The world of SEO is a complicated place with guidance and goalposts that are ever-changing. Once, simply having a website for your business was effort enough – sadly, those days are now long behind us. In today’s increasingly competitive online world, a website alone simply won’t cut it. Not only does your site need to be visually appealing (see 5 Website Mistakes To Avoid), but it also needs to appeal to search engines through a process called SEO. Let’s dive into the world of understanding SEO.
What Is SEO?
Search Engine Optimisation, or SEO, is the process of improving your site’s visibility when potential customers search for services or products related to your business. In the vast majority of cases, these searches will be through Google. With that in mind, we’ll use “Google” and “search engine” interchangeably throughout this article.
Let’s imagine someone searches the term “real estate agent near me”, Google goes to work, listing what it thinks are the most appropriate websites in order of relevance. But how does Google know what’s relevant and what isn’t? This is where SEO comes in. Not only will Google take into account the listed business address, but it will also consider hundreds of other elements of your site.
For our friendly local estate agent hoping that clients will find her services online, she needs to show Google that the site is relevant enough to be on the first page of results. Studies have found that as little as 6% of second-page search results get clicked. So, how do you increase your chances of appearing higher? You appeal to Google’s algorithm.
How Do You Optimise A Website?
Google’s algorithm is highly complex, with hundreds of factors determining ranking positions. In fact, the Google algorithm includes so many facets that its exact criteria and weighting is a well-hidden secret. The reason Google this information isn’t made publicly available is that Google doesn’t want people to cheat the system. After all, we use Google because it gives reliable results to our search criteria – if people could hijack that system to climb in ranking, another search engine would soon take over.
What we do know is that the #1 factor that Google takes into account is a website’s use of keywords.
Understanding SEO Keywords
SEO keywords are the words or phrases your targeted audience has been shown to search in Google. If you incorporate these keywords throughout your website, Google can determine that your site is relevant and will display it in the search results.
Choosing the right keywords for your site is a science – not only do you need to factor in the search volume (the number of times that keyword is searched on Google) but also the competition (how difficult is it to rank for that keyword). In the case of our local real estate agent, trying to rank for “NZ real estate agent” would be an uphill battle and may not get the results she’s looking for. The two main issues here are:
- The likes of LJ Hooker and Property Brokers have much more established and optimised sites and will always take top positions.
- Even if she did rank for “NZ real estate agent”, there would be traffic from all over the country visiting her website when it’s only local traffic she wants.
Choosing the right keywords can make or break your SEO strategy. While you can gain the basic analysis through keyword research tools, it should always be someone with SEO knowledge who determines which keywords your business should pursue.
WHERE TO USE YOUR SEO KEYWORDS
Once your target SEO keywords have been identified, it’s important to place them in the right areas of your website. When Google scans the words on your webpage, it prioritises certain areas more than others, namely:
- The meta title
- The meta description
- The heading tags
- The body content
Your website should include your focus keywords in the above areas and throughout the body content. But, a light touch is needed.
Many websites make the mistake of “keyword stuffing”, using keywords more often than needed. Not only do frequent, awkwardly placed keywords make your content harder to read, but Google doesn’t appreciate it either. In fact, your ranking can be negatively affected if the algorithm spots too many of the same keywords.
The Hidden Side Of SEO
For every well-constructed headline or keyword-rich paragraph you find on a high-ranking website, there are many more invisible SEO decisions.
Architecturally, a well-optimised website will have an underlying structure of internal links, creating a framework that connects relevant pages. External links also play a crucial role, particularly from high authority websites, which tell Google that your website has a good reputation.
Even your images can be factored into an SEO strategy. The name of the image should be relevant to your site and use keywords where possible and should also include an optimised alt tag. The alt tag is a text description of an image that is displayed if an image cannot be viewed. It’s another crucial element of a well-optimised website that is too often forgotten in the site-building process.
Google’s algorithm considers both visible and hidden elements and constantly changes the parameters of what it considers best practice. When it comes to your company website, it’s crucial to work with someone who stays up-to-date with these changes.
Website Design With SEO Integrated
As an established website designer in the Bay of Plenty, I offer clients a comprehensive service that incorporates all aspects of digital marketing. All websites are designed using SEO best practices, ensuring you hit the ground running when your site is launched.
If your old website isn’t bringing in the traffic or converting your visitors into paying customers, don’t hesitate to get in touch.