You're probably aware that search engine optimisation (SEO) is essential for marketing your business online. It's the most effective marketing channel. It can help drive traffic to your website, blog, or social media pages.
If you're new to the world of SEO and want to find out more, this guide will introduce you to everything about SEO and explain how it can benefit your business.
Read on to discover everything you need about SEO and how it can help grow your business.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for “search engine optimisation”. It's the practice of improving your website's visibility in search engine results. Visibility in search engines is the number one way people will find your business, blog, or product and service online. And without SEO, you'll have a tough time finding your website.
SEO is important for your business because it's how you get your site in front of new potential customers. If you want more people to visit your site, buy your products or services, or sign up for your email list, you need to ensure the right people are finding your site. And the best way to do that is with SEO.
Being at the top of the SERPs means your website is visible to online users searching for your products and/or services that you provide through either Google, Bing or Yahoo!
Over the last decade, the framework in which each search engine's algorithm works has developed and changed enormously. This has created the marketplace for SEO agencies and SEO professionals to step in to assist with your online presence.
Keeping up-to-speed with these changes to help companies get to and stay at the top is where an SEO agency earns its value.
Why Is SEO Important For Your Business?
You Can't Buy What You Can't See.
Visibility is everything for businesses looking for customers online.
People today are constantly searching for products and services online. Companies have noticed this trend and shifted towards marketing their goods and services predominantly online. This has created an opportunity for every company to create an online presence and generate more sales. Since customers have various options when searching for products and services, businesses need to be strategic with their marketing strategy. More people are turning to Google and other search engines to find products and services that meet their needs. So if you want to engage new customers and boost your business revenues, you can't risk having poor or mediocre SEO. You need to understand how to optimise your website's SEO. Although SEO can initially seem complicated, it's not that difficult to learn the basics. The more you know about SEO, the better your chances of ranking highly in the search engines and generating more traffic.
This is why SEO is essential, as it assists in bringing you "the seller" together with the user, "the buyer", to create brand awareness so the engagement process can begin.
Part of SEO in modern online marketing is tailoring the website to convert visitors into customers.
So, in effect, you have two stages. The first is building your brand awareness and visibility, and the second is capitalising on increasing visitors to your site.
The amount of clicks to your website now is not as significant for ranking as it was years ago. It has heavily evolved around conversion rates and increasing your "Return on Investment" (ROI).
Building Trust in your Brand
Without SEO in today's competitive digital marketplace, you would not be visible online to people searching for services and products unfamiliar with your brand name.
So as mentioned above, there are two phases, visibility being first, but then "User Experience" (UX) is the driving force behind phase two; converting new viewer's into customers.
User Experience is as it sounds. It relates to the user's experience while on your website.
Many ranking factors for the SERPs come from UX and how much engagement your website receives from users for the search term they used to find you.
You stand a good chance of gaining new customers by having a good-looking, easy-to-navigate and engaging website. You want them to get all the information they are looking for and stay on your website. The longer they stay on your website, the higher the chance of them buying online or becoming a lead.
Trust is built with online users by being transparent and informative. When your website and social media are providing top industry information, and answering questions about your products or services, then you build trust. This will be reflected in people sharing your knowledge and spending more time online with you.
The SERPs monitor these analytics and rank accordingly; if you provide good UX, you'll rise steadily in the rankings.
How to Achieve Great SEO Results
Having great SEO results starts with a good understanding of search engine optimisation. If you already have a good grasp of SEO basics, that's fantastic. If not, don't worry! We'll walk you through the process of learning the ins and outs of SEO so you can start ranking highly in search engine results.
First, you'll want to assess where your website currently stands regarding SEO. You can do this by using the "search engine results pages" (SERPs) tool at "Google Search Engine Optimisation".
Once you're logged into Google Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), type in your website address; this will tell you where your website currently ranks for various search terms. It'll also show you what you need to improve your SEO.
Note: If you've recently launched your website, these results will be based on the "freshness" of your website. This means they're an estimate of how your website will rank in the future.
