What is SEO & Why Should You Care?
“SEO: the methods used to boost the ranking or frequency of a website in results returned by a search engine, to maximise user traffic to the site.” It’s basically the process affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine’s organic results.
Although there are other ways to direct traffic towards your site or page, like PPC advertising, social media and other online marketing methods, the majority of your traffic is driven by online search engines. So it’s pretty important. A recent study has shown that 53% of website traffic comes from organic search and 67% of marketers say SEO is their most efficient tactic.
Search engines deal with billions of queries and searches every day. This search traffic can be extremely powerful for you and your business. But, due to there being such a high volume of searches, your web page needs to stand out to benefit. If your SEO isn’t up to scratch, then you’re running the risk of your site not being shown to your audience.
Unlike PPC Ads, which need constant funding and alteration, SEO is one of the only online marketing tools that when utilized correctly can continue to pay dividends over time. If you provide a valuable piece of content with an excellent SEO strategy, your web traffic can continue to increase long after you hit publish.
Search Engine Basics
When you put a query into your search engine, it will scour the internet, evaluating billions of pieces of content, to determine which piece is most relevant for you. This is all done by a process known as crawling and indexing. We can go into this at a later date, but what you need to know now when you’re starting out, is that for the search engine to show your web page, it needs to rank well in terms of SEO.
Organic Search Results
As we mentioned above, organic search results are those that are shown through a great SEO strategy, they aren’t paid for through advertising. You can see which of the results are organic and which are paid for. Paid for results will have ‘AD’ before the title and they’re normally shown right at the top of the search engine, with the best performing organic results directly underneath.
What Makes A Successful SEO Strategy?
Provide Valuable Content
Before you even get started with your SEO strategy, you want to understand your KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) so that you can accurately measure your SEO efforts.
A few KPI’s to consider are:
Once you understand what it is you want to get from directing people to your website, you can then start to create valuable content for your audience and later optimize it. Unfortunately, you can’t go into SEO with okay content that doesn’t precisely answer your audience’s needs. So take the time to establish what it is they want from you, before then thinking about your SEO.
The first step in SEO is to determine what it is you’re optimizing for. A bit like what we spoke about above, you want to answer a question or provide a valuable piece of content. This all starts with establishing what terms people are searching for, these are known as keywords.
When determining which keywords are worth targeting on your website, there are a few things to consider. First is the search volume, which is how many people are searching for a particular keyword. This can be a tricky one to master; if your keyword has a high search volume, the bigger the audience you stand to reach. However, on the flip side of this, if the keyword is too highly searched for, you run the risk of being hidden or pushed to the bottom by your competitors.
Another factor to consider is the relevance of your keyword. You don’t want to be targeting keywords or phrases that aren’t relevant to your site or page. This will deter people as they aren’t getting the content they thought.
To make this process easier for you there are plenty of tools that do the hard work. Google’s Keyword Planner assists in your keyword research and helps you to pick which one is best suited.
Create A Positive User Experience
Search Engines will rank pages that people come back to time and time again due to their positive experience on the site. Ensure your page looks appealing, it’s mobile-friendly, with a great page speed and a readable font size. A recent study has shown that if a page takes longer than 3 seconds to load on mobile, the user is likely to leave that page, meaning you’ve already lost a potential customer. Ensuring you’ve implemented these simple features will lay the foundations for a successful SEO strategy.
Links are arguably one of the most important ranking factors, however, getting a good link back to your site or page can be tricky work.
Links from other websites essentially act as ‘votes’ and show the search engine that your content is valuable. We’re back to providing valuable content, so you really can see how important it is. If you can create backlink worthy content, that’s half the battle done. Then we’re onto convincing other pages they should link to us. But how I hear you ask? Here’s a couple of methods to think about…
- Guest blogging – this is exactly as it sounds and it’s where you write a post for another site, in which you can link back to your desired page.
- Create better content – Well duh, this seems like an obvious one. Of course, you want to create the best content out there! Find a relevant piece of content, with lots of backlinks and create something better and more compelling. Then gradually watch as sites link back to your site instead of your competitors.
We’ve gone on about it enough, but once you’ve got your keyword list, the next step is implementing these keywords into the on-page content. When you write your post, your keyword must be used multiple times throughout the text. But don’t overdo it. Add it too much and the search engine will assume you’re keyword stuffing, this could result in your post being marked as spam.
Aside from remembering to include your keywords, include links to other pages on your site, links to external relevant sources, headings and subheadings and images with relevant alt attributes.
Now we’ve got the content, we need to think about the title tag and the meta description. We’ll start with the title tag. Don’t be fooled, this isn’t your post title. The title tag is what you will see at the very top of your browser. The amount of this title that google shows will vary, but try to stick to a title that is no longer than 60 characters and ensure it has your keyword in there too.
