What is SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. SEO comprises all activities aimed at driving quality traffic to a website through organic search engine listings. Quality traffic means visitors who are highly relevant to your business, who have a higher chance of consuming or buying products and content.
How SEO works, put simply
To understand how SEO works, you must first know how searching in a search engine works. You ask a search engine, like Google for our example, and Google answers it by returning the pages to you, that it deems relevant to your query. The pages that are returned are optimised for SEO and are ranked according to their relevancy as well as their popularity for similar queries. In order for Google to return these pages, Google also needs to know they exist, what they are about, and how popular they are. And this is where SEO answers those questions for Google to find and also rank a site.
What does it take to do well in SEO?
In order for your website to perform well in SEO, it needs to optimised for various factors. They are used by search engines use to rank, categorise and match your site to a query. These factors include being search engine friendly and containing valuable content about topics you want to rank for. As well as being able to bear authority and trust through links from other websites. These factors help search engines determine your content, your relevancy and popularity. The factors that are used are derived from what website visitors find important. And search engines try to capture their experiences in their algorithms. For example, if a multitude of visitors to a site does not stay for longer than a few seconds. Then this can negatively affect the ranking.
SEO success does not happen overnight
SEO success is not something that can happen overnight. It requires patience, persistence, as well as hard work. SEO is almost never complete, search engines are always constantly tweaking their algorithms, and your competitors are always trying to outmanoeuvre and outrank you. There are SEO tactics to cut corns and get results fast, but we’d never recommend them. This is due to them not being a sustainable SEO strategy. What works for you today may hurt you tomorrow, when search engines catch up and onto what you are trying to do.
What do you need to accomplish good website SEO?
A search engine friendly website
The first step towards SEO success is making sure your website is search engine friendly. This means that search engines should be able to access your pages easily and fast.
Help search engines find your pages
Search engines use ‘crawlers’ that are constantly perusing the web, searching for websites. They find pages by following links and parsing XML sitemaps. They categorise the content and offer it to search engines, so their algorithms can match the content to queries relevant to the content.
Be sure that all of your pages within your website and linked to accordingly. Otherwise, search engines have a hard time finding your pages and assigning popularity to them. Have the most links on your most popular pages, and keep in mind, that links from topically related pages equate more to topical relevance than from links from irrelevant pages.
XML sitemaps are specially formatted files, that contain all of the pages that you would want a search engine, like Google, to index. These sitemaps are only used by search engines, to categorise, index and assign pages or sites to specific questions asked.
Help Search Engines access pages
A clear URL
Choosing one structure for your URLs and stick to that one structure, keeping URLs as short as possible and make sure they are relevant to the page as well as your brand. Doing so improves the user experience and prevents duplicate content issues.
If your visitors don’t have a good experience, then why should search engines, like Google grant you top positions on the results page? This explains why it is prevalent and important for a good SEO score, having a website that has a good user experience will always rank over a bad experience site.
We all love fast loading website, so make sure that your website also loads fast. I mean, if that’s what you like, then why shouldn’t your guests experience the same joys? Having your site load in under 2 seconds is by far the most acceptable load time, and will also increase the conversion rate. Amazon found that their revenue increased by 1% for every 100ms of decrease in load time.
We all hate websites that are hard to use on mobile devices, so make sure your website is mobile-friendly. If you are unsure about your websites mobile usability, you can always use online tools in order to check out the functionality.
Going easy on the popup ads is also a surefire way to improve user experience. When visitors come to a website, they arrive with a purpose, whether it is to browse, gather information or buy something, every guest to your site has a purpose for visiting there. Having popup ads will lead to a bad user experience and may lower positions on the search engine results page.
Another important thing that you will need in order to rank for keywords is quality content. The content that you affiliate with your brand needs to be valuable to visitors and be optimized for search engines. Valuable content lets you meet business goals such as visitors contacting you for more information. As well as more SEO goals, such as links and social shares. However, this will not happen if your content is not something worth sharing with other people. Churning out content will increase your chances of visitors, but the drawback is not having anything actually worth reading or looking into.
When we speak of content that is optimized for search engines, we mean that it will be clear to search engines what your content is about and what keywords you should be found for.
Every SEO strategy starts with figuring out what keywords that you want your site and content to rank for. Not having keywords will result in no way for you to optimise your website for search engines, ergo, no SEO. The process of searching for these keywords is called Keyword Research.
Every company or business has certain goals they want to attain. And your SEO strategy needs to accommodate these goals. You also have a target audience for your content. Following this, we will list some of the questions you will need to find the answer to, in the Keyword Research phase, it will be the outcome to what list of keywords you are going to use for your website.
- What keywords does your target audience use?
- What intention do they have when searching, buying, or researching?
- Do people actually search for those keywords?
- Is it realistic that you’ll rank for those keywords, granted the competition?
Incorporating Keywords into Pages
Your Keyword Strategy should describe exactly how you’re going to incorporate the keywords you found in the researching phase. Doing this helps search engines to better understand what keywords they should rank a page for.
First, you map keywords to pages based on relevance. If you are targeting a set of keywords with a similar meaning or context, then map them to the same page. Also, take into account the fact that keywords with a large amount of competition will be needed on a strong page within your website. Your homepage is the perfect example of a strong page that is ideal for these keywords, as your homepage, should receive the most traffic out of anywhere on your site.
