Search Engine Optimisation: A Simple Explanation of the Complicated Beast
Search engine optimisation: you’ve heard the term a thousand times before, but how much do you actually know about it?
If you’re dubious about SEO because you don’t fully understand it (or even if you’ve had a negative experience in the past), have a read of this post. We’re going to shed some light on the complicated beast and show you that it’s not so fearsome after-all!
The simplest definition of ‘Search Engine Optimisation’:
SEO is a form of online marketing which focuses on improving a website’s visibility on a search engine (e.g., Google).
As straightforward as it sounds, it’s only the tip of the iceberg. There is a lot more to SEO which we are going to explore in this post, – but, we promise to keep it basic (ish).
Breaking down the beast
Search engine optimisation is best understood when broken down into its 3 core components:
- 1 – Keywords: The relevant search phrases which will help potential ‘ready-to-spend’ customers find your website using a search engine (eg., UK content writers).
- 2 – Content: The written content associated with your brand and business on your website, blog, social media pages and more.
- 3 – Onsite / Meta: Making sure that any content associated with your website (including the website itself) is optimised correctly (e.g., focus keywords’ in page titles & descriptions).
Without these 3 core components in order, your website isn’t going to rank well. And of course, if your website doesn’t rank well, then you’re missing out on a wealth of potential business. That is something you shall have to remedy. Here’s how:
(SEARCH) – Selecting the right keywords for a successful campaign
When it comes to deciding on which keywords to focus on for an SEO campaign, you must do plenty of research. In addition to that, you’ve got to be realistic about what you can achieve.
Let’s look at the keyword ‘scrubs’, as an example. If you’re a clothing manufacturer that specialises in selling medical uniforms, then scrubs will be a relevant keyword. But, how realistic is it going to be for you to rank number one for that single word in particular? Not likely!
You’ll be contending with a hit TV show that aired for 8 years. However, if you were to focus on something more specific (i.e., quality women’s scrubs), you’ll have a better chance.
You should also pay close attention to what search phrases people actually use. Consider the way that you search for various products and services on the internet. There’s no good ranking number 1 for a phrase that nobody will use.
There are a number of awesome tools available on the internet that will allow you to carry out thorough keyword research. These tools will indicate which keywords get the most ‘hits’ or searches, and you can even filter them by location if you’re targeting a specific market.
Once you have your list of keywords, you can turn your attention towards the other core components of an SEO campaign.
(ENGINE) – Developing high-quality content to fuel your campaign
When developing content, you must remember the following 3 words: quality, consistency, and relevance.
Understand that content development is an on-going process. You can’t write a couple of blogs and expect to rank, – especially if the content is low-quality.
If you want the best results, then you must consistently produce authentic content that is not only relevant to your chosen keywords, but useful to the reader as well.
Another important aspect of content development is link-building. It sounds reasonably self-explanatory, but as with anything SEO related, there’s a lot more to it. So, what is a link?
Simply put, a link is a connecting gateway within a body of text pointing from one website to another.
Think of each link as a vote in a never-ending popularity contest between two people: Tom and Harry.
Harry had 3 written recommendations over a year ago. They were almost identical and didn’t tell us all that much about Harry’s personality.
Tom on the other hand, has had 33 recommendations so far, and they’re rolling in several times a week! Each story told is unique and exciting, and clearly demonstrates what kind of person Tom is. We like Tom.
As you can see, there is a clear difference between the two examples given above. When Google is crawling the internet for the most appropriate website to associate with a search phrase, it’s looking for the following: relevance, reliability and authority.
All 3 can be gained via quality ‘link-building’. – Creating guest posts and other premium content on different websites, pointing back to yours, essentially ‘vouching’ for you. This informs Google that you are the authoritative figure when it comes to the targeted keywords.
The key to content development is creativity. Don’t post a whole lot of the same stuff. The most effective content is share-worthy, so make it for the purpose of the people and the links will occur organically.
The simple truth is, if you’re not prepared to invest in your content marketing, then you just as well delete your website altogether.
