SEO, SEM, CTA’s!! It all seems confusing sometimes right? You’ve got 99 problems and SEO err umm actually; it probably is one of them.
There’s a good reason that every digital agency sells themselves based on some kind of SEO prowess, and sometimes they do a pretty good job but, this isn’t something you can afford to be complacent about.
Get SEO wrong and your fancy, shiny website is a boat anchor, get it right and floods of relevant traffic can be had at minimal ongoing cost to you.
So, what the heck is SEO?
There’s an old saying that “If you aren’t on the first page of Google’s search results, then you aren’t on the web.”
SEO or Search Engine Optimisation is a process of optimising web content to be highly relevant for a given search term (or keyword) so that search engines rank your content highly and place you up the top of their search result pages (SERP’s).
SEO is different from SEM or Search Engine Marketing in that you don’t pay for results and in the instance of a Google paid AdWord to have an “Ad” stamp on your result, rather SEO drives “organic” results.
SEO is primarily focussed Google and their Rank Brain algorithm, but nowadays, people search for things in new and different ways and on new and different platforms that are changing rapidly like voice search with Siri or Alexa. This is why SEO requires constant ongoing attention and you should never “set and forget” your SEO.
Did you know that YouTube is now the world’s second largest search engine with 1.3 Billion users? Or, that mobile search has overtaken desktop as the primary search channel?
Search engines assess websites in many different ways but primarily by looking at the content and the inbound links from other websites, that is, what is the webpage talking about and who else also thinks this is important. Then, when a user searches for a keyword, the search engine considers hundreds of other factors to determine the most relevant results to display for that particular user and their history, location and preferences.
Why is it important?
SEO is crucial for any business that has a web presence to maximise organic traffic to their site.
If you think that this isn’t something that’s important as you already get plenty of web traffic? Try digging into your website’s analytics and keyword search terms, how many of those searches were for your company name? This means those users were already looking for you, whereas SEO is about finding “strangers” who may not know about you yet but might be looking for products or services you offer, you want to be highly relevant for them and in their search results even if they don’t know your name yet.
Did you know that every year Google process over 2.8 trillion search requests? With effective SEO you stand to capture more of that traffic.
Here’s an example, let’s say I am marketing for a broadband provider called WOW.
I check out my Google Analytics and in the keyword search terms, I see lots of “WOW”, “WOW NZ”, “WOW Broadband” and the like. These users were apparently already looking for WOW as they were searching for my company name.
If I wanted to optimize my website and content for SEO to attract new visitors, I might choose to optimise for keyword search terms like “broadband” or “ISP”. But, as these are highly contested keywords I might choose a long-tail keyword phrase like “best ISP in Napier” so that specific groups of people more generally looking for a broadband provider in Napier are more likely to find my website in their search results.
So how do I manage my SEO?
Effective SEO needs a solid strategy, regular reviews and ongoing tweaking.
If you have an existing website, you should start with an SEO audit. This will give you a baseline to work from and help inform any progress you make.
Workshop X provides free SEO audits to help identify how effective your current website is and how you compare to your top two competitors based on your chosen keywords.
You should also get a baseline of your websites current traffic using Google Analytics to be able to identify any improvements on the work you are doing.
Then, you should use a keyword tool to develop your ideal keywords based on your ideal customer or “buyer persona” that informs which search engines and keywords they are likely to use. Again, there are loads of great free tools such as Moz Explorer to find which keywords are likely to attract the most traffic.
Then you should document your SEO improvement plan and what parts of your website you are going to keep, what bits need updating, how you are going to approach it and how you are going measure progress.
You don’t generally need a complete website rebuild to improve your SEO, but you need a good plan to ensure best results.
From your audit, you should be looking to improve things like appropriate use of keywords in the title description, a complete and accurate meta description for your website, appropriate H1, H2 titles.
Use URL’s that are both readable and optimized, using dashes-like-this.
Any URL changes you make, you need to ensure you use 301 re-directs so that you don’t lose any momentum that you’ve already established to date.
Make sure your website is responsive and mobile optimized, remember Mobile has overtaken desktop for searches.
Ensure your site is crawlable and that search engines can in fact index your site thoroughly, this is managed by the robots.txt file.
But most importantly, ensure your website is primarily designed for your audience, real human people, not robots, because robots won’t spend any money with you right?
Here are our SEO Priorities;
- Start with understanding your customer (Buyer Persona, buyer journey)
- Audit your current site
- SEO Audit
- Measure baseline analytics
- Plan your keywords
- Develop and implement your SEO improvement plan
- Re-audit your site
- Review your analytics over time
- Tweak, rinse and repeat
So there you have it, the Workshop X Marketing guide to the absolute bare minimum you should know about SEO.