So you want to do your own SEO but don’t know where to start? You’ve heard that creating a website just isn’t enough nowadays, or you’re actually experiencing low volume traffic to your pages. But is it really possible for small business owners to improve their keyword rankings and produce optimised content for their website, without investing in a dedicated SEO professional?
You can do SEO yourself by learning how to do keyword research and optimise content using Google analytic tools. By applying on-page and off- page SEO strategies, increases organic traffic to your site. But SEO is an art that is time intensive, which is why many seek the expertise of a professional SEO agency.
There are many reasons why your website isn’t performing from an SEO point of view. This could be because your landing pages for your products or services do not cater to your target audiences buying intentions.
Or, because you’re not promoting them in the right demographic area. Google’s algorithm is getting stronger and stronger, so the more specific and targeted the information on your website pages are, the better the rankings will be.
In this guide we’ll take you through the some simple and easy steps introducing you to the world of SEO. We’ll go through why search engine optimisation is important, some of the tools that are available to SEO beginners, and how to implement them in your SEO campaign.
Read on to learn more…
What is search engine optimisation (SEO)?
Search engine optimisation, also known as SEO, is a long term organic marketing strategy involving the use of keywords, link building and content that fulfils the needs of your target audience by answering specific search queries.
Before you go all in with SEO tactics and strategies, you should consider conducting a site audit first because it will give you a better upstanding of how your website functions and what pages are and are not fit for purpose.
You will be in a better position if you plan ahead and know what pages need new content and which may need discarding.
What is the difference between on-page and off-page SEO?
The difference between on-page and off-page SEO is that one relates directly to your website (page content, internal linking, mobile friendliness, meta descriptions etc), whilst the other looks at how your website performs (backlinks, local SEO, social etc).
The content and site maintenance of the actual website is considered as on-page SEO which is entirely in your control, whereas off-page SEO although can be influenced by you, relies on increasing the authority of your domain.
Is your website fully optimised for people when they reach it? You need to consider the layout, where and what content is used, the page speed, technical SEO in terms of schema markup. This is where on-page SEO comes in to play, let’s go through some examples.
Examples of some on-page SEO:
These links are there to provide a great follow on for content because internal links reference back to relevant pages of your website. You may have a blog post which talks about “the challenges of accounting” and theres a subheading about SRA audits.
The paragraph talking about SRA audits may have a key sentence or phrase which you can internally link back to you SRA audit services page. This will provide the reader with even more information. Internal links leave no pages behind, because what you don’t want is a dead-end page.
Your work should flow from the main topic you are talking about to the sub- topics you will be discussing further down the page. Your readers want to consume content quickly and one of the best ways to do this is by laying out the information under specific headings.
When you write your headings they need to contain the primary and secondary keywords you have selected to target. This will make more sense to Google, when it goes to crawl and index the page.
For each page and blog post you create you should write a short meta description, which ultimately conveys what that page is talking about. You’ll notice short descriptions under each search result on the Google SERP. These can provide an enticing introduction to your piece of quality content.
Alt- text for images
Generally speaking, alt text is used for users who have sight impairment so images are described to them. Google picks up the image description you have given allowing it to understand the content.
A permalink is the full URL given to your webpage or post. You want to aim to optimise you permalinks as long links so it is clear and descriptive of what they will see on the page. A good permalink won’t be forgotten.
Page load speeds
Ever waited a few minutes for a web page to load before abandoning it to search elsewhere? We feel your frustration. To increase the loads speed of a page you should think about optimising the images by reducing the quality and the file size of the image.
You should also have the browser cache so that the browser does not have to re-download each image or part of the page again and minimise how many add-ons or plug-ins your website may use. The more html code your website page has, the slower it may take to load.
Top tip – Google has a tool called PageSpeed Insights, which highlights what pages aren’t working as effectively as they should be.
As we all know – content is king – but you need to be creating content with an established tone and voice that is tailored made for your target audience. Think about what makes you different from your competitors? Is your content useful for your target audience? You also want to make sure that the content you produce, whether it is for a landing page, service page or even a blog, can solve your buyer’s problems. Providing the solution to your buyer through clear and useful language will provide them with added value.
Top tip – Avoid duplicate content, as copying another persons work with eventually be flagged by Google. If writing is not your thing, then there are plenty of copywriters who specialise in SEO content.
Remember that users often have many different devices to hand. They may be on their desktop searching for your business or be out and about using their phone or tablet. Google has even prioritised mobile page loading speed as a key ranking metric so it is vital that you are accessible to all.
Off -page SEO
There are millions upon millions of websites. Your authoritative domain rating tends to skew where you are positioned in the search results. The more links you have following through to your site from other websites, the higher your pages will rank.
Examples of some off-page SEO:
These links play a huge part in helping your website build authority as it gains power from other websites. Referring domains provide your website with link juice. The more link juice you can squeeze into your website, the bigger the improvement in your domain authority and search ranking.
However, getting reputable backlinks takes time, resource and yes you guessed it…money!
