Search engine optimisation (SEO) is all about building foundations to last. There are clever tricks of the trade to boost your search engine ranking in the short to medium term, but the most consistent performers have a checklist that they abide by.
SEO has become a buzzword that business owners have some grasp of, yet are not completely aware of the minutia involved. The reality is quite different though due to the amount of detail that inherently comes with the practice. This can make the art form volatile and unpredictable, two qualities that scare away the uninitiated.
However, should you manage to stick to a set of basic guidelines and principles, the daunting can become simple. What business owners should know is that these methods require diligence and a degree of repetition.
Undergo the following for your domain and see that application reap rewards in the coming months.
On-page SEO involves any tactic or strategy that improves your search engine standing on the actual domain. It could be anything from the homepage to the blog, the photo gallery or contact section. This all falls under the banner of on-page SEO.
On-page SEO is considered step number one for business owners, but it is not isolated from the remainder of the strategy.
Quality of Content
Starting off in a broad context, the health of your SEO performance will always boil down to quality of content.
- How much of it are you making?
- Is it varied?
- Does it contain multimedia?
- Is it linked to social channels?
- Is it being shared on other networks?
- Is it well written and inclusive of authoritative backlinks?
These are individual topics to look at in more detail, but an SEO strategy must be built off content that draws eyeballs.
Content is a balancing act because it must involve hot topics and keywords within a niche, yet stand out as unique with a standalone voice.
When search engines like Google, Bing or Yahoo send an online enquiry down their vast pipeline, the keyword is the tool they utilise. The most commonly used platform to judge your keyword performance is Google’s Adwords Keyword Tool (https://adwords.google.com/KeywordPlanner).
This will inform you about competitiveness in your niche, affordability and structure. The latter of which includes long-tail keywords, those that contain between two to five words to form a phrase.
For example, a company like IKEA might have a new line of kitchen benchtops to put out there in the market. There are a couple of different ways they can go about this strategy by focusing either two of the following for a keyword:
An alternative take would be to form a long-tail keyword that takes into account the geography and the specific description, e.g. “IKEA kitchen benchtops Sydney.”
Business owners should be wary of the currency long-tail keywords have, but ensure they have run a full diagnostic on their current formula.
If content and keyword are the backbone of an SEO foundation, then backlinks are the blood that gives a life to a domain. This judges the authority of the site in question by determining what sources you are referencing. It will come down to:
- URL name
- Site history
- Their SEO rank
- Popularity on other platforms
- Amount of shares
Majestic (https://majestic.com/) provide an online SEO backlink checker software tool. This will showcase how healthy they are and identify where improvements need to be made.
One smart trick of the trade is to vary the positioning of backlinks. In years gone by, many online marketers would flood their footer with a string of backlinks but it is wiser to plant them within written text where possible.
Speed of Delivery
In an age where attention spans are becoming more finite and results are required with more urgency, the speed of your page is critical.
There is the general need to have a site that does not turn away customers to the competition, but search engines consider them a major factor in their algorithm.
Run your own domain through a speed test check here:
- Pingdom (https://tools.pingdom.com/)
- WebPageTest (https://www.webpagetest.org/)
- Google PageSpeed Tools (https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/)
Site speed will come down to load time and this is measured through a series of metrics. The amount, size and clarity of your content will have the page running smoothly, or lagging behind the average speed.
Those that are bogged down with content can have higher bounce rates and therefore don’t engage the user properly. Google will push them down the rankings because they reflect the frustration felt by visitors.
No one wants to wait upwards of 20 to 30 seconds for a page to load and if that is the case, alterations need to be made.
Source a report from Google’s PageSpeed Tools to identify the problem areas and adjust accordingly.
It is easy to get sucked into the trap of seeing SEO as a broad church. What is good for one page is good for the website, so they say.
Yet to get the maximum results, you have to become something of a micromanager.
Tactical SEO revolves around the practice of strategically positioning certain types of content on certain pages.
For example, the British Broadcasting Service (BBC) have an all inclusive sports page (http://www.bbc.com/sport) that runs everything from English Premier League to rugby union, NFL, cricket, tennis, snooker, horse racing and more. That page will garner content that ticks the boxes for those sports to draw in a wide-ranging audience.
However, for their central hub of football (http://www.bbc.com/sport/football), the equation is targeted more towards that specific niche. The images, the headlines, the descriptions and blogs are all garnered to that sport to rank them highly on the “football” search engines.
Images and Multimedia
Graphics, images and video from the outside are viewed as glitzy additions to a webpage. They offer a point of difference for text-related content to provide a stronger aesthetic.
Yet in the world of SEO, these elements mean so much more. From the consumers perspective, they will be on the lookout for sites that don’t just tell them what you offer, but give a direct illustration of what it is.
Image result searches can be equally common as a webpage for certain niches and a high-resolution picture that contains the right alt-text will drive traffic skywards.
Then there is the advent of video. Be careful not to implement this too much because it can slow down page speed which will drop your domain down the rankings. But a handful of well crafted videos will enhance user engagement.
Off-page SEO revolves around everything that boosts your ranking external to the actual website. Whatever methods can be implemented to drive traffic to your page away from the site itself, that is off-page SEO.
So many marketers will stay within the on-page SEO bubble and while that is a crucial element to this process, it is only part of the overall equation.
Social media is far from an escapist activity for teens or bored people on the commute to work. It is a method to broadcast your message to millions, 17 of them to be precise in Australia alone when it comes to daily users. Ensure that your operation has a platform on these channels:
Search engines like Google absolutely respond to sites that garner hits through these avenues. They consider them organic and this helps to elevate your standing.
Rather than pigeonholing social media as a luxury or add-on that can be benched for a later date, funnel content through them and build a network. Many of your users are more accustomed to searching and asking questions on those platforms, so cater to that need.
Blogs, forums and article submissions are a fantastic method of driving traffic to your domain. This is a long-term investment in your personal profile as a business owner as well. It communicates that you are an authority on the subject, have knowledge and a desire to make that known to the wider community.
A site like Reddit (https://www.reddit.com/) will allow you to discuss topics with like-minded people within an online community.
It must be noted that many of these forum sites are sensitive to external promotion. Any users that engage in this type of activity will be warned, flagged or removed altogether.
The best method is to have your profile include the link that you feel is best suited to the niche you are discussing.
To be unabashed about your site and pushing that agenda, submit an article to a reputable source. Whether it be a local newspaper or site that has space for your voice, giving an account of your journey and expertise is incredibly valuable content if it passes their requirement.
Those that are new to the practice of SEO strategy and management can find it hard to see the woods from the trees. There are plenty of moving parts in this scenario where one topic can stray to a different department and before you know it, you have forgotten where you were.
What must be prioritised is the quality of content. Everything else flows on from that:
- Speed of delivery
- Tactical thinking
- Images and multimedia
- Social engagement
- External writing
That is a checklist that must be addressed, but it will be a by-product of your content quality. What you require to execute this properly is an appetite to write, design and create.
It can arrive in a manner of forms:
- Photo galleries
- Video blogs (vlogs)
As a business owner, you should put yourself in the shoes of the consumer. What would you like to see on a website for your niche? What attracts you in the first place and what keeps you there?
That will form the base of your SEO strategy.