For most businesses, a highly visible presence online is increasingly important and investing in the right SEO techniques can go a long way towards achieving this.
What is SEO?
Search Engine Optimisation, or SEO, is the process of improving your website’s visibility within search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing. SEO affects only a search engine’s “organic” results. Paid or “sponsored” results, where a company pays to have its organisation featured in the listings, such as Google Adwords, is separate.
Why is SEO important?
A website enables you to stay in touch with your customers and prospects 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, whether that’s if they are placing an order or simply finding out more about you or what you have to offer. However, in today’s competitive landscape having an online presence isn’t enough, you need the right search engine strategy so that customers can find you. Around 75% of users never scroll past the first page of search results (source: MarketShareHitsLink.com), therefore, those businesses which dominate the first page of results are much more likely to gain exposure to potential customers than those businesses further down.
How does it work?
Quite simply, the content of your website is ranked according to what the search engine considers to be most relevant to the user’s search query. Therefore, the way in which you create, manage and update your content has an important impact on website traffic and a business’ visibility online. This in turn may influence the number of enquiries, leads generated, sales conversions and so on.
Top tips for SEO
To implement a successful SEO strategy and improve the visibility of your business, we’ve put together our top tips on how any business, large or small should be considering SEO in everything they do online:
Begin from the customer’s perspective, why would a potential customer be visiting your website, what are they trying to find, and what search terms would they use to find it? By looking through the customer eyes, you will discover the key phrases that generate traffic to your website. These key phrases can then be applied to page titles, descriptions, URL’s and page content to improve your website’s visibility. However, be careful not to over insert key phrases as this can go against your ranking.
Create valuable content
Pay attention to writing high quality, original content around the search terms you want to be found for. Search engines will only list your site for information which closely matches your searcher’s query, therefore, if your website content is irrelevant and doesn’t add value to your audience, you are far less likely to appear highly within search engine results.
Keep it fresh
Stay on top of news and take this as an opportunity to publish up to date, relevant information to your customers. The more regularly you are able to update your content, the more frequently it will be crawled and indexed by search engines and ranked more highly. Blogs are an excellent way of keeping your website content fresh and, in addition to improving your ranking, they help build relationships and encourage social sharing. Go one step further and set up Google authorship, allowing you to link your blog content to your Google+ profile and stand out more in search engine results.
Don’t forget to optimise images
Images are often overlooked in SEO, yet they are increasingly important to the customer experience and provide another opportunity for your business to be found within results. Choose a relevant image file name and caption as well as using ALT and Title tags.
Don’t forget Pinterest. Make your images pin-able by adding Pinterest’s ‘pin-It’ button. With 70+ million users, Pinterest is one of the fastest growing social networks and, at present, one of the top social media traffic referrals to websites (source: Shareaholic Jan 2014 stats)
Link building is the process of generating quality inbound links to your website from other websites and remains one of the most important indicators to determine site relevancy and importance. Plan your link building strategy carefully and select a handful of relevant trusted sites rather than lots of links on poor quality sites as this will work against you. Furthermore, creating unique and compelling content will encourage others to link to your website naturally.
Social media sharing
When website content is shared on social media, this sends a strong message to both visitors and Google that your content is valuable, especially when it is shared a lot. Make sure that all of your website pages, news and blog articles are easily sharable by implementing a sharing plugin, most of these are free and easy to set up.
Create a Google+ listing for your business and greatly improve your visibility within search. Google+ listings determine map-driven local search results, take just a few minutes to set up and cost nothing.
Local SEO is becoming increasingly important as more and more people are using their phones to search locally, for example, for places to eat, drink and shop. Ensure your business is set up locally on Google+ and don’t forget to include your phone number so that users can click to call you. Three out of four mobile searches trigger follow-up actions, whether that be further research, a store visit, a phone call, a purchase or word-of-mouth sharing (source: Econsultancy) so it’s vital that your business is featured.
Install Google Analytics
Google Analytics is a free tool and provides valuable insight into the search queries that generate traffic to your website, top referral websites and what your visitors do once they arrive. By monitoring and understanding website traffic on a regular basis, you can identify the ways in which you can optimise your content for search.
Keep it clean
Keep the html code of your website clean and make sure you get your keyword-rich copy as high up as possible. Avoid anything that requires a lot of code as this will make it harder for search engine spiders to find your valuable content.
To get started on your SEO strategy, Google has published a useful ‘Search Engine Optimisation Guide’ which will take you through everything from SEO basics, improving site structure and optimising content. Alternatively, if you would like to save yourself the headache and let a team of SEO experts help, get in touch.