SEO (search engine optimisation) can be seriously confusing for small businesses that have no past experience of digital. With so much techy jargon it’s very easy to get overwhelmed by merely thinking about it.
Before we begin, let’s get back to basics and look at what organic search is. Organic search (SEO) optimisation refers to the methods, markups and technology used to achieve a high position in search engine results pages (SERPs) or to improve ranking across a number of algorithmically-driven search engines.
There are five key areas which you need to cover in order to improve your SEO:
The first, and possibly most important element to work on is the technical on-page optimisation of your website. You must ensure you are correctly managing content updates, redirects and domain migrations. Your site’s navigation must be clear and hierarchical, and there must be no duplicated content.
Without a strategy, your efforts will most likely be in vain. To successfully market your site and products to your consumers, and prospective consumers, you must first think like that consumer. Without first understanding what your customers are searching for, you won’t be able to effectively target them.
Although SEO, at its core, is data driven and techy there is still an element of creativity which is often overlooked. No matter how good your technical on-page optimisation is, without creative content your site won’t attract or retain visitors. You need to create high quality, unique content which will keep your audience engaged.. Each industry has a different voice/tone so the content you produce will be tailored to your audience, not generic.
As with all forms of marketing, relationships are key. Search marketing is no exception, and forging meaningful relationships with your customers and other relevant domains is crucial. You need to develop relationships with writers and publishers so that they can place relevant links to your site – inbound links are a direct SEO linking factor.
Constant analysis of your activities’ successes and failures will enable you to make on-the-go changes to your strategy to ensure that you are as successful as possible. The best way to track your progress is through Google Analytics. By gaining a basic understanding of this vital tool you will be able to determine what is working, what isn’t, where your traffic is coming from and where you should invest more effort. By adapting your strategy and workflow to your customers, you will be able to actively meet their needs.
How to evolve your SEO approach
If you are currently venturing online for the first time, have recently launched a new online business or have a website and are trying to gain insight as to why your pages are not climbing the rankings, the following couple of paragraphs should get you thinking.
Like most businesses on or offline, there is no set formula to success and the constantly-evolving environment makes sure of this, whether it’s an increase in fixed costs, a new competitor, or the fact that a portion of your back-link profile does not count for as much as it used to.
The trick is to make sure you are open to evolving your current approach. If there is one word that underpins the way in which major search engines serve content to the end user, it has to be ‘relevance’. This is the key behind good SEO and should be kept front of mind throughout every step of the process.
Good SEO should start the moment you decide to tackle the digital environment and the initial phases take the form of research and analysis. This research will help you make sure you gear your website’s structure (information architecture) and content most appropriately towards the opportunities that exist. The analysis will help you understand who your competitors are and should help create an initial sector landscape, in turn representing how easy/hard the task ahead is.
Original and well-structured content
Content structure should be laid out in a granular fashion, with a top line directive, ie all your pages should support your key message while being rich enough in content to rank for their own topic within that niche. Make sure all content is original; plagiarism is a sure-fire way of crippling your chances. Alongside this, duplicate content needs to be avoided and on-page mark up such as H tagging and micro formats must be considered to make sure you are reinforcing the content topic you wish to be visible for.
If you have a dynamic region for content, like a recent news section or a blog, these can be great areas to start implementing mark-up such as rich snippets, for example authorship tags. Tags like this can also enable you to start linking content to third party platforms such Google+ by adding your site to the ‘contributor to’ list, in turn verifying the author and helping with general social signals around your content.
So, the site has undergone a structural makeover, you have produced some beautiful, unique content, there are no major issues being reported and the search engines have indexed 99 per cent of all your pages… at this stage you should have seen an initial shift in rank, but what next?
Try to position your brand as a leader within your sector. It is important to be involved and referenced on as many authoritative platforms as possible. Quality is key, not quantity, and this is where many back link profiles fall down today due to past pursuits. We are trying to position your brand within a relevant context across chosen platforms to grow visibility and authority.
To say back-linking does not work is questionable; trying to build thousands of irrelevant links doesn’t work, but if a major news platform. Education or other authoritative online platform is referencing. Your website and its content this can only help in supporting your objective. In this case, if they do happen to add a link to a relevant destination page. This will help with your SEO and helps signal relevance to the search engines.
Overall, make sure your content is as relevant and insightful as possible; consider user experience and ask yourself what you would want to see if you were visiting the website; consider various technology such as mobile and tablets and make. Sure you are creating a site which can respond to the devices people are searching from.
Once you have ticked all the boxes within the onsite. SEO section of best practice, it is time to start to increase brand visibility through offsite activity. This can be done through press releases, social media dialogue and involvement, video, distribution of value added. Content such as info graphics, gamification and any other contribution to an online conversation which you can be involved in.
The main aim is to be visible. Remember increasing rankings means displacement of another site. If you have tough competition, SEO may be a longer-term prospect than initially planned, so strategy is key. If you are looking to thrive in the digital environment, your. SEO offering must play a part in a well-rounded approach. Consider what is available to help create the best marketing mix possible. Could you leverage PPC, DEM or social media to support your SEO?