If your website is struggling to get you sales or leads, there could be many things which you can look to improve. Learning how to do SEO is a great start.
One of the key areas is getting website traffic. If no one can find your website, how can you expect to get sales?
There are many key ways you can make improve your brand awareness and make your website easily found:
- Social Media marketing
- Traditional (offline) marketing
So if you are wondering how to do SEO, in this article we’ll look at the basics to get you started.
Firstly what is SEO?
It stands for Search Engine Optimisation. It’s the process of working to move your website up the Google/Bing rankings for specific keywords with a view to increasing your website’s visibility.
Generally, people will not go past page 1 of a search engine results page when looking for something. So you want to do all you can to make sure your site appears on page 1 for keywords which are relevant and important to you.
There are 2 main search engines these days, the first one we all know of as it’s now become a verb. You no longer search for something you Google it!
The second is Bing, which is Microsoft’s search engine. At the time of speaking according to Statista, Google has the highest market share by far with 85.7% of the desktop, tablet and console search engine market in the UK. After Google comes Bing with 10.65%. Yahoo comes third with under 2%.
Not only do you want to be on page 1, but you want the best position possible. As the position falls down the page, as does the click through rate. Approximate click through rates per position are as follows (averaged from multiple sources).
- First – 43%
- Second – 37%
- Third – 30%
- Fourth – 19%
- Fifth –11%
- Sixth– 10%
- Seventh – 5%
- Eighth – 4%
- Ninth – 4%
- Tenth – 3%
So for a phrase which has an average search volume of 100 searches per month, 43 of those would click on the first result, and just 3 would click on the last.
These click through rates can be optimised. The title and description which appear for your site in the SERPS (search engine results page) need to be worded to help encourage the click to give you the best possible click through rate. The click through rate, or CTR, Put simply, is the percentage of impressions (number of times your site showed on a search result page) that resulted in a click.
The information which shows when your website appears up are called the meta title and the meta description. Your meta title should be no longer than 60 characters, and the description 160.
First thing you need to do when learning how to do SEO is look at your target audience, and do some research into the keywords/phrases and topics which are important to you as a business. Then create content around this.
What words should you want to appear for if someone searches for them? You should consider keywords which appeal to potential customers at all stages of their buyers journey, for example are they just researching a problem or looking for a more specific solution?
The buyers journey consists of a three-step process:
- Awareness Stage: The buyer realizes they have a problem.
- Consideration Stage: The buyer defines their problem and researches options to solve it.
- Decision Stage: The buyer chooses a solution.
There are tools available to help with finding out what keywords you should focus on, by analysing their search volumes and difficulty to rank. One of our favourites is ubersuggest.com.
Ubersuggest will let your enter a keyword or a website, and it will provide you with a wealth on information on the keywords/website.
Check out the competition
A great place to start is by looking at your competitors – what are they ranking for?
The important information is the keyword data. There are a two key numbers relating to each keyword which are important:
- Search volume: How many times per month do people actually search for this?
- Search difficulty: How difficult will it actually be for you to get your website ranking for this word?
Generally a higher volume word will have a higher search difficulty. So you have to look for the little golden nuggets – the keywords with higher search volumes, but with low difficulty to rank.
Once you have your keywords, you have a starting point for working out how your content should be structured.
Each page of your website should ideally be optimised for a single key word/phrase. Search engines are clever, so chances are you will also rank for variations and synonyms of that keyword too if it matches the searcher’s intent.
Another key ingredient of how to do SEO is by considering the context of the search, or search intent. There are 4 different types of search intent – https://yoast.com/search-intent/
- Navigational. The user wants to find a specific page or site. Dominated by branded keywords, an example of this is someone search for ‘Facebook’ rather than typing in Facebook.com.
- Informational. The user wants to answer a specific question. Usually this will include phrases such as “how to,” “what is,” “where is,” “why do,” etc.
- Transactional. The user wants to complete a specific action (conversion). This could be a purchase of a product, signup to an email newsletter, or completion of a contact form.
