A good-looking website will only take you so far – SEO can take you to the top.
A fantastic looking website is all well and good, but could be a waste of your precious marketing budget if potential customers are unaware of its existence. By using SEO, an acronym for Search Engine Optimisation, you can add significant value to your business. But what is it, and how will it benefit you?
What is SEO?
In simple terms, SEO is a process that can help you to optimise your website so that it ranks higher in search engines (such as Google and Bing) and enables customers to easily find you. In today’s digital environment (where over 90% of online experiences start with a search engine), competition is fierce when it comes to hitting the top spot.
To rise through the rankings and appear on the front page of organic (unpaid) search engine results, there are many processes which need to be applied. From building internal and external links to social media activity and the ability to write good copy, we’ll look at the fundamental skills required for improving your websites ranking position.
On-page SEO refers to the elements of your web page that are under your control. These include: -
Your website should reflect the keywords that a potential customer would type into Google when looking for your products or services. These Keywords can be generic such as ‘SEO Southampton’ or more specific such as ‘the best SEO agency in Southampton’.
Once you have identified your keywords, they should be prioritised and distributed in a genuine manner within your website content. But beware, it is no longer acceptable to produce content that is littered with keywords in every sentence in the hope of impressing Google. Search engines are becoming more astute and without careful keyword planning your website could potentially be penalised and dropped from the search results altogether. Get the balance right, and you’ll soon see your rankings boosted.
It is important that you think of your website as multifaceted and, when creating each individual web page, you consider the entire customer journey. Your home page will have the greatest 'authority' out of all the pages on your site and this should be passed on to all your other pages through a good internal linking structure.
As each individual web page will have a different URL, the user should be able to effortlessly navigate from page to page within limited clicks, when seeking out information. Linking to content within your own site is a great indicator to search engines that your site has value. What you don’t want however, is for someone to find themselves stuck on a page with nowhere to go.
Google works in a similar way in that it ‘crawls’ your website. If it comes to a dead end but there are other pages on the website which aren’t internally linked, it won’t know they exist and will be unable to index them.
Anchor text is the clickable text that links you through to another web page. Using relevant information about that page in the link, will indicate to search engines what the destination page is about and is a great opportunity to use your keywords. For example, ‘our company offers SEO services in Southampton’ - note the use of keywords in the anchor text.
An XML sitemap is a bit like an online roadmap, in that it highlights all the important pages on your website and guides search engines seamlessly around the content. It can cleverly determine when new pages have been added and when copy has been updated.
Your website needs to be more than a pretty interface and with SEO copywriting constantly evolving, the challenge now is to write authentic content that your potential online customers will enjoy consuming.
Producing effective content should not solely be about creating a lovely bunch of words. It’s about connecting with your audience through engaging copy that not only grabs attention, but continues to hold it. The longer a visitor spends on your website and interacts with it, the better as this sends a signal to Google that your website has quality content and can help to push your site further up the rankings. So remember, it should always be great copy first and good for Google second.
If you want to find out more about why content is king, read our post on click worthy copywriting.
Search engines are constantly evolving to provide consumers with the most relevant search results. But this doesn’t just mean content - it also relates to the overall user experience. To ensure that SEO is as effective as it possibly can be, we need to focus on the user experience and offer meaningful recommendations that are not confined to a specific online journey.
Off-page SEO refers to all the variables that a search engine looks at, which are dependent upon other sources. These include: -
Building natural backlinks
A backlink is when another website links through to yours and passes on some of its authority to you. Search engines look at these links and regards them as a vote of confidence. Therefore, it makes sense that the more links you receive, the higher up the rankings you are likely to climb. But, please ensure that these links are relevant and genuine and not paid for or obtained through other means, as this could be regarded as unethical by search engines and your website will suffer a ranking penalty.
To create a successful SEO campaign, you need to ensure that you utilise your digital platforms when sharing content. One of the best ways to do this is via social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. These are perfect for maximising the exposure of your content and in turn, increasing the number of links from other websites.
Everyone loves to be liked, and when you use Facebook to personalise your messaging and target specific audiences, you’ll find the more likes you receive the more customer leads and sales you are likely to generate. What’s not to like about that?
Google Maps and Google MyBusiness
When a potential customer searches for a local business or trade they will first be presented with targeted adverts at the top of the search results. Following on from the paid for advertising will be a list of business locations, referred to as the 'Google map pack'.
To be included in the map pack, you must register for a free Google My Business account and verify your actual business location. Then you need to complete your business profile fully, ensuring you add all information Google is asking for including photos of your company, team, work and logos.
Online Reviews and Customer Testimonials
The first thing any prospective customer is likely to do when they first learn about your business, will be to Google it. And, with 88% of consumers trusting online reviews as if they were a personal recommendation, it is crucial in today's digital age that you not only have a review strategy in place, but that you know how to implement it.
Online reviews left by customers are important for many reasons, as they have an impact on your ranking within local search engines; effect which search results get clicked on; and can directly influence the consumers purchasing decision.
Making Life Simpler
When you get the content of your website right and learn how to leverage it in the most effective way; you’ll find that SEO is your most powerful marketing tool.
At Targeted SEO, we focus on steadily improving your website rankings to increase traffic and customer leads. Month on month we’ll ensure your website rises through the rankings - and once you’ve hit the top spot - we’ll keep you there.
We offer free consultations to businesses, and in many cases, we can provide you with great ideas on where to start or maximise your SEO efforts.