What is SEO and how it works
Search Engine Optimisation, SEO for short, is a tactic used to improve your site’s visibility to drive more qualified traffic to your website through organic searches.
A simple way to put it — you make changes to your website and optimise content with keywords and phrases for relevant user searches.
Search engines, such as Google and Bing, will reward you higher rankings based on quality and relevance of content. This in turn, drives more qualified traffic to your website.
For example, if you think about how you ended up here reading this post right now. You were probably searching something related to SEO. In order for search engines (generally, Google) to rank our article as a top result on the search engine results page, we made sure to include relevant search phrases and keywords.
So we would appear as one of the top results whenever people search for the phrases ‘what is seo’ or ‘how does SEO work’.
Sounds simple enough right? If only it was this easy.
The tricky part is understanding what is Google’s algorithm for SEO and what you actually need to do. Google relies on over 200 ranking factors in their algorithm to score and rank your website.
So, it’s not quite as simple as whacking together a few blog articles stuffed with keywords or changing some headings on your website.
This is why you would normally reach out to a SEO agency or hire in house SEO professionals to promote your presence.
Now, rather than going through the boring exercise of explaining all 200 factors, we’re going to talk about the ones that matter.
Keep reading to find out the tactics you can use in your SEO strategy to help increase your search rankings.
SEO Tips: What are search engines looking for?
What is Technical SEO and why is it important?
To quickly define what is technical SEO — it is the process of optimizing the architecture and technical health of a website, including improving page speed, structuring data for ease of navigation, clear sitemaps, and being mobile-friendly. This helps improve how search engines, like Google, crawl and index your website.
Essential technical SEO tools and tests for optimising your website
- Verify your site using Google Search Console
The first and primary tool of any SEO strategy should be Google Search Console. It has a number of tools that will help you monitor and optimise your website, with no coding required, including:
- What keywords are currently ranking on pages on your site
- Any errors on your website preventing it from being crawled
- The mobile-friendliness of your website
- What pages are/aren’t indexed by Google
- Website related metrics important to any business, including number of clicks, impressions, average click-through-rate, average ranking, and more.
- Track and measure results in Google Analytics
The success of any digital marketing strategy is always built on the foundation of cold hard metrics — ahh how we love a good digital report. Google Analytics will help you figure out if there are any issues with traffic, penalties, where to make improvements, among other things.
You could basically gather all of the information you need relating to your SEO with Google Analytics, when paired with Google Search Console, as everything can be accessed and compiled from one centralised location. Here’s how you can use it to improve your SEO:
- Compare organic traffic and paid results side-by-side
- See which pages generate the most traffic and what you can do to further improve SEO
- Remove spam traffic
- Identify web development issues in the code
- Generate site content reports to see engagement metrics on each web page, including page exits, acquisitions, user experience and conversions.
- Identify which of your channels — based on traffic sources paid or organic — is leading to the most sales and conversions and what is the value of those sales to your business
- Measure and optimise for page speed with Google Pagespeed Insights
Website speed is one of Google’s ranking factors. Slow to load websites will be penalised as it affects the user experience. Thankfully, Google will help you out on this one with their on page speed testing tool. It reports on both mobile and desktop devices, giving you a speed rating of 0-00 and a list of suggestions on how you can improve page speed.
- Optimise for mobile with Google Mobile-Friendly Testing Tool
How mobile-friendly your website is will affect where your website is ranking on the search engine results page. Simply paste your URL into Google’s mobile-friendly testing tool and see how your page scores.
- Use Google’s Schema.org Structured Data Testing Tool to structure data
Ever wondered how some search results include review stars and ratings? That’s the efforts of Schema markup and can be used to improve your organic click-through-rate.
Other types of tags (or microdata) can be added to your HTML to improve how search engines read and represent your page on the search engine results page. Schema.org structured data testing tool allows you to identify any issues with your schema coding before it is implemented.
What is On-Page SEO and why is it important?
The content on your website and the structure of your pages are a reflection of what you do and the information you’re providing to people. So naturally, the search engine algorithm is scanning these to understand whether your page is worth showing to people or not.
Improving on-page SEO can help boost your businesses rankings on search engine results pages.
One of the biggest SEO let downs is when your customer and traffic objectives haven’t been properly considered during the web design process. A professional web design team that understands SEO, can structure the site and create content that is exactly like or close to how your customers want to consume it. This earns you major points with the search engines.
On page SEO tools best practices for optimising your website
- Conduct keyword research using AHREFs
The first step to creating relevant content is to understand what keywords and content Google is ranking. Ahrefs is one of the most advanced SEO tools online that allows you to examine anything from keywords and phrases, to internal links, profile rankings and performance of individual pages. Various functions of Ahrefs include:
- Keyword Explorer allows you to search for keywords, showing the monthly search volume, number of clicks, keyword difficulty score, among other metrics.
- Site Explorer allows you to view the performance of specific pages on your website, your competitors websites, including organic traffic, what organic keywords are being ranked, number of links to your site (backlinks), and so much more.
- Content Explorer allows you to search up keywords and phrases, generating a list of high-performing web pages under that keyword or topic
- Site Audit helps you track the health of your website, revealing technical issues with pages and giving you a percentage health score.
