SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMISATION – WHAT IS IT AND WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
Building a website is the first step in bringing your business online, however, a lot of businesses soon wonder why their new professional website isn’t bringing in new leads as expected. This is because search engines such as Google use over 200 factors in how they rank websites when users perform a search. To get your website ranking, a lot of on-site and off-site optimisation is required so search engines can crawl, understand and trust your new site. Through search engine optimisation we can have your site rank higher in results for search terms relevant to users.
FACTORS OF ON-SITE OPTIMISATION
1. KEYWORD RESEARCH
Keyword research is highly important so you can develop an idea of what your target market is looking for. Using tools like Google’s Keyword Planner, you can see a range of statistics including search volume and how competitive a particular keyword is. Using keyword research, you can select a group of main keywords you think best describe your business and scatter them throughout your website content – make sure to use variants of these keywords so that your website doesn’t come across as ‘stuffy’ to search engines.
2. TITLE TAGS
Title tags are a commonly overlooked element of on-site optimisation. A well written title tag should stand out to a user looking for your service and engage them to click on your website rather than the other eight or nine search results. Think about what your customer wants and use short, concise language to tell them that that is exactly what you’ll deliver.
3. META TITLES & DESCRIPTIONS
A meta title and description is a great way to provide potential customers with a little bit of detail as to what you can do for them. Think of the title tag and meta description as a hook, you’re casting out into a sea of other search results so make sure you’re enticing the fish (users) to bite your hook and not someone else’s.
4. PAGE HEADINGS
Page headings tell the Google spider that crawls your website what your page is about and gives it an idea as to what search queries you should show up for. Google pays the most attention to H1’s and H2’s, so you should always stick to the rule of only one H1 and a maximum of two H2’s to avoid being penalised for keyword stuffing. Make sure your headings are relevant to what the page is about and vary them from page to page to increase your chances of being included as a result for more search terms.
Content is not just the writing on a website, it’s the images, PDFs, videos and infographics as well. All your content should tie in with each other, all reaffirming what your website or page is about. Now this may seem obvious, but your content should all be 100% original to avoid being penalised by Google for duplicate content – this includes duplicating your own content onto different pages throughout your site. The ideal content layout is original, informative text that is directly related to the topic of the page, supported by relevant media.
6. INTERNAL LINKING
Internal linking is not only helpful for the Google crawler, it’s also helpful to your website visitors. Essentially, by internally linking you are laying out a road map of your website and passing what we call “juice” to important pages. Google doesn’t like floating pages, so attaching them through internal linking is good for your on-site SEO.
7. SITE SPEED
The Google algorithm is designed to find the websites that are the most helpful and relevant to a user’s search term and deliver them to the top of the results. Site speed and user experience are an extremely important factor of this equation, after all Google is designed to help its users – not send them to slow, irrelevant sites. Optimise your site speed by reducing image sizes, don’t put a 1400×1400 image on a page if it only needs to be 400×400.
8. OUTGOING LINKS
This is a great technique to use particularly in highly technical industries. It may sound crazy to send your visitors away from your website but by placing outgoing links to highly trusted pages (Wikipedia, Government websites, etc.) this shows Google that you are trying to be as helpful as possible to your visitors. Google is designed to help, so the more relevant information you put forward, the more Google will consider you a trustworthy website. However, make sure your outgoing links are relevant to what you are talking about.
FACTORS OF OFF-SITE OPTIMISATION
1. EXTERNAL LINKS
There are a huge number of websites available where you have the opportunity to link back to your website. Business directories, blogs and forums, classifieds and online industry magazines just to name a few. Do your research and take the time to construct an honest approach, don’t go around spamming anybody and everybody with a recycled sales pitch. Find websites that are relevant to what you do – backlinking can be a great boost for your website if you do it right but you can end up heavily penalised by Google if you do it wrong.
2. SOCIAL MEDIA
Don’t discount the power of social media. In 2016, there were over 1.79 billion daily active Facebook users, 24% of internet users used Twitter, 29% used LinkedIn, 31% used Pinterest and 32% used Instagram. Use social media to your advantage – post updates and special offers, get involved with the latest trends, use social media to connect to your target market on a more personal level.
When it comes to purchasing, people generally buy from the brands they know, so it can be tough to break the “big name cycle.” Branding lets people know that you exist and you’re better than their current provider. Whether it’s shirts, hats and stickers or billboards and TV advertisements, make sure you involve branding as part of your off-site SEO.
Reviews are a great way to build trust with potential customers. After you’ve finished up with a client, take a bit of time to send an email or give them a call and politely ask for a review. However, reviews can also go the opposite way. If you receive a bad review, jump on it straight away with a genuine and calm response.
5. CROSS LINKING
If you work in partnership with another business, don’t be afraid to ask for a link back to your site and be ready to give one in return. Although business cross linking is not overly common with small businesses, seize the opportunity if you happen to come across it.
Guest posting on blogs or even starting your own blog and writing informative articles that are relevant to what you do is another good way to build trust with Google. Demonstrate that you know what you’re talking about and Google will be more likely to put your website in the top results for search queries related to your business type.
SO, WHY IS SEO IMPORTANT?
Now that we’ve gone into detail about the ins and outs of on-site and off-site search engine optimisation, why is it important for your business to have an SEO strategy in place. Discussed above are separate aspects of a comprehensive campaign, but when done right, they work together to assist in getting your web pages to the first page of Google for keywords your business targets. SEO is getting you to the top in organic searches, getting more traffic and ultimately more leads!