Imagine if you were setting up a shop. Would you want your store to be in the busy city centre, or somewhere on the outskirts of the city? You’d probably opt for the central location, right? Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the digital equivalent of this. Think of the busy city centre as page 1 of Google’s search results, and the outskirts as page 10.
A lot of SEO professionals say that ‘the best place to hide a dead body is page 2 of Google’, and it’s true. In today’s world, instant gratification has given us all significantly shorter attention spans. Most people searching for services online usually won’t venture outside of the first page on Google when browsing.
So, how exactly do you please Google enough to make the top of page 1? Well, there are a few other options out there, like Search Engine Marketing (SEM). However, the most cost-effective, scalable approach is to focus on your SEO strategy. Google is regularly changing the goalposts for what constitutes ‘good SEO’, and it can often be difficult to stay on track. Despite this, some fundamental pillars remain, the most important of which being the quality and relevance of the content that you have on offer.
The most efficient way to start your SEO strategy is to consider what your brand’s USP is, and what products or services you have on offer. A good starting point is to start devising a list of keywords and search terms that your ideal customer would be searching for. For example, if you hire out kayaks in Bournemouth, then ‘kayak hire Bournemouth’ is probably a good keyword for you.
Once you’ve got an idea of some basic keywords, it’s crucial that you start to shape your website content around them. Google also likes synonyms and relevant content that support your offering. So, think of a list of blog ideas that support your keyword plan, and use inbound links to connect your blogs to your webpages throughout.
‘But wait, can’t I just write my focus keywords over and over again?’
Unfortunately no. You can’t. This is known as ‘keyword stuffing’. This is one of a few ‘Blackhat SEO’ techniques which Google can actually punish you for. A punishment from Google could result in a drop in Google’s search results, or un-indexing altogether.
A lot of people who have a basic grasp of SEO will relate it to keywords and content, but this isn’t the only factor involved. When your website is indexed by Google, a bot will crawl it. I’m afraid to say that this bot sees your website slightly different to how you and I do. For example; that big header image that you’ve chosen to use? Yeah… the bot can’t see that.
Google crawlers will look at your website structure in the way that your content is laid out, and this involves the use of H1, H2 and H3 tags. Your main page title should be the only H1 tag on your page, and the H2 and H3 tags should refer to subheadings that are relevant throughout.
Alongside heading tags, it's essential to consider your website’s overall speed and page structure. Let’s go back to our shop analogy for a moment – imagine Google is in control of the high street. Google wants to ensure that customers find nice, de-cluttered shops, that have what they want for sale. With SEO, it’s the same concept. Google wants to ensure that it retains its accolade as the most used search engine. As a result, Google bots work tirelessly to ensure that websites offering the best user-experience are listed higher than competitors. The best shops end up on the busy high-street, and receive the most traffic.
There’s a lot to get your head around when it comes to SEO, and it’s made more difficult by Google’s tendency to occasionally change the rules altogether. Fortunately, there are some useful tools out there that can massively support your SEO strategy. We’d recommend Yoast - a free, easy-to-use website plug-in. Yoast gives you a good basic grasp of search engine optimisation practices for your website.
Another key factor that Google considers when ranking webpages is Domain Authority (DA). Every website is given a score out of 100 in their domain authority. This is basically Google’s way of indicating how reliable the website is and how trustworthy the content is. Domain authority is what makes the difference when it comes to your brand’s positioning in search results for extremely competitive keywords.
So how do you increase domain authority?
The most effective way to increase your website’s domain authority is to receive backlinks from trustworthy websites. Creating a good piece of informed, researched content and promoting it via social media and advertising is a great strategy to get other sites give you backlinks. Google also appreciates websites who reference other relevant, reputable sites. So, think about how you can reference your content with trustworthy outbound links.
To check your domain authority, we’d suggest installing the Moz plugin for Google Chrome. Moz gives you some fantastic insights on websites, including domain authority information.
But wait, can’t I just fill my website with links to other reputable websites?
Erm… no. Sorry. This is known as ‘link stuffing’. This is another outlawed practice in the eyes of Google.
Want to speak more about your SEO aims and challenges? Please feel free to get in contact with us today. We’re regularly researching the latest SEO trends, and are always excited to work with ambitious brands who want to grow their business.
You can take a look at our portfolio of work here.
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