Search Engine Optimisation, or SEO, as it's most commonly referred to, is all about optimising your website, social and other content to feed the algorithms that work to help search engines deliver the most relevant content to their users - your potential customers.
Google, Yahoo, Bing, and all of the others on the market today, use algorithms to determine what to display on their Search Engine Results Page's (SERPs). Businesses wanting to be found online -- which should include everyone in 2019 -- must work to optimise their content if they're going to be identified by these algorithms and delivered to their customers to boost website traffic, engagement and sales.
Search algorithms look for two key factors to determine what goes onto the first SERP:
Relevancy ensures that search engines are delivering the user what they actually want. It's the reason why a highly rated restaurant in Dubai should come up in a search for "restaurants near me" by a user in Dubai, rather than a list of non-reviewed restaurants from somewhere else. This feature starts to get most interesting when the search criteria are more specific, serving users results that apply best to the search terms.
Popularity is kind of like a second step verification. To determine which content is most relevant, search engine algorithms look at which sites have the best traffic, as well as which are linked to by other sites - a sign that the content is reputable. This helps them to deliver results that are most likely to be the best fit for the user.
SEO Best Practice
Best practice for SEO needs to be a holistic approach to SEO that considers every stage of the users' experience. All of the steps are important. Learning the basics and spending time getting them right is the only way to excel in the SEO game.
Add value to your audience
Algorithms are designed so expertly that they can see straight through the poor website content that adds no value to users - no matter how keyword "rich" it may be.
Adding value means producing content that users actually want, that gives them something useful - whether it is information about a product, the business or an educational blog.
Valuable content is engaging content, and content that is engaged with is seen as "popular" by the algorithms.
Improve your content strategy
Once you have a philosophy of adding value with all content you put online, you need to look at content strategies that are designed to get results. Topic clusters are a great way to become an authority on a topic, leading more traffic to your site and adding value to your reader.
Consumers today can see through sales and marketing speels in an instant. Content, right now, is king, and users will only interact with content that appears genuine and helpful. Ditch the old instincts to pitch, pitch, pitch, and instead focus on crafting content that makes readers see you as an authority on a topic they want to learn about, or a fun brand to follow.
Link building is an essential part of developing strong SEO. This involves trying to get your content out to those who may be interested in it and may want to link it to their website. Be very careful to avoid spamming people in this process. If you are asking for links, be sure that your message it tailored, humble and light, to avoid getting a bad reputation. More on this below.
Keywords and Link Building 101
Once a best practice has been established, keywords and link building are two of the most critical pieces of your SEO efforts.
How to choose keywords
Keywords are critical for helping search engines identify that your site, or content, is relevant and should be delivered to users who search for keywords or phrases that meet the criteria of your business. Unfortunately, the best keywords change all the time and companies need to be on top of what's going to get the best results.
The best way to work with keywords is not to unnaturally push them into existing content, but to regularly look for new, relevant keywords and phrases that are most likely to be searched for -- related to your product, service or offering -- and then using them as the basis to build specialised content on your website.
First, you need to know what you're looking for. You need to understand what it is your customer's search for. Typically they will have a problem that they want to be solved. Keywords and phrases should be framed around the value you add as a business/brand. For example, if you're a spa, you don't want something generic like "massage Dubai". You want to look for something more like "best luxury spa treatments in Dubai".
Thankfully, there are a bunch of tools that can help you:
- KWFinder for finding keywords
- Ubersuggest for keyword tracking
- SpyFu with a range of free SEO tools.
Link building without spamming
We touched on this before and I want to raise it again in more detail because it is one part of SEO that can be hugely powerful but also a little tricky to get right.
If you're new to backlinking, it's understandable that you may be feeling pretty daunted. It takes time to build backlinks and sites typically need upward of 30,000 to start ranking above #10. If you're starting from zero, it can be tempting to consider spamming like crazy asking for links, but it's essential to understand that building domain authority takes time and it's better (for your rankings) to do it right.
If you go out spamming the world, you may get a boost in backlinks but if they aren't high-quality sites then being linked to too many low-quality sites can actually have the reverse impact on your rankings. Not what you want.
The best way to build domain authority is via the following practices:
- Build relationships - Building your brand and relationships help to get you noticed and backlinked.
- Create great content - Quality content attracts readers and gets shared.
- Write testimonials for other websites - When leaving reviews and testimonials, there is often space to add a backlink to your site.
- Link others and let them know - Link to other quality content and let them know, they may in turn link to you.
- Be social - Ensure your website has links to your social and keep it active so that readers can share.
Keeping Track of Your Hard Work - KPIs That Matter
Everything in the realm of digital marketing should be tracked, monitored and analysed to assess and improve the results. Because SEO is largely dependent on strong content, it can be a little tough for businesses to know what to track. Here are the metrics you need to look out for:
Seeing an increase in organic traffic is a sure-fire indicator that your SEO is working. Organic traffic is the traffic that comes to your site organically - not as a result of advertising.
Impressions refer to the number of times your page or content has been displayed on a screen. So if it has come up on a SERP 100 times, that would be 100 impressions. An increase in impressions is a sign that your SEO is on track.
Click through rates are measured when a user clicks on your page or content. Tracking the impressions and comparing to CTRs helps you to see how many people see your link, vs how many click through - allowing you to consider how best to increase this metric.
The average position is calculated by taking the average top position of your listing/s for each query. You should be working to increase this position as you improve your SEO strategy.
The one that everyone follows, SERP rankings show where you're sitting on the search engine results page. As your SEO improves, you will want to monitor this and work to get on the first page.
What tools can you use to track your SEO performance? We recommend Ahrefs for examining links, and MOZ, as well as, of course, Google Search Console.
Outsourcing the Hard Work
The most common pitfalls in an SEO strategy often occur when businesses outsource their needs to cheap agencies who use Private Blog Networks to try and shortcut the process. Working with an agency can be incredibly valuable for companies that don't have the resources to handle their SEO needs in house. However, there are a few things you need to watch out for before engaging any old firm. You want an agency that can:
Follow Best Practice
We've harped on quite a bit about best practice, and that is simply because Google and the other search engines care about it. A lot. There are many SEO agencies out there that promise quick and dramatic results, but many take shortcuts that can lead to sharp spikes but fail to generate long term results. These tactics are risky and can see some businesses ranked down when the search engines learn that the tactics are not genuine.
Deliver Consistent Results
Achieving consistent results is not about an overnight jump in traffic, it's about constant incremental improvements on all the KPIs that matter, all the time. SEO agencies should be able to guarantee long-term lifts in results and clear strategies that feel genuine, meets the aesthetic of your brand and deliver content that your audience wants and engages with.
If you want to work with an agency like that gets consistent results through best practice SEO strategy, you want to work with Blue Beetle. Get in touch today.