Regularly we will receive a call from some mostly unfortunate fellow on the other end of the phone stating to us that our website isn’t this… or isn’t that, surmising to the fact our website just isn’t optimised for the search engines such as Google, Bing, Yahoo etc.
When we do decide to listen to these people, most of the time we are presented with the ultimate solution that will bring those golden client enquiries and boost our sales!
Bring involved in the industry for over 20 years, I have found that many great business people are still unaware what Search Engine Optimisation really is… and how it can benefit you and the growth of your company.
I have added the following to offer you a few pointers;
1. WHAT IS SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMISATION (SEO)?
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the process of making constant improvements to your website to gain better rankings in the search engine results page (SERP).
SEO includes various techniques and strategies that can be utilised to optimise your website in order to increase website traffic. Traffic from search engines, also known as organic traffic, is invaluable, as the visitors are actively looking for something you offer and tend to convert more often, whatever your goals may be.
Outranking your competitors can be challenging work and this is where search engine optimisation kicks in. If you make it easy for Google and other search engines to read and understand your content, then the likelihood of them ranking you higher in their search results would be higher.
Before I explain in depth how to optimise your website to stand out, you need to know how search engines work.
2. HOW DO SEARCH ENGINES WORK?
There are many factors that determine website position in SERP, but the most important is content relevancy, authority and personalisation. Understanding and optimising those signals can help you improve your website because Google and other search engines want to deliver only the most relevant and authoritative results to their users.
In some cases, however, personalisation can influence the final result. Some examples of personalisation can be location awareness, user’s search history, pattern match or social connections.
Here are a few practical examples and one imaginary scenario, that will help you to better visualise those differences.
Scenario: You just launched an ecommerce shop in which you are selling new and used iPhone 6 mobile phones online, and someone is using Google.
Relevance: Someone is looking to buy an iPad.
You are selling phones, not tablets, and this is where this story ends! Your ecommerce shop is not relevant and it will not be shown here, no matter how much you optimise your website. Even if the search query is as close as “iphone 5”, the complex search engine algorithm that is run when you press ‘Go’ understands the difference between the phrases.
Authority: Someone is looking to buy an iPhone 6
Does Google really want to show your website to its users, are you trusted more than apple? or some of the big boys that scour the net? The answer to this is… Probably not!
The great news is that you can do something about it… one of the tactics would be to obtain votes from other trusted websites that say your content is valuable enough. This is measured by content rich links from these websites that point to your website, also known as back-linking.
Personalisation: Your best friend is searching to buy an iPhone 6
He already visited your website several times, you are obviously friends on social networks and he lives in the same area where your business is located. There is a good chance that Google due to its location algorithm will position your website higher on his results page.
Now let’s get back to reality… Every year, search engines make a few hundred changes to tweak their algorithms so they can provide searchers with even more relevant results. Some changes are big and affect a large number of sites, and some are small and you can barely see the difference in your daily search ranking results.
3. WHY ARE KEYWORDS IMPORTANT FOR SEO?
Keywords are essential for your SEO strategy therefore it is important to approach this analytically.
First and foremost is identifying your potential visitor and what they would type when searching for your product or service. You cannot optimise your website’s pages for hundreds of different terms, content needs to be relevant and balanced throughout your entire website.
There are three areas that should be kept in mind. Frequency, competition and relevance.
Let’s look at the keyword research process, KEI (keyword effectiveness index), is relation to frequency (how often people search for something) and competition (how competitive the market is). KEI is one of the ways to find what keywords and key-phrases show the largest potential and are more likely to help your site attract more targeted traffic. But, as always, you need identify relevant search terms as explained before.
When doing KEI, you’re probably not searching for keywords, but for key-phrases. The most important key-phrase is the one that describes the content of your specific web page.
Let’s look at a practical example in action once again.
Example 1. The user is searching for “iphone”.
You may think this term is something that you want to rank for and at the time of writing this article produces in excess of 2.6 billion results on Google. So, attempting to compete against 2.6 billion results would be ludicrous unless you have a very health bank balance and time to spare. The key here would be to identify your target market and customer base and tailor your key-phrases to adapt.
Example 2. The user is searching for “Buy used black iPhone 6 64gb in Birmingham”. Now, this long tail phrase is not searched as often, this is for sure, but is highly relevant and not so competitive. This means that you can probably target this key-phrase and rank much higher.