After choosing the keywords for certain pages, you can define where to incorporate the keywords in the pages. A page with little content should only be optimized for one or two keywords, as they are not strong pages and will not be ranked highly. Whereas, pages with a lot of content can often be optimized or 5 to 10 keywords.
The most important places to incorporate these keywords are in the meta-information, headings, body and links.
When we speak about meta-information with SEO, we mean the title tag and meta description. As you will be able to see below.
The title tag has long been one of the most important factors in a search engines algorithm. The title describes a pages main topic in one phrase, as seen below.
It is shown in browser tabs, but more importantly, in search engine results pages. These results each show brief page information, a snippet, so to speak. To ensure search engines show the title you’ve defined, be sure it is relevant for the page, unique within your website, and between 30 characters and 60 characters long.
The meta description defines the content of a page in one or two sentences, it should explain what visitors can expect when they enter your page, as seen below.
Although the meta description isn’t a factor in the search engines algorithm, it is still an essential role in getting visitors to click on your snippet in the SERPs. This makes it prevalent to craft your meta description carefully. To ensure that search engines show the meta description, it should be relevant for the page, unique within the website, and between 70 and 150 characters.
Headings are used to visually indicate a hierarchy and help visitors quickly scan a page. The headings also play a crucial role in search engines’ algorithms. Including keywords in your headings can contribute to the rank for these keywords.
If you haven’t defined a page title, or if search engines haven’t found your title to be relevant enough, they may show the H1 heading for a page as the title in the snippet. They do this when they do not deem a heading relevant to your content.
H1 headings should be relevant for a page and unique within your website. While you shouldn’t use more than one H1 heading per page. However, it is fine to use multiple H2-H6 headings, as long as they support the page’s visual hierarchy and order. The H1 heading should be the largest heading on a page, then the H2 heading, then the H3 heading followed by the H4 and H5 headings.
Links are used for passing authority and topical relevance from one page to another. This goes for links within the same website, called internal, as well as links from an outside website, called external links. To rank with a page, you must make sure your page is getting as much authority and topical relevance as possible from other pages. Your homepage is a great example of a page that can carry a whole-lotta authority. A page acquires topical relevance when it is linked to another topically relate page, using anchor texts describing the topic.
By body content, we mean the content on a page that is visible to guests and visitors on your site. When writing this content, make the most important information first and then continue with the rest of your content. Make sure pages contain at least 200 words of body context. Furthermore, keywords shouldn’t be driving your choice of words. Focus on the readability of your text, do no over-optimize your content by stuffing keywords, if it doesn’t fit, it doesn’t fit. End of story.
While all search engines make their own efforts to determine what type of content is on a page, you can assist with this by adding structured markup. This makes up strong clues for search engines about content types, such as articles, courses, events, vacancies and recipes.
Authority and trust
The final boss of SEO, so to speak, is authority and trust. Simply because this topic is last, does not mean it is the least important, arguably, it is the most impactful section on your SEO success.
When we talk about authority, in the most basic terms we can state, it is basically ‘SEO power’. The more authority you can accumulate the better. Authority is granted to your pages through links from as many websites as you can get, as well as other authorized websites. Trust is earned by sticking to the guidelines that search engines set and by gaining links from reputable, trustworthy websites.
It should be clear to you now, that links play a vital role in your SEO success. This is not just because they pass on authority and trust to your site. They are also ideal for passing over topical relevance. A relevant link from a page that’s about the same, subject or topic is much more relevant. Not all links are created equal. A link from a news website will pass authority and trust, but no topical relevance.
You need to give people an incentive to share and link to the content that you make and publish. If your content is amazing, the only thing you need to do is make people aware of its existence. The incentive to share and link to it stems from the need to be included in this amazing content. So be sure that your content is something that is worth sharing and linking to, as websites will not want to be included in content that will tarnish their brand or website.
Link Building Tactics
Completing activities that are entirely focused on gaining new links for your site is called link building and is necessary for all good websites. Link building is about understanding how people interact with content, figuring this out will provide links that are more than ideal for your content.
Your website will get little-to-no links naturally. You need to manually provide links to your site. Spending as much time promoting your content to other websites are the ideal way for websites to gain links.
At Hello Online
At Hello Online, we can help you with every point on this article and more, we can use our years of expertise and experience to deliver you the best results possible. We have the knowledge and know-how on how to make your website as successful in SEO as it can possibly be. The only thing you need to do is sit back, and let us work our magic. Contact us here for details, or check out our instant quote service, so you have an idea of how much this would cost.
To be successful in SEO, your website needs to have authority and trust, valuable content for visitors to consume and needs to be search engine friendly. A combination of working on all three of these aspects will give you the best results possible, and the return on investment will astonish you. Only utilising one or two of these aspects can increase growth, but not always deliver the results you need.
So, put in the work, or let us at Hello Online do it, and watch your website grow!
Check out our what is Search Engine Optimization and why do you need it post, for even more information as to why SEO is critical to businesses, even more so now.
And then you can check out our who needs Search Engine Optimization post, for the most information on why you need this.