The cut-and-thrust world of SEO can be a scary one.
At first glance, the shifting goal posts, uneven playing field, and vast amount of competition can seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be like this.
In this post, we’re going to take a look at demystifying SEO to help you get started.
What is SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)?
SEO is the process of getting your website noticed online, via search engines. The first step is to make your website visible to these search engines. Next, you need to climb up the ladder of search engine results to become more visible to potential customers.
This is usually broken down into two parts: on-page and off-page SEO.
1. On-page SEO
Optimising the information on your website — for example, including keywords in your content and adding meta description to pages and images.
2. Off-page SEO
Directing people to your website — and therefore improving the performance of the website — through actions carried out away from your page. For example, adding your website to directories or engaging with your audience via social media.
Let’s take a look at three critical steps you will need to address.
1. Secure your domain name
Your domain name is basically the address that your audience will use to find your company online. It goes without saying, then, that this domain name has to be strong, and it’s unsurprising that domain names have a big impact on SEO.
Remember that search engines such as Google want to provide their users with a smooth and straightforward experience. As such, if your domain is too long, too cumbersome, or too irrelevant, it will be difficult for customers to find you. It may also lead to penalties from Google and other search engines.
2. Build your keywords
Contrary to what some people say, keywords are not dead. They are still a crucial part of every business’s SEO strategy. You just need to make sure you use them in the right way.
Keywords and keyphrases are what your customers are searching for. In an ideal world, these words and phrases — when typed into a search engine — will bring customers directly to your content, and then your products and services.
Begin by thinking like a customer. What do you think your customers want to know? What kind of search terms and questions are they inputting in Google to find the info they need? Start building a list of these key phrases, words, and terms, and begin to work these into your on-page and off-page strategies.
But don’t go overboard. Don’t stuff your content with keywords. Make sure that each keyword or phrase is inserted naturally and is relevant to your content. Ensuring that your content is readable, useful, and authoritative should be highest on the agenda — keywords are secondary to this.
3. Understand what those search engines want
Before you begin crafting content and getting deeper into the nuts and bolts of SEO, you first need to understand what exactly the search engines — the “powers that be” online — really want from you.
It’s a common misconception that search engines are out to “trap” business owners, and then hit them with hefty penalties when they do not toe the line.
This is not true at all.
All you need to remember is that search engines are not organic advertising platforms for your business. Instead, they are informative resources for the general public to benefit from.
So, think about this when you craft your content and execute your SEO strategies — advise and educate, do not advertise.