Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is an essential tool for marketers to reach audiences. SEO is the backbone of all internet-related activities, and its sole aim is to help your internet presence be recognised. SEO is constantly changing and evolving, so it’s important to keep well informed of the latest updates and practices. But here’s what’s important right now:
Understand the basics of being found
- Crawling – The foundations of SEO begins with crawl. Like a spider, search engines have robots that crawl to every corner of the internet to create an index of content. Bots go through billions of web pages, so when writing copy, you need to include keywords to be found in that crawl.
- Indexing – After bots travel across 50 billion web pages (a number that keeps increasing by the second) they create a database of all their findings, which includes assigning webpages to different categories according to their relevance. Once again, it is your responsibility to ensure your website is put in the correct category.
- Ranking – After placing web pages into categories, bots begin to order search results by ranking content according to how relevant they are to the original search term. You can help your webpage to rank better through measures such as keyword optimisation, content relevancy, creating more backlinks and making sure your site is visible to crawlers.
There is so much to consider in search engine optimisation, let me introduce you to a model that will make your journey from content to link-building simpler:
The SEO Triangle
Ranking factors have always been divided into three categories and mastering each one is critical to SEO success. That’s why I designed the SEO Triangle to assist you to figure out where you should concentrate your efforts for the best results.
Let’s look at each element of the SEO triangle in detail:
- Content – I think I have said way too many times, but I will say it again, content is king. Good content is like having good shoes to run in.
You can run in any pair of shoes, but the right ones feel good, get you where you’re going quickly, look great and make you want to go running again. When we consider Content in SEO terms, we are looking for the right frequency of relevant keywords in your URL, page headings and copy. We’re looking for fresh content of a valuable length that answers questions, helps, entertains and informs. You should avoid using ‘Black Hat SEO’ practices like keyword stuffing (repeating keywords in a way that feels unnatural to the reader). Writing great content is an art as well as a science.
- Technical – To continue my running metaphor (if you don’t mind), just like how you cannot win a race with an unfit body, you cannot win the ranking game with a weak technical structure. It all boils down to how your site is constructed and maintained. You cannot just create a website and forget about it; you have to work on it and keep it up to date and alive. There are numerous factors to consider, but we can categorise them into seven core measures that can help your website ranking:
- Architecture – Your website should be straightforward, and your URL folder structure should be as concise as possible. Avoid /home/product/2019/primary-lines/fashion/shoes/brand/product-name and try to bring it right up to /shoes/product-name.
- Speed –– No one has the time or attention span for a website that takes ages to load. Your website must load quickly on any device. Your rankings will suffer as a result of slow loading as will your overall traffic numbers and user experience.
- Navigation – Make sure your site is simple to use and clear about what actions users should take. Steer users down journeys that are relevant for them and meet your objectives. Keep navigation obvious and help them on forms and complex processes with help and error messaging.
- Security – Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) is a security signal that is now essential. Make sure your website is HTTPS secure, as Google doesn’t support websites with potential security breaches.
- Code – Make sure your coding is clean, clear and any unneeded code is removed. Check all header tags are precise, so you only have one H1 tag on the page that accurately conveys the page’s contents.
- Mobile-Friendly – With over 50% of web traffic coming from mobile devices, your website must be mobile-friendly. Not only because that’s how the majority of people will view it, but also because it’s a priority search engine set when ranking.
- Schema Markup – This form of microdata provides a greater insight into the content of your pages and is an advanced way to push up your website’s ranking. You can learn more about the Schema Markup techniques here.
- Links – To stretch the running metaphor even further (SEO is a marathon, not a sprint), links bolster the reputation of your website; just like an athlete can lose their career over unethical practices, a website can lose its credibility over low-quality or bought links. Link building is an extremely important part of a successful SEO strategy. Make sure the links you develop and encourage are quality and have a high domain authority on Google. By creating good quality content and managing your PR to develop a reputation you can attract links from top quality sites. Do not buy them or aim to grow a huge number of links in a short period Organic, genuine, relevant, and authoritative links are where you should be focussing. If you do start to attract poor quality, high toxicity links, ensure you remove them if possible and disavow them if you can’t remove them.
Tools to Master SEO
Relax, you don’t have to do it all on your own. External tools are an essential part of SEO and thankfully there are a wide variety to choose from. Whether it’s performing keyword research, checking the authority of your website, or assessing ranking, there is a tool for every SEO process.
The best way to keep up with the competition is by using SEMRush. Take a peep into your competitor’s SEO strategies and understand what makes them different from you. SEMrush also offers SERP trackers, site health checks, traffic analytics, backlink checkers and more as well as tools to support your social, advertising and PR efforts. Also, well worth a follow on social media.
This is an excellent tool to track your backlinks, keyword research, content marketing, and much more. It is probably going to be the only tool you need. Ultimately this tool will ensure your site is technically strong and taking advantage of key SEO opportunities.
YoastSEO is a WordPress plugin that helps you when writing content, checking for SEO and readability. Their content analysis tool gives you feedback on creating high-quality content. It also helps you with website optimisation and learning more about SEO tactics. Their blog gives good insight into the latest practices in the industry.
- Screaming Frog
The Screaming Frog SEO Audit tool can help you find and identify broken links and broken content. They offer a wide range of services from search engine marketing to link building. Their SEO Spider is great for crawling any websites and provides valuable data for analysis.
- Google Ads
What better platform than using Google to win the ranking race? Running ads is expensive but it feels worth it when you are only paying for results. By managing your online advertising through Google Ads you can control your costs, measure the success of campaigns and target your ads. You can also look into their Console web service, which allows you to look into the indexing status of your websites.
- Moz Pro
Moz Pro is one of the original SEO tool sets and one of the most popular all-in-one SEO suits that helps you improve search engine visibility. Its key features include a Link Explorer, Site Crawler, Keyword Explorer and Rank Tracker.
Want to gain in-depth knowledge of SEO?
I run a specialised course focusing on Search Engine Optimisation Techniques. In a matter of two hours, we will cover everything from SEO fundamentals to vital tasks that boosts performance. The course also includes content creation approaches, outreach and PR, technical code upgrades, local SEO, and much more.
There is no magic to becoming an expert. It takes years of practice, hard work, dedication and making a few mistakes. Moreover, SEO is a very slow process so it will take months (sometimes years) before your efforts show results. Do not put pressure on yourself to be an overnight success. Keep working and never stop learning.