With there being almost 2 billion websites on the internet at the start of 2019 (webitehostingrating.com), businesses can ill afford not to be found via search engines. For those that are starting out, marketing budgets tend to be tight and it simply isn’t possible to compete with the deep pockets of the competition which makes it pivotal to master search engine optimization (SEO) as best as you possibly can.
Major search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo! Will rank content for the user based on what they believe is the most relevant. The platforms use algorithms that consider several factors about your website including the content, links, HTML, speed, words used, titles and ads. All of these are worked into a score that will ultimately rank your website when a user search for it. For example, if you are selling shoes but your content talks about socks, users searching for shoe stores will never find you because of the unrelated content.
Google have over 200 ranking factors within their algorithms to search a site. It wouldn’t be productive to go deep into what all those attributes might be as essentially, they all fall back towards having quality and relevant information packed into your website.
The key to SEO
You shouldn’t underestimate how much hard works need to go in to an effective SEO strategy and this article isn’t going to give you a fast workaround to make it happen overnight. However, with the advent of machine learning over recent years, some marketers have started to make the mistake of optimizing their SEO so it is fit for algorithms and forgetting the purpose of their own website – it is for the people.
For example, you will hear of businesses in what is known as “Black Hat” SEO which is a method they use to try and trick Google into thinking their site is better quality or more relevant than it is.
Common techniques are loading the site with keywords and repeating those words repeatedly often to a point where the content doesn’t make much sense. Others will use keywords that are not related to their business simply to draw traffic in but ultimately that ends up increasing their bounce rate and having a negative impact. You may see some sites containing blogs with a huge number of spam comments to increase content in an attempt to drive SEO based traffic. There are various other ways to attempt to “trick” Google (hence Black Hat) but these efforts will always end up as fruitless where the intricate algorithms of the search engine are incredibly smart nowadays.
Think of your customer
The best way to improve your SEO is to think like your customer and try to target them through their journey towards buying your product. Imagine you are a company selling televisions. Your goal is to get people buying a television. However, before they get to a point where they are ready to purchase, they probably go through an entire behavioural journey so you wouldn’t build a website just with a batch of products and hope they buy them.
First off, a customer probably wants to compare different television products so will look for specifications. They may then try to find reviews of the products to see what other people think of them. The customer may want to investigate different payment options for the television rather than just paying upfront. At each of these different stages of the buying journey, you need to have effective SEO to bring in the traffic – a site where the customer can find the information relevant to them. If they search for “television buying payment options” and you have nothing there, you are out of the equation straight away.
The best SEO understands what the customer needs at every stage of their journey
How can I find out what is working and what customers want?
To analyse your SEO, the first step is always to look at Google Analytics, both because it provides valuable insight and is a free tool that everybody can integrate with their website. As well as several other metrics, Google Analytics can tell you:
- Which pages your customers are finding
- How many of them stay on the page
- How long they stay on the page for
- What devices do they use to access the page
- What search term your customers use to find your page
- At what point customers leave your website
With all this information at your fingertips, you can quickly begin to see which parts of your website are working and which might need more work. For example, if you have a page where customers only stay for 1 second and then leave, it would point towards an issue with your SEO and the information they see being irrelevant against what they searched for.
To improve your SEO, Google has a Keyword Planner Tool that can guide you as to what customers are searching for online and suggest how you might change your content. The tool provides insight into how often people are searching for specific terms and how that is changing over time. This can be used to align your website content and improve the quality and relevancy to the end customer, thus increasing the potential for traffic.
A lot of businesses will use Pay Per Click (PPC) Marketing to increase their likelihood of ranking well on these terms but this is not advised until such a point that your SEO has been fully reviewed.
The key to generating traffic via SEO is through understanding your target customers and ensuring that you have quality and relevant content. People will use and come back to places they trust, and it is vital that you don’t fall into a trap of trying to trick the algorithms as it simply won’t work. If you are looking for SEO keyword research or analytical approach to your SEO initiatives, Contact StrategicDB for their marketing analytics insights.