- What keywords are and where you should place them on your website.
- What content marketing means and how you can set up an ongoing strategy once you’ve got your keywords in place.
- How to make the most of Google My Business (a service offered by Google) so that your website shows up on local search results.
What is a Search Engine? To fully understand how to use these Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) strategies, it’s very important that you understand first what a search engine is. Search engines are special websites that have indexed billions of pages, making it very quick and easy for you to search for and find information. Google is the most popular search engine and it’s where 70% of people go when they are searching for something. Google have stated that their mission is to “organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”. There are other search engines such as Amazon, Yahoo, Bing and even YouTube – and these provide some competition to Google(apart from YouTube as they own it). It’s fair to say that we’ve all come to rely so much on Google that we find ourselves saying ‘I’ll google it’ if we want to find a solution to a problem or an answer to a question. So it’s no surprise that Google is rated as the world’s leading search engine. What is SEO? Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the name given to various things you can do on your website with the aim of improving how high it ranks in search results. SEO is important because roughly 70% of people actually click on the websites in the free organic search results, rather than on the Pay Per Click (PPC) Google ads. PPC ads usually show up just below the search bar after you’ve searched something. Usually 4 ads appear just above the free results on the search results page. Each time a potential customer clicks on these PPC ads, Google charges the advertiser a fee. They always have a small green [Ads] icon next to them so that you can differentiate the ads from the organic search results. The goal of Search Engine Optimisation is to get your website to show up in that free organic section below the ads.
How to show up in the organic search results Now that you have a better understanding of what SEO is, you’ll probably be wondering how to implement this to get your website to show up in the free search results. There are as many as 200 different ways to get your website to rank highly on Google – far more than I can cover in one article. I heard another SEO Expert say: “trying to explain what SEO is about in 15 minutes is like trying to put a brief history of time in a book” which I totally agree with. Because there is so much to SEO, I have created the Secret SEO System which is a full online course with over 40 hours of video content to explain what SEO is and how to apply it. Here are 3 SEO strategies that you can implement right away. 1) Keywords and where to use them One of the most important parts of SEO is the preparation of your website and making sure that Google understands what your business is about. To do this you need to understand what keywords are. Keywords are also known as search terms – i.e. the words that your potential customers type in when they are searching on Google to find a solution or service. Sometimes a search term might be a short phrase or a question e.g. “How to rank my website highly on Google for free.” Adding keyword phrases into your website in different areas means that when Google searches through your website they know what it’s about and therefore make it appear in search results for those keywords. You might not be able to add the keywords yourself. If you have a WordPress website then you can install the SEO Yoast Plugin and this should make things easier for you. Or if you’re not tech savvy, you might prefer to get a web developer to do this for you. All you need to do is give them the instructions from the information I’m providing here. How to find Keywords There are various ways to find out what keywords and phrases people are using when they search for information. I would recommend using the Google Keyword Planner, which is a great tool not only for finding out what people are searching on Google, but also how many times these keywords are searched for every month. Another way to find keywords is simply to listen to your current customers e.g. questions they often ask you. It’s fair to say these questions are the sort things people will ‘google’. You can also think about what you would type into Google if you were looking for something related to your products or services. You will soon find that you are able to draw up a list of keywords to include in your website and you will start showing up on Google. Where to place Keywords on your website
Title One of the most important areas to place your keywords in your website is on your Home Page title. This is also known as a “Title Tag”. In the title tag you can add 57 to 65 characters (including spacing). This is enough space to add in all your important keywords and to describe briefly what your organisation does. Often Web Designers leave this to just say “Home” but they are missing out on a huge opportunity to boost the SEO of the website. In my own website’s title, I have “web design in North Berwick”. (North Berwick is the local town my company is based in). This helps me show up for any local searches. I also have the word “Fife” in my title, which is another area of Scotland that I want my website to show up on Google searches. I’m an Online Marketing Consultant so I’ve also got “online marketing consultant” in my title. The title is the place to add your most important keywords and you should add as many as possible. But it should not be “stuffed” with just keywords, it should also read well and describe what your organisation does. You want to entice the user to click on your link over a competitors. The benefit of getting a click not only gets you visitors to your website but also Google consider click signals as another ranking factor for your website. Headline Another place you can put keywords is into the Headline of your website. This must be done as a header tag, also known as a H1 tag. To make sure that you are adding the keywords in to the right area, the coding around the headline must have the following coding around it: <h1> HEADLINE GOES HERE </h1> If you’re wondering where to find the coding of your website and you use WordPress, then all you need to do is login to WordPress, edit the page you want to change the headline of, then on the text editor section, if you’re selected on the “visual” tab, click on the “text” tab and you should now see all the coding. You now need to search for <h1> and see what the headline is between this code. Again, you can do this yourself or you can get a website developer to do it for you. In most headlines (which is the large bold text above your article) people seem to put “welcome to…” and then their company name. A much better use of this space is to add your main keywords into the headline but also grab the reader’s attention with something like: “The Truth About Your Website Could Shock You”. Google scan the Title and H1 (Headers) on websites to find keywords and use this data to decide which websites to rank on the first page of the search results. 2) Content Marketing Content marketing is a type of marketing that involves the creation and sharing of online material such as blogs, videos and social media posts. It’s about raising interest in your products or services rather than promoting them in an explicit way. Content Marketing has become more and more popular over the past 5 years. One of the main reasons for this is that Google places great importance on having fresh, new quality content on websites, which leads to higher rankings on their search engine. Content creation and blogging has always been an essential part of an effective SEO strategy. Creating good content is not only good for the search engines but it’s also a really good way to establish yourself as an expert in your field by sharing valuable content that will help your audience. People have been catching on to the many financial benefits of content marketing as it not only helps your website show up on search engines, but over time it also leads to sales without actively selling. You are helping solve potential clients’ problems via blog articles, videos and podcasts. There have been a few myths out there that “SEO is dead” and “content is king”, but the truth is they are both only a single spoke in the wheel and all the different marketing strategies complement each other.
