Search engine marketing has been considered intimidating in the past, with it’s obscure methods and scary technical phrases. But Google has been perfecting itself over the years, and now search engine optimization techniques are a lot easier.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is one of the best digital marketing strategies around. With 1.7 billion Google users per day, you can’t deny that being searchable on Google would have some benefits!
In this blog, we’ll help you get your head around what SEO is and how it works. We’ll also show you some ripper Google SEO tools and methods to get you started.
How do Google searches work and why do they matter?
The whole purpose of a search engine is to help users look up the information they want and deliver relevant results.
That’s why Google’s got to create a hierarchy of content, weighing up the helpful vs the unhelpful, the interesting vs the uninteresting, the readable vs the bamboozling.
To do this, Google gives webpages a ranking based on their quality. This used to be called Domain Authority. It was measured by a bunch of factors like how many visitors a site got, how popular it was, and how many other websites were linking to it.
To some extent, these factors signal that a website is giving people great information – that when users click on a search result, they get directed to the information they need.
On the other hand, these factors can also be misleading. For example, you could create a website linking back to your website to boost your domain authority–which is a little sketchy and not a sign of legit traffic.
As a result, Google recently changed the way it ranks websites based on new factors: Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (EAT).
Google now uses these factors to work out if your website is going to give users what they came there for and whether you do a good job of it!
As you continue to read this article, remember one thing: The key to great SEO is creating websites for humans, not search engines. If users love your website, search engines will too.
The first thing you need to do to boost your SEO is make sure your site is solid. This means you need an up-to-date website, not one of those sites where you need to zoom in on your phone to read the writing.
Advantages of having an up-to-date, mobile-friendly website are:
- load quickly, to the relief of your users
- be mobile responsive, which is delightful to your users
- be easy to navigate, a basic expectation of your users
- have no broken links, an error hated by your users
To rank well on Google, you’ll also need brilliant relevant content to match your spanking new site.
Typically long-form content performs best. This means having more detailed and considered content or longer blogs on your page. The reason why this performs well is because it provides good information so don’t think you can get the desired result by slapping down a tonne of nonsense onto your page!
Keep in mind these magic words: user experience. This phrase describes…well, your user’s experience! We’ve already talked a little bit about how updating your website makes users happy, on your page for longer, and likely to return again.
Help users have a good experience on your website by making the information easy to access and understand. Use logical headings, lots of subheadings, and small paragraphs of just a few lines each.
Keep your sentences short. This doesn’t show that you think your readers are stupid (although, let’s face it, some of them might be). It’s simply the way humans have evolved to digest information online: we don’t read, we scan. Unfortunately, Tolstoy probably would not be hired as a copywriter today!
Images also do a lot of work for SEO. How many times have you searched for a product using Google images, or clicked through from a graphic on social media to a website?
One quick and dirty tip for improving SEO through images is to give them logical, relevant file names. Make sure to also add in alt text when you upload them to your website. This will make your images searchable, increase traffic, and have positive run-ons for your SEO.
When most people hear the phrase “search engine optimisation,” they instantly think “keywords”.
Keywords are naturally the cornerstone of SEO. After all, they’re what users use in order to find your site!
Before you do any keyword hunting, jot down the most logical keywords that come to mind. These will probably be very general and broad, like “hardware stores” or “dog walking services”.
Keywords that are broad and general are called “short tail” keywords. They are often competitive because every other business in your industry will be using them.
While you’ll use short tail keywords in your content naturally, they aren’t what you’re going to aim for. You’ll need to find keywords that are more specific.
Do this by coming up with keywords related to your specific services, location or whatever else makes you unique. For example, “buy polished mahogany sledge hammers online” or “dog walking services in Sunnyvale, Sunset Island”.
Another way to research keywords is by using Google SEO tools like Moz or SEMrush. Here, you can type in your usual keywords to pull up suggestions and see how many searches those keywords get.
The point of this is to include keywords that are not too competitive but get enough searches to be worth including on your site.
Backlinks are other websites linking to yours. When you have a lot of backlinks, Google ranks your website higher than others.
Creating backlinks is such a powerful SEO method because backlinks show that your site has authority and value in the community, i.e. that people think you’re worth linking to.
But how on earth do you create backlinks when you don’t own other people’s sites? Here are a couple of ideas.
By writing useful and informative blogs for your community, you can inspire people to share and link to your content on their own sites. If your content is truly valuable, people will return to your blog time and again looking for more information. This will surely boost your SEO.
Write to an industry partner or local business and ask if you can write a guest-blog to go up on their site. Within your guest blog (or the bio) you can link to your own site. Just make sure the link is relevant and useful to the reader so it doesn’t come across as spammy.
The more traffic you get to your site, the higher your Google ranking becomes. Like with backlinks, site traffic shows that people are visiting and engaging with your site, and that you’re providing value to the community.
Blogging and guest blogging (mentioned above) can help you increase your site traffic. Use intriguing headlines that accurately represent what the content of your blog is about.
Another great method for increasing site traffic, is by using social media. Share links to your site or blog via social media to encourage people to click your links and peruse your site. As always, ensure the links you share are relevant and useful, otherwise they won’t get clicked.
All through this blog, I’ve emphasised being useful and relevant in all of your website content, link sharing and backlinking. We’ve already talked about how relevance impacts your SEO, because Google wants to provide valuable content to its users. But there’s another reason why relevance is so important in all you do online…
Have you ever clicked on a Google search result, only to find the page wasn’t relevant, and then clicked away almost instantly? This is called “bouncing” and it has a negative impact on a website’s SEO.
While creating backlinks and increasing site traffic are great, they can only be effective if you minimise your bounce rate.
What is SEO and how it works?
By now you’re probably realising that search engine marketing isn’t so daunting after all. Simply create a website that is intuitive for people to use and you will be off to a good start.
For an extra boost, you can also check-in and optimise your page using the Google SEO tools we’ve described above.
With all that in mind, you’re now ready to include SEO in your arsenal of digital marketing strategies!
George is the CEO and Co-Founder of digital marketing agency Social Garden. Social Garden specialises in data-driven lead generation and marketing automation to grow companies’ revenue in different verticals in Australia.
Hazel Raoult is the Marketing Manager at PRmention, a digital PR agency for SaaS and Tech Businesses.