You have a website. Great! You now have a shopfront in the largest marketplace on the planet. But even more so than the brick and mortar world, having a shopfront is not enough; for any business to thrive potential clients need to be able to find you. And being the largest marketplace on the planet also means that there is an absolute boat load of other businesses to compete with for the attention of potential customers.
Enter SEO. An acronym that you’ve certainly heard being tossed around if you’ve ever been around someone involved in digital marketing or web development. It stands for search engine optimisation and what it essentially means is working out how to get your business to stand out and come up on the first result page on Google whenever a potential customer goes looking for a service that you offer. And coming up first on Google is a big deal; over 75% of all internet searches on desktop and 90% of searches on mobile are a Google search.
As you read this article try to keep this analogy in mind; Google wants to be that friend that you can rely on for great recommendations. And Google knows that in order to keep you coming back, the recommendations need to be relevant to what you are asking for and need to be of top quality.
So with this in mind, what are some ways that you can get to the top of Google’s recommendations list?
1. Keyword planning
Just like any good friend in the know, Google needs to accurately match what people are searching for with the relevant sources. It has a challenge, when people search they are only using a few search terms, for example “plumbers in Sydney” or “how to improve google SEO”. Google will look at what is being searched for and try to work out the most important terms in the search and these are called keywords. It will then look across the internet to see where those keywords appear so that it can send searchers in that direction.
Hence, if you want to be found it is super important to include keywords in your website that describe who you are, what you do and to think about some of the questions that your potential customers might ask in order to find you. This is the basis of keyword planning and it should guide how you design your website and marketing efforts.
Google has some really great free tools for discovering what search terms people are using and how frequently they are using them. The main ones that I use are the Google Keyword Planner and Google Trends. Your goal is to think about the keywords that relate to your website and have a look at how frequently they are used. You might also discover that people are using slightly different but related keywords or that a pluralised version may be more commonly used.
The aim is to compile a list of keywords that you can put into your website so that Google can match people to you.
2. Research the competition
Before we go plugging keywords into our website it is a good idea to actually do some google searches with them and look at what comes up.
This has a number of uses. Firstly, you can check that a keyword is actually relevant to your website. If you punch in a keyword and Google sends you to a bunch of websites that are in the same industry or have a similar offering to yours then you know that you are on the right track. Conversely, if you are not getting what you expect at all, then it might not be relevant to your business.
Secondly, you can check out your competitors’ websites to look at what they are missing or what you can do better. Do you have an offering that they don’t have? This could be a perfect opportunity to highlight those differences and get some serious ‘relevance’ brownie points with Google.
3. Create content
Next, you need to come up with the content that will appear on your website. This could be textural and come in the form of information about your products and services or an educational blog post (like this!) or it could also be graphical such as an explainer video or images. And of course all of this will be guided by your keyword planning that you completed earlier.
It's important to remember that you are not just creating content for the mysterious Google search algorithm; content needs to be first and foremost attention grabbing and useful for the humans that visit your page. After all, the website users are the reason why you're going to all of this effort.
4. Embed your keyword
So you've created content that will appear on your website. Now there are a couple of tricks that you can use to make sure that your website visitors and Google can get a good idea around what you're all about.
Firstly, put your keyword into the title of the web page and the title of the content. Make sure that it's interesting and attention grabbing (without being too clickbaity).
Next, ensure that some version of your keyword appears in the sub-headings of your textural content. This is important for the human users as we tend to skim digital content to find what is most relevant to us and then drill down on those sections. It also helps Google understand what you're writing about.
Make sure that any non textural elements have good descriptions. Google doesn’t see images the same way that we do, but rather as a bunch of ones and zeros. To help Google along you can give images a descriptive name and alt tag so that it knows what that JPEG is all about and can send people in that direction when they are asking a question that relates to it.
Finally, make sure that the URL of the page you are going to be putting your content on is also descriptive of what is on it.
e.g. romper.agency/five-google-seo-tips is a far better URL than romper.agency/8n34d5
There are two types of links that Google uses to understand your site. Internal links and backlinks.
Internal links are links that appear on your website that direct to other parts of your site. These are important for the flow of human traffic but they also help Google get to know how your website is constructed. They should be easy to find and help users navigate around your website in a logical way. A user should never feel stuck otherwise they'll just want to leave.
External links (also known as backlinks) are links from other people’s websites to your own and are arguably the most important part of SEO.
Let me explain; when Google makes a recommendation it wants to make sure that the place it is sending people to is great. The way that it determines this is similar to how we do it in the real world; by looking at how popular a place is. And if it is popular with authoritative people, then we can be even more certain the place is going to be good.
Translating this all back to what you can do for your website: you need to find nifty ways of getting links back to your website. Getting your website onto relevant industry directories, collaborating with industry partners and doing work in exchange for backlinks are some good ways of getting your name out there.