SEO stands for “search engine optimization.” In simple terms, it means the process of improving your site to increase its visibility for relevant searches. The better visibility your pages have in search results, the more likely you are to garner attention and attract prospective and existing customers to your business.
Search engines such as Google and Bing use bots to crawl pages on the web, going from site to site, collecting information about those pages, and putting them in an index. Next, algorithms analyze pages in the index, taking into account hundreds of ranking factors or signals, to determine the order pages should appear in the search results for a given query.
Search ranking factors can be considered proxies for aspects of the user experience. The search algorithms are designed to surface relevant, authoritative pages and provide users with an efficient search experience. Optimizing your site and content with these factors in mind can help your pages rank higher in the search results. Unlike paid search ads, you can’t pay search engines to get higher organic search rankings.
Why is SEO important?
SEO is a fundamental part of digital marketing because people conduct trillions of searches every year, often with commercial intent to find information about products and services. Search is often the primary source of digital traffic for brands and complements other marketing channels. Greater visibility and ranking higher in search results than your competition can have a material impact on your bottom line.
However, the search results have been evolving over the years to give users more direct answers and information that is more likely to keep users on the results page instead of driving them to other websites.
What do you need to do?
SEO uses methods to help Google understand what your website and services are all about. This involves identifying keywords you can target that are relevant, have search volume, and had low competition. You implement your SEO strategy to add more context and validation to your content strategy so you can be sure to offer the kind of content your audience wants. You need to make use of standard SEO practices to make sure the page is valuable, relevant, and easy to use for your consumers.
Our SEO process is a how-to guide in 5 steps. We will be tackling each of those 5 steps in detail in our article series on SEO, starting today with Step 1: Learn what your customers are searching for.
You can’t optimize your website without knowing what your customers are searching for—that much is obvious. How do you figure this out? The best starting point is to use common sense. Imagine that you own a coffee shop in Cape Town, South Africa. Your customers are probably searching for things like “coffee cape town”, “place to get coffee near me” and “coffee shop nice cape town”
Next, you need to figure out the most popular way people search for your business. It’s likely that some of your customers are searching for your business using the words and phrases that seem obvious to you. Whether the majority of people are is another story. So the first step is to figure out the most common way people search for what you do. This entails finding out what the popular keywords are for your service. There are plenty of online keyword checkers you can make use of here.
You will also need to determine what the related keywords are. You can start to get a sense of what these other keywords are by analyzing Google search results. Look for more similar and related phrases that pop up over and over again when you try a generic search for your business. If you want even more suggestions, try to search for associated keywords in a keyword search engine.
Now that you know how people search for your business, it’s time to delve deeper into the more granular searches people make in relation to what you do. A simple way to start is to look at Google autocomplete results. Go to Google and begin typing a query in the search box, but don’t hit Enter. Google will immediately suggest some additional search terms that people have used. You can repeat this step and get more results by adding each letter of the alphabet. If you’re interested in learning the questions people ask (and search for), check if there’s a “People also ask” box in the Google results. All this will give you a good idea of what people are searching for when looking for the service your business provides.
A great way to drive traffic to your site through keywords is through content marketing. This is the art of creating useful and valuable content to attract your target customers or clients. But don’t just start a blog and hope for the best—figure out what topics are popular and engaging in your field and create content related to said topics.
Finally, you will need to understand the metrics behind the keywords you’re targeting. Most people focus entirely on the following two metrics when doing keyword research: search volume (the number of monthly searches, on average), and keyword difficulty (an estimate as to how easy or hard it will be to appear on the first page of search results for that term).
These are important as they provide useful insights into the potential of the keyword and how difficult ranking for it is likely to be. However, instead of looking solely at search volume, you should try to figure out the true search traffic potential for each keyword. That way, you can focus your efforts on ranking for the ones that are likely to send the most targeted traffic your way.
Keyword research is an essential aspect of SEO, and it can be intimidating to those new to the field. However, understanding the basic concepts and metrics is a must for every website owner who wants more organic traffic.
After you figure out the keywords for which you want to rank and what searchers are expecting to see when they type them in Google, you need to assign those keywords to the pages on your site. We’ll address creating pages optimized for search in another article, as part of our series on Search Engine Optimisation.
If you’d like to find out if your business has an optimal SEO strategy, get in touch with one of our digital marketing consultants.