SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
There are two main ways one can use search engines, the first is SEO and the second is SEM.
The first is search engine optimisation, or SEO, which helps you promote your business in the unpaid search results. SEO is all about getting your site in front of the right people who are searching for your products and services. The key is knowing what words people actually type in – the keywords. They are the most relevant words to your business. Understanding these will help you improve how you show up when these words are searched.
Organic search – When a person types in a word or phrase on a search engine, a list of results appears with links to web pages and other content related to the search. While some of them are paid advertisements, the rest are unpaid results that the search engines believe are relevant to the phrase entered into the search box. These are referred to as “organic results.”
(1) Organic Results on (SERP) Search Engine Results Page
Well, when someone searches for something using a search engine, the results page they see contains a list of organic, or unpaid results.
Organic results typically appear in the centre of the page, and are the results the search engine decides are the best match for the search query, or words, that were typed in.
Results pages will also display advertisements, or paid results, though they’ll be separate and labelled as ads. Although organic results and ads appear on the same page, there’s one big difference: there’s no cost to appear in the organic results. Websites do not—and cannot—pay to appear here.
(2) Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
So how can you improve your website’s chances of appearing in the unpaid results? It all comes down to quality. Think of it this way. The search engines’ primary goal is to help people find what they are looking for. If you can help the search engine decide that your website is what people are searching for, you’re in good shape.
Making improvements to your website to help it appear in the organic results is called search engine optimisation, or SEO. Good SEO involves helping a search engine find and understand your site.
SEO helps search engines understand better what you have to offer. That means, when someone searches using a word or phrase related to your business you’re more likely to appear in their results.
(3) SEO how they understand websites
Search engines have formulas, or algorithms that help them order the list of results. The search engines constantly scour the web for new content and try to make sense of it.
Where your website appears in these results is affected by the words you use on your site as well as other factors—such as how many websites link to yours.
Think of a search engine like a matchmaker. The goal is to find the searcher exactly what he is looking for on the web. But how does this work? To present the best possible results, the engines look for as much information as possible about websites. They might look at how popular sites are, or what other people or sites are saying about them. They might consider words on web pages or keywords in the code of a page to better understand the topic. Search engines can now also consider the searcher’s geographic location. A search from the UK will display a localised set of search results. Chances are, the same search originating from France will show different results. And, with the explosion of mobile usage, search engines now consider the devices people use when they perform a search.
But just like a matchmaker who’s been in business for years gets better and better, search formulas evolve and add more and more information along the way. What search engines value most is unique, engaging, relevant content because their job is to find and show the most useful stuff.
So there we have it. Search is a simple thing to use, and many of us use it every day. But what’s happening behind the scenes is constantly changing. To effectively promote your website online, you’ve got to keep tabs on what search engines value most—and make sure your website gives it to them.
(4) SEO what they value most – good website content affects the organic search results.
So what do search engines like? Good, relevant content. So your focus might be to create relevant and original content that reinforces the “how”— unique points about your business/products/services, and the “where”— your location and service areas.
That’s organic search results. Showing up in them is a great way to help customers find you— and it won’t cost you a thing.
(5) SEO – the importance of an SEO plan and process
Once you have a good grasp of search engine optimisation (SEO), you are ready to optimise your website. Just follow this step-by-step process to create an SEO plan, and learn how to develop, prioritise and adjust the plan to best suit your goals.
(a) Keyword Research
Let’s say you want to reach new customers for your online business. Your first step should be keyword research—that means finding out what your potential customers are searching for when they are looking for similar products/services offered by your business.
Next, consider related topics. This will help make your keywords more specific and a better match to what your customers are looking for. You should do this at least once a year as part of your SEO plan.
Discovering what words or phrases people are looking for when they are searching for products and services related to your business. Once you know what people are searching for you can optimise your content and offerings to better match what they are looking for.
Search engine optimisation is an ongoing process. The work of SEO is never done, because trends come and go, users can change their behaviour, and search engines evolve over time. Your job is to consider how changes will impact your site and what you need to do to continue to attract unpaid (organic) traffic. Here are 4 quick tips on how to stay up-to-date on search.
