Where a business finds itself positioned on Google search result pages can make or break them. Today’s consumer culture leaves potential clients and customers realising a need, entering it as a query on a search engine (i.e. “Emergency Plumbers Melbourne”), and will often select an option on the first page (only 3% of people actually make it to the list on page two!) Many leave their position on these lists up to chance (and suffer for it), but it’s likely that anyone ranking on page one has employed some key tactics to influence where they appear. We aren’t talking about Paid Ads (the first few results on the list with ‘Ad’ next to the website URL). Those are actively paid for, and the business behind that URL is charged with every click. We are talking about the organic results below, which users are frequently more inclined to trust as they hold the perception that ‘money can’t buy this spot. They need to earn it’. Which is true, as these tactics – more commonly known as Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) – are strategic, systematic efforts to maximise the quality and user experience of your website. The complicated algorithms behind Google and other search engines then review these elements of a website and rank the businesses they believe hold the most value for queries.
But where to start? Well, for those new to SEO, there is a key phrase that will always hold you in good stead: ‘Content is King’. Creating consistent, fresh, useful content on your website is a sure-fire way to tell Google you are a factual powerhouse and deserve to be thrown to the attention of people that need you.
Here are our top 5 SEO writing tips to help get your business started.
Research your Keywords
The content on your website needs to be factual and engaging to keep people on your site, but it also needs to include the right keywords to grab the attention of search engines.
But what are keywords?
They’re the phrases included within your content that signpost your website as relevant to match a query entered into search engines. They are the words your target audience will actually use (using our example above, the inclusion of the keywords could be “Melbourne’s Fastest-Response Emergency Plumbers”). Selecting the right keywords should be the first step in building a sound SEO strategy.
So, how do you find the keywords right for your business?
SEO keyword research is a continuous process to ensure your website consistently ranks in the ever-changing digital landscape. There are various keyword planning and research tools available on the market, both free and paid, you can use to experiment. Otherwise, you can employ the skills of an SEO agency with experience selecting a selection of industry related keywords. It is also good practice to assess your competitors and locate the keywords they are ranking for.
What’s important is to keep your keywords diversified. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket by limiting the exposure of your business and only copying the keywords of others in your industry. Mix it up with the shorter, more competitive key phrases, and the longer, more detailed keywords that will attract only the most engaged audiences. A great start is by selecting locations attached to your keywords (“Emergency Plumbers Melbourne” is quite competitive, so alternatives can be “Affordable Emergency Plumbers in Carlton”).
Utilise Meta Tags
Meta tags are elements within a particular web page that deliver key information (metadata) to a site visitor and search engines. They are coded within a CMS and found in the <head> area of HTML documents, meaning it is essential you select a platform for your website where this is easily managed. Focus your efforts on:
The title tag is the title of a web page that appears first on search engine result pages, as well as when pulled as anchor text (text used to link related pages) and to appear as the title in social shares. It’s an announcement as to what the page covers, and so to maximise user experience (and therefore SEO) limit the title tag to 55 characters of clear, descriptive text that includes a relevant keyword.
Below the title tag is the meta description, which gives a little more detail around the page’s contents. Again, user experience is key, so this description must include keywords and deliver an accurate representation of the page in more detail – between 150 – 165 characters.
Robots Meta Tag
In order for search engines to return search results at super-speeds, the algorithm organises available information on websites through a process called ‘indexing’. Robot meta tags inform search engines which pages should be indexed (organised) and returned as results based on queries. By instructing Google, for example, which pages to block indexing and which pages to promote indexing will ensure there is no internal competition within your website vying for top rank on particular keywords.
A complete SEO strategy requires every possible element to be noticed by a search engine as relevant to match a query. Even images accompanying bodies of text need to be optimised, and this is done through ‘Alt Text’, which can be attached to an image and will provide textual alternatives or will display if the picture fails to load. Most importantly, it tells the search engine that there is more information on the website that contributes to a potential user’s search query. Therefore, make sure to add keywords where natural into the Alt Text.
If you have pages that are similar on your website, or similar to content on another website, then it is possible your website may incur a duplication penalty, which will prevent your pages from ranking. By adding a what’s known as a canonical tag, you can instruct Google and other search engines on which page either came first, or which one to treat as the ‘right one’ to focus on.
Again, Google needs to review countless web pages at speed to give users the results they need. Structuring bodies of text with header tags (h1, h2, h3… ordered by priority) show search engines which areas deserve the most focus on the page. The paragraphs below these headers will naturally address what is mentioned in more detail, so ensure that keywords and locations are inserted into these headers.
Optimise your content for users
Understanding your target audience is key in any marketing campaign, and SEO is no different. Content must be optimised for the users coming to your site, otherwise they will either miss you altogether, or if they do land on your page, they will leave soon after.
Avoid obviously including a vast variety of industry-related terms in hopes they might rank (aka keyword stuffing). Filling a page with unnecessarily repeated words, or jilted sentences out of context, or with keywords that are simply irrelevant to the rest of the content, will actually harm your SEO with people leaving your site. Apply your keyword research against strong keyword density (the number of words in copy / the number of times a keyword appears). Many regard 2% keyword density to be ideal for search engine algorithms, and with a keen diversity of competitive and longer phrases that differentiate your business from others, the page will flow, rank and even convert far better.
Including links to other internal pages can also keep users on your website for longer periods. Again, these links need to be naturally placed within related content, otherwise you will divert an interested visitor onto something irrelevant, and likely lose them for good.
Consider User Experience
Search engines are hard to fool, and when they are designed to provide those entering search queries with the best results, it makes sense to try and align your business to that cause. To optimise content for user experience means to follow all of the best practices mentioned above, but in a fashion that doesn’t sacrifice the actual purpose of the page. A conversion – whether it be someone filling out an online form, downloading a free e-book, calling to enquire or making a purchase – it will always be aided by creating as little friction as possible. In other words, a website needs to make it easy, and SEO rewards that.
Navigate your page and improve loading times by trimming the larger elements. Ensure that all links take users to their required destinations, otherwise remove/replace them. Consider the placement of your content – is it a single, overwhelming block of text, or have you used your header tags to break it up, weave it throughout images, and create a flow that isn’t overly difficult to breeze through?
Lastly, how does your website look and function on a mobile device? This is another crucial need to have a platform that allows you to manipulate both a desktop view and ‘mobile-friendly’ view (a layout that fits to match screen-size and usability). When in doubt, simply put yourself in the place of your target audience and follow the paths you would want them to take.
Be consistent & active on social media
Review your social media by updating your content on all platforms as it’s important your branding is consistent across all digital platforms. Ensure each platform provides links back to your website as SEO factors in the time a user spends on your website, meaning a social media platform alone will not reap all of the potential benefits of a visitor. Update your professional profile via LinkedIn to keep your brand fresh and relevant.
Be active on social to keep up with the latest industry news and to stay relevant. Continue to generate new content but don’t dismiss the power in updating existing content. It’s a super easy and efficient way to generate new traffic to existing content.
For more information on SEO please refer to our services or contact us.