Written by Jodie Pride
22nd July 2014 • 8 min read
Incase you didn’t hear, SEO is a pretty useful tool to have in your marketing toolbox. It’s an acronym for Search Engine Optimization, which is pretty self explanatory, but for the sake of those whose marketing vocab leaves something to be desired, it’s the practice of optimizing your web content to make it more easily indexed so it’s more prominent on search engine results pages (SERP’s), thus encouraging organic traffic.
1. Research and Planning
Before you start creating and implementing your SEO plan, research is crucial. You need to have a good understanding of what your customers are searching for before you make any adjustments, otherwise you could be making all the wrong changes. You should also check out your competition to see how their SERP information compares to your own.
You should identify the keywords people are inputting when searching for your product: don’t make assumptions, as they could be very different to what you think they might be. For example, if you’re selling garden furniture, your initial thoughts might be that people are searching for that exact phrase, when the most popular search could be “cheap wooden patio chairs UK”. You should also try keeping this information as up to date as possible, conducting new research monthly.
You then want to create an SEO plan: what are you going to focus on? How are you going to implement it? What results are you looking for? When do you want to see these results by? Your objectives should be specific, measurable, attainable, reasonable and time-specific (SMART).
2. Title and Meta Description
You absolutely need to make your title attractive. This is the first thing people will see when looking at their search results, so more than anything, it needs to be relevant to the page’s content – don’t try too hard to be funny/quirky/creative here because a cryptic title is no good for SEO. The reader must know exactly what they’re going to get from visiting your web page (or rather, how they’re going to benefit from clicking your link, as opposed to the one above it). You only have 65 characters to work with, but that’s okay because you don’t want a long-winded, waffly title.
Next is your meta-title, which is that cute little bit of text underneath the main title on the SERP. If you don’t update it manually, the search engine will take the top snippet of your website content and put it here, but you might want to change things up a bit, and write a separate piece of text to really grab the reader.
You may want to consider Schema markup here. This is a kind of HTML code that makes the information underneath the main title a lot fancier and more clickable – it adds pictures, a star rating and more. It makes your website look more attractive and trustworthy, rank higher, and gives more information, which makes the reader more likely to click the result, so it’s really worth thinking about.
3. Quality Content
Content is arguably the most important part of your SEO strategy. Apologies for using such a cliched phrase, but it really is about quality over quantity. That means that your content should be relevant and beneficial to the reader: there’s no point in focusing all your energy on keywords and titles if people arrive at your website only to be turned off by your weak content. You need to find out what your readers interested in
Having a blog is a great way to achieve this. Here, you can write about whatever your readers are interested in, which will hopefully drive them to your website. You’ll want to try and strike a balance between fresh content, which is on-trend with current affairs (think agile marketing) and “Evergreen” content (which will stay relevant and interesting for months or even years). This is where keywords come in again, by the way: make sure you litter them throughout your blog, including in titles.
The aim of your blog shouldn’t necessarily be to sell something, but rather to be helpful and/or interesting to the reader. If done correctly, a blog should provide an opportunity to increase traffic and exposure of your business.
4. Link Building
Links are an important ranking signal in search engines, so it’s a good idea to start building links if you haven’t already done so.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that more links will result in good SEO. Again with that over-used (for good reason) saying: Quality over quantity. You should link to internal sources as much as possible as this shows your content is quality, but you can also link out to relevant content too as this could (fingers crossed) encourage others to link to you.
When you think of the term “world wide web”, think of it literally – the internet is a web of links. Just remember that if you’re going to link to something, make sure it’s good quality and relevant.
You should also have interesting calls to action – none of this “click here” nonsense. Nobody wants to “click here”. Put the link in a relevant word – it looks better and people are more likely to click it.
Tracking and measuring your SEO activity is essential for success. It can take time and effort to build an SEO strategy, and there’s no point investing that time and energy if you don’t plan on monitoring its performance to see if it’s actually working. There are plenty of websites you can use to track your progress and monitor your organic traffic, be it daily or monthly, such as Google Analytics or even good ol’ reliable Excel.
6. Keep Updated on the Latest SEO Practices
Lastly, it’s important to keep up to date with current SEO news and affairs, much as you would with finance or marketing. The internet it a constantly changing landscape, so you must keep in the loop of trends and new practices in order to maintain your SEO strategy.
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