(OPTIMISATION) – Utilising your website effectively
It’s all very well having a stunning website with lots of fancy pictures; but, if it isn’t well-optimised in accordance with standard SEO practices then you’re wasting your time.
The first step is to go through your website with a fine-tooth comb and check that the content is in order. Each page of your website should be tailored for a specific (or a set of) target keyword/s. This means optimising the page title’s and ensuring that the content is rich with the relevant phrases.
That being said; it’s important not to over do it. Spamming keywords is frowned upon and will result in penalisation. – You must allow the keywords to occur as naturally as possible.
In addition to that, you must pay close attention to the overall ‘user -experience’. Explore your website as though you’re a potential customer. Be honest. How can it be improved?
An effective way of improving the overall user-experience on a website is by linking internally to different pages. When you mention certain services, create a link within the text which will automatically take the user to the relevant page.
Not only is this a healthy SEO practice, but it also encourages those ‘ready-to-spend’ customers to find exactly what they’re looking for.
A meta description is the tag used to show searchers what a specific page is about, when browsing a SERP (search engine results page).
Aim to keep your meta descriptions around the 159 character mark. You want to include the focus keyword so that search engines can target the page. You should also try to make it attractive, to ensure that as many searchers follow your link as possible.
There are a number of different ‘plugins’ that you can use to help with optimising your website and the various pages within. We would highly recommend using Yoast SEO, which is the plugin that we use.
Yoast SEO uses a straightforward traffic light system which will guide you through the optimisation process, effortlessly. Simples!
We fear what we don’t understand
Too often do we hear the words :”SEO is a scam”. It’s not. Certainly, there are plenty of dishonest people out there who will gladly take your money, but the practice itself is clean.
Do not write off SEO and suspend all efforts to improve your online awareness just because you’ve had a negative experience in the past. That’s almost as ridiculous as spending your entire life miserable and alone because you had a nasty relationship when you were young.
SEO works! It’s a fact. The question is, do you want to do right by your business and be the best that you can be? Or are you happy coasting along as you are, running the risk of falling behind your competitors and losing altogether?
Do your research
Hopefully this post has been helpful to you so far, but you must do as much research on the subject as you can.
No, search engine optimisation is not the most exciting of subjects and there are certainly better ways to spend your time. But with some dedication, you can gain a thorough grasp of SEO which will ultimately help you to make a well-informed decision on how to proceed.
You can’t ignore SEO, and the odds are that you aren’t going to be able to practice it effectively without outsourcing it to a specialist agency. So, invest in it, understand it and then find a trustworthy partner to help you conquer it.
There are good people out there if you know where to look
Of course, we can appreciate why many people fear SEO. It’s a loud and complicated industry, which makes hard to find a trustworthy voice amongst the cacophony of silver-tongued hagglers.
But, there are good people out there. Professionals who are passionate about building brands and delivering results. You just have to know what to look for / avoid.
- Don’t let anyone push you into anything. A reputable and reliable agency will guide you towards a final decision by offering you as much information as possible. Take your time.
- Steer away from promises or guarantees. SEO is forever on the move and nothing is certain.
- Follow up any references offered to you. If an agency has plenty of satisfied clients, then they clearly know what they are doing.
- Falling for the “secret recipe for success” spiel. In SEO there two things: bad practice and good practice and they’re well-documented.
- Going for the cheapest option. You get what you pay for!
- Avoid questionable contracts with high cancellation fees. Smells like money grabbing to me. Any honest SEO practitioner will earn your loyalty.
- If you want to succeed then you must understand that SEO is irrefutable. Respect that fact.
- And yes, it is a complicated beast, but with some time and effort, it’s relatively easy to grasp. Besides, you don’t need to know the ins and outs; you just need to find someone that you can trust.
- The key to a successful SEO campaign is content. Develop share-worthy content for the purpose of your audience and the traffic will occur naturally.
- You have to speculate to accumulate. Don’t skimp on your online marketing. Consider how many additional sales you would need to cover the costs; everything else is pure profit.
- It takes time to experience results, so give your SEO company a chance to prove themselves. Many people (not all) mistake being ripped off with misguided expectations and impatience.
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