- Commercial investigation. The user wants to research and run comparisons between two or more products before making a purchase decision.
By working out how each type of intent relates to your offering, you can map out a keyword strategy to be able to capture traffic searching in all 4 ways.
So how do you optimise a page for a specific keyword? There are good and bad techniques for optimising pages. Here are some dos and don’ts relating to your keywords:
- Make sure it appears in the page title
- Use it in the page url
- Use it in the meta title and meta description
- Place it in the body of your content consistently (a good density is around 1-2%)
- Use variations and synonyms within your content
- Force it into the text unnaturally
- Keyword cram
- Duplicate content
Your content should be created for your users primarily, so it needs to read well, be high quality and engaging.
Other things which can help improve the page include having outbound links (to other high quality sites) as well as internal links to other pages on your site.
A good way of showing Google that your website is an authority on a subject is by creating topic clusters.
A topic cluster includes one key content page which is focused on a fairly high level keyword. Then there are lots of subpages on sub-topics to the main page.
Let’s take for example a keyword we focus on – ‘web design’. We’ve created a key content pillar page about this, along with 10 or so pages on sub topics, all of which link to this article. Our sub topics include things like website maintenance, WordPress, e-commerce, website content, etc.
All these subpages will link back to the main page. Inbound links on a website help to show the search engines your important pages.
Again your sub pages can cover words covering all stages of the buyers journey.
How do I know how well a page is optimised?
We use WordPress a lot. One of the benefits of WordPress is the vast range of plugins available to extend its functionality.
One of the most important and commonly used plugins is SEO Yoast.
Once installed, Yoast will provide you with a traffic light system score for each page, letting you know how well your page is optimised to give you the best possible chance of ranking.
Not only does it give you a score, but it makes recommendations as to how to improve it.
Remember it’s just a guide – having all green in every page doesn’t guarantee anything. It just means you’re giving yourself the best opportunity to rank well.
So what things does Yoast Recommend?
The Yoast scoring system is based on 2 things – technical SEO and readability.
The technical score is based on things like keyword density, length of content, use of titles, inbound and outbound likes, use of images, meta titles and descriptions, etc.
The readability score looks at some other things:
- Flesh reading ease – how easy is the content to read?
- Sentence length – shorter sentences make a body of text easier to read.
- Use of passive voice vs active voice (info about this can be found here https://yoast.com/the-passive-voice-what-is-it-and-how-to-avoid-it/)
The above illustrates that it’s important not to write for the search engines, but write for your users first. If done well, the rankings will follow.
As well as working ‘on page’, it’s important to work ‘off page’ and to build your website’s reputation. This is primarily done through backlink building.
Think of a backlink from another site to yours as being a ‘vote’ – it’s telling Google that the referring site deemed your website interesting enough to link to some content.
But not all backlinks are created equal – there are good and bad links.
A good link is from a website which is high quality (DA or domain authority is a good way of gauging how reputable a site is from a search engine point of view). It must also be relevant to your industry, and the link must be natural.
So if for example you are in the car industry, having a link from a website about shoes wont be as good as having a link from site which talks about tyres.
The preferred option is a link which appears quite high up in the body of text, eg not a footer link. And the anchor text can play an important role (eg the actual words which have the hyperlink embedded). For example a link which has the generic ‘click here’ might not be as impactful as using keywords.
Directory listings, although important for other reasons, won’t provide too much of an impact. Anyone can get them at scale. It’s the links which are earnt through providing high quality content which will provide the biggest influence on your rankings.
Gaining high quality backlinks is hard work. You can spend a lot of time emailing websites asking for them to link to a great relevant piece of content you’ve created but might get minimal responses.
How to do SEO conclusion.
SEO is a marathon, not a sprint, you should never expect to get instant results. If you need instant traffic then run a PPC campaign.
When done well, good SEO will last and bring you consistent traffic on a regular basis.
If done badly or using black hat techniques, the search engines may penalise you.
Having a plan and strategy in place is imperative, and be patient. Analyse as you go, adapt, learn and re-optimise when required to ensure you get the best from your SEO campaign.