Onto Meta Descriptions, this is a section of text that is shown on the google search results page, but not on your actual site. Again, you want to ensure your keyword is included in this and does not exceed 120 characters. Keep it short and sweet whilst making it as compelling as possible. This is essentially what your audience will read before deciding whether or not to click on your site.
You’ll be pleased to know that there are resources out there that make SEO optimization a lot easier and less daunting. Here are a few of our top recommendations…
Yoast SEO is the most widely used SEO plugin for WordPress sites. It’s a great feature that offers everything you could possibly need when it comes to SEO. It tells you how to best incorporate your keywords, whether your keywords have been used enough times and how best to optimize your title and meta description – it’s essentially everything you ever need to know about smashing your on-page SEO.
Hubspot provides a free WordPress SEO plugin to help you optimize your site. It provides built-in analytics, with easy to read dashboards. This plugin provides you with the capabilities to monitor the quality and quantity of traffic on any specific page. This is a great plugin, as, like Yoast, you never have to leave the WordPress site to collect data.
Rank Math helps you to optimize your site as you write content, providing you with real-time insights, again meaning you never have to leave the WordPress site. Additionally, this plugin offers a range of SEO management features, such as redirections, 404 monitoring and SEO for WooCommerce sites.
Measuring SEO Success
A successful SEO strategy will require constant monitoring and tweaking. Here are a few ways to track your efforts…
- Organic Traffic – We’ve already touched upon what organic traffic is and it’s a great tool to measure how well your SEO is working. If you find you’re getting lots of organic traffic, that’s great! If not though, this may be an indication that something isn’t quite right in your strategy.
- Keyword Ranking – An easy way to see whether your website is being ranked for your chosen keyword is to head on over to your search engine and do a quick search. See where on the page your post is ranking. Are you near the top, like you had hoped? Or are you not exactly where you want to be just yet?
- Click-Through Rate (CTR) – A click-through rate represents the percentage of users who clicked on your website from the search engine page. To increase your click-through rate, ensure that your meta descriptions, URLs and titles are fully optimized.
- Bounce Rate – This represents the percentage of users who visit your site, but leave without further interaction. It measures the quality of a visit. As a general rule of thumb, a bounce rate in the range of 26 – 40% is excellent, 41 to 55% is average and 56 to 70% is higher than average. There could be several reasons why you have a high bounce rate, but before you get too concerned make sure you’ve got the basics nailed down. Ensure your page speed is great on desktop and mobile and the user can see what value you are providing almost instantly.
- Backlinks – Another success measurement that we’ve already briefly touched upon and we know that it’s one of Google’s top-ranking factors for websites.
- Conversion Rate – This can be used to determine the overall success of your SEO strategy. Ultimately, you have a website that showcases your services and you want this to lead to sales (conversions). This can be tracked on external software like Google Analytics.
If you’ve gotten this far, first off well done, there’s a lot of information packed into one post! But on the plus side, you’re now fully equipped to start nailing your SEO and getting seen online.
Bounce Rate – The percentage of visitors who leave without visiting another page on that website.
Click-Through Rate – The rate at which users click on an organic search result.
Content – Words, images or videos that convey information that is meant to be distributed to and consumed by an audience.
Conversion – When a user completes a desired action on a website.
Conversion Rate – The rate at which website users complete a desired action.
Crawling – The processes in which search engines discover your web pages.
Guest Blogging – A popular link building tactic that involves developing content for other websites in exchange for a backlink to your pages/site.
Indexing – The storing and organising of content found during crawling.
Keyword – The word/s or phrase that you target within your SEO strategy to rank for what users are searching for.
Keyword Research – The process of discovering any relevant topics, subjects and terms searchers enter into search engines.
Keyword Stuffing – Adding irrelevant keywords or repeating keywords beyond what is natural.
KPI – Key performance indicator. A measurable value that indicates how well an activity is achieving a goal.
Meta Description – A tag that can be added to the head section of a HTML document and acts as a description for your page content.
Organic – Earned its placement in search results through SEO as opposed to paid advertisements.
Paid Search – Pay-per-click advertisements that appear above the organic search results.
PPC – Pay Per Click. A type of advertising where advertisers are charged a certain amount every time a user clicks on the ad.
Ranking – Ordering search results by relevance to the query.
Search Engine – A computer program that enables users to enter a query in order to retrieve information.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – The process of optimizing a website, as well as the content found on that website, to ensure it appears in prominent positions on the organic results of search engines.
Traffic – Visits to a website.
URL – Uniform Resource Locators are the locations or addresses for individual pieces of content for the web.