Content marketing needs SEO just as SEO needs content marketing. Content that’s not optimised won’t show up on Google and therefore won’t be found easily. Obviously you can share content on social media channels but you’re missing a big opportunity to get your articles and blog posts found organically by people searching on Google. Now that content marketing has become more popular and many businesses are adopting this strategy, it is essential to focus on creating high quality, worthwhile content. Some years ago SEO was mainly about having back links pointing to your website from other websites. But over the years Google have refined their search engine so that keywords and back links alone will not make your website rank highly. In Google’s ranking algorithm they used a system called Page Rank(PR). The more authority a website has the higher Page Rank. Google give each website a score out of 10 e.g. a popular website with millions of back links like Facebook or Amazon have a Page Rank 9 out of 10, whereas a brand new website might only have a Page Rank 1/10. As your website becomes more popular and gains more traffic and back links, you gain more authority and so Google begins to trust it more and they’ll start to move your website up the search results. Although Page Rank is no longer a part of Google’s ranking algorithm this gives us a good understanding of how Google’s system worked from the beginning but it’s now a lot more complex than ever before. Today high quality content is more important than back links but links will always be an important ranking factor for your website as long as you’re building back links in an ethical way that follows Google’s terms and conditions. Here is an example of how back links count. If you were to post on Twitter and include your blog post link or your website’s home page URL (your domain name link) then people can click on that link and be brought to your website then this counts as a back link. The more times that link is being shared across the internet, the more authority your domain will gain. About 10 years ago when doing link building we used to look for opportunities to place our back link in as many places as possible. People ended up doing automated link building campaigns and spamming the internet with back links to their website but Google made an update to their ranking algorithm to catch out the people who were manipulating their system like this. This is totally the wrong way to do SEO. You must now “earn” your back links instead of just building them. To earn back links you need to create content that is very helpful and relevant for your target market. Your content has to be so good that people will be inclined to engage with it and even share it on social media. In this way you are building links naturally. Google really encourages this way of creating quality content and rewards us and our websites with higher rankings. Every time your content is shared, Google take notice of these “social signals” as well as the number of back links pointing to your website and will start to rank your website higher for your keywords. Google My Business Google My Business is a service that allows you to set up a free business listing on Google Maps. Once you have your business listing set up, your business will have more visibility for customers searching for you locally e.g. “restaurants in Edinburgh” If you have multiple business locations you can set up to 10 different listings in the Google My Business interfaces. To get set up all you need to do is go to: Google.com/business and follow the steps I’ve covered in this video: Once you have a basic Google My Business local listing set up, you can enhance it in a number of ways. One way to do this is by gaining customer reviews on your Google listing. If you’ve ever done a local search for a restaurant you will notice that they usually have stars next to each search result and most times the different restaurants are ranked by how many Google reviews they have. This shows that Google do use this as an indication of authority and therefore it is an important ranking factor for your listing too. Another ranking factor for these local search results are citations. Citations are your company’s details on the internet. This includes: your company’s name, address, telephone number and the website URL. You can create citations by adding your company details into local business directories. You should be able to find at least 30 local and relevant business directories for your company, so I would recommend setting this up. Some directories allow you to include a website link and in doing so you’ll also be gaining back links to your website. The more Google sees your business information appearing consistently across the internet, the more they trust you and they can see you are a real company. All this will help to get your business established on Google maps and to show up for those local searches made by potential customers. Through reading this article you should now understand what keywords are and where to place them on your website; how to use content marketing to earn back links and traffic to your website; and how to set up your Google My Business listing. I hope you find these SEO strategies useful and that you will implement them and gain some benefits right away. If you have any of your own SEO tips or have any questions please leave a comment below. If you’re non technical and you would prefer to have us do this for you, feel free to get in touch and we will be happy to look at your website, SEO or even your full digital marketing strategy to see how we can help your business grow. – Ben
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