Before we go too far in-depth into advanced SEO practices, there are three initial steps to understand to lay a solid foundation to build a successful organic SEO presence:
STEP 1 - Understanding your Potential Buyers and Their Search Trends
This is easier said than done and where you need to have a marketing plan based on product research.
Luckily a website comes after a business owner's business plan. So the demographic of who would require your service(s) or product(s) should be predicated that you know who your ideal customer would be.
At this stage, this is where analytics start to come into SEO. For a beginner who has not enlisted the assistance of an SEO agency, the entry point would be Google Analytics. Click the link, which will take you through SEO from the beginning.
Google Analytics is a good starting point as they give you beginner's or advanced analytics options, and Google explains it well for beginners.
STEP 2 - Adding Content
Once you have conducted keyword research and know what keywords and phrases users are entering into the SERPs, you now need to make your online presence count.
Content including those keywords is the next building block of a successful online presence.
Write for your Readers, Not Yourself: Users are hungry for information and answers, and it can be easy to fall into the trap of just wanting to talk about your business and your products. In today's online world, you will get further by educating and informing people about your industry as a whole, how products are made, and what is on the horizon for your industry. Use angles of that nature to engage and keep an audience. Then you subliminally add keywords throughout and guide people towards your services and products, but focus on making their experience engaging once on your website.
Building Trustworthiness Online: I'm sure you get plenty of marketing thrust at you, whether online, on TV, by email or by telephone, people marketing their products and services. Millennials and the younger generation are far more aware when they are directly marketed or sold to than our forebears and don't like it. So adding real photos, not stock photos is good advice. Adding real photos of you and your team, not stock photos, helps. Add ratings and testimonials to make it real for your visitors. So by writing informative content not just focused on you and your products, you are creating a bi-product of trust with your audience, which can only stand you in good stead moving forward.
STEP 3 - Convert Visitors into Customers
When you start with SEO, increasing your rankings and having this cause in mind is also advisable. Reaching the first page of Google for some of your keywords is excellent news and a sign that you are doing things well regarding Google Best Practices and other aspects. But remember, this is only the beginning.
You can increase your traffic three-fold, but has your sales increased three-fold? There is your measuring stick. If conversions are not happening, you need to look at what is hampering customers from making the final step through the sales funnel to the landing page or buying online.
Many factors can help, such as well-placed buttons after great content can move people around your site, pushing them closer to becoming that lead. Remember SEO is both a time and money investment, so once you've done the hard groundwork, you want to make it pay.
Utilise Quality Backlinks
Understanding backlinks and how they work is a vital cog in the SEO wheel. This beginner's guide will show you what they are, why they are essential, how to acquire them, what types of backlinks there are, and how they are referred to.
Backlinks - How They Work
Backlinks are links, either external or inbound, linking with an external website that is linked back to you.
You can look at a backlink like a politician would a vote. To the SERPs, they act as validation from other websites within your industry or relevant to you that you produce quality content within your niche.
It's black and white; the more "quality" backlinks your domain has, helps increase your rank on the SERPs. However, not every backlink is created equal.
Google's algorithm factors in multiple aspects when determining if a backlink is high quality or not, such as:
- How widespread and authoritative is the website that's linked to you?
- How relevant is that site to you?
Building backlinks aims to look for high-quality, relevant sites to be linked with. In 2022, backlinks are more about quality than quantity, another shift we have seen in the last decade.
How to Start Attaining High-Quality Backlinks
As we have already stated, high-quality backlinks are the key to success in this area. So, how do you go about getting them?
Here are some basics:
- Conduct online research, find other websites within your niche, and reach out to them for a backlink.
- For any sites that have mentioned your brand, ask them for a link.
- Look for online directories such as 'Yelp' and introduce your website.
- Create up-to-date regular content that encourages others to link with.
- Write Guest Posts that talk about your industry, new products and services and get them posted on others websites with a link back to you using a main keyword.
- Ask for a link on their websites if you have suppliers or partners.
As we mentioned above, backlinks are not all created equal, so it is essential to know the types and how they are referred to within digital marketing.
