SEO. Three letters that can be the difference between your content flourishing online or it wasting away miles down the search results with not a view to be found.
As technology has evolved, humanity’s hunger to learn has only gotten stronger, with search engines only fuelling that want. No longer do we live in a world where we must rifle through the phone book or encyclopaedias to find the information we need, with the collective knowledge of humanity now at our fingertips.
Talking about the importance of search rankings is always something that bears repeating, especially as there are still so many businesses fretting as they can’t seem to get their pages out of the graveyard beyond the first page of Google’s results.
So, what are the most important search engine ranking factors? A digital marketing agency could explain this in detail. But we have created this beginners guide to get you started.
How do Search Engines Work?
With literally billions of web pages crowding the internet, you may wonder how search engines know what to show you when you type in a particular phrase.
Well, it’s all down to crawling and indexing.
When you search a phrase, the first thing the search engine will do is send out bots, known as spiders, to crawl through the entirety of the web and copy the content on the pages to see if any have been changed. Once that has been done, the copy is stored in a data centre and indexed so the masses of information there can be searched quickly for relevant results to the query. Finally, the pages are ranked by relevance using a unique algorithm.
Every search engine’s algorithm is secret, but that doesn’t mean you’re going in blind when trying to get your pages ranked higher. That’s the whole basis of SEO. Keep in mind that the search algorithms don’t just sort pages by the amount of content on the pages, but also by the quality of what’s written. This is why when you search for things, the first few organic results aren’t full of spam.
So, what is SEO? In layman’s terms, search engine optimisation is anything you do to make your content better for search engines.
When it comes to getting your website higher up, there are a few areas you should focus on to get your content as visible as possible.
- Finding your target audience: If you’ve been with your business for a while then you should already have a good idea of who your target audience is for your product or service. If not, you should do some research into the audience of your competitors while thinking about what problems your company could solve.
- Performing keyword research: Focus on words and phrases most pertinent to your business and that people may be likely to search when looking for businesses like yours.
- Converting visitors to customers: Once you have people on your website, you want to do all you can to convert them to paying customers. With a few well-placed calls-to-action on your landing page you can up your chances exponentially.
As mentioned before, keywords are the terms and phrases put into your content that will allow people to find your web pages when they search. The better you use them, the higher ranked you’ll be as they’re one of the most crucial elements of SEO.
First things first, let’s cover the two types of keywords: Long-tail and short-term. You can probably guess the difference just from the names. Long-tail keywords must have at least three words in the phrase, anything less is short-term. Both are useful with short-term often having higher volumes of search traffic and long-tail usually easier to rank for. The best SEO strategies use both.
While search engine algorithms are forever changing, finding keywords to target isn’t an impossible task.
Unfortunately, there’s no one correct way of researching keywords for SEO purposes as it entirely depends on you and your business. However, there are a few general things you can do to find ones that will be the most useful for your business.
Highlight important topics about your business: Think about broad topics that you would like your business to rank for. For example, for a Digital marketing agency, you’d start with terms like “Social media marketing,” “Blogging,” “Website design” etc. While these can be keywords on their own, given how broad they are and the sheer number of pages already dedicated to them, it may be difficult to rank without getting more specific.
Fill in these topics with related words and phrases: Now that you have identified some topics, think of more specific keywords and phrases that can fit into them. For example, long-tail keywords like “what is social media marketing” or “How do Instagram adverts work?” are terms that could be searched when people are looking for social media business guidance.
Research related keywords and search terms: Once you have a good list of phrases, it’s time to find related keywords. These are the words and phrases you should also include in your copy to improve it for the search engine bots and so you don’t stuff it with the same words over and over again. If you’re struggling to think of more keywords related to your current list, there’s a simple way to find more. Search the keyword term on Google and scroll down to the bottom. There should be some suggestions for other searches related to your original input. These keywords can spark ideas for different keywords you may want to take into consideration.
See how competitors are ranking for your keywords: You don’t need to try to rank for all the same terms as your competitors but seeing which keywords they are ranking for is still an excellent way to evaluate your own list.
When it comes to writing search engine optimised content, it’s down to you and your creativity to fit in your keywords where you can without stuffing your text full of them in a spammy manner. If you aren’t sure how effective your copy could be, there are plenty of tools out there to try like cognitiveSEO.