What is SEO: A beginners guide
We cannot deny that the last 2 years have drastically changed how businesses operate and how their customers behave. With online shopping becoming the go-to choice for most, websites need to adapt to the fast-paced needs of consumers and understand the broader competitive landscape they face in the digital world.
With Google search volumes rising in pretty much every category during the pandemic companies have to recognise the importance of optimising their website’s performance in search rankings.
Following these changes to consumer behaviour, we have put together a straightforward guide to optimising a business’ online presence using Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).
At Fishtank, SEO is part of our everyday language and work, recognising that our clients desire high search engine rankings to encourage more digital exposure and visits to their webpage. The higher a website appears on the Search Engine Results Page (or SERP), the more potential clicks it will get, maximising the number of people who interact with its services and products.
So,it is definitely worth getting to grips with SEO to see how it can benefit your website and business.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. In simple terms, SEO refers to the process of optimising your website to increase the position in which your website appears on the search results page. The higher up your site is shown, the more people will see it and ultimately click through to your site.
Search engines, such as Google and Bing, use keywords from users’ searches to determine which results to show them. Depending on how relevant your content is to their search, your website will appear in a ranking compared to other websites. For example, if you were searching for articles on how to improve the SEO for your website, Google would find the most relevant and useful articles for you based on the keywords you search for such as “how to improve SEO”. These content-rich and helpful articles will position high on the first page of search results as they have been properly optimised for the search engine results page.
Websites that don’t take the steps to optimise their website don’t rank well and are often found on later pages in the search results – let’s face it, none of us click to the 10th page of Google search results to try and find what we are looking for! Note, this is different to paid ads on Google, which will always appear at the top but will be evident by the ‘Ad’ sign next to them.
Imagine searching for a local manufacturer in your local area; you probably would only pay attention to the first four or five results.
This focus on the top results is why it is crucial for business owners to be aware of SEO marketing and know the strategies for increasing their position within search engines to drive sales, engagement and grow their customer base.
Website/domain authority explained
Domain authority (DA) is a concept developed by Moz, which refers to the authority or control a particular website has within the internet (rated out of 100). It aims to predict how likely your website is to appear on the search engine results page, and you should compare your DA with your direct competitors rather than trying to achieve a perfect score of 100.
Google doesn’t use domain authority to determine keyword rankings. However, it is still helpful for you to measure and monitor how authoritative your content is compared to similar or competitor’s websites.
Websites such as SEMrush or Moz are great for finding out and monitoring your domain authority.
The most important part of your SEO strategy is knowing which keywords people search to hack the system and optimise your site! So, it is essential to carry out some in-depth research as to which keywords are most relevant to your location.
First, you need to research keywords in your business area. For example, if you are a clothing manufacturer, you will want to know the most popular clothing manufacturing and textiles keywords. Is the current keyword trend ‘clothing manufacturer’ or ‘fashion manufacturer UK’ or perhaps ‘apparel manufacturer’?
You can also find keywords close to home. Your sales team are a valuable asset as they will have great knowledge of what your customers are looking for, why they need your products/services and where they come from. This knowledge will give you a great basis to start your keyword research.
Next, you should research your competitors’ sites to know which keywords are most relevant to your niche. You will therefore work out what these higher ranking websites are doing RIGHT so that you can follow suit! You should then implement these keywords within your website and blog content to ensure that Google tracks and notices your digital platform.
You should also be aware of long-tail keywords – extended and more specific phrases – which are especially common in searches using voice control devices in the home. You will be off to a great start if you can get a comprehensive list of both shorter and long-tail keywords, i.e. for our clothing manufacturer example, ‘premium clothing manufacturer in Huddersfield’.
Short-tail keywords are phrases with no more than three words e.g. ‘clothing manufacturer’. Their length makes them specific and they can attract a higher volume of website visitors, however, they tend to have more competition and lower conversion rates in comparison to long-tail keywords. It is therefore important to have a mix of both types of keywords in your keyword planner.
On-page search engine optimisation
Once you have done your research, you will know which keywords are most relevant to your website. Now the work starts – placing these keywords within your written components for search engines such as Google to pick up on them.
It is crucial to include keywords within your on-page SEO elements. This includes page content, titles, headers, meta descriptions, image alt-text page URLs, and much more, all visible to users.
Take the time to review existing content – optimise all pages of your website. There is no magic number for the number of keywords per page; however, please ensure that your website content does not appear robotic; have content that your viewers want to read. Creating new content that crams keywords unauthentically will prevent people from engaging with your content!
Technical SEO is focused on ensuring that your website meets all of the requirements for your website and is optimised for search engines in the modern world. This also makes the website more accessible for your users – win, win!
At a fundamental level, all search engines find your content by ‘crawling’ or browsing content on the world wide web to ‘index’ or sort it into their results page. If your technical SEO components are incomplete, this could affect the process in which your website is ‘found’ by a search engine.
Key aspects of technical SEO to focus on include:
You can view a helpful “Coverage Report” in Google Search Console for your website, identifying which specific aspects to work on.
Measuring and Evaluating SEO
It is essential to have a plan in place to track and measure the SEO success of your website. You need to systematically monitor your SEO results to ensure that your website improves quality traffic.
Once you have done your keyword research and optimised your website, you should note your keyword rankings every week or month. You can view this data in well-organised tools such as SEMrush, Ahref’s Rank Tracker and Google Search Console.
If your SEO optimisation is successful, you will notice that you rank higher for keywords related to your business, meaning that your page is showing up more frequently and higher up in Google search results.
If you are showing as #10 for a specific keyword this week and then #5 next week – this shows significant progress! Similarly, if your domain authority consistently gets higher, your website is valued as a more trustworthy and valuable site.
If you do not see successful results, it is vital to take the time to look over your website content again. Look out for duplicate content that may be confusing the search engines, make sure every page includes keywords and look at your technical SEO.
This leads to many other great benefits, such as increased conversion rates (more sales!) and click-through rate (CTR), which will help your business thrive!
Finding the right SEO agency for you
Before you start your search for your SEO partner, you should clearly outline exactly what your business needs to accomplish with SEO.
Are you looking to generate more sales by ranking for specific keywords, or do you need to reduce your website’s bounce rate and increase your conversion rate? Be clear about your goals and find an agency that can meet them.
Choosing the right SEO agency is as important as SEO is for your business, but finding the right company can be tricky. Some agencies often violate Google’s rules through bad SEO or make promises that they cannot keep, therefore creating more damage than good.
Do some research online and ask around. Speak to local business owners or reach out on Twitter and Linkedin to find qualified and well-reviewed SEO and digital marketing agencies. It may be that you can coordinate their SEO work with blog writing or PR too!
If you’re looking to create the ultimate digital platform and marketing strategy, get in touch with our team today. We offer a range of SEO services here at Fishtank; from a free SEO audit and health check of your website to monthly SEO maintenance packages that include a range of services provided by our team in the Tank from blog writing, monthly in-depth SEO and web statistic reports, to metadata updates & more!
There’s so much more to SEO, for those of you tech heads who want to deep dive into the subject don’t worry there’s plenty more to come! From KPIs, featured snippets, SERP features or what to look out for from a technical side like error 404 issues & redirects, there are plenty more tips and techniques to share with you to get your site ranking better.