Do you remember back in the ’90s when the internet was becoming the next big thing? Can you hear that nostalgic sound of a screeching dial-up modem and feel the frustration of waiting half an hour for a single MP3 file to download?
Things have changed quite a bit since the ’90s. I’m not just talking about the terrible fashion and bad music, but more importantly, the scale and ubiquity of the internet. Today’s ever-present internet represents a whole new world of opportunities for businesses. But, with that opportunity comes increased competition.
According to internet live stats, there are over 1.5 billion active websites right now. When you’re trying to get your company found on the web, that’s a lot of competition. In this crowded space, how can you cut through the noise and get found by potential buyers?
SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is a set of practices and process that can help your website be displayed towards the top of a search results page. Having a strong SEO strategy can translate to getting more users clicking through to your site and more opportunity to convert those visitors into paying customers.
There are over 1.5 billion active websites right now. When you’re trying to get your company found on the web, that’s a lot of competition.
While SEO needs an ongoing, long-term focus, there are some quick wins to give your business a visibility boost and provide you with a fresh perspective for the long game. Here’s the quick run-down of 5 crucial aspects to building a strong SEO foundation.
On-Page SEO refers to everything you can see on a web page. It includes the aspects of your site that you have control over. On-page SEO incorporates the quality of written content, keywords, titles and descriptions, the naming of URLs, responsive design, page load speed and the use of HTTPS protocol (more on that last one later).
On-page SEO forms the bulk of the end-user experience. There’s a lot that goes into it, but the most crucial ingredient is the content itself. Quality, easily readable content that satisfies the user intent (which is a way of saying it answers a user’s search query) is what matters most. When putting content together, think about how much value it’s delivering and which questions it’s answering.
It’s important to note that as more searches continue being done on mobile devices each year, page load speed is becoming an increasingly important on-page SEO factor. You can check your speed and see improvement recommendations with free tools like PageSpeed Insights.
Quality, easily readable content that satisfies the user intent (which is a way of saying it answers a user’s search query) is what matters most.
Off-page SEO is made up of ranking factors that are not in your direct control. While there are many components, the biggest influences here are domain authority and backlinks.
Domain authority is essentially your site’s reputation and represents how much trust Google has that your site is “good” site. Authority is a relative measure of how credible your site is among other websites. Incoming links build up this “trust” measure over time. The volume and quality of backlinks creates this measure.
It’s important to build a referral strategy that targets external sites with good authority and relevance to what your business does. Carefully select the sites you reach out to, making sure they’re the right ones to be helping build your authority.
Become a local
If I type in the search term “business seminars”, the results returned to me in Sydney will be very different from the results for someone based in New York. Google knows that people often search for events near their physical location and wants to return the most relevant results for that user. Geography becomes part of satisfying the user intent. That’s good news if you’re a business with a physical presence or a local customer base.
Make sure your address details are listed on your site, look for opportunities to include location details in your content or page titles (if appropriate) and absolutely get set up on Google My Business – it’s free and it’s easy to set up. Once Google My Business is in place, ask your customers to add their reviews. It’s a fast way to build up social proof that can act as a positive sign to users looking for businesses like yours in their area.
Geography becomes part of satisfying the user intent. That’s good news if you’re a business with a physical presence or a local customer base.
The importance of security
There’s been a clear push from Google in recent years towards a more secure internet. The company wants to help its users browse the web safely so they have a better overall experience.
That little lock icon in your address bar identifies whether a site is HTTP or HTTPS (not secure or secure) and it indicates that a website is who it claims to be. Without HTTPS, secure transactions like online banking and shopping just wouldn’t be possible.
Obtaining a security certificate for your site lets you secure and encrypt data between your server and a user’s browser. It’s inexpensive and easy to obtain from a number of certificate authority companies. If you’re changing from an HTTP site to HTTPS, you’ll want to have a clear migration strategy set out. The Moz website migration guide gives a detailed run-down of what to think about here. An HTTPS migration that isn’t managed well can result in your search ranking actually declining – so start planning and plan to succeed.
Without HTTPS, secure transactions like online banking and shopping just wouldn’t be possible.
Content is king, long live the king!
The content on your site, in my opinion, is the real king of SEO. It’s the big hitter that should always be front-of-mind. Think of content from a user’s perspective. Does the text on your site talk mostly about how great your company and its products are? Or does it aim to answer the questions that users have and provide them with information and value? Do your images match the relative text and make your material easier to understand? Do you have CTAs (Calls to Action) that lead users through to further information, video content or downloadable resources?
When creating your website content, think of what a typical user might type into a search engine. Then, work backwards to create content that answers your users’ questions. If you’re not sure what users are typing in, Google Search Console is a tool that shows you the search queries that have brought users to your site. There are plenty of other keyword research tools out there to help you focus on the right keywords and the right content.
Creating regular blog content can be an effective habit for creating quality content, and in turn, increase your website’s ranking and visibility. Blogs are all about being informative and providing value to the reader. HubSpot’s article on how to write a blog post has some fantastic ideas to get you started quickly.
Think of content from a user’s perspective. Does the text on your site talk mostly about how great your company and its products are? Or does it aim to answer the questions that users have and provide them with information and value?
The fast 5 are just the start
These are just a few of the influencing factors that can build a strong SEO framework and help your business get found on the web. But there’s a lot more to it. SEO has become a modern-day artform and there are many professionals who have built their careers specifically around SEO practices.
With over 1.5 billion active websites, having a solid SEO foundation can make the difference between getting found by potential buyers or getting lost amongst the noise. Playing the SEO game is playing the long game. Don’t let your website’s visibility be stuck back in the ’90s with those dial-up modems. Start building your SEO foundation now and invest the time and effort that’s needed to play the long game.
Need help writing high-quality, SEO proofed content for your business? Shoot me an email.