Let’s start with the most obvious question. What does SEO mean?
It means Search Engine Optimisation. It’s the process of getting your website to appear on people’s search engine results.
Why is this important?
Well, what do people usually do when they want to find something out? They give it a search online.
There’s 3.5 billion searches done every day on Google alone. That’s a lot of searches.
The whole idea around SEO is that you want your website to appear as far up the search engine results as possible. In doing so, you are maximising the potential of someone clicking through to your website.
Great, How Do I Get Started?
Unfortunately, SEO can’t be done overnight. It’s an ongoing commitment of continuous improvement to staying ahead of your rivals on key search terms.
As such, you won’t be appearing at the top of search results straight away; it will take a while before you’ll really see the results of your efforts into Search Engine Optimisation.
It’s definitely worth the investment of your time and money, however.
Why Should I Invest My Time or Money?
In short, it’s good for business.
Whether it’s to read your blog, find out what you do, or even to buy your products, there needs to be a way for people to find your website organically. That is, without you having to pay to put your business in front of people.
You’ll achieve organic website hits from people clicking on links to your website from search engine results. The higher up you are in the search results, the more likely someone is going to click through.
Studies show that there’s a massive decrease in the likelihood of a click through from Google as you drop down the rankings.
The more people people that end on your website, the more results you will get; more purchases of your product, more enquires, or even more hits for your Google advertising.
Whatever the purpose of your website, having more visitors can only be a good thing.
Sounds good, right?
Read on to understand the basics of Search Engine Optimisation; providing you with a solid start to beginning your process of getting ranked on search engines for keywords.
1. Understanding Keywords
Keywords or keyphrases are crucial to Search Engine Optimisation. They are what you, we, and millions of other people search for on the internet each and every day.
Say that you wanted to find out what the best toys you could buy for your kids this Christmas were. You would probably give ‘best Christmas toys‘ a Google search to find the answers.
This is your keyphrase or keywords. A combination of words that sum up what you are looking for.
Google will usually show that your search has provided millions of results for you to choose from:
In this case, 87 million!
But which result do you pick? You’ll probably try the first one to see if it’s relevant to what you’re looking for.
That search result that you clicked on? It lead to someone’s website. The people behind that website no doubt worked very hard to get it to the top of that specific list of search results.
And when we say specific, we mean for that specific phrase of words. Instead of searching for ‘best Christmas toys‘, you might have searched for ‘what shall I buy my kids for Christmas‘, or ‘top toys Christmas‘, but those may have returned a different set of results (which they do).
Finding Your Keywords
The purpose of SEO is to get a part of your website, whether it be a page or an article, to the top of a list of search results for a particular phrase of words (one word usually isn’t specific enough).
Doing this for every different set of keywords you can think of in your area of business helps maximise the potential of someone clicking through to your website.
It’s the responsibility of the person doing the SEO to figure out:
-what keywords people are searching for, and
-in what volume, and
-whether the keywords are contested (i.e. how many other people are trying rank for those keywords).
These three statistics will help you decide what keywords to target. It’s no good trying to rank for a keyphrase that only 10 people a month search for!
Start by using Google Keyword Planner to find your keywords. It displays search trends and recommendations, the number of people searching those keywords, and how contested they are on a scale of low to high.
2.Optimising Your Website
You’ve found what keywords you want to target. What now?
You will need to optimise your website to start the process of ranking on search engines. There’s a number of things that you can do on your website, each giving you a better to chance to rank for your keywords:
Using Your Keyphrases
The first step is to actually use your keywords on your website, but it’s not just a case of throwing your keywords into some text on your homepage. There’s some strategy to it.
You’ll want to begin by assigning one keyphrase per page or per article on your website.
Most importantly, choose a keyphrase that is relevant to a particular page or post. Google and other search engines rank you higher if you’re relevant to what people are searching for.
For example, if you were to use the keyphrase ‘best Christmas toys‘, you may want to assign it to an in-depth article you have written on the top toys to buy your kids this Christmas, rather than just your homepage. That way, when someone searches for ‘best Christmas toys‘ and they click on your website in the search results, they know that they have found exactly what they’re looking for.
(Don’t forget, if you have more keyphrases than pages or articles, then thats’s your queue to start creating more content)
Relevance can come down to a few determining factors:
Click Through Rate (CTR)
The number of people who click through to your website after seeing it.
This could either be from a search engine results page or an advert. For example, if 1000 people saw your advert (this is the number of impressions) and 5 people clicked on that advert, then your Click Through Rate would be 0.5%.
For search results, it’s not so easy to measure, but your click through rate drops massively as you drop down the list on each page of a search result.
In general, the first result will get a third of all clicks. This gets progressively lower as you drop down the first page of results, and less than 10% of people will click over to the second page.
How to improve your CTR?
It’s mainly down to what and how you write your page’s title and description. The aim is to influence someone to click on your search results, so give them exactly what they want.
The Duration Time (or Dwell Time)
How long people spend on your page after clicking through.
There’s no target duration times, but the longer people spend on your website, the better. You’ll find your duration times on your Google Analytics account.
How to increase your duration times?
–Increase your page content length.
–Write better, more relevant content. People are more likely to stay on your page to read through all of your content if it’s relevant and a great source of information.
–Put in a comments section. If you’ve written a great piece of content, people will stick around to say thank you in the comments, or to ask a question.
–Add high quality images to supplement your written content. People love images. If you don’t have any images of your own, read our article to find out how you can get great looking images for free.
The Bounce Rate
The number of people who leave your website after only viewing one page.
Try to aim for a bounce rate of under 40%, meaning that at least 60% of people visiting your site will click to another page.
