If you have an online business, or a website, or a social media business page, or you ever want anyone using the internet to be able to find your business, then you need to learn about SEO. But is it exactly?!
I will take it back to the very basics here, so don’t worry if you are reading this and starting from square one. Also, I’ll try to speak fluent human in this article, so you don’t need a degree in IT or digital marketing to be able to follow along…
What is SEO?
Search Engine Optimisation or SEO is how you can make your website or your pages or listings on other websites, more easy to find for people looking for you.
SEO is things you can do to your content to make it more likely to appear higher up on internet search engines, such as Google.
People use a search engine when they haven’t heard of you, or if they have but can’t remember your name, or if they are looking for someone who does what you do. They put search terms, which are just strings of words and phrases, or keywords, into the search engine, which brings up the results that are most likely to match those terms.
You use SEO to increase your chances that your website listing will pop up first.
Improving your SEO makes you more attractive to Google and other search engines.
Google wants to refer websites to its customers that are authoritative, interesting and relevant, and it uses a number of ways to assess whether your website is one of them. This includes how often you mention the information that the searcher is looking for, and also how often other websites link to you.
How can you improve your SEO?
People rarely look past the first page of search engine results and usually will choose from the first 1-3 ranked items, so if your business listing is any lower than this then you are probably not being seen.
So, if you run a cactus shop, then consider what people would search for if they want a cactus shop.
Some examples would be ‘cactus shop’ ‘buy cactus online’ ‘succulents’ ‘buy indoor plants’ etc. These are keywords.
SEO works when you figure out which keywords are most likely to bring you the right customers, and then use these words and phrases in your website content, which prompts the search engines to find you when they are scanning the magical world wide web.
There are a number of ways that you can improve the SEO of your website:
- Insert keywords into specific places in your written content, including in your heading, at least one subheading and in at least one paragraph
- Insert keywords into the URL address of each page of your website
- Insert keywords into the titles of any media saved on your website such as images or videos
- Inserting keywords into the titles and descriptions of your pages (which is the further short-form detail that customers can read about you on your search engine results)
- Cross-link throughout your website
- Have word content of over 1000 words on your pages
- Have internal links linking the different pages within your website and links between your website and external websites
- Adding keywords to imagery loaded to the website
- Hyperlinking keyword terms not generic terms like “click here”
- Have dynamic content that is updated regularly, such as a blog, forum or comments section.
- Have strong backlinks pointing to your website.
- Have a speedy website with SSL certificate
- Optimise your meta titles and descriptions
All of these core SEO basics will make you more likely to appear higher up on search engine results (aka SERPs). There’s a couple more on the list… but we are heading into geek territory with those.
(Ok, we might have started getting into computer-speak here. Sorry!)
Organic SEO is always the best SEO
It does help if your website is good-looking, easy to navigate, and full of accurate and relevant information. Shoving keywords everywhere can help from a search engine analysis, mathematical sort of perspective, but having good content means that people who read your stuff are more likely buy what you are selling or to share it, and this, of course, helps SEO too.
It also helps to remember that SEO brings you higher up on a search, which makes it more likely that customers will click through to your page, but certainly doesn’t guarantee that they will. It also doesn’t guarantee that people who visit your page will actually buy something or contact you in real life.
Your website still has to be usable for them (not just a long list saying ‘cactus shop’ over and over again). You need to still be trying to connect with potential customers, the same as you would through any form of business promotion. You still need to create quality content which is worth sharing and linking to, and you need to update this regularly.
What about some expert help?
Some of this you can read up a bit on to teach yourself, but a lot of it can be done by a website developer or digital marketing expert for you. Plus, they understand a lot more about how it works, including:
- How to research the best keywords that will bring you the customers you want, which looks at what people are searching for already;
- How to use alternate and opposite keywords to help as well ;
- Making your website quick and easy to load on a screen, and on various different screen sizes, as this makes you look more favourable to search engines;
- How to improve your online presence.
What about paid services?
Adwords offers opportunities for you to pay an amount to Google every time someone uses your main keywords which will ensure that the search engine puts you higher on their results. These keywords are kind of like an auction; whoever is willing to pay the most for them will get higher billing, but you don’t have to pay until you appear.
When using Adwords there can be benefits to paying for keywords that big-name companies aren’t already using, but that aren’t so obscure that no one ever types them into Google. A digital marketer can help you figure out whether your specific business would benefit from this sort of service, and which words to pay for, as well as how much.
Other paid SEO services, like the ones offered at Optimise + Grow Online, can include the following to support your marketing strategy:
- Keyword research
- Strategic blogging and content creation
- On-page optimisation
- Back-link profile building
- Online presence and social media channel optimisation
- Guest posting
- Profile and reviews management
- Website optimisation
In a nutshell…
When I explain SEO… I refer to Google as similar to your computer hard-drive.
If you save your business logo on your computer with the file name “untitled_98768.jpg” … will you ever find it when you use the search function and type in “logo” or your buiness name ? NO!
If you name that same file “business-name-logo.jpg” you will find it top of the computer search results….
Same principle applies to naming your website files, pages, images, and copy appropriately.
When named (aka optimised) properly, your stuff shows up in the search results when people are searching online for what you have to say or sell.
Once you nail that part… then you add in all of the other optimisation techniques to give that perfectly optimised content and website a big boost in rankings and traffic.
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So that was SEO nutshell, and it was mostly explained in human speak, so I hope it helped somewhat in answering the questions you have about “what is SEO?”.
Get started with DIY SEO for your blog with this free downloadable resource. There is also a handy checklist at the end for you to start implementing every time you update your website or blog.