The Role of SEO in Modern Digital Marketing: Strategies for Success – Part 1
SEO stands for “Search Engine Optimisation”, which consists of a set of practises which optimise your website to rank higher on search engine results pages (SERPs).
SEO is important because it makes your website more visible to people who are searching for similar products and services online, therefore increasing the organic traffic to your website and providing more opportunities to convert these website visitors into customers.
In part one of this post, we will breakdown the common on-page SEO practises which we undertake to improve the quality and quantity of traffic to a website.
In part two, we will delve into content marketing, local SEO and how to measure the success of your SEO efforts.
Common On-Page SEO Practices
Keyword Research and Optimization
When you are looking to find a product or service online, you start by typing relevant words, queries or phrases, into a search engine, trusting that the search engine will show a list of websites that are relevant and appropriate.
One of the main ways that search engines return relevant results is by scanning websites for the keywords.
This is why keyword research and optimisation forms the backbone of a strong SEO strategy.
Keyword research is the process of finding, analysing and selecting the best keywords, queries and phrases which will drive traffic to your website.
You can begin by putting yourself in your customers shoes, and compiling a list of words, topics, and queries that relate to your business. Question based keyword queries are a great way to capture traffic on more competitive keywords. For example, if you sell rowing machines, you may start by thinking about question modifiers that people may ask such as;
- What is a rowing machine?
- How to work out on a rowing machine?
- When should you service your rowing machines?
- What is the best rowing machine?
- Where can you buy rowing machines online?
If your site has existed for some time, you can check your Google Analytics and Google Search Console data to see what Google believes your website is relevant for. If it shows keywords and searches which have no relevance, you know that your website content needs some work!
In fact, your competitors may have already done this work and may have stronger keyword optimisation than yourself. A keyword gap analysis of your competitors may uncover opportunities for keywords which you did not consider.
Start with “seed keywords” that are more generic with a high monthly search volume e.g (“rowing machine”), then move onto “long-tail keywords” that are much more targeted and specific and likely to drive high-intent searchers to your website (e.g “rowing machine under £200” or “reviews of rowing machines under £200”).
You must then analyse your keywords in terms of search volume (is anyone actually searching for these terms) and keyword difficulty (how competitive are these search terms and how achievable is it going to be for me to see results) to clarify your keyword strategy.
A great tool to use to assist your keyword research and analysis is Google Keyword Planner.
Now that you have your list of seed keywords and long-tail keywords, it is time to optimise your website.
Optimise your website for search engine result page
Here are some tips for how to optimise your website for search engines.
- For a Search Engine to display your website it must think that your website is relevant and trustworthy. For a website to tick these boxes it must have good content which is; original, text- based (e,g if you post a video or image include a text description as well), useful and well thought out and researched. Short pages with little content rank poorly with search engines.
- When search engines crawl your website, they are looking for clues as to what the site is all about, so they know what searches to display it for. One of the things they “read” is the titles and descriptions of your pages. Each page needs a unique title and description that explains what the page is all about, for example “How to fix your rowing machine” is more useful to users and search engines than “index.html”
- When you are creating content for your website, both for the pages of your site and for ongoing blog and news posts, make sure you understand your keyword research and you include relevant keywords that satisfy a user’s intent.
- Make sure all of your pages are properly formatted with headings and subheadings that are useful to readers
- If you use a lot of imagery on your site, make sure that the images are optimised and that the files are not so large that the effect the load speed of the site. Using ALT tags and descriptive filenames also helps.
- Optimise page urls by making sure that they are all short and descriptive i.e www.examplecompany.co.uk/buy-rowing-machines
- You can improve the SEO of your website by linking pages on your site to other pages on your site! This is a useful way to help engine spiders move around your site and discover new pages. In the same way, it keeps users on your site and helps them to discover more content too! For example, here I could link you to another Business Growth Toolkit article- check out 5 WAYS TO KNOW IF PPC IS RIGHT FOR YOUR BUSINESS
There are additional technical factors which are a bit more complex but should still be taken into account if you are serious about improving your positioning and increasing your website traffic.
Technical SEO Components
The main components of technical SEO are as follows;
- Website speed is important for SEO as well as customer experience! Work on improving the speed of your site by optimising images and video content and removing unnecessary plugins.
- Likewise making sure that your website displays correctly on mobile devices is also important because almost 60% of searches come from mobile.
- Ensure website security and accessibility by implementing HTTPs to make sure that data cannot be intercepted. A user can see if the site they are navigating to is not secure by checking on the left-hand side of the search bar of the browser and looking for a lock symbol. Google understands the importance of data security and will not rank sites highly unless they are secured via an SSL certificate.
- The structure and hierarchy of your website is important for both bots and users to understand. Use a structure that makes sense, such as Home, About Us, Products, Blog, Contact us. If you require sub-pages underneath these headings, label these sub-pages in a way that is logical and uses keywords if possible. For example, if you sold gym equipment online, you may structure your product pages as cardio machines, weights and barbells, boxing equipment, etc.
- An XML sitemap is recommended to assist search engines with crawling all of the pages and content on your site to make sure they don’t miss anything.
Search Engine algorithms are constantly changing so there is a need for continuous optimisation and adaptation to SEO strategy, which is why it is useful to have an expert provide ongoing management to websites. This will become even more evident in part two of this post, where we will go on to discuss content marketing, local SEO and measuring success.