Marketing Fundamentals: A Complete Guide to Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
Search engine optimisation can have a huge impact on a business’s success. But the process of revamping your online content can be complicated and time-consuming, so we’ve created this guide to help you improve your search rankings.
As consumers increasingly turn to digital devices to find the products and services they need, businesses that don’t dedicate time to search engine optimisation risk falling behind the competition. To demonstrate just how much of an impact SEO can make, here are a few statistics:
- Google takes into account over 200 factors to rank its search results – high-quality content and links are the two most important ones
- More than 67 percent of website visits take place across the top five search results
- 91 percent of websites don’t get any organic traffic on Google
- 61 percent of marketing professionals say search engine optimisation and boosting organic presence are the most important tasks in boosting online performance
- Just updating and reposting old content can improve organic traffic by up to 106 percent
- The more website traffic you get, the more people will share and comment on content from your business on social media
So, using SEO to improve your ranking and bag a position in the top few search results can hugely impact the number of people who find your business online. And this can only have a positive effect on your sales figures; the more people that discover your business, the more income you’re likely to generate.
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What is SEO?
We now know why search engine optimisation is important, but what exactly is it and how can you use it to supercharge your digital marketing results?
Well, search engine optimisation describes the process of improving a website’s ranking on search engine results pages (SERPs). It involves a set of rules you can use to make your website more relevant and user-friendly.
Did you know? 91 percent of websites don’t get any organic traffic on Google
When you type something into a search engine like Google, Yahoo or Bing, the results are ordered based on complex algorithms. The search engine ‘crawls’ the available content in its catalogue, including webpages, PDF files, images and videos. Then, it ‘indexes’ it, displaying the most relevant results and – hopefully – creating a ranking of high-quality and informative web pages.
Ultimately, you can work on search engine optimisation by focussing on what people want to know when they perform an online search. What words are they using and what type of answers do they want? But of course, this is only one aspect of SEO – we’ll get onto the complicated bits in a moment.
SEO can be localised as well as national and global
Nowadays, search engines can go a step further than throwing up relevant information; they can determine your location and scour the web for content relating to your local area. This facility can be useful if you search for nearby cafes, restaurants or sports clubs, for example.
Small and medium-sized businesses stand to benefit significantly from localised search engine optimisation. It means they can reach the top-ranking positions, where they might previously have lost out to bigger brands. They’ll be suggested to potential customers and clients in their own town, city, region or state.
To be included in local searches, a website must include content relevant to its location, as well as local citations and backlinks.
There are three main types of SEO
Here are the three types of search engine optimisation you can focus on to improve your ranking position:
- Technical SEO – This involves helping search engines crawl and index your website easily. As part of this, you perform tasks such as specifying your preferred domain address, simplifying your URL and improving website navigation. Usually, when you’ve completed these jobs once, you won’t have to go back to them.
- On-site SEO – This is action you take on your website to make sure it’s picked up by search engines. You should incorporate indicators into your content, such as SEO keywords, internal links to more of your webpages and structured data mark-ups.
- Off-site SEO – This covers any activity outside of your website to boost your search engine ranking. Three examples are social media marketing, social bookmarking (enabling others to publicly share your content) and link building (increasing backlinks, the number of links to your website from other sites).
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SEO tips and tricks
Search engine optimisation can be a complicated and drawn-out process. There are so many different areas to tackle, so it can be hard to know where to start. But with a solid SEO plan in place, you can methodically improve your SERP positions, so here are our best tips and tricks for how to improve search rankings.
- The most important aspect of SEO is creating good content, so focus on building high-quality writing, images and videos. This task should form the basis of your efforts; all the other techniques just build on it.
- Unfortunately, you can’t boost your traffic and credibility overnight, so approach your SEO work as a continuous, long-term project. You can raise the profile of your business over time by incorporating good SEO practices into your online activity.
- Technology is constantly evolving, so SEO best practices change as time goes on, and if you don’t reassess your SEO activity regularly, your search engine ranking may suffer. This isn’t to say a single piece of work needs continual revision; an excellent piece of content with keywords and internal links should build up traffic over time. As a general rule, you should return to your SEO initiatives every now and then to make sure you’re staying ahead of the game. This is rarely a waste of time.
- The source of the backlinks you use on your website is crucial. If they’re located on genuine, trusted websites, your search engine ranking will improve. But if you buy links from article directories or link farms, or organise an exchange with another website, search engines will recognise this activity and limit your ranking position. For this reason, spending time developing SEO properly should hold greater benefits than paying for backlinks.
- It costs nothing to adopt SEO practices, but you should set aside some money to consult an SEO specialist before you get started. You’ll pay between £50 and £200 to gain key insights, and £800 to £1,000 for monthly packages, depending on whether you go to a single professional or an agency. This can add up, but it’s important to remember that the results should more than compensate for the money you pay.
Find out more
Hopefully you now feel more confident about tackling SEO and using it to boost your web traffic. If you’d like to learn more about using digital marketing to your advantage, why not read 6 Ways To Improve Your Digital Marketing Skills? Or, if you’re interested in harnessing the power of social media, take a look at our 10 tips for building truly effective social media marketing campaigns.
Alice Tuffery, Point Franchise ©
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