The digital stage at #Startup2018 continued with Chichi Eruchalu (digital marketing strategist) talking to us about 7 Essential Steps in SEO. I have shared below some content from this presentation as she shared some great tips – many of which I have personally started implementing.
What is SEO?
SEO is short for Search Engine Optimisation. When people are talking about improving their SEO. They are really talking about improving the organic ranking of their website with leading search engines. Simply put – Google.
From a practical perspective improving your SEO will:
- increase your visibility;
- boost your traffic to your website; and
- enhance your online presence.
There is a lot of talk generally about SEO “tactics”. We were discussing simple steps that everyone can take to improve their SEO (many of which are listed below). The general feeling was that “tactics” to boost your SEO artificially or force an improved ranking should be ignored and actually may have a negative effect.
Ultimately Google want their customers to have a good user experience. You will do well if you are giving your users a good experience and generally speaking Google will penalise you if you are are being too tactical – so it is just not worth it. You need to play the long game.
Why is SEO important? Well if people can’t find you – they can’t buy from you. It is really that simple.
How does SEO help your business?
Take a look at the customer lifecycle. Step one is reach and awareness. How do you get on your customers radar? How do you get your customers onto this cycle? By appearing in their search results. This means you need to appear in the first page (or perhaps more realistically the first 5 pages) of the search results for the keywords you are wanting to rank for.
SEO can help you business in other ways (not just by helping to increase your visibility). SEO can help you:
- write more focussed content that will appeal to your customers.
- reap rewards for months if not years after you publish the content (unlike social media).
- become a market expert.
- target traffic.
Step One: Understand your customers
Understanding your customers is a recurring theme in mastering visibility and some market research and an understanding of your customer is also vital to your SEO.
You need to know your customers to be able to optimise your website for them. This means that you should try to understand their problems and the answers they need and are looking for. You also want to know what influences their buying decisions and when they buy.
A lot of people don’t do this. They market to everyone, but they really should be focussing their efforts on targeted marketing to their customers. If you market to everyone you won’t get anyone.
- How do my customers and visitors think?
- What is the motivation for their search?
- What stage in their journey are they at?
[Further Reading: Turn your website browsers into buyers]
Step two: Use Keywords
Every search begins with a keyword.
Think about what keywords your customers might be using. What do you want customers to be searching for when they find your website? Think again about the customer lifecycle.
There are three types of searches the most people typically do:
- “Do”Transactional queries.
- “Know” Informational queries.
- “Go” Navigational queries.
Think about each of these in turn and the associated keywords that people might use to find your website (and of course what keywork searches you want to rank for).
Don’t forget your name, business name, what you do and locality should also be included in your SEO. Most people also put navigational queries into their search engine instead of the URL. You want to make sure that you are ranking for all of these possibilities and that your customers can find you.
Step three: Optimise your website
SEO is usually considered complicated and scary which is why a lot of people don’t attempt to optimise their website. They are afraid of it. They don’t understand it. In reality, there some things that can dramatically improve your ranking if you are simply not doing anything at the moment.
There are lots of little things that you can do (with no effort) that have a positive effect on your SEO including:
- optimise your website for mobile.
- generate high quality backlinks.
- have high-quality long-form content (300 words+).
- update your content regularly.
- use sensible permalinks/URLs which include keywords.
- update your metadata description for your website pages.
- link your pages internally.
- don’t link offsite too much.
Step four: Tag your Images
Google can’t see images (or colours or music). Instead it looks for tags in the code. You will need to ensure that you tag your images properly otherwise they won’t make sense to google and therefore will basically have no value.
When you include images on your website or blog you need to make sure that you rename the image and give is a descriptive and identify title (not a number). You should then also include the alt text and description. For example you might put in the name of the blog post and a description of the image.
Step five: Optimise and market your Content
As mentioned above your content will have an impact on your SEO. But you should be writing content that will both help your customers and boost your SEO.
Go back to thinking about the questions that your customers might have and what they might be searching for and write some high-quality and targeted content. However, don’t forget always write for your readers first!
Step six: Get on google maps
Google will give a higher ranking to businesses on google maps. If you are a physical location business you will want to make sure that you are on google maps and that you are in trade directories and other business listings.
Step seven: leverage other platforms
Where can you get featured? For example you might want to consider writing guest posts in exchange for a link back to your website. Leverage social media to drive traffic to your website or blog and share, share share! Don’t forget that YouTube is also a search engine so if you are using video you might want make sure you make the most of YouTube. If you are using images, make sure that you have set up you pinterest account correctly to boost your SEO and your traffic.