What is SEO – and why is it so important?
What is SEO? Search Engine Optimisation. It’s a term you’ve likely heard before – and you’ve either gotten excited about it, or been left wondering what the heck it’s actually all about.
Google dominates the search engine market, leaving Yahoo and Bing far behind. Google can be your friend or your foe – it all depends on how well you “treat” it.
SEO is a manner of “Optimising” your content and website in such a manner that Google can “read” your content, understand what it is – and distribute your content to all relevant searches.
There are also two main types of SEO; on-page, and off-page.
What is On Page SEO
Optimising specific pages on your website – whether it’s a blog, a landing page or a navigable menu, will allow Google to “rank” your specific work, which is keyword-focussed, and make it one of the first to appear when people search a closely-related or exact-match keyword.
On-page SEO expands into the following fields:
- Having optimized titles and descriptions
- Proper URL Structures
- Text Formatting (use of H1 and H2 headers, etc.)
- Image optimization (image size, proper image names, use of ALT tag)
- Fast loading pages
- Mobile Friendly pages
- Top quality fresh content (This is always the most important SEO factor!)
What are the easiest ways to optimise blogs and pages?
Ensure your focus keyword and blog heading are an exact match. For example, if your focus keyword is “Shopping Centres in Durban” – make sure your heading is something along the lines of “What are the Best Shopping Centres in Durban” ; making a small mistake, like titling your blog “Where can I go shopping in Durban” will “confuse” Google, and prevent you from ranking where you want to.
Another way to properly optimise your pages is to use Headers and Alt Tags. Your headers need to reflect your focus keyword again (especially H1 headers) and your pictures or images MUST have ALT text. See, Google cannot decipher what a relevant image is – it needs text associated to the picture in order for it to understand what it even is. By using your focus keyword in the image as ALT text, Google will automatically rank the entire article as a well-formed SEO article.
Optimising a landing page, or any page of your website for that matter, is exactly the same., Use your focus keyword, use images with ALT text, and ensure it is a read-worthy page.
Also, making sure your site is mobile-friendly may be the make-or-break point. On average, if a page hasn’t loaded in less than 10 seconds, anyone on their mobile device will likely navigate away. We live in a time of instant gratification, and the longer your page takes to provide answers, the less your chance that someone uses it.
Lastly, evergreen content is great and very necessary – but be sure to keep it updated. For example, if you did a killer blog post of “the Best of (Whatever) in 2017, make sure you update it before the end of the year, to reflect the same content being updated, for 2018. This allows you to beat the rush to rank in 2018, and your killer article will still be relevant.
Fresh content is what keeps SEO going; posting less than 3 times per week is likely not going to yield tangible results. The more often you post, the better. Keep the content high-quality, though, or else all your hard work will go down the drain.
What is Off-Page SEO
This is a little trickier than on-page SEO, but once the initial hard work is done, you can expect to have a lot more searches to your website.
Off-page SEO includes:
- Link Building
- Social Media Marketing
Going on to Q&A forums, searching for a related question that your blog/ article can answer and actually providing feedback will give you insurmountable exposure. You can give a brief answer, and then provide a link to your blog or article that expands more on the topic. This will not only bring awareness to your brand, it will divert traffic to your website – which is one of the main goals of SEO.
Another great way to get traffic diverted to your website is to write about brands that, well, aren’t yours. Being transparent and answering questions that other brands might be too scared to answer is going to provide people with the answers they’re looking for, as well as building trust in your brand. Trust equals authority – and the more authority you lend to your own brand, the more traffic you can expect.
Getting external links is THE most difficult aspect of off-page SEO, but once you’ve mastered this, you are sorted. These tie in with writing about other brands. See, if those brands like what you have written about them, there is a chance they’re going to want to share your content. The tricky part is, to get them to LINK your content back to your website. If you’ve written about a specific brand, why not try to reach out to them, to see if they would be interested in re-publishing your article with just one link back to the original article on your website. It’s a slow, difficult process- which is what makes it so rewarding when you finally crack it.
While SEO is an entire universe of its own, making sure you keep within the Google Good Practice Guidelines is a sure-fire way to keep yourself from getting kicked off of page one for things like keyword over-density, link farm usage or even poor content.
Do you have any of your own SEO tips and tricks?