SEO For Your Website
Digital marketing can be difficult and time-consuming.
While business owners may wish to try writing their SEO website copy themselves, there are a lot of rules to writing for the web. This can feel a little overwhelming.
The good news is, you don’t have to do it alone!
This guide to digital marketing for business owners will step you through the basics of SEO for your website, so you can start ranking higher on Google and attracting more organic traffic to your page.
There are many factors that play into your online visibility. Even the age and speed of your site will have an impact.
You’ll have to be patient. Ranking highly online isn’t something that happens overnight.
A Quick Note On Boosting Your Local Visibility
Once you’re registered and verified, people looking for relevant services in your area will be able to find you.
A Head’s Up
I’ll be referring to ‘Google’ throughout this article, as it’s the biggest and most commonly used search engine, but the same rules apply for other search engines as well.
What Is SEO For Your Website?
SEO stands for ‘Search Engine, Optimisation’ and it’s a complicated beast.
By following a series of guidelines, you can boost your ranking online without having to pour thousands of dollars into Google Adwords.
Get SEO right, and your website may just be the first thing that pops up when someone makes a relevant search online.
Your site’s rank is always changing. Activity on other websites, and Google’s regularly updated algorithm mean you may see declines and improvements even when you haven’t made any changes to your site.
It’s best to connect your website to analytic tools to keep track of your online ranking.
Why Do You Need SEO For Your Website?
The higher you rank for search results, and the more keywords you rank for, the more organic traffic you’ll attract to your page. Every visitor is a potential customer, so improving your SEO means you can get more people visiting your website without having to pay for advertising.
In the long run you may want to consider taking out an ad, but the more you can do without it, the better.
Get your SEO game right and Google is essentially advertising your site for free to people you know are already searching for your services.
Keywords are the words that your target audience are typing into Google to find you. For example, if you wanted your business to be found when people type ‘best burger joint in Sydney’, you’re going to need to have those words on your page.
Keywords are important when it comes to being found online. Google uses your words to determine what your page is about and where to feature you in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Page). The SERPs are the list of websites that show up whenever you Google something.
By putting the right words in the right places, you can improve where your website shows up in relevant search results. Bear in mind, each page is its own result in Google, so you’re going to have to do this for each individual page across your website.
Try to rank for different keywords on different pages or you’ll end up competing with yourself online.
There’s no hard and fast rule about the number of times a keyword should feature in a page, but the general rule of thumb is around 5 times, though this varies depending on the length of your content.
There’s no limit to how many words you can try to rank for on any given page as long as your website remains easy to read and you’re not keyword stuffing.
Don’t forget. While you’re writing to rank with Google, you’re selling to humans, so make sure your writing is compelling and enjoyable to read. You’ve got to weave keywords into your writing, not stamp them throughout your text.
Google ranks the user experience above everything else, so if your readers aren’t enjoying your page, Google will stop showing it to them.
Where to Put Keywords.
Google prioritises certain places over others, so it’s important to make sure you’re putting your keywords in the places that count.
If you built your website yourself, you may have noticed the options for ‘Heading 1, Heading 2, Heading 3 etc.’
The title of your page should be set as Heading 1. It’s of the highest priority and should contain your most important keywords. Subsequent headings are also important, but less so.
You need to nail that Heading 1.
You need to include your keywords within the actual body copy of your page. Be careful not to overdo it. Keyword stuffing is frowned upon and your website may get penalised for it.
While putting the right words into your page is important, it shouldn’t come at the cost of quality writing.
Remember, Google may be watching, but it’s your human audience that will be buying.
The ‘alt text’ is the text that shows up in place of your image when it fails to load. But it’s also used by Google to categorise your pictures.
Search engines can’t actually see your pictures, so the words you use to describe them are important. Google Images are their own form of search engine, so be as accurate as possible to get your images categorised correctly.
Meta tags don’t show up on your page, but they’re still vital to its ranking, and people will be able to see them in search results.
When you search a term online, you’ll notice every website listed has two types of text. The big bolded text, and the smaller descriptive text beneath it. These are known as your ‘title tag’ and your ‘meta description’.
The title tag is the bigger writing at the top of your web listing. Google uses this to work out what your page is about and how relevant it is to a person’s search. Make sure your title tag is relevant to the contents of the page and contains your primary keywords.
Your title tag is often the first interaction you’ll have with your target audience, so make sure you write something that people will want to click on.
The smaller writing underneath your title tag is your ‘meta description’.
Meta descriptions may not have a direct effect on your ranking, but your click-through rate does. Getting people to click through to your website is the first part of the battle, so make sure you’ve got a killer meta description.!
Short Tail and Long Tail Keywords
There are two types of keywords. Short tail and long tail keywords, and both have their strengths and weaknesses.
A short tail keyword is more general with a broader search volume (this means more people are searching for that term). Think ‘jeans’ or ‘basketball’. Ranking for a short tail keyword is hard, but if you manage it, you’ll get more people looking at your website.
Long tail keywords are more specific. Think ‘blue jeans in East Melbourne’ or ‘Adult basketball teams in Queensland’
They tend to have a much smaller search volume, but are more likely to attract a relevant audience. It’s also easier to rank for a long tail keyword because their specificity means there’s less competition for them.
You can find out more about long tail and short tail keywords here.