When classified as toxic, the low-quality links are typically derived from spammy websites. These backlinks are hazardous to your rankings as they may infringe on Google's Webmaster Guidelines; if so, you could be penalised, something you do not want.
They could come from:
An abnormal volume of links using identical anchor texts
Paid links that haven't been marked properly
Low-quality directory links
UGC (User-Generated Content) is derived from reviews, comments, and forum posts.
They are viewed as valuable as they are derived from your website, showing the algorithms that visitors are interested in your site's content.
High Authority Backlinks
You obtain these backlinks from other popular websites that garner much online traffic.
High-authority backlinks are typically your apex as they are linked to a website with the trust of Google and the other search engines already in place.
An editorial backlink would derive from blog posts, articles, or alternative editorial content.
These backlinks are highly valued, and you don't generally ask for these unless you have been given a guest post opportunity to write an article for said site.
The search engines value these as it is enhancing UX with relevancy.
We quantify these as dead-end links. They no longer form any basis that enhances your website's ranking. Essentially, they allow someone to link back to you but do not verify it.
When looking at analytics, they would appear like this:
These links are passing along backlink equity to improve your rankings. They are the opposite of a nofollow link. They show you have authority within your field(s). These are what you want to acquire.
Paid for backlinks are what they describe. Google will easily spot them. Therefore are not as valuable to the search engines as organically acquired backlinks.
In the code, there will be a rel=" sponsored" marker. Being paid for does not show Google that you offer quality content for their users for the search term.
The Importance of Content Marketing
Content marketing is a vital component of all businesses online success.
The ability to answer an audience's questions helps develop online relationships, get links and referrals, generate leads, and improve conversion rates.
As the internet has developed, so have user demands. Customers now expect consistency and quality from their favourite brands.
Brands that showcase high-quality, consistent and engaging content impact an audience's decision-making process more than other techniques.
Growth and success can be measured alongside consistency in your brand message.
Well-established brands have learned how to represent their brand on different platforms and at each customer touchpoint.
You look to establish a unique style, voice and pitch across all your marketing platforms. Now let's cover the benefits of getting it right.
Benefits of Content Marketing
Keeping An Audience
Great content can get potential customers to keep coming back and also share your information with others. It's your online window to show off what you do, grab their attention and keep your brand in the forefront of their minds.
Better Social Media Interactions
Many businesses have large social media followings but don't have conversion rates to match. Quality over quantity is epitomised by content marketing. Social media is trendy, so try to match that with your content and be relevant./p>
Gaining your Audience's Trust
Engaging content gets followers and helps build online relationships. Suppose you can answer their questions directly and consistently. In that case, they will likely take action or recommend you to others.
Content marketing's goal is brand awareness and customer retention rolled into one. The more quality content you regularly put up will equal a larger audience and increase the customer base.
Generate Better Leads
The general rule of marketing is to make a lasting impression. Once someone has seen your logo and website and read your content, they will likely buy from you when the time is right. Traditional marketing leaves an imprint on someone's unconscious mind.
Here is where "Call-to-action" (CTAs) come to the fore. Once your content has done the hard work by engaging the prospect, a CTA can help get them into and push them further down "the sales funnel".
CTA's and well-written content go hand-in-hand. When a reader enjoys your content, a well-placed button or link will get them closer to your landing page or, if you are an eCommerce site, to purchase online.
SEO Mistakes to Avoid
Overusing keywords - Using keywords in your content is important, but you don't want to overuse them. You risk annoying your readers if you use keywords too much, and Google may penalise your website. So make sure to use keywords only where necessary.
You can use a keyword density checker to see how many times you've used a certain keyword. Having too many redirects - It's normal to have a few redirects here and there, but if you have a ton of redirects, Google may flag your website. That's because it's a sign of a low-quality website. If you have too many redirects, you may get penalised.
Not using your alt tags - Every image that's on your website should have an alt tag. This is important for SEO because it allows Google to know what the image is about.