Keyword research is one of the most important areas of the SEO process. It is all about conversions or what you want to accomplish with the traffic you receive.
4. WHAT IS ONSITE OPTIMISATION?
As the title of this section suggests, on-site optimisation refers to the changes on a website itself.
It is important to understand how your content is shown to your visitors. Typically, your SERP results show a headline, a description and a website URL and this should be first in line when you start optimising your website as this is the anchor that could potentially capture your audience.
Provide unique, descriptive short titles and a relevant description for every page on your website and be sure you have a clear and intuitive URL structure. Rich and structured data can help search engines better understand and index your content which can lead to higher rankings.
We won’t cover every aspect, but here are some examples:
- provide fresh, great content with key-phrases in mind
- write quality, unique title and description tags for every page
- do as much as you can (but don’t overdo) internal link building with targeted anchor text
- appropriate use of header tags (H1-H6)
- make sure you have clear and validated HTML code and site structure
- is your website mobile friendly?
- how fast is your website?
You can also check some design, technical and quality tips. All this can help you improve your rankings, and much more.
5. WHAT IS OFF-SITE OPTIMISATION?
Off-site optimisation refers to all links from external websites around the world that point in your direction. Effective back-links are like votes – the more websites talk and link to your website, the better, especially if those websites are high reputation and authority sites. The higher the number of pages linking to you, the higher your ranking will be. However, be cautious, as there is a specific art to this and must link from a relevant website it relevant content pages on your website to produce the desired effect.
Best way you can work with back-links is the natural way. Provide great, unique, valuable content that will engage visitors to share it on social media. If you provide great content, others will recognise your content and link to you from their own websites.
6. HOW TO MEASURE SEO PERFORMANCE?
There is a varied selection of data you could pull from Google Analytics to see how your website is performing from the SEO standpoint when measuring performance of SEO effectiveness. These useful metrics can help you understand if you are going in the right direction:
Channel grouping – How is your organic search performing compared to other channels like paid search, referral traffic, social media or email marketing?
Average position – What is the average ranking of your website for a particular search query?
Click-through rate – What is the CTR (number of clicks divided by the total impressions) your website gets for a particular search query?
Conversions – How many conversions are there compared to other channels? What is the conversion rate?
Behaviour – What is the bounce rate of your organic traffic? How many pages per visit are there? What is the average time on site?
SEM, search engine marketing, can help you find high performing key-phrases worth optimising for in terms of return on investment (ROI). Instead of waiting for your results to rank higher enough to start seeing traffic from organic search, you could start an Ad-Words campaign and quickly see what keywords or phrases show the biggest potential. That way, you won’t lose out of months of valuable time optimising for the wrong keywords that don’t bring you conversions.
However, even when you find your targeted key-phrases, it is best to have those two channels aligned. Good SEO can help your Ad-Words campaigns by improving ‘quality score’ lowering your cost per click bid and reducing the overall costs of campaigns.
7. HOW CAN SEO HELP YOUR BUSINESS GROW?
Unlike promotional visits generated by forcing or suggesting your visitors that they should visit your website, organic visits are those generated by people who were actively searching for something you present on your webpage. SEO visits are high-quality visits: if your website content is well optimised, organic visitors will usually stay longer on your website, see more pages, have a lower bounce rate and contact you or buy your product or service more often than others!
Being a constant in top search results can make a great impact on your business, especially if you are a small business and you don’t have the large budgets bigger companies can afford you can spent on other marketing channels. An effective SEO strategy can assist you to spread the word about your product, offer or service and can attract some of the most targeted visitors out there. Higher position in SERP can increase your website traffic and bring you more a lot more conversions. The best part is, you have the ability to measure the effectiveness of your search engine optimisation.
SEO is not a ‘set and forget’ type of strategy, you need to regularly expand your content and provide your visitors with fresh, unique content. There are no guarantees for the top spots on SERP since there are many factors and variables that can influence the results, but if you choose right and use only white hat search engine optimisation techniques, your SEO ranking should start to see positive improvements. You can’t expect to see results immediately, it can take weeks or even months, but the quality optimisation can be beneficial for your business and bring you a great income.
Thank you for reading this article, I hope it was of value