SEO – FREE Guide: Step-by-Step [PART ONE]
SEO is a term that’s commonly thrown around, but do we actually understand what it means, or let alone what is can do for your business?
What’s becoming the focus of mainstream digital marketing is the never ending chase to crack Google’s algorithm so that we might be first in line to embrace the golden apple i.e. the online consumer.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation, which is a fancy way of saying that you’re wanting to rank higher on Google, by following the set of criteria that their algorithm lays out.
Therefore, by understanding the algorithm, you can optimise your platform so that you begin that journey to the top off the digital hill.
Not to fret, we’ve spent a considerable amount of effort, time and research, identifying the criteria to rank higher on Google, although what you put in, and the quality in which it’s produced, is entirely up to you.
What do we mean by criteria? Well, there are over 200 factors that Google have attempted hiding from us, but with the power of knowledge, it didn’t take too long for experts to figure this out.
How does SEO work?
Before we dive in, it’s important to note why SEO is so important and how it will change the way you run or business, and transform your digital marketing.
For example, did you know that roughly 75% of searchers start their online search with Google, and of those users, 67% are like to click on the first five clicks.
But, we’re not aiming for top five, we want to know how you get to number one and leave our competitors in our digital dust.
Now, you might be thinking, if I write an article on little old anything but follow these criteria, I’m still going to rank higher. WRONG, the purpose and mission for all content should be quality, validity and entertaining!
Focusing on these three elements are crucial, before optimising your content – don’t forget it!
How do Search Engines Work?
There are three basic processes (also know as bots) that choose which pages appear on your search:
Crawling – Analyses a website’s pages for details such as imagery, titles, keywords, linked pages, etc. This allows them to find new information from differing websites.
Indexing – Once the bots is familiar with all your information, it then proceeds to index your website to search results.
Serving Result – The final step is for the bot to decide where your rank in relation to your competitors, all talking about the same thing.
Categories of SEO
The three categories of SEO your strategy can fall under: Black Hat SEO, White Hat SEO, and Grey Hat SEO.
White Hat SEO will guarantee you success, but it will take a little longer to get there while following all of the guidelines laid out.
Black Hat SEO will ensure success at a much higher rate, but by completely ignoring the fact that your platform is designed for humans and not robots watching your every move.
Gray Hat SEO is a mixture of the two categories, where you integrate some cheap Black Hat tactics amongst your more White Hat tactics. Even though you’re at risk, there’s less chance of getting caught by the Google fun police.
Needless to say, we’re going to taking the blue pill (White Hat SEO) today, because we’re not about spammy content and getting banned by Google.
Types of SEO
Now that we understand it’s nature, it’s time to talk about the different types of SEO, or rather where we execute SEO.
There are three broad types of SEO:
On-Page SEO – Google looks at your website is built internally, to see how it’s structured, how it runs, how interesting the content may be, and how much traffic it receives.
Off-Page SEO – Anything that may link to your website, such as social media, industry blogs, online press, directory submissions, etc.
Local SEO – Optimising your website for local audiences, establishing your Google business page, and providing topical content.
The main two elements that you’ll need to consider, in order to make this work is your website and the blog that resides within it. Making use if these two platforms will help you further your ranking and beat your competitors.
Let’s start with the most fundamental factor, which is your content. Not only are you going to have to start blogging on a regular basis, but you’re going start analysing the content that’s already on your website and start looking for ways to improve it.
If you haven’t got a blog already, we suggest that you start one today. What you learn in this article today, will be applied to to your blog content. It also just happens to be the best tool to gain favour from Google externally.
It’s imperative that we remind you that we’re not in this to simply cheat the system, we’re in it because not only are we brand managers, but we’re story tellers as well. In order to become a thought leader within your industry, make sure you’ve got a strong brand purpose to lay out. Once established, seek out to educate users with the best quality content you can offer your industry.
Jandre De Beer, MD of V8 MEDIA says that, “There is no way of forcing people to visit your website often, but by producing quality content and offering them a ton of value, I can guarantee you they will be coming back soon or later”.
Back in the day, SEO was all about making sure you had the relevant terms or keywords stuffed into your website or blog articles.
Today, there are millions of websites putting out millions of content every day, so in order to compete with these websites, you’re going to have to be a bit more tactical with how you select your keywords.
Types of Keywords:
Head Terms: Single words with lots of search volume but highly competitive.
Body Keywords: 2 - 3 word phrases that get sufficient search volume – at least 2,000 searches per month.
Long Tail Keywords: 4+ word phrases that are usually very specific – at least 10 - 200 searches per month.
This is the process of understanding what words or key phrases are popular amongst most online users, in hopes to optimise your content around those words or phrases.
If you’re looking to rank higher, follow these simple guidelines:
Step 1: Google! The best thing you can do is google your primary keyword, and see what words Google suggest a. in the drop down below the search panel & b. the ‘Related To’ section at the bottom of your page. Presto! You’re off to a good start.
Step 2: Wikipedia is a great way to search for keywords that relate to your topic. Simply look at the sections panel on the left, and take down what’s relevant.
Step 3: A simple search in Google: ‘your topic’ + ‘forum’, to see what users are asking.
Step 4: Google Trends. Google have a tool that tells you what queries users are searching for. Go check it out!
Here are a list of great Keyword tools to help you out:
Now that you have a comprehensive list of keywords, it’s time to elect the one’s that are going to get you the most traffic.
