What is SEO?
SEO or search engine optimisation is all about increasing your website’s ranking in search results.
89% of customers begin their purchase with an internet search. So achieving a prominent position in search results is obviously hugely beneficial. SEO aims to place your company on the first page or at least near the top top of the results for a relevant keyword. The click-through traffic falls off dramatically on subsequent pages. Research carried out by Caphyon in 2014 found that the first page on Google received 71.33% of organic traffic, but this drops to a mere 5.59% for pages two and three.
Google may not be the only search tool for the internet but it is the largest, processing over 3.5 billion searches a day. However, all search engines are designed to deliver the best results for a user.
As Google puts it, ‘search engine optimisation is about putting your site's best foot forward when it comes to visibility in search engines, but your ultimate consumers are your users, not search engines’. And this is important – any changes and updates you make to your site should be based, first and foremost on what is best for the visitors to your site.
Paid vs Organic search methods
Pay per Click (PPC) and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) are different.
PPC refers to buying paid or sponsored ad listings in order to boost web traffic. It can be an expensive way to rank highly for popular keywords but can give you immediate traffic. In comparison, SEO methods take longer to show results but they improve a site’s ranking and credibility via organic (free) techniques. SEO is therefore accessible to all companies and extremely popular with small businesses and start-ups, that don’t have big budgets for promotion and advertising.
SEO is a crucial tool in your company’s marketing mix and many of the techniques are easy to achieve. A combination of both techniques will build your prominence in search results.
As a digital marketing strategy, SEO focuses on optimising your websites for inbound traffic by making changes to content, display, site architecture and links in order to get a higher rank in the index and ultimately deliver a better experience for visitors.
SEO sounds complicated but there are easy things you can do to improve your website. Read on!
How does SEO work?
Search engines want to deliver the best results for their user. When a user types in a search word or phrase, a search engine’s search ‘bots’ trawl the internet, tracking and categorising websites. The better your site delivers on ranking factors, the higher you will appear in search results.
Here’s how it works:
- Users types in a search word or phrase (keywords)
- Search bots crawl websites, based on what people are searching for.
- Search engines create an index for the websites they encounter and the location where they are found
- Websites with high index rankings will appear higher on the search engine results page (SERP)
There are over 200 factors that impact your index ranking. But some matter more that others. In the list below we have focussed on the main ones. Some of the changes will be small modifications but when combined they could have a noticeable impact on your site's user experience and performance in organic search results.
Review your site based on the following factors:
1. Performance: This is your site’s ability to function properly and at an acceptable speed. 40% of people will leave a site if the loading time takes longer that 2 seconds. Do a speed test using a tool like pingdom or Google pagespeed insights which will identify areas that need improvement such as leveraging browser caching or compression of photos and video.
- Tip: The first load on a speed test tool, may be slower, so run the test a couple of times and take an average of the results.
2. Ease of Navigation – Your website should have a logical and intuitive directory structure that makes it easy for visitors to find what they are looking for. Use URLs for website pages are concise and relevant to the content with brief but descriptive titles that are unique to each page.
- Tip: If your pages headings make sense, you will make it easier for consumers to type the URL into their web browser. Using numbers is discouraged, instead use hyphens and underscores to separate the words. Here’s an example from our website: https://bomamarketing.com/2018/04/22/if-your-website-doesnt-work-on-mobile-prepare-to-lose-customers/
3. Quality Content: Keep your existing customer engaged and bring new visitors in with well written and easy to follow content and keep updating it regularly. 84% of people now expect brands to create content but creating great content is what improves the visitor experience and your SEO.
- Tip: Create content that is specific to your target audience and provides them with something that interests them. Then promote your digital content on social media.
4. Relevance: The themes of your site and information found on the pages, should match the keywords being searched for. The page’s titles and descriptions should also correspond to the search.
5. Popularity: The amount of organic traffic a site experiences is proof of it’s value. Grow your traffic, by extending your reach, and offering users a reason to visit your site. For example, share your blogs as a Facebook post, a tweet or as an article on LinkedIn.
6. Backlinks – Essentially these are links from other sites. If the sites that link to you are high quality, these are like a vote of confidence and they provide evidence for search engines of your authority.
- Tip: Read BOMA’s guide on building backlinks
7. Bounce rates – This is the percentage of visitors who leave a page immediately after selecting it. The lower your bounce rate, the better for SEO.
- Tip: Give your visitors a reason to stay with interesting and unique content.
8. Mobile responsive – With the rise of ever more powerful and user friendly smartphones more than half of Google searches are now made via mobile and recently, Google announced that it’s search engine will begin ranking and indexing pages on the mobile versions of sites rather than the desktop one. So ensuring your website is optimised for mobile is key for SEO.
Understand Who is Visiting Your Site
Determining what visitors do on your website will help you when analysing the efficacy of your SEO marketing efforts.Traffic analysis tools such as Google Analytics can provide detailed metrics relating to traffic on your website including:
- Where your traffic originates geographically.
- How long they stay on your site
- What pages perform well and which ones need improving
- What outside sites or links are being used to redirect visitors to your website.
Once you have a good handle on the behaviour of your website’s visitors, this information can guide your SEO efforts.
Keep up the good work
Designing your website around your end user’s needs will ensure the pages are well written and easy to follow and this is SEO gold.
The art of successful SEO is to continue to keep your site looking naturally good with fresh relevant content . Once you’ve addressed some of the factors above don’t stop there. Keep it up so that you encourage your visitors to come back to read more.
Be patient, SEO can take time. But the really positive thing about SEO is that, as you improve your online offering, the positive effect this has on visitor numbers will also improve your ranking and vice versa.
The technology might be new but the same rules apply as with your bricks and mortar business, be authentic and offer value. This is what will continue to give you an edge.
About the Author: Liz Studholme is the Marketing Content Manager at BOMA.
BOMA takes the complexity out of digital marketing. Find out more.