How to Discover What Keywords to Target
Now that you understand why keywords are important, you need to work out what keywords are important. There are plenty of fantastic online keyword research tools.
While the free versions are limited, you may find that’s all you need to boost your ranking.
Moz offers a great tool called ‘Keyword Explorer’. With it, you’ll be able to search 10 terms a month. SEMRush offers a 1 week trial period that will allow you to use their ‘Keyword Research Tool’ along with many other useful tools. Ahrefs offers a $7 trial that includes access to their keyword research tool.
There are two main pieces of information you’ll want to pay attention to during your keyword research. The ‘Search Volume’ and the ‘KD’ (on Moz it’s simply called ‘Difficulty). The Search Volume refers to how many people, on average, search for that term in a month. The KD refers to how difficult it is to rank for that term.
Ideally you want to target words that have a higher search volume and a lower KD so you get maximum traffic to your site without too much difficulty ranking for the term.
To keep it local, don’t forget to select your country in the location settings!
The Keywords Next Door
Google is smart, and getting smarter by the day. In fact, Google is so smart that you may find your website ranking for phrases that aren’t even written in your copy. For example, while you may have targeted the term ‘looking for clients’ in your site, Google may choose to feature you in a search query for ‘searching for customers’.
Google recognises synonyms! This means you could still rank for words you aren’t specifically targeting.
So you’ve done all your research, you’ve written your copy and your website is looking fabulous… now what? Do you sit down and wait for the customers to come streaming in?
Of course not!
You’ve put all that hard work in. You’ve got to at least see if it’s working.
There are two free online tools that are ‘must-haves’ for tracking your website. ‘Google Analytics’ and ‘Google Search Console’.
Google Analytics tracks activity on your website. It can tell you how many people visited your page, where they came from, how long they stayed and what pages they went to. It can even track visitors in realtime as they navigate through your site!
Google Search Console
Left to its own devices, Google could take weeks, even months to index your website so you can be found online. By registering with Google Search Console, your website will be indexed within a couple of days or even just a few minutes. Google Search Console tracks activity on your website. It also track what keywords your page is ranking for and how many ‘impressions’ your page has made in search results, as well as how many people have actually clicked through to your page.
You can use the console to index new pages as you add them to your site, which is particularly useful if you’re running a blog.
Keep It Fresh
Google loves fresh content. Filling new pages with quality content, and regularly updating old pages to keep them relevant is a great way of getting Google to sit up and pay attention.
Fresh content tells Google that your website is being maintained and kept up-to-date. This will help boost your ranking.
It’s All About Content
Content marketing is the name of the game these days, which is why the most successful businesses run a blog, or hire a content writer to do it for them if they find coming up with fresh content ideas too difficult. Blogging provides a steady supply of fresh, keyword-rich content that can not only boost your ranking, but helps you develop trust with your target audience.
By supplying your target audience with a steady stream of valuable content that’s relevant to your industry, you can begin to establish a relationship with them. People don’t like buying from businesses they don’t trust, so earn their trust by giving them something that they want. Information!
Don’t just stick to blog articles either!
Try producing different types of content: articles, videos, guides, infographics, podcasts, case studies, interviews. Different types of content gets shared by different websites, so broaden your reach by offering a wide range of content. This can help you to engage with different customers.
Not everyone likes to read, after all.
As much as possible you should be linking to other pages in your website (when it’s relevant). Not only does it encourage visitors to delve deeper into your content, but it gives Google an idea of the structure and hierarchy of your site. More important pages should have more internal links pointing to them.
A lot of blogs are structured into ‘Content Clusters’ which use internal links to connect relevant pages to a single ‘pillar’ post.
Content clusters are a complicated subject which I’ll cover at a later date. Right now, just focus on creating high quality content and linking to other pages of your website when relevant.
A backlink is a link that comes from an external website. Generally speaking, the more backlinks you have pointing to your site, the better you’ll rank. But be warned. Poor quality backlinks can actually damage your ranking, so make sure to avoid links that come from dodgy sites, and never buy backlinks.
Ideally you want backlinks to come from websites that are relevant to your business. So if you own a restaurant, you want backlinks from other restaurants, cafes and ‘foodie’ blogs. The best way to get backlinks is to create high quality content that other websites will want to share.
Experiment with the types of content you create to see if one is more shareable. Infographics, videos and other visual mediums typically have a higher share rate, so you might want to explore a bit with those. You can create some great infographics using a free membership with Canva.
There are two types of backlink. ‘Follow’ and ‘No-follow backlinks. Follow backlinks influence your ranking directly, whereas ‘no-follow’ backlinks don’t. Links from Facebook, Quora, Instagram and Wikipedia are all no-follow backlinks.
But that doesn’t mean they’re useless. A link from a popular Facebook page or a popular website such as Wikipedia, has the potential to drive thousands of people to your website. So while no-follow backlinks won’t impact your ranking directly, that influx of traffic will.
Now It’s Your Turn!
SEO isn’t easy, especially when you’re just starting out. But as time goes on, you’ll find that you get better and better at it. (Or get totally sick of it and get someone else to do it).
SEO is vital to helping your business thrive online. It will take a lot of work and effort, but the returns will be well worth it.
This was just a brief overview of digital marketing for business owners. In the future I’ll go into each topic in more in depth. But for now I hope you’ve gained a little more clarity on the basics of SEO for your website and how to get your business found online.
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