SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is a difficult and time consuming process for any small business, and it is even more difficult to get it right. Most search engines consider over 150 different factors when determining what results to show for a particular search. Therefore, it is vitally important for all modern-day businesses to invest in SEO in order to get the most out of the products or services they are advertising online.
SEO always starts at the same place, your website. Having a website is the most essential tool for online marketing, but if nobody sees it, then there is no point in having one in the first place. This is where SEO comes in, allowing your business to succeed online. The process of how SEO works is actually surprisingly simple. First, Google (or another similar search engine) sends what are known as “robots” to every accessible page on every website around the world. They collect and collate the data they find and store it in an extremely large database, from where it is accessed when the search engine attempts to match your website to the search query. The search engine’s algorithm determines how well your site ranks against others from around the world, and presents the most relevant results to the user. SEO isn’t just about making your website search engine friendly, it’s also about making your website better for the people using it too.
The majority of website traffic is driven by three major commercial search engines such as Google, Yahoo!, and Bing, with Google making up around 80% of all search engine traffic, then Yahoo! at 9.5%, and Bing at 8.5%. Although you may have social media and other advertising driving traffic to your website, search engines are the primary method of navigation for most people on the internet, and investing in good quality SEO can provide an outstanding rate of return compared to almost all other types of marketing and promotion.
A recent study by Mediative revealed that the way people look at search results has changed dramatically in the last 10 year. Previously, the eyes of most users would never leave the top left corner or “golden triangle” in Google search results, where the first result is usually shown. Now, however, users tend to scan vertically, looking at more of the content on a search page, and vary their focus depending on what they are searching on. This shows that the way we process search information is evolving, and at the same time, the SEO that produces these results is also changing, so it’s important to remember that what may have been relevant a year ago, may not be relevant now.
Most search queries by internet users can be categorised into three different categories, these being “go,” “know,” and “do” queries. “Go” queries refer to navigational searches, where a person will want to go to a certain place on the internet, such as going to Facebook, or going to the homepage of their favourite website. “Know” queries will generally be phrased as questions when a user is trying to find particular information, such as the contact details for a business, or what the weather will be doing next week. Finally, “do” queries are those where a user would like to achieve something, such as book a movie ticket, or watch a video. There are subtle, yet important differences in the three types of query categories, but knowing about them, and what a user wants from each one, can be extremely beneficial in generating quality content that your visitors will want to see.
In the past, website developers have used crude methods of tricking the algorithm into thinking that their site is more relevant than what it actually is. This was frowned upon though, due to its negative impact on the website user, but these methods continue to exist and evolve, and that is why your SEO must change at the same rate. Often businesses that rely solely on web-based marketing will update relevant SEO features every month or two in order to keep up with developing trends, and stay ahead of their competition.
The amount of articles online about improving SEO on your website is overwhelming, so we’ve condensed all that down into five simple sections to focus on in order to improve your website’s ranking in search results:
The most important part of any webpage is the content that you present to the people who view it. Search engines read text just like us humans do, so it’s extremely important that your text is well written and understandable. It’s also important to check your grammar and to make sure that you are not overusing your keywords. Many people think that using their keywords excessively will tell the search engine what terms they want to be ranked for, but often this has the opposite effect, producing poor quality copy and a bad reading experience for viewers.
“Meta description” might sound like an extremely complex and difficult section of SEO, but is actually very easy to wrap your head around; its just a small description of your webpage that appears under the clickable link to your page in search results. Although meta descriptions no longer factor into search engine results, they are critical in encouraging searchers to visit your site, and provide a small description of what is contained on your site and why is might be relevant to them. Meta descriptions should be no longer than 150 characters, and for greatest effect, should summarise your site whilst including keywords and a call to action.
HTML heading tags are a great way of ordering your webpage’s content in terms of importance. They range from H1 (heading 1) through to H6 (heading 6). These tags should be used to define headings, sub-headings and other content that isn’t the main body of the page. Search engines will use this information to find specific content that matches search queries. A good rule of thumb with heading tags is to only ever use H1 tags once per page, and break apart sections of the page’s body with H2 through to H6 tags.
Title tags are the copy that appear as clickable links in the search engine results page and in the tab of some browsers. Title tags are unique to each individual page so are extremely valuable to your website’s SEO. Title tags should contain relevant keywords, such as the name of your business, and the title of the page, and should also follow a consistent format throughout your entire website. Vertical bars or hyphens should always be used to seperate different sections of the title, and it should always be contained within around 50 characters to ensure that all the text displays in search results, and that your titles will have maximum effect.
Keywords are the search queries that people will use to try and find your page. The best way to produce a selection of useful keywords is to come up with the most obvious ones by yourself and then use one of the many keyword generation tools available online, such as keywordtool.io, to produce a selection of similar keywords related to the product or service you are advertising. It’s a good idea to also research how often a particular search query is used with tools such as Google Trends, as this can give you a good idea of the keyword searches you will need to be targeting. It is important that these keywords exist throughout your website, but remember not to overuse them, as this will generally lead to the search engine penalising your website. Google recommends that developers and creators make their websites primarily for users, rather than search engines, and never present information for the search engines that you viewers cannot see also.
The internet is designed for people to exchange information, which means that search engine algorithms place a lot of weight on the quality of the information on your website and how often you update it. The term ‘information’ refers to any and all content on your website that provides useful information to viewers, and included text, images, videos, blog posts, and more. The three keys to producing good quality content for SEO are, first, content should be kept relevant to your business and the topics you are discussing; don’t loose track of the goal, attracting attention to your products or services. The second is to publish content on a regular basis to show the search engines that you and your website are still active and wanting to receive viewership. Finally, content should always be unique and showcase your personality and your business. Provide information that is not available elsewhere, and stay true to the business you are promoting.
Although SEO may seem difficult and overwhelming at first, with a bit of understanding and research, you will be able to produce outstanding content targeted at both viewers and the search engine that sets you apart from the rest and consistently ranks your business above your competitors. Always remember to echo your own personality throughout the content you produce, update your website frequently with relevant and keyword-targeted information for the world to see. If you plan it right, and know what your viewers want to see, then you too can have a rich and engaging website that attracts attention through its SEO. And thats got to be great for business.