- How to plan and create SEO content for content marketing
These days, it’s not enough to just be adding keywords to your content. You need to consider how your target audience consumes content, including the type and format. Based on your research mentioned above, create content that is highly relevant to your target audience in a format and type that is most suited to their search intent.
- Different content types include product pages, category pages, landing pages, videos, and blog posts.
- Types of content formats can include listicles, how-to guides, reviews, news articles or opinion pieces.
- The angle of your content will essentially be the selling point. Is it easy? Is it quick? Is it the ultimate? The perfect? What does your target audience want?
Bonus: Ensure that your website design process considers the content you want to create for your pages and offers an experience that makes it easy for the visitors to consume the content on mobile and desktop.
- What is on page SEO optimisation and tips on how to write SEO content
Once you’ve created all your content, it’s time to double down on the ‘technical’ on-page SEO elements, such as meta tags and title tags. This is what’s going to help separate you from the rest of the results and ensure Google and searchers view your page as the best.
- This may sound obvious, but always include your keyword in the title
- Make sure your title tag is clear, short and concise (use your title for reference)
- Use concise and compelling meta descriptions that match search intent (can expand on title tag)
- Make sure URLs are short and descriptive
- Make sure images have descriptive names. I.e. Rather than IMG_92201.jpg > super-cute-ginger-cat.jpg. Optimise images using descriptive alt text, and compress images
- Internal improves site navigation and increases time on website
- External links is another way of providing value to your users, increasing trust and credibility
What is Off-Page SEO and why is it important?
Off-page SEO can be best described as a trust-building exercise that is done outside of your website to improve rankings and credibility. It involves building a website’s reputation and authority by including links from other high-quality sites, someone linking back to your site, managing local citations, among other things. Off-page SEO is a powerful PR tool that tells search engines and users your website is important and trustworthy.
Off-page SEO techniques and best practices
- Link building
Link building is getting other websites to mention your website and link back to you. This is called backlinking and is one of the most popular techniques of off-page SEO. Getting reputable sites with high domain authority to link back to you will drive more traffic to your website and increase your ranking and authority. Tips to generate links:
- Reach out to other websites and bloggers to ask them if they are able to link back to something you have written or created. Also known as outreach.
- Create high quality content to attract links to your website naturally using infographics, videos, and in-depth blog topics.
- Use relevant anchor text
- Update your social media with your latest content releases to help gain traction and build awareness.
- Content marketing
Creating highly relevant and quality content is a great place to start generating linkable content for your business. Continue to share your content on all social media platforms where your target audience can like, comment and share your content. The more activity your content receives, the more likely you’ll become a trusted and recognised source of information in your industry.
- Refer to on-page SEO section for tips on how to create content
Impactful SEO strategy is all about offering people the results they want through content. It’s about serving the searchers and the customers.
- Social media marketing
While not directly related to your website ranking, social media is still an excellent place to promote your business and generate awareness for your brand. A reputable person or business sharing your content to millions of followers shows they trust your brand, so they should too. It also gives a chance for your audience to interact with you and your brand on platforms that are easy to communicate on.
- Local citations
Local citations are generally found on local business directories, websites, apps and on social media platforms. They include core business information, such as company name, address, phone number and link to website. They help your target audience find you better online and can impact how Google ranks your website. For example, having the right basic information can help you rank better on Google Maps. Other elements to consider adding include:
- Opening and closing times
- Days open
- Business description
- Links to social media
- Contact numbers, fax number
Why is SEO important and how does it benefit your business?
If you’ve read this entire post, congratulations! We’re almost there.
For those who simply skipped to this section to see how SEO can benefit your business, you’re about to be pleasantly surprised.
You may or may not have done SEO in the past, and it may or may not have been successful. But for whatever the reason, you’re here now.
SEO is one of the most effective methods of digital marketing business owners can use to propel website rankings, generate more qualified traffic and ultimately increase conversion rates.
One of the biggest benefits of SEO is that it is highly measurable, with plenty of tools and metrics to help you track and measure performance.
SEO works around the clock 24/7, driving offline sales, building trust, increasing brand awareness and credibility.
But if you’re still not convinced SEO is right for your business, or wondering if SEO is still relevant in 2021, you’ll want to peep these SEO statistics.
Why? Because 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine, predominantly on Google.
With Google currently holding 90.1% of the total search engine market share.
Okay, fair enough. Heaps of people search things online, how does that help your business?
Remember all that content we told you to write? Well, it’s about to pay off, with 81% of people researching online before making any large purchases.
With another 61% of internet users researching a product online before making a purchase.
Honestly speaking, just think about how you purchase something online.
Do you read or watch 3 to 5 pieces of content created by a business before making a purchase?
Because almost half of users will do exactly that before contacting a salesman from that company.
We literally can’t make this stuff up.
There’s a reason why 57% of B2B marketers state that SEO generates more leads than any other marketing initiative.
It’s not only because 86% of consumers look up the location of a business on…
Or, that 18% of location-based mobile searches result in a sale within a day.
Although, these are both strong enough reasons to do SEO…
But, if you’re not on the first page of Google search results, are you even RELEVANT?
Because the scariest part is that 75% of users never even scroll past the first page.
Now look, that doesn’t mean you should just give up on SEO all together.
There are hundreds of SEO tactics that business owners can leverage to increase their rankings.