SEO for beginners

With paid traffic and social media strategies you may legitimately ask whether SEO is still as important as it once was. If you were to be told that organic search accounts for roughly 33% of traffic to business website, I think you’d agree that it is more important than ever. That is more than both social and paid traffic put together. Assuming you are not sure what SEO is, then let’s look at the basics quickly. SEO is Search Engine Optimisation. This, in a nutshell involves making your website as friendly in the eyes of the search engines like Google and Yahoo as is possible. Making them believe that your site will best fulfil the needs of users searching for keywords and terms that best match your business activity.

The problem is that search engines like Google have become wise to the fact that many webmasters simply duped them by filling content with keyword after keyword, making for sites that were search engine friendly (according to the simpler algorithms they deployed), but practically unreadable for the end user. This has culminated in much more sophisticated algorithms that essentially retain the validity of keywords in content, but place a greater emphasis still on the ability of a website to address the needs of the user. And yet, the boundaries of successful SEO are ever-shifting and it is vital to keep abreast of the latest developments to keep on top of website SEO and ahead of the competition.

The missing links

Links remain arguably the single most important factor in website SEO. Without reliable and high profile links from other businesses it is highly unlikely that your site will achieve the desired high ranking in the search engines. Unfortunately as you may be aware quality backlinks can be very hard to come by, especially if you have nobody on board who is well versed in link building strategy.

The best two ways to achieve those links

1: Publish something breath-taking and unique

This may seem like a difficult proposition, but try to think of an unexplored, but prescient article that addresses fundamental problems in your industry and create content that goes a long way to helping. Think of a topic that will make the sector go crazy for it to an extent that they’ll want to reference it and link the article on their own page’s content. A case study can work wonders and cleverly put together quizzes can be used on social media to great effect to generate activity therein and assuming you’ve thought out the questions, the answers can be analysed to create a great little study.

2: A testimonial goes a long way

So, over the years you’ve worked with some excellent, loyal and exciting companies, right? Why not pay it forward and write a glowing testimonial for each of them, detailing just what they have to offer as well as your positive experiences in working with each of them? Link them in, share on social media and send emails letting them know what you’ve done. You may ask for the testimonial to be published on their site along with a link to your own. You see, karma pays!

Google Analytics

One of the biggest parts of website SEO is understanding how your website is working and how it is not. The best tool for the job is Google Analytics. Through this you can track how many people are visiting your site and what they do once there. You can see bounce rates, the sorts of terms users are searching for to find your site (which you can pinpoint as keywords) and which pages are most successful. It will take a little getting used to, like anything, but there are a lot of great tutorials out there and if you’re using WordPress, there are some great inbuilt tools to help you get started.

Getting website content right

For years and years the catchphrase for SEO was ‘content is king’. Now there are a whole host of other equally important factors, but content is still right up there with them. And yet what’s changed is that it is more important than ever that your content is attractive to users and search engines alike. How can you achieve this? Well, Google Analytics and other such tools can help you to identify what brings the average user to your site.

If you have a high bounce rate you may, however, be attracting the wrong visitors. There’s no use getting people on your site if they are not your target audience. So, first things first you need to identify your target audience and understand what it is you can offer them. Again, Google Analytics and Google Search Console (another fantastic tool) can help, as you can see which users stayed on your site the longest and what search terms brought these users to your site. In addition you can take a look at what terms your main competitors rank for. This will be invaluable in giving you ideas for new keywords. Those terms are like content gold dust. But like any valuable resource they should not be abused. Your content should be readable and enjoyable.

There are different types of keywords

After you’ve researched and researched your keywords you’ll end up with a healthily long list. But this will need honing and in doing so you need to come up with a blend of ‘head’ and ‘long-tail’ terms.

Head terms are those searched with greater frequency, consist of 3 words or less and are less specific.

Long-tail terms are longer phrases consisting of over 3 words and are more specific.

The latter are less popular but the former tell you more precicesly what you wish to know. Imagine you want a 50 inch flat screen LED TV. A head term might be TV and a long-tail term might be 50 inch flat screen TV. But you do need a mix of both, to drive traffic and achieve relevance at the same time. Google’s Keyword Planner is a useful tool as it can be used to help you filter your list of keyword targets, removing those that have too little or too much information. It may even help you come up with new ideas.

There is so much involved in website SEO, but achieving a healthy amount of links and getting your content right is undoubtedly the best way to start.

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