So, what is SEO?
SEO may be three letters you hear regularly…you hear people saying how important it is…but just what is it and is it really something you need to be aware of?
Well, in a nutshell it stands for Search Engine Optimization, and yes – it is something to consider for your business.
It is the process of getting traffic to your pages through organic (unpaid) search results on search engines. This is something we all want, right?!
Hubspot recently reported that organic searches make up on average one third of traffic to company websites (much more in some industries).
SEO is complex and to totally nail it you would need to be an expert with vastly extensive knowledge of how search engines work – something that takes a lot of time, research and practice to learn. Frankly, it takes time that most people running their own business simply don’t have spare. However, don’t panic - this blog covers a few basics to ensure that you can get ahead of the game and get yourself moving up the ranks.
One of the reasons why SEO is complex is because the goalposts are continually moving. Search engines change their algorithms all the time and keeping up with them can seem a bit like a dog chasing its tail!
Search engines are basically a huge online library, and they want to please everyone that searches for something by showing them what they (or their algorithms) believe are the most relevant results. Of course, to do this, they must have a system (known as the algorithm).
Search engines collect information from every page on the web, then when someone searches for something, they quickly scan this information to turn it into search results. The higher you rank in their search results, the more exposure you get.
So, what can you do to make sure your site gets found in the algorithms of engines like Google?
It sounds obvious but write in easy-to-read, clear text. Users like content that is well written and easy to follow and because users like this, so do the search engines!
Avoid spelling and grammatical errors. Avoid jumbled, off-on-a-tangent ramblings. Also avoid embedding text in images too much - firstly because users often like to copy and paste information from websites and secondly (and most obviously) search engines cannot read this!
· Titles of Pages
Keep your titles to what people will type into searches. For example, if you wanted to find information on painting your garden fence – you would most likely type into a search engine something like ‘garden fence painting’. The titles of your pages should be a summary of what that page is.
Avoid using generic phrases like ‘new page’ and make sure all pages have a different title. Keep them short – lengthy titles with unnecessary words are considered unhelpful to users.
Think of it as the front cover of a book – in a bookstore you would only pick up the titles that you thought might be what you’re looking for.
Links are important. Google has changed its algorithm probably hundreds of times, but these remain one of the key things that help SEO.
Links suggest you are trusted – they are seen in a similar way to you having recommendations. This works if you are linking on your website and also if you are linked to on other peoples – so have a chat with friends, see if you can help one another out and get a relevant link in to each other’s businesses (only if it wouldn’t look totally random of course!).
A news section or blog that you keep regularly updated can be a good page for getting links on your site and for creating content that other people may link to.
Another form of links is hyperlinks – search engines recognise the word you are using to link to a website. For example, if someone hyperlinks the word ‘apples’ and the link is to your website, the search engines will recognise that you are relevant to this word and helpful on this subject. You will then get boosted up the ranks in searches for those words.
· Keeping it up to date
This one also sounds pretty obvious - search engines like you if your website consistently has new content and new links; it tells them that you and your website are still active. Search engines don’t like websites that have broken links or pages which no longer exist. They also like lots of images and particularly like video content.
· Keep it simple
As well as keeping your words clear and user-friendly, ensure the flow of your website is easy to navigate. If your website is designed in a way that makes it difficult for search engines to pull out the content it will be unlikely to feature highly in a search.
Create a natural progression on your site – don’t create complex structures with links on all your pages to all your other pages which sends people around in circles! Don’t be over the top in how many pages you have so it takes people far too many clicks to either get back to the homepage or to get to the information they need – or to a purchase!
Also remember to use text for navigation of key areas as search engines won’t be able to read it in images or animations (though we aren’t saying not to use these at all as they do look good!).
Hopefully this has given a few helpful tips into the world of SEO – why not grab a cuppa and take twenty minutes now to whiz around your website and see if there are any quick fixes that you can do? Or ask someone else to critique it for you – we offer website MOT’s here at Buy-From!