10 SEO basics for your business
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) might seem like a word from another language for some. If you’re unfamiliar with online marketing practises, it might even seem a bit technical and intimidating. But once you realise it refers to making your website easily found by Google or other search engines, and that anyone can learn a few steps to get started with this optimisation, it suddenly becomes a lot more manageable.
Essentially, a good SEO strategy can help your business reach more people, a more relevant audience, and prevent you from overspending on marketing.
Let the customers find you. That’s the basic slogan of online content marketing. By maximising your SEO, creating relevant and quality content (in addition to a few other strategic tools that we we outline below) you can improve your organic traffic - meaning visits from customers that you don’t need to pay for, as in traditional marketing.
Online, you can either use paid traffic or organic (free) traffic. Which would you prefer? SEO means improving the ability for potential customers to find you online, resulting in more organic traffic.
With that introduction, on to SEO.
What is SEO?
As I mentioned above, SEO involves a set of techniques that aim to help you to improve the rank of your website in the results of search engines such as Google or Bing (yes, there are search engines other than Google).
Why is this important? Well, for example, if you have an online store, or if you’re working with e-commerce of any kind, then your business relies heavily on the WWW, either directly or indirectly, so yea, it is quite important.
In fact, SEO can easily become the key to success in your business. Online shopping is only growing, not only across the UK, but around the world and the internet is the first place people tend to search. For this reason, you want your website to stand out and be relevant to your potential customers. A solid SEO strategy can help make this happen.
So how to design and implement an SEO strategy? We give you some tips below:
1. Each page includes your theme
A basic but important aspect of SEO. Each and every page of your website should address the common theme of your business - a single topic. If your business is jewelry, every page should discuss jewelry. If it’s cleaning, cleaning needs to be front and center.
Why does it need to be on each page? A search engine like Google will periodically ‘crawl’ your website looking for a common theme. When each page relates back to this theme, the search engine can be more sure that a user will find relevant content there based on their search terms.
2. Choose your keywords
Every business will have relevant keywords: words that help to define what the business about, typically the words that potential customers might use to search for that product or service on the web. For example, Debitoor’s keywords include: invoicing, accounting, invoice template, etc.
How do we know? Because customers looking for a particular service or product generally use certain terms to search online. It’s easy to predict some of the more general ones, but it’s worth doing a little research for your industry, and even using tools such as Google AdWords (it’s free!).
3. Use the keywords in meta titles
Once you have your list of keywords, it’s important to include them in your website - particularly in the meta titles. Search engines pay close attention to the title that you assign to a page, as many rely on these to describe the content included in that page.
If you haven’t worked much with website content, meta titles and descriptions might be something that you’ve done passively. But these are important aspect of a web page. They are the text that shows up on the page of search results. For this reason, they’re crucial. They can decide whether someone clicks or chooses the next option on the list.
So each meta title should reference a relevant keyword, one that you’ve previously confirmed for your business, or even a new one that you’re beginning to focus on, depending on the content for that page..
Typically, meta titles should be between 60-70 characters in length (including spaces).
4. Meta description too!
A meta description falls below the title in the search results, and can give the person searching a clearer idea of what they will find on that particular page.
To get the best results, it’s important to maximise this space. Make sure your meta titles and descriptions are clear and relevant and that your description is less than 170 characters including spaces. When it goes over, all that appears will be an ellipsis…
5. Also use keywords in your headers
In addition to the meta titles, you should also use the relevant keywords on the web page. The headers in particular are important for including these keywords, not only to make it easy for a reader to scan the page, but also for the search engines.
For the sake of readability, headers make it much more structured and approachable, rather than a thick block of text without any breaks or direction for content. Search engines feel this way as well, as they often read headers.
Although it might sound like the more keywords, the better, it is in fact important to find a balance, as Google will penalise your site if it seems unnaturally stuffed with your chosen keywords.
6. Use keywords in image ALT text
And you thought we were done with keywords! The ALT text for your image is not only what appears when a mouse hovers over the image, it’s also read by the search engines to help them understand what is in the image.
7. Put keywords in your URLs
The URL (Uniform Resource Locator...yea, that’s what it stands for), more commonly known as the address of your website on the WorldWideWeb. Each URL is composed of words that typically have something to do with your site.
While your homepage URL might not explicitly contain the words ‘graphic design’ for your graphic design business, for example, you might consider adding this to the URL for another page on your site.
8. Add links to keywords in your content
Including links to other pages (both within your own website and to external websites) is important for SEO. With links comes anchor text (the text that the link is inserted onto), which is also important to optimise.
What does optimising the anchor text include? Avoiding the overused “Click here!” for one, along with the other spammy, promotional type text that doesn’t serve the reader. Good anchor text contains words that are relevant to the page that they link to and, ideally - you guessed it: keywords.
For example, a good anchor text would be something like:
‘To delve deeper into content marketing, read more about basic web analytics for entrepreneurs’.
Instead of the ineffective:
‘Click here to read more about content marketing’.
For SEO, the first example is far stronger, as it contains the keywords for the page that is linked, and these keywords are also reinforced in the content on that particular page.
9. Do not duplicate or copy content
Reusing or copying content is problematic, not only from a plagiaristic point-of-view but also for SEO. Search engines like Google will penalise content that is clearly repeated, on the same page or on different pages or even sites.
If you are running an online shop, it can be difficult to keep coming up with new content, especially if you’re talking about the same product descriptions, for example. Nonetheless, it’s still crucial to try to reword these descriptions when they appear multiple times across your site.
10. Create quality content regularly and share it
This is an aspect of running a website that should be kept in mind from the beginning (pardon us for including it in the end of our list!). Content is king, because without good content, SEO has no keywords, no titles to rank.
Perhaps the worst thing you can do for your SEO is to create sloppy, irrelevant content on your website and neglect keywords. However, when your content addresses the keywords that people are searching for, search engines can recognise this and place your website higher in the search results.
Including social networks can be a game changer for your business. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc., are all powerful tools for attracting more traffic to your website, which will also contribute to its position in the results.
If you’ve read this far and are still looking for additional information, be sure to check out Google’s ‘Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide’, to make sure that you get off on the right foot with Google as a powerful ally for your business website.
It’s also important to stay up-to-date with SEO. The guidelines and best practises are changing constantly, so something you learned about SEO two years ago might have changed significantly since.