SEO (search engine optimisation) is a phrase that you have no doubt come across as an SME, but what does it really mean and what can you do in your own business to help your content get found online.
In this guest article, I will be defining what is SEO and why it’s important before diving into the three main areas of SEO and giving you actions that you can do yourself to help with each of these.
So, what is SEO?
SEO is the practice of improving both the quantity and quality of organic search traffic to your website via search engines such as Google. The aim is to get your website to rank high in SERPs (search engine page results) so that it appears on the first page for a given keyword or search phrase.
It is important to note here that SEO is NOT paid advertising. PPC (pay per click) and other advertising on social media is a completely different topic, but the two regularly get confused.
Why is SEO important?
Without SEO, you leave the discovery of your website somewhat to chance – and that’s not a great strategy!
When you take the time to really delve into what you want your website to rank for and how you want to appear on search results, you can make a real difference to your performance online.
Remember the statement “quantity AND quality” above? It can be easy to become obsessed with driving more and more people to your website (which is great) but real SEO looks at the quality of those leads too and ensures that you are driving your ideal customer to your site, not just anyone.
3 main areas of SEO
SEO can be broken down into three separate categories:
This is the process of optimising your website content for SEO and includes tasks such as keyword research, title tag and meta description optimisation, image optimisation, alternative text (alt text) tags and internal linking.
To improve your on-page SEO ensure that you are clear on your ideal client and the words and phrases that they are likely to use when searching for the products and services that you offer.
This the process of building links to your website from other websites (aka Backlinks) social media marketing and local SEO. This helps improve your website’s ranking in SERPs.
Submitting your website to directory sites such as Yell.com and online newspaper directories is a great starting point, but for the best backlinks, search out businesses in complementary industries to your own and write content for those sites. This can be reciprocal but ensure that you are both giving value and not just linking because you can.
“The best source of a link is a website that is both considered authoritative and relevant to your website.” Helen Pollitt
This is concerned with improving the technical aspects of your website in order to increase the crawlability, performance, and indexation of your site. It includes tasks such as site speed, site structure, responsive design, sitemaps and code errors.
Use a free online tool to check your website for errors and then work on the issues that are flagged. You will usually find that there are some simple fixes, such as reducing images sizes, that will speed up your website without requiring too much effort.
What can I do to help my own SEO?
The best thing you can do is to bring SEO into your broader marketing plan as after all, it is part of the promotion of your business.
Having a logical plan when it comes to your SEO is very important, as is attending to it little and often rather than all in one go.
Here are my top 3 tips for SEO:
Really do your research and know what your target market is looking for. If you’ve got a marketing plan you will already have this information, so make sure you are using it for SEO as well as social media and promotion.
Look specifically at ‘long-tail keywords’ which are often easier to rank for than shorter keywords. For example, ranking for “coaching” is difficult as there is a tonne of competition, but if your keyword is “coaching for female executives” you have been far more specific and therefore the competition is reduced.
There are plenty of free tools out there to help you narrow down your keywords and I love Answer the Public by Neil Patel as you can put in 1-2 keywords and it will return a whole raft of questions and statements related to it.
Once you have your list of keywords, you need to create interesting content based on them. Blogging, or article writing, is still one of the best ways of doing this, but don’t forget video and podcasts too – in fact, if you do this right, you could create all three types of content at the same time.
Not only does content give search engines more reason to crawl your website, but it shows your audience that you are an expert in your field and happy to share information to educate and inspire them – even before they become a customer!
“Content is what the search engines use to fulfil user intent.” – Dave Davies, Beanstalk Internet Marketing
Nowadays more than ever, online search optimisation (which is search across your website and social platforms) is a fantastic opportunity to improve your brand reputation. Remember that you can optimise YouTube videos just as you would on your website.
I know you’d love to hear that you just have to create some awesome content, post it once and you’re done, but it just doesn’t work like that. When it comes to SEO, and most things in your business, consistency is key.
This is why it is important to have a plan and stick to it. Integrating SEO into your marketing plan is the best way to ensure that as you get ready to write another blog post, you consider your keywords, make sure the meta data is right and include images and other multimedia that all work together to improve the visibility of your business online.
So, there you have it, SEO in a nutshell.
Of course there is far more to each and every aspect of SEO and I would encourage you to learn more about each part in time, but let’s take it step by step!
For now, just remember:
“It’s important to look beyond rankings and rather ensure a website is usable for everyone.” Ruth Everett, DeepCrawl
Because driving more people to your website is only the first step – they need to stick around and interact with you once they are there and that takes clarity and an understanding of your own business that SEO cannot fix for you.
Holly Hinton is the founder of Web Goddess, a web design and SEO company that aims to educate and inform SMEs to take control of their own online presence. She is happy to translate technobabble and debunk website and SEO myths to prevent small businesses being taken advantage of.
You can connect with Holly on LinkedIn