Why should I care about search engine optimisation (SEO)? The answer, in a word, is revenue. Revenue driven by the competitive advantage and visibility that ranking well in search engines will afford you. Even if you don’t rank #1, a move from the top ten, to the top five Google search results can treble your site visits. So, if your website needs to generate sales, it’s a big deal. Happily, you can get good results with comparatively little effort. The ROI can be big!
In 2017, Google’s algorithm is much more sophisticated than in the past where keywords, as well as sites linking to and from your website, were the key influencers. It now incorporates social media and many other parameters. Some factors you can’t control, here are 4 factors you can.
Navigation and metadata
Ensure your website content can be easily indexed by search engine crawlers. The two best ways to achieve this is by ensuring your site has well-designed “information architecture” (IA – expressed as your sitemap) and ensuring that each section/page in your site has an appropriate meta title and description in the code that matches the content on that page. Using free, easy to use tools such as Google’s Search Console to check that your site is being indexed correctly and that there are no errors is a no-brainer.
If you have blog articles on your site, ensure the relevant social media metadata tags are implemented and cross-link your content. Along with a well-considered design and a UX strategy that allows bots and users to easily find each element (as well as be clear on its purpose), these considerations are SEO basics.
Keywords are still important. Ensure your website copy includes the search terms that people commonly use to find your business. However, DON’T OVER DO IT or you will be penalised. Also ensure your headings/titles are concise, accurate and interesting. Doing research on how users search for your content, products or services is helpful and Google Trends is a good place to start.
It’s also worth reviewing your website analytics to see where your traffic is coming from. Then you can see the context in which your content is being read and why it is relevant to users. This will help you create better content to bring them back. Another pro tip is to focus each section or page on one theme to avoid confusing either users or search bots. It’s also best practice to use keywords in custom URLs and when naming images.
(Quality) content is king
Your website content needs to provide value to your customers by either informing, entertaining or helping them to discover something new. You also need the credibility to authoritatively provide this content. Not only will this attract people to your site, other sites are also more likely to link to your content, greatly improving your ranking. This will also ensure that your content is more likely to be shared across social media, further amplifying your digital presence and driving traffic to your website, as well as improving your ranking. Keep your content original and concise; Google knows!
Google’s algorithm will also rank according to who and how many entities share your content. Organic (unpaid) shares are prioritised ahead of paid influencers, although influencers will greatly assist! Google further ranks according to whether the entities sharing your content are directly relevant to the content. I.e. is your article on the future of medicine being shared by doctors?
If your site runs display ads, to ensure users enjoy and share your content, it’s important not to annoy them with too many ads. You may need to generate ad revenue, but hopefully not at the expense of users engaging with content and sharing.
Finally, though you don’t need to post new content every day, try to be consistent to ensure people return and your ranking stays strong.
Play the long game
Well, not too long, but creating a quality website design and engaging content can take time to get right, as well as cost a little more. However, the investment ensures a high, sustainable ranking. It can also take time for Google to determine that you’re the wheat and not the chaff. However, if you follow the tips above, your ranking is sure to improve – stick with it! Google’s algorithm is now hip to all the cheap tricks and shortcuts and will actively punish those that try them.
By making a sound investment in website design, copy and developing a content strategy that aligns with your brand; not only can you be assured that your website will rank well, it can give you a compelling competitive advantage that will undoubtedly improve your bottom line.
John Mclean is a digital professional with over 11 years of experience delivering innovative interactive products, content and integrated marketing solutions.
John has been lucky enough to work in some of Australia's best creative agencies, including Droga5, Clemenger BBDO, Leo Burnett and JWT; collaborating with talented teams to produce effective, award winning digital communications for corporate, government, NPO and SMN clients.