Online marketing can seem easy at first until you actually start to dive into it and experience just how intricate and time-consuming it can be. However, it is by far the BEST way to get yourself in front of your potential customers and well worth learning if you want to promote your own services or products.
If you are one of the many people flying solo in business, trying to make your dream job a reality, you may currently be building an online presence for your business, whether that’s a website or social media profiles. SEO is a massive part of this world, so it’s important to understand what it is and how you can use it to expand your website’s reach!
If you’ve already had a little look at how to market your business online, you may have stumbled across the term SEO before, but what the hell does it mean?
What is SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation.
Let’s break this down a little bit, to see if we can explain it in a non-confusing way.
This part of the term refers to… you guessed it! Search Engines!
These come in the form of Google, Bing and even YouTube. Basically, any online tool that people use to search for things on the internet.
Predominantly, people will look at Google as it’s the most popular search engine that we all use.
The optimisation part refers to what you’re actually doing. You are optimising your content for search engines (making your content more attractive/relevant so search engines notice you and put you higher up in their search results).
So, what is SEO? It is the act of making your content more attractive to search engines so that they favour you above everyone else. You want to prove to search engines that you have the best and most relevant answers for their users and the only way to do that, is to optimise your content!
How do you optimise your content?
There are many ways to optimise your website content, so it’s worth making a quick checklist that you can tick off whenever you’re building a new website writing content for your blog or web pages.
When deciding whether your content is offering up the most relevant information for the user’s search, Google looks at the following things:
How quickly your site loads is a big factor. Google wants its users to have the best experience when visiting the results they have served up and if your website takes an age to load up, more people will be likely to go somewhere else for answers. When Google sees that its users are leaving your website before it’s even loaded, it will deem your website as unhelpful and you will be pushed down the rankings
Tip: Huge images can be the biggest cause of a slow website, so make sure you re-size images before you upload them. You should also consider compressing the images, to make the file size smaller.
Tools to use:
https://tinypng.com/ – Compress your images to make file sizes smaller
https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/ – Check the speed of your website and get suggestions on how to improve it
https://imageresize.org/ – No photo editing software? Use this to change the image size
With a huge portion of us now using our smartphones to browse websites, your site will get way more brownie points for making it easy for mobile users to view your content.
Tip: Make sure to access your website using your smartphone when setting it up, to make sure it is fully responsive.
If your website has a whole load of traffic heading to it and that traffic stays on your site for a while, enjoying themselves immensely, then Google will see that and be like ‘Oh hey, look at all those people that have gone to that website and found it interesting’. Again, anything that can show Google that your website is a good resource for its users is perfect for boosting you up those search engine rankings.
Tip: To keep track of your website’s traffic, make sure you link up Google Analytics so you can monitor the traffic coming to your site and see if it goes up or down, where it is coming from and how long those people are staying on your website.
I’ve done a few videos on Google Analytics which I’ve listed for you below.
Links pointing to it
Again, we go back to proving your website’s worth. If you’ve got a lot of good quality websites (I stress the term good quality) linking to your website or a piece of your content, then Google will recognise that as an endorsement from those websites.
Say you have a link from an amazingly popular site like bbc.co.uk, if Google sees that the BBC has linked to you, and the BBC website has already been recognised by Google as being an authoritative and trusted website, then it will trust the BBC’s endorsement of you and start to also see you as a trusted resource for its users. Does that make sense? It’s basically as if the website linking to you is giving you a big thumbs up to Google!
Tip: Taking a look at things like a website’s domain authority or trust flow, will tell you whether the site linking to you is a high-quality website.
Tools to use:
https://moz.com/researchtools/ose/ – Check a websites domain authority by using MOZ
Naming your images is extremely important. By making sure your image names have your chosen keywords in them, you’ll be well on your way to perfectly optimised content.
Search engines can’t ‘see‘ images, so they have no idea what they are or what they refer to. Make sure, when you upload your images to your website, that you have given them a relevant name so that Google knows exactly what the image is representing.
You should also look at the image’s ALT tag. This tag is attached to an image to give search engines and the user more information about the image. Its most common use is to help those who have poor eyesight, as the software that speaks to users who may be visually impaired, reads the alt text to tell them exactly what the image is displaying.
Tip: If you use WordPress, you can edit the images ALT tag when you upload it to your media library. You’ll be able to see the ALT field on the right-hand side underneath the image preview.
Keywords and phrases
When you need to look up something on Google, you’ll type in a search term. This search term is the keyword or keyphrase, depending on how many words you type in.
It is these searches that you want to cater your content towards. Creating content that answers a search term is always a great way to appear in Google searches.
For example, this article you’re reading right now is optimised for the keyword ‘what is SEO’. To help me do that, I’ve included that keyword in my title, in my headers, in my text and I’ve included it in the name of the main blog image!
By making sure I’ve included this keyword as much as possible (without being spammy or sacrificing the quality of the content!), I am giving Google a better idea of what this content is about. Clearly, this content is addressing the question, ‘What is SEO?’.
Tip: If you’re not sure what keywords you want each website page or article to target, try downloading a keyword research tool such as Keywords Everywhere, to help give you an idea of the search terms that are searched for the most! Or, you can head to forums to find out what FAQs people are asking within your industry and create content to answer those questions!
Tools to use:
https://keywordseverywhere.com/ – This tool can be added to your web browser and will tell you how many times a search term is typed into Google every month. Terms with high search volume are always worth targeting!
https://www.quora.com/, https://uk.answers.yahoo.com/, https://www.reddit.com/ – Take a look at these forum sites to find out what questions people are asking about your industry, then create content that answers those questions!
Links to the content
As I mentioned above, getting links to your content is a great way to tell Google that the content is worth bumping up search engine results.
If you want a specific page to rank higher in Google, for example, you’ve done an amazing article on ‘What is SEO?’, then building links to that page specifically will help that particular page to rank for its chosen keyword.
Tip: To build links to a guide or some form of content that offers users information or some sort of value, try emailing publications that may have already covered the subject of your content and ask them if they would like to link to it as an extra resource for its readers.
Meta tags are tags that are included in the HTML code of your website and all of its pages. These tags help to give more information about the page.
For example, the meta title for this article will be ‘What is SEO?’, telling Google this article is explaining what SEO is. Its meta description will be ‘What is SEO? I break down search engine optimisation to help you better understand how to get your website on the first page of Google!’.
These 2 tags tell search engines what the page is about and what information can be found on that page. That’s why it is so important to make sure these are both optimised for your chosen keyword!
Tip: Keep meta descriptions below 160 characters long, to make sure the full description can be read by users on the search engine results pages.
Understanding the ever-changing world of SEO is no easy task. There are so many cogs working within this huge machine, that it can be hard to keep on top of everything.
Not to mention, Google love to do an update every now and again that completely changes the rules of how websites are ranked within their search results.
The key to good SEO for any website, is to make sure the content you are providing to users is relevant and useful. Google holds relevancy at the very top of its priority list, so if you can perfectly answer a users question or deliver them a service they’ve been looking for, you are already on your way to SEO success!