Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is an essential component of digital marketing. It is the process of optimizing your website and its content to rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs). The higher you rank, the more traffic you receive, which can translate into more leads, customers, and revenue. In this introduction to SEO, we'll cover the basics and give you the knowledge you need to start optimising your website.
SEO can be complex, but at its core, it is about understanding what search engines want (which is a reflection of what the people want) and then delivering it. There are several techniques you can use to ensure you are making the most of your SEO, and improving the foundation you may have already made.
How Do I rank higher in Google?
The eternal question millions of business owners have asked over the years! The simple answer is that there is a range of actions you can take to ensure you climb the rankings whilst offering your customers the answers, products or services they are looking for. Introducing SEO into your workflow doesn't need to be complicated. Here are some key elements to consider.
Keywords are the words and phrases that people use to search for information on the internet. Before you start optimising your website, you need to know which keywords are relevant to your business. Keyword research involves identifying the keywords your target audience is using to find products or services like yours.
There are many tools available to help with keyword research, such as Google's Keyword Planner, Ahrefs, and SEMrush. These tools will help you identify the most relevant keywords for your business and give you insights into how competitive those keywords are.
It pays to think about different ways your users will search - not only the obvious things you would want to rank for, but alternative meanings and pathways they might use to find your content. Remember that there are millions of other people bidding on the straightforward stuff - if you can find your own niche, it'll help you to stand out and therefore rank higher and with less competition.
On-page optimisation refers to the changes you make to your website to improve its visibility and relevance to search engines. There are several on-page factors that you need to consider, including the following:
The title tag is the text that appears in the browser tab and the search engine result pages. It should be descriptive and contain your target keyword. Ideally, it should be between 50 and 60 characters. It is essential this captures the interest of your audience immediately!
The meta description is the short blurb that appears under the title tag in the search engine results pages. It should also contain your target keyword and be between 150 and 160 characters. The more concise you can be with your description, fitting in all the key elements people will search for, the more likely people will click through. Your title has got their attention, the description should seal the deal.
Header tags (H1, H2, H3, etc.) are used to structure your content and make it easier to read. The H1 tag should contain your main target keyword and be used for the main heading of the page. Ensuring that the header tags are used sequentially down the page will also aid with accessibility and assistive technologies, as well as making your page clear and easy to navigate, both for users and for search engines to crawl. Headings break up the page and allow visitors to quickly find the key bits of information they are looking for.
Your content should be high quality and provide value to your readers. It should be well written, easy to read, and relevant to your target keyword. Use your target keyword naturally throughout the content, but avoid keyword stuffing.
Your objective should be to fulfil the needs of your customer or audience, your keyword is merely the starting point. The more quality content you can produce, the more useful it will be and the higher you will rank as a result.
There is no point in creating articles purely to get clicks - you need to add value to ensure people stay to digest the information you are sharing. If people click your link and then immediately bounce away, you aren't helping anyone - least of all yourself!
Images can make your content more engaging, but they can also slow down your website if they are not optimized. Make sure your images are compressed and have descriptive file names and alt tags for use with screen readers. Next gen image formats are important! The less data a browser needs to load, the faster your audience can access you content, which means they are less likely to bounce before seeing what you'd like them to see.
Your URLs should be descriptive and contain your target keyword. Avoid using dynamic URLs (those with lots of numbers and symbols) and instead use static URLs (those with clear, concise text). This also aids search engine bots in understanding what your pages are about.
Your site structure is how your website is organized and linked together. A well-organized site structure makes it easier for search engines to crawl and index your pages. Some best practices for site structure include:
Your website should have clear, easy-to-use navigation that allows users to quickly find what they are looking for.
Internal linking is the process of linking from one page on your website to another. It helps search engines understand the structure of your website and the importance of each page.
Site speed is a critical factor in SEO. Slow loading pages can lead to a poor user experience and lower search engine rankings. There are many tools available to help you optimize your site speed, such as Google's PageSpeed Insights.
Mobile optimisation refers to the process of optimizing your website for mobile devices. With more and more people using mobile devices to access the internet, mobile optimisation is essential.
Some best practices for mobile optimisation include:
Your website should have a responsive design that adapts to different screen sizes and resolutions, giving the best user experience to your visitors no matter which device they are using.
Your content should be easy to read and navigate on a mobile device. Use short paragraphs and clear headings to make your content easier to digest and quicker to read. On average, mobiles account for 60% of internet traffic. It is important to optimise your website for mobile use.
We spoke about this earlier, but it is perhaps most important for mobile users, who are often counting on mobile data whilst on the go. You need the smallest image sizes possible to ensure you aren't eating up data and taking an age to load! Slow loading equals more bouncing which equals lower ranking.
Ultimately, you need to make sure you don't lose sight of the core of what you want to achieve. People get tied up in thinking about keywords, SERPs and the googles and forget about who they are trying to get a message to. Your audience is the key to success. Make sure you are giving them the content they want and don't be afraid to reach out to them and ask about it!
Optimising your website takes a lot of time. It is a process which develops as you go. It's important to remember you don't need to start over from scratch - it is better to continually update and improve your content over time in order to maximise it's appeal. Gradually, optimising for search will become a natural part of your process.