You may be thinking to buy backlinks from a cheap website, those are hugely shunned in Google’s eyes and you risk your website being penalised. Google prefers you to organically create backlinks using methods such as guest posting.
You may want to refer to your competitors backlinks, as the sites they reached out to may also be accessible to you.
Social media marketing
In this day and age businesses are utilising social media to market their business. They may use it organically or even use the promote ads feature to increase their reach. It opens a new world to content marketing, whereby users can interact with brands through comments, like, shares and direct messaging.
Call to actions on posts, accounts and stories has the potential to bring more visitors to your site. Social media has become a playing field for online shopping, so get more links to your product/service pages using the swipe up feature or “link in the bio”. With these links, your buyer will land on the specific pages they need.
Inbound email marketing strategies
Sending emails to customers about your product or service can help you achieve the final push to buy. A tailored email to your buyer after you’ve noticed that they abandoned their cart, or if they landed on a specific page 5 times that week, will give them a call to action.
Top tip – You can use a CMS tool to help you manage these types of emails in order to save time.
Is on-page or off-page SEO more important?
Both on-page and off-page SEO work together to increase and improve your search rankings. On-page SEO provides the basis of site and content structure, so should be optimised first.
The rewards of combining both SEO approaches will allow you to boost your level in the playing field, please Google and provide a seamless journey for both search engine bots and potential customers alike.
Basic SEO practices and tools to use
Getting to grips with a few a SEO terms, softwares and how to use them can be a minefield. At Targeted SEO Ltd, these are a few basic SEO practices and tools we use in order to help our clients generate new leads organically. If you want advanced SEO training, contact us today and we’ll be sure to help you learn more.
If Google is the main browser you use, then have no fear. Google offers an abundance of free tools to business owners and those who have been authorised to manage the website. We’ll talk about a few within this section.
Get to know your target audience
Before you get yourself involved with SEO, ask yourself if you truly know who your target audience is. Are you working on a business to business model (B2B) or Business to customer model (B2C). With that in mind, your buyer personas will be completely different, thus your tone of voice will have to cater to those specifically.
To really understand you customer base, you should make at least 3 buyer personas. Buyer personas should encapsulate and reflect the people who will buy from your business. You need to include their age, demographic, their interests, spending/purchasing power and what streams of social media they consume or are present on. Furthermore, you should include the goals and objectives.
Note: their goals and objectives will align with the solution that you will be providing them through your product or service.
For example: A dentist is looking for an accountant because they are struggling to manage their dental clinic and file their accounts. They are looking for an accountant to help them with their tax returns and management accounts. You, as an accountant, specialise in accounting for dentists and offer the services they need.
You can create a buyer persona on a powerpoint slide if you’re unfamiliar with Adobe InDesign. Start off with a stock image and within each section of your buyer persona start to bring them to life by telling their story. Present this to your marketing and sales team so they understand who their target audience is to ensure that you are all singing off the same hymn sheet.
Targeting a specific audience keeps you on the right track, so that you are not wasting time and resources presenting your business to the wrong people.
Competitor analysis – what are your competitors writing or posting about that you are not?
Eye for an eye is it? Not only do you need to understand your targeted audience; you need to get to know what your competitors are doing.
In saying this, we do not advise you copying or plagiarising their work. Instead you should aim to understand what they’re doing on their SEO campaigns. This may be looking at how regularly they post to their blog, what call to actions (CTA’s) they have present and who their target audience is.
What are your competitors writing about? Are they on trend with what is happening in your industry? Take inspiration from them and add a little essence of your brand to really own that area.
It is important to listen and monitor the industry that you are in, because at the end of the day, your competitors are generating leads that could have been yours. Listen to what customers want and what you are not providing. From this information you can form your own strategy such as offering a new service – this may also fulfil a keyword search query which you’ll be able to own.
There is now need to go invading your competitors space, because with a little touch of SEO and social listening you will be able to get your product or service in front of potential buyers anyway.
Understanding the Google SERP page
The Google SERP – also known as the Google Search Engine Results Page – is ultimately where you want your website to land. You want your website to be right underneath the search query on page 1.
On the SERP page you notice the Google Ads section, underneath this you see the organic results. This comprises of featured snippets, “people also ask” and at the bottom “related searches”. These elements are important in order to boost your organic ranking.
Let’s understand what these SERP elements are:
A featured snippet is what Google deems as an appropriate answer correct to the search query that was used. It aims to answer the search query with 300 characters, which Google selects from a specific website.
Featured snippets on average have a 2x higher click through rate than competitor pages ranking for the same search term, so if you can tailor your content to answer specific questions then your chances of winning a featured snippet are high.
People Also Ask
In this section Google highlights common search queries relating to the initial organic search query. The search queries appear in a drop down menu and allow users to click on to reveal an answer similar of the featured snippet feature.
In this section, related searches appear in button shapes with the search query linked to that SERP page of results. These search queries are often what other Google uses search for instead of the search query you typed in.
At Targeted SEO Ltd, we recommend to clients a free plugin called What’s My Serp. This plugin allows you to see the value of the search query from the volume of searches, the related keywords and what other people search for. It also, reveals the cost per click for each keyword.