- Learn how search engines work. Many have blogs that offer updates on new features, algorithm changes and suggestions on how to better optimise your website.
- Keep an eye on changes and monitor how they affect your website. For instance, you might read that the major search engines made a change that improves users’ experience on mobile search results. If your website isn’t optimized for mobile devices you’d probably want to update your website to be more mobile-friendly.
- Find inspiration from other websites. Do they offer free shipping? Are they active on social networks? Do they regularly update their website with photos? Adopt the practices that will work for your own business.
- Talk to your customers. They have the best insights on what content your site is missing, features that are needed, or products they are looking for. Even the way your customers describe your products can be a form of keyword research—they likely use those same terms to search.
(b) Selection of Keywords
Choosing keywords is the foundation of successful search engine optimisation. Why do you need to do keyword research? Ideally, you’ll match your website content to what people are actually looking for. If you don’t, there could be a disconnect: visitors to your site could be looking for one thing while you are talking about another.
There are three things you should consider when choosing the keywords for your SEO plan: Frequency/Traffic, Competition and Relevance. Keeping these things in mind will set you on the right track for successful SEO.
First, frequency, or the number of times a word is searched for. Obviously, you want to include the terms that people search for most often in relation to your products. Just keep in mind that it may be difficult to differentiate your business on highly searched-for terms.
That brings us to our second consideration: Competition. If you have a large, established website, you may be able to appear on the search engine results for high-volume, highly competitive keywords. But new sites have big opportunities too: if you’re just getting started, look for keywords that have a bit less competition.
Only a small number of keywords have very high search volume. But there’s a large number that have low search volume. This is what’s called the “long tail” of SEO. While the keyword strawberries might have a lot of competition, a term like get organic strawberries would be an example of a long tail keyword that might give you more immediate SEO results.
For a small business, the long tail is often where you will find your SEO opportunities. It typically takes a website lots of time and focused efforts to appear in the results on searches for popular generic keywords. However, smaller websites may get good rankings for long tail keywords with less effort.
The long tail of SEO means longer keyword phrases that are very specific to whatever you’re selling. These have a low search volume, which means there’s less competition, so it’s more likely to be relevant to a user’s queries.
Finally, and most importantly, the third consideration is relevance. The keywords you select should closely match what you actually offer. If someone comes to your site looking for strawberries but you only sell raspberries, they’re just going to leave.
Make sure your chosen keywords match the intent of the people who are searching. How? One option is to use Google Search Console to see which pages appear in search and get clicks.
Don’t add extra keywords or variations of keywords to your pages. Repeating them unnecessarily is called “keyword stuffing” and is against search engines’ guidelines.
Once you’ve identified good keywords, take a look at how you’re doing in search results for those words. How many of these words and phrases bring up your website on a search engine? Are there specific topics that don’t bring much traffic to your site?
This info will help you figure out what’s working for you and what’s not. If a popular phrase isn’t pointing customers to your site, you can address those missing pieces in your SEO plan. Once you’ve discovered gaps in your SEO performance, your next step is to think about how to fix them.
Is no one linking to your site? Perhaps you can get bloggers (operating in your product/services space) to check out your products/offerings in the hopes that they’ll mention you in a future blog post. Make a list of anything you think might improve your SEO performance.
Your SEO plan will change over time. But how do you know when it needs updating? One easy way is to check in when you’re making other changes in your business, like introducing a new product or redesigning your website.
Finally, adjust your plan when something isn’t working. Is there a web page that’s not getting much organic traffic? It may need a refresher. Are you attracting visitors to your site but not making sales? Perhaps you need stronger calls to action. Review your results regularly and shift focus to the areas that need help. And that’s how you build an SEO plan.
(6) Setting Realistic SEO Goals
One way to tackle SEO is to set clear goals, then measure your progress each step of the way. We’ll look at how you should define success, how to decide what to measure, and what tools can help. When you set SEO goals, you can measure, track and report on the results. You’ll know which efforts are succeeding—and which aren’t. And then you can adjust things to make it work better.
