Creating a strong sense of brand awareness is a crucial part of the success of every company, no matter how big or small, and the advertising medium of the day is definitely the World Wide Web. This is because it has given us the ability to connect instantly with others and share information at light speed from the four corners of the earth, allowing users to access what they need from anywhere; at home, in the office or on the go. This is why it is crucial that businesses of all types take advantage of the medium by pushing their brands on the web, a task which can only be done successfully by correctly implementing search engine optimisation or SEO.
SEO can be a somewhat complicated domain, which is why so many businesses prefer to outsource their campaign management to digital marketing agencies who have the expertise and connections to do an excellent job at it. If you have been wanting to take a little more charge of your campaign and want to learn a little bit more about the essentials of search engine optimisation, then here is some information that might help.
What is SEO?
Search engine optimisation is a process of creating better visibility for your website on search engines such as Google and Bing. An effective SEO campaign aims at having your site feature highly on these search engines when users search for terms that are related to your business. It sounds simple enough, but things can get a little complicated when you delve deeper into it. Let’s discuss here, the process of managing a campaign such as this:
The Main Areas of SEO
There are a few major areas to SEO, each performing a specific and independent function that work collectively to optimise your site for search engines:
The cornerstone of digital content marketing is the design of a website itself. There is a lot to consider when designing a site with SEO in mind. You need to think about the search engine whose crawlers will navigate and index your site, the limitations and capabilities of your company, and the users who you are attempting to attract to it. The way in which your site is designed can have extreme effects on your results.
What you want is a well indexed site that has adequate link juice for crawlers to navigate. Each page of your site must be correctly linked to others to make sure that the crawlers can find them.
As far as human viewers are concerned, you need to keep in mind that they will likely view your site from a variety of different devices like mobile phones, tablets, laptops or PCs. Each of these has different requirements with regards to dimensions and size, and so a responsive site which can adapt across platforms will help you rank favourably.
Loading time is also exceptionally important for your SEO efforts. A site that takes too long to load will take a dip in ranking, Google recommends no more than 4 seconds. However, studies conducted on human users show that the average visitor to a site will lose interest and click away after just 3 seconds. This will be flagged by search engines, resulting in a high ‘bounce rate’ (too many users leaving your site too soon), which will certainly have negative effects on your rankings. So it is a good idea to keep rich media to a minimum, and keep your images at a medium quality while limiting the amount you use.
The next important area of SEO involves the consistent creation of content that is both natural and interesting. Content can come in many forms; it can be the text you see on static pages, slides, info-graphics and presentations, or video and images. But perhaps the most useful type of content comes in the form of blogs and articles which will help attract viewers, back-linkers and crawlers.
It is in your content that you will make good use of your keywords to better optimise your website, but it must be done with caution. Keywords should be spaced around your content in such a way that it is evenly dispersed. Having too many in one article or indeed one paragraph could end up looking like spam, something which search engines don’t tolerate.
When publishing content, it is crucial to keep in mind your tasks for meta-tags. This is where you will need to make good use of your keywords in descriptions, titles, and media meta-data so that it is easily crawlable by search engines.
Keywords and AdWords
The discovery and implementation of the best possible keywords for your business is an essential part of SEO. It is so important in fact that it should be done first to guide the direction your content will go in.
Every business has its own unique needs when it comes to keywords, depending on the product or services they offer, their specialisation, location, target audience and more. AdWords campaigns can be set up with Google to make better use of your keywords, by bidding for those that are most popular and paying per click.
The Backlink Profile
Backlinks come from other websites who have, for various reasons, provided a link on their site to your content. This content can come directly from one of your pages, from a blog or from a featured article coming from your company. Each quality backlink gives your site a little more authority, as though it has been vouched for.
A word of caution however, backlinks coming from ill-reputed sites or link farms could have a negative effect on your rankings. For this reason, backlinks should be chosen carefully when making appeals to other sites, and a site audit should be conducted regularly to keep harmful links in check.
Building backlinks can happen in a few ways. Either they can come naturally as a reaction to interesting content that you have created (just another good reason to keep producing content), or from outreach efforts where you research relevant niche sites, and get into contact with them asking to link to your site.
Creating reliable, good quality backlinks is an essential part of SEO; and although it may seem like a lot of work getting them right, the work will certainly pay off later.
Companies conducting local business need to make themselves available to be found locally. A survey from Moz.com says that over 60% of local searches conducted from mobile devices result in sales, demonstrating how important it is to have adequate local listings. To keep up with this, you need to ensure that all of your local business information such as phone numbers, emails and addresses are listed and consistent along directories. If you are operating at a local level, your AdWords campaign needs to be set up to reflect this.
Social Media Campaigns
Think of social media campaigns as a way for you to better take charge of ‘word of mouth’ advertising on a digital medium. Setting up a profile on various social media platforms like Google+, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter will give you an area to post content and interact with your community. This will let you get reviews and gain better communal and digital presence, which will do wonders for your SEO rankings.
There are of course, many other areas of SEO, and even each of the components discussed above can be explored far more deeply, so much so that each can be specialised in to a great extent. The fact is that the industry is dynamic and always changing, so there is always more to learn… even for the most grizzled SEO veterans, the learning process is never done.
Joe Ryan is the Founder & CEO of UK online marketing agency, Digital Search Group, which specialises in smart internet marketing. He is a specialist in online marketing strategy and brand building. When he’s not considering the next best online marketing strategy with his team, he enjoys travel and spending time with his family.