Search engine optimisation (SEO) is critical if you want your website to be visible online.
By visible, we mean seen by potential customers and clients–your target audience. Your content might be interesting, but if it’s not optimised properly using the right techniques, your customers won’t find it among all the other web content, and it’ll go unread. Step in SEO.
If you’re just learning about SEO but don’t understand a single word, we’re here to help.
Google, the most popular search engine, is used by 77 percent of internet users. Consider this: 75 percent of people never click beyond the first page of search results. That means being on page one is clearly very important. It’s not easy, but it’s not impossible either. There’s lots of competition, but as we explain here, there are some common SEO tactics you could—and should—employ.
WHAT IS SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMISATION?
SEO is the process of optimising your website so it’s more visible on popular search engines, such as Google and Bing, therefore attracting website visitors and potential customers or clients. Once people arrive at your website, your content should be effective enough so that they convert—whether that’s downloading assets or signing up for your mailing list.
GOOGLE’S AIM? TO PROVIDE USERS WITH RELEVANT SEARCH RESULTS
Google’s algorithms dictate the websites that rank highly in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). The algorithm is extremely complex. Essentially, its aim ist toto provide the user (people searching using keywords and phrases) with relevant and informative results.
Google looks through each website (what it calls ‘crawling’). The algorithm dictates what these crawlers look for and it is updated regularly. Essentially, SEO is all about understanding how Google’s algorithm works and putting that knowledge to work for you.
Fear not, there are companies who’ve gone to the trouble of understanding it for us. Search Engine Journal, for instance, reports that Google looks at the following seven factors when ranking a website.
THE MOST IMPORTANT SEO RANKING FACTORS
Google moves the goalposts regularly so you should never get too comfortable and monitor their site for new releases constantly. As of July 2018, according to Search Engine Journal, these are the most important ranking factors to consider when building a website if you want it to be optimised properly for search engines.
- High-quality content
- Mobile friendliness
- A secure website
- User experience
- Page speed
- On-page optimisation
- Relevant backlinks from authoritative websites
Check back here for a deeper look into these topics in the future. This installment focuses on SEO for Beginners, and, after all, there’s a lot to take in. Today’s topic: keywords and page structure, and what both mean for your content and website.
THE BASICS OF SEO KEYWORDS AND PAGE STRUCTURE
Before creating any content, follow Google’s advicese and your own judgementyourself: what creates value for your users? This means creating content that answers user’s questions about your brand and associated topics, while always ensuring your content is relevant to their queries by making it topical and optimised with keywords.
Keywords are those words and phrases we input into Google’s search bar when we’re looking for information. For instance, the question: “Are there any digital communications agencies in Koh Phangan?” is a long-tail keyword phrase, because it’s long and highly specific. “Digital agency”, on the other hand, is a short term, because it’s, simply two words and is not a specific question.
Keywords are an important on-page factor for optimising a website so take time to think about them before you jump into content creation. Ask yourself these three questions before assimilating your list of keywords for your website.
- What topics does your target audience want to read about?
- What keywords would you search for to find your business?
- What are your customer’s frequently asked questions?
Long-tail keywords are more specific than short-tail keywords, and consist of multiple words or phrases. Questions are long-tail keywords. For example, users searching for something in particular will search: “How do I make Pad Thai?” Having your site appear in long-tail keyword search results is easier than appearing in short-tail keywords, because with highly focused searches, there is less competition.
Semantics are increasingly important in the world of search engines, too. Google Semantic Search was introduced in 2016. It understands synonyms and uses them to filter out low-quality content. But how? Google’s algorithms crawl websites to assess the quality and relevance of content by looking for synonyms—or related keywords—of the main search query.
Each piece of content you write should be high quality and in-depth. If you’re writing copy about a topic, you should naturally be including related keywords (synonyms), satisfying Google’s Semantic Search in the process.
For example, if you’re writing about riding a scooter in Thailand, your page should include the following keywords and related phrases:
- Thailand rRoad safety
- Are oOther drivers safe?
- Road etiquette
- Fuel consumption
- Riding a scooter in Koh Samui
- Riding a scooter in Bangkok
- Riding a scooter in Chiang Mai
- Renting a scooter
- Scooter license
There are many more you could include but you get the picture—write quality copy that covers as many bases as possible and you’ll stand more of a chance of achieving a higher Google ranking.
TOOLS FOR DOING KEYWORD RESEARCH
So, you’ll need to learn what keywords to use. That’s easy enough since several apps will help you discover what searches people are performing. Sign up with the following apps to do your own keyword research:
Each of these easy-to-use tools provide data on how many searches there are for certain keywords at different times of year. As part of a 6-month, 12-month, or 18-month marketing plan, you should use these tools to help you understand which topics to write about over the corresponding period. Input keywords relevant to your brand or topic and you’ll get a list of related keywords and their search volumes.
DON’T ABUSE KEYWORDS
If you overuse a keyword, known in the business as “keyword stuffing”, Google algorithms will detect it. Keywords are important but they need to be used in context. Now more than ever before, Google (and by extension, its algorithm) understands this. All you need is to create interesting content for your audience and include the keywords. Try to trick it? You’ll be penalised and your website’s ranking will be negatively affected.
WRITE NATURALLY AND THE KEYWORDS WILL COME
Yes, you should make an extensive list of keywords with synonyms and variations of long-tail keywords. Always choose one as the main keyword which will go in the title of the post. Then, when you’re writing your copy, let your hand flow and just write, write, write.
If you’re writing quality content, you will be naturally including synonyms, as well as including your chosen keywords. If not, go back andrewrite rewrite.
WHERE TO INCLUDE YOUR KEYWORDS
You should include your keywords in the following elements of your content.
In the Title. Front load your keywords so they are at the start of the title.
Introduction. This is so Google’s crawlers know what your content is about.
Subheadings. To please Google’s algorithms and so readers know the content is relevant.
Conclusion. For the same reason, keywords should be in the first 100 words.
Meta description. While they’re not actually ranking factors, keywords appear bold in meta descriptions when they appear in search results, signifying the content is relevant to the user.
URL. Google likes keywords in descriptive URLs.
OPTIMISE YOUR WEBSITE WITH THIS KEYWORD CHECKLIST
- Understand your audience’s wants and needs
- Make a list of keywords, long-tail keywords, and related synonyms
- Find search volumes and understand the competition
- Choose the main keyword and use it in the title, first paragraph, URL, meta description, and conclusion
- Write the content containing keywords and relevant synonyms
- Create the structure of your post with relevant, descriptive headings
- Write a strong meta description
BASIC SEO FOR BEGINNERS
Learn about SEO and you’ll be able to get your site rankinged hig wellhighlyhly on search engines result pages. You’ll attract visitors, while also providing readers with quality content that builds trust in your brand. To conclude, your main SEO objectives are to:
- Rank in search engines
- Offer value and engage your audience
- Generate conversions
Find more SEO advice on our blogSEO advice on our blog and boost your website’s online presence.
Feel free to contact us, if you have any struggles or need any advice on your website and content needs — firstname.lastname@example.org.