Search Engine Optimisation, otherwise known as SEO, is the process of optimising your website and its content so it ranks highly in search engine results, for certain keywords and phrases.
Optimising your site so it shows up when your buyers are searching online – is a key part of online, or digital marketing. Many businesses get overwhelmed in trying to understand SEO and how to get their website to rank.
The purpose of this article to educate small business owners and marketers on the fundamentals of SEO to help boost rank and traffic to their website.
Here are five things to help small business owners and marketers get started with optimising content, to increase website visits.
1. Get familiar with the technical aspects of SEO
Knowing the technical side of SEO is like knowing what ingredients to use when baking a cake. Keywords, on-page SEO, securing high quality links from other sites and a website that’s optimised for speed are all essential parts of SEO. Without understanding the basics, you could be wasting time and money on the wrong marketing tactics or agency.
For purpose of this article we’ll assume you understand your buyer and have identified the keywords you want your website to rank for in the search results. On-page SEO is optimising certain elements of a page with the right keywords, these are:
- page titles
- headers and sub-headers
- alt text – text description of an image
- page content
These elements are where the search engines look to understand what the page is about.
If you’re not a ‘techy’ person and are daunted by tinkering the back end of your website, don’t be. Most websites now are built on a CMS (content management system) which make it easy to update these page elements. Or your SEO/web agency can assist – but at least you know and understand what needs to be done, and know to ask for it.
2. You can’t beat Google
The temptation can be to build artificial or paid links and jam your content full of keywords to zoom up the search result rankings. If the thought has crossed your mind, I have three words for you: don’t do it.
Google uses complicated algorithms to assess its ranking list, and updates them regularly to keep web publishers honest and accountable. It also dishes our harsh penalties to websites found to be manipulating the results or creating content designed to deceive (some websites have even been removed from Google search results altogether. Ouch).
There’s many SEO companies out there who’ll promise to get your website at the top of Google results. Such claims while well intentioned, can be misleading. The honest truth is it takes time to achieve a top search ranking.
3. Publish great content, regularly. Then amplify it.
Search engines love nothing more than fresh, quality content produced frequently. There’s a saying in the industry that goes ‘Content is King’. And it’s true. It’s a signal that your website it legit. Part of the Google algorithm will score your website based on the freshness and frequency of its content.
Content doesn’t belong solely to the realm of words. While blogs are the most common way to produce fresh content frequently, it can also include videos, photos and audio. Any content that can be indexed by search engines contributes to your SEO. It’s time to start thinking of yourself as a publisher and your website as your platform. Invest in your blog, build an event calendar, integrate your social media platforms and get creative with video and audio content.
4. SEO and Content Marketing work hand-in-hand
There’s a lot of articles out there pitting SEO and Content Marketing as bitter rivals, claiming that one is more important than the other. However, savvy marketers and business owners know that SEO and content marketing are like ice cream and sprinkles: they work perfectly together.
Great content should be naturally optimised to reach the people who want to read it. It positions your business as a leader in the field, creating trust and respect in the market.
It should also be built around a solid content marketing strategy, designed to give people the relevant material they want. By combining great content with solid SEO techniques made shareable via social media, you will gradually build organic visitors to your site. With this approach, you’ll improve your SEO rankings — but even better, you will have created an authoritative, relevant website that people will want to visit.
5. Make sure your website ‘performs’ and ‘responds’
SEO is all about the user experience. If your website takes too long to load, or isn’t responsive to tablet and smartphone screens, people will simply move on.
The online environment has never been more competitive. If your website load times are sluggish, check your image sizes to make sure it’s optimised for the web. Otherwise you can talk to your web host about ways to improve speed. Similarly, if your website still makes smartphone users pinch and zoom and the navigation is clunky, you’re falling behind. It’s time to update your website to a model that will automatically adapt to tablet and smartphone screens.