Not using your metadata - You also want to make sure you're using your metadata correctly. This includes your title tags, meta descriptions, and social media tags.
Overlooking Analytics Tools
Analytics has come to the forefront of SEO in recent years. This can be contextualised by the fact that Google now has over 200 ranking factors that their algorithm considers when they index each of the pages of your website.
With the surge in internet activity since the global pandemic and the rise in online competition, analytical tools now play a vital role. Analytics feed facts about what and whom to target.
With Google being the world's primary search engine and Google Analytics being free-to-use. It is wise to start there and take some time to learn and use the basics.
The analytics also allows you to find and compare your underperforming pages against ones that are doing well. This crucial data will help you plan a strategy that will save time, as you don't want to focus on optimising a page that is already performing.
Basic and Duplicate Content
A common trend among underperforming websites is thin and basic content. As explained in this article, content plays a pivotal role in customer engagement and usage of your targeted keywords.
For example, Google now has parameters on the number of words that should be on the homepage. So if your homepage is scarce of information and just full of links to move to other areas of the website, you have missed a trick to improve your ranking.
Building content helps rankings and inbound traffic. A user wants to see that they have come to the right place, and that impact must be immediate. Thin content will not get you where you want to be.
Duplicate content will weigh heavily on your ranking. It is wise to ensure that none of your text is duplicated on any page, as it will be penalised by Google.
Be sure to write innovative, engaging content throughout; this will stand you in good stead with the search engines and customers.
Keyword Stuffed Content
Keyword stuffing, thankfully, is a thing of the past for experienced website owners and SEO professionals alike.
For a beginner, this is easy to understand. Once you have conducted keyword research and chosen what keywords will form the basis of your SEO strategy, you get to work placing keywords in your content, headers, meta tags, meta descriptions and so forth.
In the past, the temptation was to compromise on the quality of the written copy to get as many keywords in to help your ranking - and by the way, that used to work well!
However, those days are over. If you hear the term "Black Hat SEO", they are techniques that Google looks out for and penalises; keyword stuffing is one of them. "White Hat SEO" are techniques that follow Google's Best Practices. If you look that up online and follow those guidelines, they will keep you anonymous from any repercussions from Google penalties.
Google advises to use your keywords on one page between 1-4% of the text and no more, so please always bear that in mind when creating content.
With the constant evolution of online usage and search engine algorithms, nothing stands still in the SEO world.
However, your content can if you do nothing to it. Once your website is published, a blog goes live, and that information will stay as it is, stagnant forever, unless you update it.
As digital trends change, you must change accordingly. The website crawlers constantly look for content that clarifies specific search terms and is constantly hungry for new information. So treat them like something that needs feeding; in their case, the main course is up-to-date content.
Not updating content is a widespread SEO mistake.
Not Using Search Console Data
Now is an excellent time to introduce you to Google Search Console.
Here you have another free tool from Google. Here you will find core information on clicks and other metrics. Here you will find information on your best-performing pages, any potential errors within your website's framework, and many other areas to look at.
Here it will also flag any toxic, spammy backlinks you may have lurking in the background and give you a breakdown of your "Core Web Vitals".
Core Web Vitals are Google's way of judging your website's UX.
Three main factors make this up:
- Visual Stability
Click on the link above to create your console, and then add it to the website to keep constant track of it. Many people make the mistake of only using it to track clicks. That is also a common mistake; if you lift the hood, there is much helpful information underneath.
Not Updating your Sitemap
Your sitemap is an important feature. It is a file containing all your website pages in one place, helping the crawlers locate all your information together.
So when you add or remove anything from your website, please ensure you update your sitemap. People who forget to do this are not helping the crawlers find and index your pages faster.
SEO has transformed in the last decade to have many more aspects to consider than website owners and SEO specialists have had to deal with previously. The best advice for someone new to digital marketing is to stick to the basics when you start. Google is the driving force behind global online searches, so it's best to start with their tools and analytics. Concentrate on getting their best practices in line first. Then, begin to branch out and experiment with the advanced analytics once you are comfortable and see some ranking progress. Good luck.