Let’s start by identifying your SEO goals. What are you trying to achieve online? How do you define success?
Let’s look at three possible business goals:
Turning website visitors into paying customers. You can measure conversions by tracking the number of visitors who come to your website and buy your products/services; or tracking a smaller action that can lead to a sale, like signing up for your email newsletter.
Persuading people to interact with the content on your site. And, you can measure engagement by tracking what content your visitors read and interact with, such as leaving comments, or how many visitors become your fans on social media networks.
Getting new customers. You can measure acquisition and reach by tracking the number of times your business appears in search results—your “impressions”—and how often people click through to visit your site.
Setting SEO goals gives you something to measure to help you better understand how your site is—or isn’t—performing. For example, it’s exciting to be number one in search engine rankings, but it’s not a guarantee of success. Here’s why: Let’s say you have a farm website and it is the first result when someone searches “vegetable gardens.” You’re getting a lot of visitors to your site—but not an increase in sales. Maybe that’s because people searching for “vegetable gardens” want to plant a garden, not buy your fruits and vegetables. The lesson? Don’t waste effort on keywords that aren’t relevant to what you do. So how do you track all these things? Analytics tools and webmaster tools provided by search engines can give you this information—often for free.
Most major search engines like Bing, Google or Yandex offer tools like these. They’re basically a collection of reports and services that help you track and monitor your website’s visibility in search.
Tools like these tell you which keywords bring up your website in the search results, which web pages they link to, and how many visitors click the links to visit your site. This is valuable information if your goal is to attract customers searching for certain terms.
Analytics tools can also be used to better understand visitor behaviour. They can answer questions like: How many organic visitors become customers? Which web pages or content on your site turn visitors into paying customers? Which content isn’t performing well?
To understand how your site is performing in organic search results and how it benefits your business, set SEO goals.
(7) Optimising your content for SEO
Get started in search engine optimisation by improving the pages on your website. Simple things you can do to optimise the pages of your website so search engines can find you more easily. Because if they can, so can potential customers. Let’s say you run a small farm called Tropicana Produce and are looking to optimise a page about your fruits and vegetables selection.
There are several elements on your page that can tell the search engine that the page is about fresh fruits and vegetables. These include: meta tags and title, headings and the page copy itself.
Meta tags and title aren’t something you would see on a web page unless you were looking at its code. They’re embedded messages that help the search engine determine what’s on the page. The title and meta description are important because they both are used by the search engine to generate the actual search result for the specific page. The title is used to generate the first line shown; the meta description is used to generate the few short sentences that follow.
For a page about fruits and vegetables, you’ll want to make sure that the phrase “fruits and vegetables” is in both the title and meta description. A good title would be: “Tropicana Produce – Fresh Fruits and Vegetables.” This describes what the page is about and also highlights your company name.
A good meta description is usually two short sentences. It should also reinforce the title by using the keyword or phrase again. A good description would be: “Tropicana’s Produce delivers organic fresh fruit & vegetables to your home, as often as you need it. Order your customisable box online.”
A title should be short and sweet; a description should match what the page is about. You should also consider what’s on the page itself—what people who visit your site – not just search engines – actually see. There are two things you can optimise here to help search engines categorise your content correctly: headings and page copy.
Like meta tags, headings are embedded in the HTML code of your page, but they’re also visible to people. Often, they’re displayed at the top of a page. A great heading would be “fresh fruits and vegetables,” which clearly tells a person what the page is about but works well for the search engines, too.
Finally, if you’re writing a piece of content about fresh fruits and vegetables, you’ll naturally want to use that phrase in the copy. Don’t go overboard and repeat the phrase over and over because search engines may see that as spam. Remember that you’re writing primarily for people, so be sure your message is clear.
No matter where search engines look, they’ll see consistent and clear information about what’s on the page. And that might help improve your search engine rankings.