strategies. The purpose of this article is to give you the bare bones of what you need to know about SEO. Whether you’re a complete novice with no marketing experience or a seasoned veteran looking to get back to basics, we hope this article will serve as a point of reference as you expand and grow your business.
What Is SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. Simply put, it is process of tailoring your web design and content to improve your visibility in search engines. When you optimise your website for search engines, you will boost your online presence by frequently appearing at the top of search engine results when internet users search for key words which are associated with your business/industry.
How Do Search Engines Decide Which Websites Come First?
The main factors that search engines consider when deciding which websites to display first are the design of your website and the content which fills it. In terms of design, search engines want to see that your website is user-friendly and responsive – not just on the desktop version of your site, but also on mobile. Regarding the content of your website, search engines are looking for written content which is of exceptional quality and highly relevant to the search terms you wish to dominate. The popularity of your site will also be taken into account as search engines will judge the value of your site based on the number of visitors you receive. The more valuable your site is seen to be, the higher you will rank on the results page.
A 3 Step Guide to Ranking Higher
Now you’ve been given an introduction to SEO and what it means, let’s focus on how you can start climbing the search engine results ladder. There are 3 main elements to consider:
- On-Site Optimisation – Making it easier for Google to scan and index your site.
- Content – Ensuring that the content in your site is relevant to what customers are searching for.
- Links – Gaining references from other websites which link back to your content.
1. On-Site Optimisation
When scanning and indexing your site, Google does not see your website in the same way you see it. Google doesn’t care if you spent weeks making your website look beautiful, all their bots see is text and links. This means Google may not be able to access some of your content, such as images. The problem here is that if you have keywords included in the image, the search engine will not pick this up. With this in mind, let’s take a look at how at some important factors effecting your on-site optimisation:
As previously highlighted, Google can’t see your images. So, make sure all your links and navigation through your site are set as text-only.
Have you ever been on a website which takes forever to load a page? Annoying, right? Well, search engines feel the same way. They hate slow loading times and aren’t afraid to penalise your ranking on the results page if your website is slow. So, make your website fast! Opting for a web hosting plan with greater capabilities may seem expensive but having faster page speeds will pay dividends in the long-run. You can check the speed of your website at www.gtmetrix.com.
If you have made an error when creating a link and the link is broken, Google will not be able access the page and it will not be indexed. This means any relevant content on that page will be virtually lost, preventing the possibility of that page appearing in search results. Always double check your links!
When choosing a URL slug for your page, keep it short and sweet. Search engines dislike long-winded URLs. We recommend limiting your URL to your keyword or key phrase for the page.
It is important to ensure that no two pages in your site contain identical information. Google finds it difficult to decide which page to display and can sometimes choose to display none of your pages at all.
Content is your golden ticket to the top of the results page. Search engines scan your content, analysing page length and structure to determine the quality of your website. There are multiple ways to make your content more attractive to search engines:
Finding keywords for your business can be difficult. You must conduct extensive research to understand your target audience and the search terms they would use to find what they require. This isn’t always about choosing the largest keyword associated with your industry, i.e. ‘manufacturing’. As a small business, you will find it extremely difficult to rank high when competing against the giants of your industry. Choosing niche keywords means you will have less competition and you are more likely to rank higher in the search results. Niche keywords are also more likely to attract more relevant leads from customers who are searching for specific products/services and know exactly what they are looking for. If you would like more detailed information on how to conduct keyword research, you can read this insightful article published by Hubspot: https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/how-to-do-keyword-research
For your keywords to be effective, you need to know where to place them on your web page. Once you have conducted your keyword research and written your content, you should place the keywords in the following places: the post title, URL, the first paragraph, meta tags and image file names.
However, effective content is not all about your keywords. You should also boost your on-page SEO by adding external and internal links to other relevant pages and increasing the length of your content.
As stated earlier, links are where another website references your content. Both the quality and quantity of links effect the ranking of your website.
The Quality of Your Links:
You should be aiming to gain the highest quality links to your site as possible. This means getting links to your site from websites which are popular, trusted, and relevant to your industry.
How to Acquire High Quality Links:
When attempting to acquire high quality links to your site, you must keep in mind that you can’t let search engines know that you’re purposely generating links. To get the most out of links, you should try to generate them organically and honestly. There are multiple ways to build genuine links back to your site:
- Produce written, graphic, audio and video content which is so good that other websites can’t help but share it on their sites.
- Search for websites which are relevant to your industry, then ask them to collaborate on or include your website in a piece of content.
- Create content for third-party websites which allow you to place links in the content back to your own website.
We hope you found this introduction to SEO useful. When done correctly, this digital marketing tool can be a powerful way to bring traffic to your website and boost your online presence. SEO is an amazing way to generate new leads and build trust with your audience, however it is important to note that SEO alone will not guarantee your success. SEO is just one piece of the digital marketing puzzle. When used effectively as part of a wider digital strategy, this form of marketing can power up your business and help win new local, national, and even global customers!
If you’re looking for more information on SEO, we recommend reading the following resources which we used to help formulate this guide:
- Hubspot’s Ultimate Guide to SEO in 2020 – https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/seo
- Hubspot Free SEO Training Course – https://academy.hubspot.com/courses/seo-training
- Neil Patel’s SEO Made Simple – https://neilpatel.com/what-is-seo/
- Lyfe Marketing’s What Does SEO Mean? – https://www.lyfemarketing.com/blog/what-does-seo-mean/