In the first of our new free resources series on Online Marketing, we look at what you need to know about search engine optimisation (SEO) in order to make the most out of your website. Here we tackle the basics of SEO — the core principles and key considerations you should be aware of so you can produce content that will improve your website’s searchability.
You create content for people (not robots!)
Ultimately, what you are trying to do when you produce content that will sit on a webpage or in a blog, is to drive visitors to your site. Google, as the world’s premier search engine and therefore the benchmark for search terms, has gone through many updates in its algorithms over the last couple of years and they’re all aimed at keeping online content relevant and of a high quality. You can’t go wrong if you follow this golden rule: write compelling content about the things your target audience would be most interested in.
SEO is just one link in the chain
Take a look at your Google Analytics account (if you haven’t got one – we can help you set this up). You will most likely receive a substantial amount of website traffic from search (organic or paid for) but other traffic sources, such as email and social media, should feature prominently in your optimisation efforts too.
If you are wondering how much of your traffic is coming from search (and therefore how much of your content optimisation efforts should be focused on SEO), open Google Analytics and go to Acquisition > Overview. Here you’ll see a breakdown of how much of your traffic is coming from each of the main sources:
- Organic search
- Direct (people getting to your site via a bookmark or by typing a URL directly)
- Referral (viewers who come from any site that links to your content)
- Social media
- Paid search
- Other (i.e., traffic that can’t be attributed to any of the above)
For a website to be both content-driven and SEO-optimised, it’s best to have a wide variety of different avenues by which you can reach people and drive them to your website.
What makes up SEO?
Search engine optimisation is made up of On-Page and Off-Page activities:
On-Page SEO includes:
- Incorporating selective keywords naturally into title tags, meta-descriptions, heading tags, alt text, etc.
- Blog posts and page copy that is written and optimised with quality
- Clean and formatting page URLs
- Optimised page load speed
- Google authorship incorporated
- Social sharing integration within your content
Off-Page SEO includes:
- Creating a high quality, natural backlink profile (i.e. having other high quality/authoritative sites link to your site naturally)
- Social sharing signals
- Social bookmarking (Stumbleupon, Reddit)
Social media does count
In Google’s last Hummingbird update, they attributed more importance to social media in their search results. Which means that your business’s Twitter & Facebook updates, for instance, are now having more of an impact and are also becoming more searchable. It’s good to be aware that having a strong social strategy in place will have a positive impact on your SEO.
It’s a long-term thing
When you are getting started with content marketing, it’s not realistic to expect traffic from search to grow quickly (all the more reason to make sure social media is playing a part in marketing your business). However, once you do start to see improvements in traffic due to your search efforts, the benefits can be long-term. You might start to see that articles and blog posts you posted over a year ago will see an upsurge in search popularity.
Keywords still matter
Keywords are a tricky thing. They used to be the buzzword for all SEO marketers advising their clients on how to push their website up the rankings. Times have changed and content is now queen, if not king. However, while obsessing over keywords is certainly not something we would now recommend, you do want to make sure your efforts are ranking for the terms that are most meaningful to your brand and your customers.
It’s always handy to do a bit of basic research and then build a list of relevant keywords you will target through your content. Google offers free tools that do just that.
SEO optimisation involves some pretty technical components, like making sure your content pages are being indexed correctly by search engines and ensuring that you have redirect pages set up to make sure visitors always reach their intended destination on your content pages. To do this, you need to know what content you have, and where it’s located – we can help you get started with the SEO content audit process and offer different online marketing packages depending on your objectives and your budget.
What works and what doesn’t
Here at CBW, search is just one of the traffic sources we evaluate and optimise. So how do we decide what should be optimised for search versus what should be optimised for social?
Search is a great way to support long-tail and evergreen content (SEO-speak for the longer term options) but if you want to focus on more forward-looking topics - those that don’t feature in search terms - then these are usually better supported by social media techniques.
We’ll be covering more about how to build natural links to your site as well as getting started in social media in upcoming articles in the series.