Here’s a list of factors to note when selecting your keywords:
Search Volume: determines how many or how often users are searching for that keyword or phrase.
Organic Click Through Rate (CTR): do a quick Google search to see how many Paid ads you’re competing against. Too many and you might not gain the traffic that you’d hoped for.
Difficulty: you don’t want to choose words that are too competitive, or overused, rather look for long tail keywords that get sufficient search volume, and have a low competitive rating.
Cost Per Click (CPC): This determines the value of the keyword, based on how likely the user is to spend money on that term. So don’t be fooled if it has a low search volume, a high CPC is a great opportunity.
Bonus tip: try branch out and talk about something that isn’t directly related to your industry, but is still relevant to your brand. This allows you to go after popular topics that might be less competitive.
TIP: Ensure that your keywords are place strategically, such as in URL, headlines, meta description, but do not, and we repeat, do not overdo it.
c. Content Frequency
We’re not saying that you have to start throwing out blog posts every day, but Google does take into consideration how fresh the content on your website may be.
Having that said, if you can put out an article once a week, focusing on in-depth information (2,000+ words), you’d be off to a pretty good start.
What most Marketing experts are discovering is that by repurposing old content and improving, updating and adding to the article, they still get the same results as publishing a brand new article.
Choosing a topic for your blog article:
The blogging space has become extremely competitive, so make sure you’re writing content that’s not only unique, but ahead of its time. If you do happen to see a topic that interests you, try improve on what that article is teaching your audience.
Google likes an article that clearly stipulates what a title is, a sub-title, and further sub-headings. In order to do this, we insert things called h-references in the code source. This makes things easier for Google to index your page.
Numbering works systematically, where your main (and only) header will be marked as <h1>, under the page’s source code. All subheadings will be listed as <h2>, and further sub-sections as <h3>, <h4>, and so on.
<H1> Organic hats are awesome
<H2> Why we think organic hats are awesome
<H3> They don’t just come in yellow!
<H3> They’re good for more than just the environment
<H3> They’re not as pricey as you think
Here’s an awesome HTML cheat sheet, just for you!
When a user searches a term, they’re presented with a list of striking titles (known as title tags) accompanied by meta description (which we’ll get to in a second).
Some basic title guidelines,
Make it descriptive, like a newspaper title, do not stuff with keywords unnecessarily.
Use parenthesis to convert more leads e.g. [FREE TEMPLATE] / [FOR BEGINNERS].
Be authentic, you’re talking to a human
Be concise (below 80 characters)
Do not repeat words, it does not help.
EXAMPLE, say you sell Organic soaps, perfumes, and cosmetics, but you also specialise in organic hats.
Wrong: Organic Soaps & Perfumes | Organic Hats & Cosmetics | SKIN & CO.
Right: SKIN & CO. | The home of organic soaps, perfumes, hats and cosmetics.
These are the tiny excerpts that Google display on your page whilst searching for something specific.
Length – It’s important to keep your descriptions below 150 characters, otherwise you might find that your except is cut short.
Tone – Make it actionable and make use of an active voice, e.g. Learn more, Get it now, Try for free.
Keywords – Google likes it then the search keyword matches a part of the meta description, and will even go as far as to highlight it in the search results.
USP – entice users with what’ so unique about your product/service.
Content – Make sure that your description matches the content on your site so that Google doesn’t think that you’re baiting users to clicking through to your website.
Schema (Advanced HTML)
Take your Meta description even further by adding Schema coding for additional features like five star ratings for a product e.g. a book.
Schema Codes List: https://schema.org/docs/full.html
e. Site Architecture
Having a great structured website, means for an even greater user experience. Your website needs to flow smoother than a Single Malt Whiskey.
When we say architecture, we’re referring to factors such as fast loading times, a safe connection, and a mobile-friendly design.
User Friendly – If your grandmother can navigate your website, then you’ve got this one nailed down.
Fewer Clicks – Three to four clicks to get to any page, maximum.
Consistency – Navigation must be consistent throughout the website, avoid any form of differentiation.
Leverage Industry Familiarity – Compare yourself to the industry giants, and ask yourself what’s missing from your platform?
Unique URLs – Have one unique URL per piece of content. Any more and you’ll create a navigational mess.
Internal Links – If you have something that relates to another page or piece of content, make sure you’re linking to that page.
Robust Sitemaps – Include a detailed list of all page links at the bottom of your website.
Light Content – Ensure that all of your media is the minimum file size, as to not slow down your site’s speed.
Broken Pages (404 errors) – Last thing you want is for a user to reach a page that’s crashed, take advantage of this by creating a unique crash page or by redirecting users to another page.
Dead Pages –
Device Friendly – Has your website been optimised for more than just Desktop i.e. smartphones, tablets, etc.
f. Keywords in URLs
Even though this helps, don’t give it too much thought. Remember, it’s important that we focus on the user appeal first, then only consider how to optimise for SEO. Similar to your title tags, try and include 3+ keywords in your URL without sounding too much like a robot.
g. HTTPS vs. SSL
HTTPS is a secure version of HTTP and SSL stands for Secure Socket Layer. This is typically done through your domain provider, so make sure you’ve checked that off before buying your unique URL.
Note, Google will even go as far as to warn users if a site is not secure, which will no doubt hurt your SEO ego.
Think you’ve got it? If not, feel free to leave your questions below. Next week we’re going to talk about how off-page SEO works and how to convert more leads for you business by doing it. Sign up to our newsletter on our home page to make sure you don’t miss out!