Search Engine Optimisation or SEO for short, are processes and strategies that boost your organic ranking in search engines. An organic ranking is your standard non-paid placement in a search result. Now you might be thinking, its all about the keywords, if I want to rank for ‘lip fillers’ I just need to add those words to my page, and I’ll be on my way. Not quite, once upon a time at the dawn of Google, the basic algorithm with highly limited data points rewarded pages with the most keywords. Today, Google assesses hundreds of data points to determine results and their adding more every year.
If someone asked you how many times your target keyword should appear on a page what would you say, 10? 20? 50? The answer is no more than 5, which is extraordinary given the average number of words on a page ranked #1 is around 1’400. If keywords are less important, then what does Google care about?
How Google assesses your website
At the most basic level, Google likes a well-maintained, easy to use website, with fresh content and a range of digital points. By what does that mean for your businesses digital home? We break it down into 6 key points:
Performance: A fast website beats a slow website. Something you probably already knew, but not something that directly impacted search results. That is until Google announced their most recent change in 2021 – page experience. From May onward, loading speeds, interactivity and visual stability will weigh in on your SEO. Is your site prepared for these epic changes?
On-page SEO: One of the simplest ways to ensure your site is optimised, and yes, your keywords are important here. Making sure your keyword is present in key header tags, body content, alt text and the URL. But also, that your page structure makes sense to both the user and Google, so all of these elements are placed in the right layout.
Social SEO: Google has become very good at reading what is happening around your website, in particular with social media. Social platforms are not only websites, but search engines too. And with a large portion of people preferring to use social for research, communication and engagement with brands, performing here is vital. Directing users to from social to site while creating high engagement is the key.
Security: Just like an insurance company gives you a discount for a car in a safe and secure location, Google rewards websites by the same merit. Secured sites get a boost vs. non-secured sites and if you ever get hacked, you’re back to square one on the SEO journey. Choosing a trusted and secure hosting provider is critical.
User-friendliness: Making sure your site and pages can easily be navigated and understood is critical not only for your SEO, but your conversions. With the page experience update rolling out in May, Google will be analysing your user-friendliness closely and deliver results for websites that care about their customers experience. On a business level, there isn’t really much point driving hundreds and thousands of users to a site that isn’t optimised for conversions. Every element on your site should be providing value and directing users to the next stage in their buying journey.
Authority: While backlinks still hold the key to authority, they are costly to acquire and even more difficult to control. Luckily, semantic links are an opportunity build authority from within. This means creating informative topics and links that relate and support one another. For example, a bathroom renovation business is not doing enough by simply explaining their service and value proposition. They need to answer the most common questions customers have about the service such as, How much does it cost? How long does it take? What are the most popular styles? This not only builds trust with the consumer but shows Google you are an authority on this topic.
But why SEO?
The difference between using paid ads to attract customers or investing in SEO is the user’s intent and trust. Someone on Google is searching for an answer, a solution, they are far further down the buyer journey than the people we are targeting with paid ads (Google Ads excluded of course). If they visit our site, we know they are interested in one or more of our services. If we provide them with a good experience, the information they are looking for, they will trust us. And as any business owner or sales manager knows, trust is the key ingredient to a sale. That’s why SEO strategies involve a lot of informative content creation.
That being said, PPC or pay per click ads do have their place in an optimised and well-rounded digital marketing strategy. However, their deployment should be in support of another and not as standalones.