SEO for businesses – explained
You may or may not have heard of SEO up until now and you may or may not know what it really means or does. Short for Search Engine Optimisation, it represents a practice & strategy that you definitely want to be using in your business if you’re not doing it already. Why? Because visibility and traffic are essential. Because you want customers to discover your brand when making a simple search on Google. Because you want to be the first one that pops up. And on top of that, you want it to be organic. Free.
In order to use it though, you need to understand precisely how it works and how to wield it to your advantage.
So, first off, what exactly is SEO?
Its name is quite self-explanatory, as it represents the practice of optimizing your website’s content so that it can be discovered organically through the search results on different search engines. Each search engine (ie. Google, Bing, Yahoo, Yandex)) has different ranking factors and algorythms they use to evaluate websites’ content, so that it can show users the most relevant and useful information for the specific topic they’re interested in.
As Google searches account for approximately 73% of overall searches on the Internet, we’re going to be focusing on its specifics and ranking methods. Although they have not revealed all of their 200 ranking factors, we do have more and more insight into how their `spiders` (not the creepy kind, the automated robot kind) work. What you also need to know is that there are two different types of SEO – you have on-page, which is basically everything you post on your website and then there’s off-page, which refers to external links that lead to you. They’re both as relevant and important to Google, so they should be to you too. The former is important to prove to Google you’re relevant, while the latter to show you’re credible as a source.
When talking about content, it’s important we don’t limit ourselves to just written texts, but also consider images and videos, as they’re gaining more and more ground in today’s digital world. So how do we start creating content that is actually right and that people do search for? By putting ourselves in our customers’ shoes and start asking the questions they would. Depending on the type of business you have, you can think of some frequently asked questions that you know users need to find the answers to.
How can I optimise my content?
When talking about content, it’s important we don’t limit ourselves to just written texts, but also consider images and videos, as they’re gaining more and more ground in today’s digital world. So how do we start creating content that people actually search for? By putting ourselves in our customers’ shoes and start asking the questions they would. Depending on the type of business you have, you can think of some frequently asked questions that you know users need to find the answers to. On top of that, do your own research of the topic. Use different free online tools to find out what the search trends and hottest topics are so that you make sure your content is relevant. Find out what the key words are and what people search the most. That way, you can adapt your strategy and cater to people’s real needs. That’s when Google will start noticing you.
Formatting your content
But that is obviously not enough to rank the highest. Getting the content right is one side of SEO. Formatting it the correct way is another. You might have the best and most relevant information out there on your website, yet if you share it as a big block of information, how user-friendly is it? In case you haven’t thought about that, rest assured Google has. Out of the more-than-200-factors it uses, some of them focus around titles and subtitles.
Making sure these contain some of the main key words and that they’re catchy increases your chances of cathing users’ attention and getting them interested.The more time they spend on your page, the better your ranking will be. Try to use some of those key words in the main body of text as well, yet make sure it sounds natural and in place. You don’t want it to be forced or too repetitive, as Google will know. And you can’t really fool Google. Although these are robots checking your websites, don’t forget you’re still writing for humans.
Web Page Speed
Another important aspect you need to take into account is you web page speed. Why? Because the current attention span people have is so short they’ll give up on your website in 3 seconds (literally) if it doesn’t load. There’s different ways to improve that, by eliminating unncessary content/information/elements, compressing images and so on. Google will notice how fast users leave your website and how much time they spend on your page, which equals to your bounce rate. If that’s high, it means users are not satisified with their experience, thus Google will drop your ranking.
Looking at the Desktop v. Mobile usage nowadays, it’s safe to say the digital landscape has changed tremendously compared to just a few years ago. With a bit over 50% of the overall Internet traffic, mobile devices (smartphones, tablets etc.) have taken over the traditional desktop. Which means a lot of the times people will navigate your website from their small smart-phone screens. All your hard work and attention to detail can equate to nothing if your website only looks amazing on a desktop. You risk missing out on potential leads on opportunities because of it. That’s why you need your pages to be responsive and mobile-friendly.
The more unknown side of SEO, which cannot be controlled as easily, refers to the off-page activity Google monitors, aka outside your website. This is what gives your website credibility and is what can truly make the difference between you and your competitors, acting as some sort of tie-breaker. Having other websites linking yours, getting shares on social media and mentions across the Internet are etremely important, as they act as endorsements and make your source even more trust-worthy. Although gaining these is not entirely in your control, you can still take some steps towards this.
Definitely the most common and effective technique of Off-Page SEO is backlinking, which can be done under three different forms – natural, built and created. Obviously, it would be great if all of your backlinks could be natural, a.k.a earned by having others refer to or link their content to you. But that usually happens when you’re already big and people look up to you. Therefore, when you’re just starting off, you’re gonna need to work extra hard to build some of those links. How? By reaching out to journalists, publishers and bloggers, but while doing this consider those websites’ authority and reliability. You then have one more option, but one which is not always taken into account by search engines – creating links yourself. That means sending your content to forums or submit press releases on other websites.
While this does not generate any links directly, using social media channels is essential for raising brand awareness and gaining clients’ trust. Generating relevant, high-quality content that users would actually read and share increases your chances of getting featured, mentioned and refered to by other brands or websites. Search engines, especially Google, take into account how many times content has been shared, which makes engagement and social interactions with your customers essential.
Regardless of the type of business you run, creating a blog section is vital, as your content becomes linkable. Whether you write about the latest news in your industry, new products or services you’re launching, how-to-guides or simply providing useful information, your customers will start looking up to you, checking your blog section and further sharing the information. Increasing your audience while getting links to your website is the winning combo. So start working on those blog posts!
All in all, SEO is not easy but it’s nowehere as complicated as you might think at first. It takes time, patience and attention to detail. You have to be consistent with your content, your brand image and keep up a high-quality of work. You’ve now got all these methods that you can start using, so what are you waiting for?!