What is SEO and why should you be doing it?
SEO target Search Engine optimisation (SEO) is about being visible online and delivering relevant content.
Search engine optimisation (SEO), also referred to as organic or natural search, is the technical and marketing optimisation of your website to deliver search engine visibility and relevant customer content.
Both of these elements are important — if you work on one without the other, you’ll only achieve partial optimisation.
Technical requirements for effective SEO
If a company is not visible to search engine spiders and bots, it is not visible full stop.
To achieve the first part of SEO you need a site architecture that caters for the core indexing requirements of the search engines.
Here’s a handy list to work from:
The site should be coded to W3C standards
The site should be accessible to cater for people with visual and physical impairments. (see the W3C guidelines)
There should be be a content management system (CMS) that enables meta content to be added/edited. Note that Google keeps changing the value it places on meta data, and keywords are effectively dead following a recent announcement.
- all images should have alt tags
- your site should be readable when images are turned off
- your URLs should be search engine friendly
- you should have a robots.txt file
- you should have a dynamic XML sitemap
- don’t have multiple URLs for the same page
- create redirects for old pages that have new URLs.
Catering for customer demand
If you have ticked off the technical list, – we’ve achieved stage one of having a site that search engines can crawl and index.
The next step in SEO is making the site relevant to customers to support them through their journey and buying cycle – What use is a technically optimised site if customers can’t find what they want?
- Don’t keyword spam to tempt search engines; customers will turn off.
- Primary heading (H1) and secondary heading (H2) tags should be aligned with the latest customer search patterns across the major search engines.
- Include the brand name where relevant in Meta titles and descriptions. “Store Locator — BrandX” is better than just “Store Locator”.
- Maximise internal linking to facilitate customer journeys.
- Build relationships with influencers to increase positive PR.
- Provide a user friendly 404 error page.
Commercial benefits of SEO
- Increased relevant traffic.
- Increased natural search revenue participation.
- Increased orders and revenue.
- Reduction in dependency on pay-per-click advertising (PPC).
Playing the long game with SEO
SEO is an on-going process. – Search engine algorithms are prone to change, especially Google. Google lives and dies by search relevance and user experience — as long as people find the most relevant and helpful content via Google, Google keeps its market share.
Google is responding to new players in the market such as real time search via social media tools like Twitter. This has increased the importance of rich snippets such as customer reviews and store information.
Social media optimisation is also taking the main stage and companies with an effective customer engagement strategy via social media are reaping SEO benefits.
Nothing stays the same forever. Competition and new websites will be upping their game to compete with your natural search rankings.
Companies need to continuously evolve their SEO strategy to effectively manage visibility.