There are few businesses who wouldn’t want to increase their online discoverability. After all, in the big wide world of Google Search Results, being at the top of the list is absolutely essential. How often do you ever click through to page 2 of the search results? Or even scroll to the bottom of the search results page?
The fact of the matter is that Google’s algorithm is getting extremely good at recognising the intention of the searcher. And matching that intention with the relevant resources. It’s become so good that a Chitika study in 2013 found that page one captures over 95% of search traffic.
In which case…how do you get your business in front of this impatient crew of potential customers?
Search Engine Optimisation, or SEO, is an often misunderstood and under-valued component of a comprehensive digital marketing strategy. Part of this stems from the opacity of search algorithms, which are frequently changed to deliver better search experiences for customers.
In short, SEO is a set of guidelines that you can follow to make your website more attractive for Google and other search engines. So, for those of you curious about what SEO can deliver for your business, stay tuned! We’ve good the goods on the top tips for optimizing your website.
Why is SEO important for your business?
Now, while SEO is a long-term game, the results that it delivers make it easily one of the most worthwhile marketing activities for businesses. Large or small. Apart from the increase in website traffic, there are a range of other benefits that come with making your website more search engine-friendly. Let’s list our top four:
Better quality traffic
Sure, quantity is great. But putting yourself in a crowd doesn’t necessarily equal customers. Appearing among the organic search results means that you are getting your business in front of people while they are actively searching for your product. This is called in-bound marketing. Basically, it skips the whole ordeal of convincing people that they should consider your product. They are already considering it! So, all that’s left is to persuade them to choose you over a competitor.
Improved brand credibility
Customers are getting pretty good at spotting advertising. And with advertising comes a certain level of distrust. Is this really the best answer to my question? Or is it only appearing because they are paying for it to appear there? On the other hand, (virtually) everyone trusts Google. It brings us all of the answers in life. Getting your business into the top three organic search results will therefore position your brand as a credible source. After all, Google gave your site the two thumbs up.
Time for a fun fact. Did you know: Studies estimate that it takes around 5-7 impressions before someone will remember your brand? That’s a lot of chance encounters. Unless you can make sure that your name appears every timeyour potential customers search for your products or services.
Low cost, high reward
Now on the whole, the benefits of SEO optimizing are long-term. You can’t expect to just ‘turn on’ your SEO and see immediate results. Nonetheless, ensuring that your website is optimised delivers lower cost per customer acquisition than any other channel. Just think about it…your sales team needs paid leave, time to sleep, and lunch breaks. Your website doesn’t.
SEO tricks to get your website humming
So, now that we’re all in agreement that SEO is a great choice for your business, let’s get into the practical stuff. What can you do to kick start Google’s love affair with your website?
For full SEO technical mastery, you will probably want to take an SEO for small business course. Having said this, there are a number of easy wins that you can tick off to get your site performing over the short term!
First of all, you’re going to want to identify the most important pages for your website. Which pages do you want your customers to find? What do you want them to be found for?
This means putting yourself into the shoes of your customers. Where would you want to be directed to? You can then consider whether each landing page has its own unique keyword (or keyword phrase) that you can optimise for. For example, if you run a beach brand, you’ll want to have distinct landing pages for surfcraft, swimwear, beach accessories, and so on.
Identified those pages? Nice work. Let’s get onto those tips we were talking about.
Keep that quality content coming
Yes, content is still king, queen, prince and princess. Nothing will ever really replace good quality information on your website.
The key word here? Quality.
Content is great. But duplicate content (copied from the nether regions of the web) will be penalised by Google. Plus, illegible or useless information will send your customers bouncing right off your site.
Producing content as part of your blog is a great opportunity to: A. show off your expertise. B. build up content around those keyword topics you want to rank for. And C, it enables you to link back to your valuable landing pages, aka, showing Google that those are your most valuable site pages.
SERP Snippet Optimisation
The SERP (Search Engine Results Page) snippet is what a prospective customer will see when they search for your product or service. Using your keyword in the title and description will help customers to identify your page as relevant to their search query. It’s also how you convince the searcher that they should click on your snippet over other competitors.
There is nothing more unattractive than an un-optimised SERP Snippet. That dreaded […] ellipsis. Without manually optimising your snippet, it is likely that Google will try to pull information that is too long, (or completely misses the point that you want to make.
Remove duplicate content
Duplicate content is exactly what it sounds like. It’s simply content that appears more than once, under different URLs. The reason this is a problem is because Google is unsure which of the pages is the original. And subsequently, which page should be ranked. Whether you’re plagiarising yourself or someone else, Professor Google sees it as a big no-no, and you can expect to get rapped across the knuckles for doing it (Professor Google is old-school).
Pro Tip: If you notice that your duplicate content is spiraling out of control, try checking your blog tags and categories. If you have an article that is listed under blog/seo/5-seo-tips as well as blog/website/5-seo-tips, Google will list it as duplicate content. And if you have it under more than two tags or categories, this number can be a whole lot bigger than 2. If this is happening, make sure you use canonical tags to point to the original. Problem solved.
No one likes thin content
Especially not search engines. Thin content pages are pages that don’t have enough… well, content. Although this will vary by industry, a general rule of thumb is to make sure that your key pages have more than 300 words of (keyword optimised) text.
This content should be valid and relevant, and formatted into headings, sub-headings and paragraphs.
Update your images
When you land on a website, images are one of the first things that make an impression. Using high-quality imagery across your site is important for grabbing your customers’ attention and make your website feel like a comfortable, trustworthy and interesting place to hang out.
High quality does not mean large file sizes. In order to keep your website running like greased lightning, you’re going to want to cap your image file sizes at around 150KB.
You can further optimise your images by adding keyword optimised alt tags, attributes and labels to them. Alt tags are html descriptions that you can apply to images to provide more information for the search engine. After all, they don’t have eyes… yet…
So, on the SEO down-low…
Search Engine Optimisation is an essential part of every great online business strategy. Over time, it drives long-lasting, quality traffic to improve your cost per acquisition and conversion rates. It also has the added benefit of increasing your brand’s reputation, and generally making your website a better experience for your users.
Not bad right?
So, get that quality content cracking, make those snippets seamless, delete your duplicates, build out your key landing pages, and make sure your images are impeccable!
Principal, City East College
City East College is a Not-for-Profit Adult Learning organisation based in Sydney's Eastern Suburbs. We are passionate about creating and cultivating growth opportunities for the community through lifelong learning, and providing a space for all people to develop their full potential.