With Google Analytics you able to determine which of your promotional campaigns are working, which are not and how they are working towards your ROIs.
You will be able to see click through data, how long users are spending on each landing page, which CTA’s are most effectively and whether or not someone has abandoned their shopping cart at checkout.
This data is important when you are calculating whether or not your marketing and SEO efforts are working. If you want to know how well your SEO is doing, then look at how many interaction your customers are having with the CTA’s you’ve used, which landing pages have the highest conversion rate and how many keywords have been targeted on that page.
Google Trends is handy piece of software which allows you to see what keywords you may want targeted and how or if they were trending.
From the trend data you able to gain analytics of the popularity for search within different demographical locations.
When you use this data, it is important to reference whether it will be worth your while in targeting that keyword or search term. There isn’t much value if the keyword is popular in the United States and has minimal traffic in your domestic country, especially if your products or services do not cater for an international market.
Google Search Console
This piece of Google software will help you maintain a healthy site and allow you to perform crawl budget for the sites you are maintaining. It will flag up any broken links, broken pages, loading errors and much more.
It is a key piece of software to utilise when you have published a fresh new page or blog article and want to be the first in your industry to own that piece of unique content. Why? Because if you have competitors who are actively copying your content it is important that you index your page first.
Google will be able to crawl the page with the crawl budget you have been allocated, in order to index the page. If your content is to be copied in the future there after, it will flagged for plagiarism.
Remember, Google Search Console is for site health and maintenance, whereas Google analytics provides you with the data of your user interactions.
Google My Business – boost your local SEO ranking
Ever noticed a business result appear on the right hand side of your screen? This is produced using Google My Business. It is a feature on the Google SERP page to allow a business to create a profile to showcase to their potential buyers and customers.
It is truly an amazing SEO asset to use, especially if you’ve updated your location, your working hours and your store policies.
You can claim your business by notifying Google and applying for your bricks and mortar location so that you are able to manage your GMB.
Imagine Google My Business as your shop window. You want your potential clients to know more about who you are and what you do. Google prefers when you have organic pictures taken rather than using stock images and the more you can post on there, the better your local Google rankings.
Matching keywords with the correct search term or search query means that organic searches create organic traffic. Keywords can consist of one word or multiple words which surround round a parent topic.
These are keywords which are the parent of the secondary keyword. Primary keywords are the main topics people are searching, for example: Lelia searches “meta descriptions” this would be the parent topic. and “meta description error” would be the secondary keyword.
These keywords are a follow on to the primary keyword adding an extra category, type or problem to the primary keyword. In the example of Lelia above, “meta description error” would be the secondary keyword.
Longtail keywords provide people with direct and specific answers to their problem. These tend to have a lower search volume, however, they have a higher conversion rate as people will click through as they search for an answer to their problem.
For example: Rob has a dog which suffers from separation anxiety. He has tried watching Youtube videos and getting a trainer to help him. But nothing is working. Rob is about to start a new job and is not allowed pets in the office. He turns to Google for help and searches “How to train your dog with separation anxiety quickly”.
Although, keywords are an active and integral part of SEO, the keywords you use need to be relevant to the subject and you should avoid keyword stuffing. On top of that, the relevant keywords and target keyword you may want to use could be highly competitive, so you may want to look at the related terms or search term suggestions to help you variate.
At Targeted SEO Ltd, we use Ahrefs, to help us conduct keyword research. It is a powerful tool as it can look at your competitor keywords too!
What is SEO in social media?
SEO in social media refers to search engine optimisation techniques used to reach a larger audience at the right place and the right time.
It requires knowing when the target audience is on social media, what platforms they on and the content they are engaging with most. It could be that they prefer polls or short videos which are relevant in content.
Are hashtags SEO?
Generally speaking, hashtags are not a part of SEO. Hashtags can help inform users where they can find the information they are looking for (trends, movements, topics), however they are not the same as keywords. Keywords are an integral part of SEO in creating specific content tailored to buyer’s search queries.
What are the disadvantages of SEO?
SEO takes time – you have to be in it for the long game. You cannot expect the results of SEO in a day, week or even a month. It is a long term digital marketing strategy that sets about increasing site exposure, generating leads and traffic organically. This means no ads just budget towards on-page and off-page SEO.
At Targeted SEO Ltd we advise our clients that they should expect to see real results and progress through SEO from 6 to 12 months once the on-page SEO has been audited and refined and the off-site SEO is starting to take effect.
Speak to an SEO expert today
At Targeted SEO Ltd, we understand the value of search engine optimisation because of the immense competition in the digital world today.
Getting your product or service in front of the right people at the right time is vital in ensuring your business can fulfil its purpose and continue to do so.
Ultimately, you should aim to do both on-page and off-page SEO with the tools that are readily available to you. There is no harm in trying to amp up your ranking factor.
If you are looking for a professional to help spearhead a strong SEO campaign on behalf of your business, then contact us to find out more!