How to reduce your bounce rate?
–Again, write better and more relevant content, and increase the length of your content.
–Include links to other pages. Include links to your other pages or articles within your text to provide the reader with more content that you think they’ll find relevant.
–Add a sidebar, and include a list of things people might want to do, such as sign up to your newsletter.
If someone see’s your result on their search and clicks through, but then within 5 seconds of skimming through doesn’t like what they see and clicks the back button.
If someone see’s your result on their search and clicks through, spends a while reading your content and then clicks through to another page on your site to see what else you have to say.
If this keeps happening then Google will start to notice that your page is relevant to what people are looking for, and will begin to push you up the results pages.
SEO’ing Your Pages
When we say assign keywords to your pages, we mean start the process of optimising those pages for those keywords.
There’s a number of things you can do to improve the chances of ranking, such as making sure that the keywords are:
In the title tag:
In the meta description tag:
In the page’s title (H1 heading tag):
In the page’s content (but not overdone):
In the page’s images descriptions (name & alt text):
In the page’s URL:
You’ll see from the points above that we’ve chosen the keyphrase ‘SEO basics‘, and made sure to cover each point using that keyphrase. If you’ve found this article from a Google search then we’ve done our job properly. If not, then we’ve got some more work to do!
As well as maximising the use of keywords across your page, there are other factors that will help:
–The length of the content. The longer your content, the more useful and relevant information the reader is likely to get from it.
–The uniqueness of the content. If your page is only slightly different to the content on another one of your pages, you will be penalised for not writing original content.
–The number of internal links. This is how many links you have on your page to other parts of your website, that may not be what the reader was looking for, but still relevant.
–The number of outbound links. You just managed to get someone on your site, why would you want to send people away from it to other sites? If you really are trying to help people then you will no doubt use outbound links that provide further information to the reader. You may have noticed a number of outbound links in this article, sending you to sites such as Google Keyword Planner because it’s relevant to what we are explaining. Don’t overdo the number of outbound links though, use them as and when you need.
–Up-to-date content. If you were reading this article 5 years from when we last updated it, many of the items that we discuss might not be relevant to SEO rankings anymore. Keep your content up to date, say every 12 months. Simply go over your older pages and articles and update them as necessary.
SEO’ing Your Website
Factors concerning the rest of your website as a whole can also determine your search engine rankings:
–Having a sitemap. A sitemap is, well, a map of your website! It helps search engines like Google to understanding exactly what your website includes, such as pages, articles and images. It helps search engines to ‘index‘ your site, which is the process done by search engines to start including your website pages in their results pages. We explain how you can create and submit a sitemap to Google using your WordPress website in another article.
–Google Search Console. You can connect your website to your Google account by verifying that you own the website. Check out in-depth article on how to submit your website to Google.
–Mobile friendly site. The number of people visiting websites on mobile now outweighs the number visiting from a desktop. If your website doesn’t convert to a mobile friendly version, then you can’t expect to make it far up the search engine rankings.
–Domain. How old is your domain? The longer a domain has been in use, the more trustworthy then become. You should be ticking this box once your domain reaches a year old. You might also want to check whether your domain has been used in the past. If it was once part of a spammy, malicious website then it may have a black mark against it. Also, pay for 2+ years on your domain. That way search engines know you’re serious about what you’re doing. You should also remove any privacy on your domain when you’re comfortable in doing so. Domain privacy is just there to keep you’re details to yourself, but it doesn’t look very trustworthy to search engines! Make sure the information of your domain matches the information on, say, your website’s Contact Us page, such as address.
–Speed. The speed at which your pages and articles load are a very important factor for both search engine rankings and website conversions (selling your products etc.). If people are waiting too long for your content to load then they’ll just back out. The faster your website, the better. To get started, you can run a quick check of how your website is performing using the Google PageSpeed Insights tool. Just put in your domain and hit analyse.
3. Offsite SEO
Not all SEO is done directly on your website. Search engines take into account a few factors outside of your website.
Backlinks are inbound links from other websites. They are one of the cornerstones of SEO and, although they don’t play such as big role as from a few years ago, they’re still pretty important.
Factors relating to backlinks include:
-The number. How many links your website has from different domains. The more the better! The number of backlinks that you get per domain also plays a small role.
-The authority. The backlinks need to be from good quality websites. Although the more backlinks the better, if they’re not from websites that search engines trust then they wont be helping your SEO. Think news websites, local government or educational institution websites.
–Relevance. One of the main reasons someone would link their website to yours is if you had content that helped their readers. Links from websites that have content relevant to yours may also help you out.
-The diversity. Too many backlinks coming from the same types of websites are an indicator for spam.
Great, but how do I actually go about getting backlinks?
It’s all about writing great content that people will love, and engaging and sharing that content with your community. Backlinks will start appearing organically as people start sharing it.
You can also submit your business to directories and reach out to the top websites in your area if your business is local.
Regularly update your social media, get your followers engaged, and include links back to pages or articles on your website when appropriate.
If your business has a specific location that people can turn up to, you can set up a Google business page that will appear on the right of any search results for your business.
Visit Google’s submit a business page to start.
Taking you through the basics of SEO, you’ll probably be able to see that your website isn’t likely to be a success story on search engines overnight. However, we’ve hopefully given you more than enough to get started on your Search Engine Optimisation.
The best advice we can give?
Go through and start working on your SEO a bit everyday. Try and get everything that we’ve discussed ticked off. Some things will take a while, but it’s worth it in the long run.
If done right, you’ll start to notice the returns you’re getting from organic website traffic.
If you have any questions drop us a message in the comments below and we’ll be happy to help.Follow us: