One marketing expert said: “The days of SEO being a game outsmarting algorithms are over. Today content strategy and valuable, sustainable strategies are essential, not just tricks and links.”
This quote pretty much sums up what search engine optimisation (SEO) of today means.
The introduction of Google’s Hummingbird algorithm brought many changes to how keywords are interpreted on the web. For one,meta keyword tags are no longer considered as a SEO ranking factor. Keywords are still relevant, mind you. It’s just that the old practice of keyword density/keyword ratio/keyword stuffing is no longer successful. In fact, Google will penalise or ban you, temporarily or permanently, if you use these old SEO practices.
What Google actually wants is for publishers to work harder on their content and offer end users unique value rather than unique content. Publishers are encouraged to focus on the searcher intent, and use keywords with usability in mind. Loading your webpage with keywords or numbers will no longer bring you to top of the Google search results. Instead, it will send you to oblivion.
There are four elements that search engines look at in determining relevance and ranking sites. These are:
1. Content – How relevant is it to what the user is searching for?
2. Performance – Does the site load fast? Does it work properly? Does it have broken links? Just like a slow loading website, broken links are a big no-no to SEO.
3. Authority – Does it have linkable content? Do other well-known sites use that website as a reference or the information from its content?
4. User experience – How does the site look and behave? Is it easy to navigate around? Does it look safe? Does it have a high bounce rate?
Here’s how you can optimise your site for SEO success:
- Domain name – It’s probably too late for those who already have an existing business, but for those still in the stage of finding a name for their business, these tips will prove to be useful. Make your domain name short, easy to spell, and easy to remember. Having a unique name is great as long as it’s not prone to misspelling. Forget about keyword-keyword-keyword.com! You can no longer fool search engines this way.
- Keyword research – Do proper keyword research before you start your blogs/news/ebooks section. Choose only those keywords that offer high search volume, have low competition, and are relevant to the content on your site. Don’t choose keywords that are too broad or generic such as “bags” and “cars”, instead be more specific e.g. “black evening bags”, “used camry”.
- Content – Anything that you publish on your website is considered your content. This includes blog posts, ebooks, white papers, reports, brochures, videos, photos, infographics, and so on. Search engines will crawl your website and decide which keywords each of your web pages should rank for. When writing your content, stop worrying about keywords. Write for your target audience first then for SEO. Focus on the usefulness and persuasiveness of the content so you can produce an SEO-friendly output. Use a catchy title and include only relevant keywords to draw more eyeballs. Don’t make it too short or too long. Some would suggest an exact number of words, but we at Marketing Angels don’t really follow specific length. What’s important, again, is you produce a content that your audience will understand, use, enjoy, and hopefully, share with others.
- Code – With the help of your web developer, optimise your website’s code so search engines can crawl and index your website. Steer clear of dynamic URLs (e.g. www.brand.com.au/?p4654173121). Instead, opt for a static URL (e.g. www.brand.com.au/blogs). Also, consolidate your www and the non-www domain versions. Non-www versions usually don’t redirect you to the www web address. If this happens, your reader might move on to another site thinking your site no longer exists. Finally, create an XML sitemap to “help” search engine bots from indexing your website. There are tools you can use for this like the XML Sitemap Creator if you don’t know how to do it.
- Title tag – Also known as title elements, title tags are often used on search engine results pages (SERPs) to display preview snippets for a given page. These are important both for SEO and social sharing. Pay attention to your title tags as they’re the ones seen by people when they’re searching for specific product or service. Make sure each page has a unique title tag. But keep the length to 42-60 characters, including spaces, to be sure your title isn’t cut off.
- Meta description tag – If you’re using WordPress, you know that part of the information you need to supply is the meta description for your blog. Meta description basically summarises your content (e.g. a complete guide to marketing success using search engine optimisation) and it’s what will show up in search engine results together with the title tag. It may not help you rank higher but remember that a well-written meta description can have a big impact on your audience which will help them decide to click through or not.
This is by no means a complete list. But when it comes to SEO, a few important basics can get you far. You can follow these simple steps today so you can grow your traffic in no time.
Since starting her outsourced national marketing consultancy Marketing Angels in 2000, Michelle Gamble has helped hundreds of SMEs get smarter marketing. Michelle helps businesses find more effective ways to grow their brands and businesses.