Part 7: Search Engine Optimisation
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the process of optimising content to ensure it clearly and efficiently tells search engines what it’s about.
Google is the most prominent search engine used worldwide, especially in Australia. As such, it is important to specifically understand Google’s activities and mission.
“Our mission is to organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” – Google.com
Google is successful because it quickly and easily allows users to find answers. If your content doesn’t meet Google’s mission, it will be buried.
To align with this, we should look at SEO in terms of on-page and off-page SEO.
This is what Google sees when it crawls your website. Google and other search engines send spiders, or crawlers, throughout the world wide web that review every publicly accessible web page.
This is what they see. Billions and billions of lines of HTML code.
Google finds very specific pieces of information within this code, using it to identify how relative that page or site is to a user’s search.
Successful on-page SEO requires you to make sure you clearly and effectively tell Google what each page on your website is about.
The key areas to focus on within these pages are:
- Use your keyword in the URL
- Name the images with your keyword
- Your heading and subheadings should use the keyword
- Write 300 words on the topic and mention the keyword 2-3 times
- Implement links effectively
Here’s an example of a blog article on the Pepper website. We’ve completed on-page optimisation on this page for the key phrase ‘Instagram hashtag strategy’.
While on-page SEO tells Google what keyword the page should be ranking for, off-page SEO determines which page ranks number one for a search term (or if you should end up on page 100 of the Google search engine results instead!).
Remember Google’s mission? It clearly states it wants information to be universally accessible and useful and therefore won’t risk showing irrelevant or rubbish content to users.
To get the number one spot, you’ll need to do the following:
- Leverage your location – localisation is very important in the rankings (if you’re in Sydney and searching for a travel agent, you won’t see results from London or New York unless you specifically search for it). Update your website, Google My Business and other directory listings so that your location is clear.
- Build a trusted website. Google distrusts you until you’re proven trustworthy. Trustworthiness comes from having an established website (more than two years old) and one that has quality backlinks. Let’s explore that a little further.
A backlink is simply a link from a third-party website that takes a user back to your website. Backlinks continue to be a significant influence in how the Google algorithm decides which websites are most trusted and therefore the rankings for keywords.
Generally, Google will most trust the website with the greatest number of backlinks from other trusted websites. So where and how can you start building backlinks?
- Social Media. Public social pages such as a Facebook Business Page, a LinkedIn Company Page, a Twitter account and Instagram have the ability to link back to your website.
- Local Directories. Remember the Yellow Pages? The internet is filled with these types of local directories. Most are spammy, untrusted and not worth your listing. Some however are trusted by Google and are free to list with, so should be part of your strategy. A good place to start is with directories such as True Local and Hotfrog. While they will not likely generate many enquiries directly, it will help greatly in gaining your site a higher ranking.
- Associations and organisations. What organisations is the business a member of? How does it contribute in a community-focused way? If these partners have a website, even a digital directory of members, ask to set up a backlink to your site. Rinse and repeat the same for every organisation or association that you work with.
- Media and publications. Find opportunities to write an article for a publication relevant to your sector, products or services. For example, a law firm may submit an article to Lawyers Weekly, a retail furniture store may publish with House and Garden or an accommodation provider could work with the Escape liftout. When these outlets post the article to their site, provide a link to the most appropriate page on your website that the article can point to – another backlink!
- Complementary businesses. What businesses support your function or vice versa? For example, using the same businesses above, an accountant, a delivery company or an amenities supplier. Explore opportunities to provide content on their website (a listing, an article, an offer) that can then link back to your website.
Once you’ve done the hard work in setting up your keyword list, creating the content and identifying optimisation opportunities, you need to measure the results of that effort.
Google’s free tool Google Search Console will track and report on how your website ranks for various keywords over time. Your webmaster can configure Google Search Console on your website. It’s an easy setup and once done, you can start tracking results immediately.
Some key metrics to use Google Search Console for are:
- Impressions – the number of times your website shows up in a Google search.
- Clicks – the number of clicks on a link from a Google search result that goes to your website.
- Click Through Rate – the percentage of clicks out of total impressions.
- Average Position – where your website ranks in search results.
Add some simple filtering, such as by country, and by keyword, to see how your average position for a particular keyword changes over time, as you continue to implement search optimisation strategies.
Catch up on previous articles in this series.