Search Engine Optimisation.
Three little words that represent a big, scary idea for many business owners.
We are often approached by clients, saying they want to improve their rankings in Google. They come to us saying ‘I need to develop an SEO strategy.’
They know they need it – but there is still a huge amount of mystery around exactly what it involves – and how quickly you can achieve results with an organic (unpaid) approach.
Here’s the thing – SEO doesn’t exist in a bubble. It is not something you do in isolation. It is part of your content marketing – and an organic strategy involves long term goals.
This is why here at Webstudio, we don’t believe it should be a single service offering – it should be integrated into all your marketing activities, as part of a wider strategy.
But before we get into that – let’s start with the basics.
What exactly is SEO – and why should it be incorporated into your business’s marketing strategy?
What is SEO?
SEO, short for Search Engine Optimisation is a broad term, which generally refers to how your website can be optimised to rank well in Google and other search engines. An SEO strategy focuses on improving the quality and quantity of traffic to your website from search engines.
This encompasses a huge range of areas – as there are many different elements that can affect your website ranking.
From the outset, I’ll state here – the Google algorithm is an elusive beast – and it’s deep dark secrets are closely guarded. Not to mention it is updated regularly, so things are always changing.
However, Google has definitely provided information about core factors that will impact your ranking, that we can use to base our strategy on.
What’s involved in an SEO strategy?
As mentioned above, there is a huge range of factors to take into account, when putting together an SEO strategy.
It comes into account with your web development, as well as your content marketing and social media.
First, there are the technical aspects of your website.
You can have all the keywords in the world on your website – but if it’s slow and poorly built – you won’t have much success.
Google likes user friendly, accessible rankings – and most experts agree this will increase in importance.
Including mechanisms like HTML sitemaps, breadcrumbs, and compelling calls-to-action can be really helpful for users with disabilities – not to mention they can also assist with search engine crawling. (This is the discovery process where search engines send out robots to find new and updated content.) Sounds very sci-fi, doesn’t it.
But if we’re sticking to the basics, the most important technical factors include:
- Mobile capabilities (must be mobile friendly!)
- Loading speed
- Page issues
- Page depth
- Broken links
- URL structure
- Crawl Errors
- HTTPS protocol
Ensure your developer has covered these, when you’re building your website – or get them to go over it and check these things if you’re already established.
Backlinks in SEO
The authority of your website is also a factor when it comes to rankings. If well regarded websites are linking back to you – Google takes this as a sign of confidence in your website.
If several sites are linking to the same webpage, search engines will determine that content is worth linking to – and therefore, also worth surfacing on a SERP (Search Engine Results Pages.)
When we are working with our clients, part of our SEO strategy will involve building backlinks with important partners or other stakeholders and publications in their industry, so we can get people linking through to their site.
But be warned – when the world caught onto the importance of backlinks, there was a boom in paid backlink services – where people would pay a third party for a followed backlink that points back to their domain.
As far as Google is concerned, this is a big no no – and can result in harsh penalties.
Their algorithm actually looks to seek out unnatural links – and applies higher rankings to websites based on relevance, quality content and mobile-friendliness.
Another word on backlinks – sharing your content on social media will help drive traffic to your website, which will help you gain traction in search engines. So sharing blogs, key service pages and other resources like ‘How To Guides’, Checklists or eBooks on Facebook or through a regular email newsletter is another way to bring people through your funnel – and gain authority.
We also know the content on your website plays a huge role in SEO – and this is where your keyword research comes into play.
This involves understanding:
- the popular search terms in your industry
- how difficult they are to rank for
- which keywords your competitors are ranking for
- keyword opportunities and future content topics
We use a paid tool called SEMrush to put together a comprehensive report when we first begin an SEO strategy with a client.
It’s a really important step, for several reasons. Sometimes we think we know what our customers are searching for – but in actual fact, their language might be different to ours. For example, It’s no good focusing all your energy on ‘running shoes’, if your potential customers are actually searching for ‘running sneakers’. This research helps us approach focus keywords from an educated, well researched perspective. Competitivity is also a big factor – you don’t want to spend time chasing keywords that are too difficult to rank for. If you’re a local credit union, you can’t hope to beat out the big banks for ‘home loans’. So we can find other ways for you to be found, such as ‘tips for first home buyers’.
The most important aspect behind keyword research is having a crystal clear idea of who your target audience is – and what their interests and concerns are.
There is no point in looking to rank for keywords that don’t align with your business goals and potential customers. Let’s say you’re an accountant who is trying to move away from tax returns, and wants to pull more higher income clients. These people generally want help with financial planning, investments and SMSF. So you don’t want to be writing content around topics like ‘5 Budget Tips to Keep You on Track’ or ‘How to Fix Your Poor Credit Score’ – as the people searching for these topics aren’t your ideal clients.
Once we understand the keywords your business wants to rank for, we can ensure the content on your website is optimised and includes these focus keywords in all the important places.
This will generally involve updating your product/service pages and writing regular blogs, to cover those topics being searched by your target audience.
Relevant content is King
Amongst all this keyword talk – it’s important you don’t get lost in the rabbit hole of SEO copywriting.
Your focus shouldn’t be on jamming as many keywords as you can into your content – or writing blogs purely for the sake of ranking.
Always start by asking yourself – what is the purpose of this piece of content – and who is it for? If your business can be the authority on the problems your customers have, you will build brand trust.
Blogs should serve as a way for you to bring people into your funnel who may be in the ‘informational’ stage of their google search. For example, a psychology business will always want to include keywords like ‘psychologist’ and ‘counsellor’ – but when it comes to blogs, we can be more creative, and focus on topics like ‘tips to manage anxiety’ or ‘mindfulness exercises.’ This way you can bring people into your ecosystem and nurture their journey through your website.
Don’t forget your strategy
As you can see, Search Engine Optimisation comes into play in many aspects of your content marketing.
It’s not something that you plug in here and there – it filters through all your marketing activities and is centered around your business goals.
When it comes to SEO, we choose to work with clients who have an established (or are willing to work with us to create) a branding and content strategy. This essential document clearly outlines the mission statement, target audience, customer pain points, brand tone of voice – and goals and tactics.
We find this way, their marketing strategy has a holistic approach – and doesn’t leave out any crucial elements.
If you’re considering undertaking some research into where your currently stand in your rankings – or are looking for advice on how you can improve – get in touch.
We love working with businesses who are looking to grow!