In this post, we’ll go over some of the topics that will be discussed in the webinar to help facilitate a greater overall understanding of SEO and how you can make the most of this powerful form of organic digital marketing.
What’s the point of the webinar?
As we mentioned, the webinar is meant to help businesses owners or those new to SEO maximize on their organic digital marketing efforts while also helping to raise funds for the Greater Vancouver Food Bank in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The webinar will be presented by Jesse Ringer, founder of Method and Metric who brings a decade of search engine optimization knowledge, experience, and expertise with him. By the end of this webinar, you’ll have the tools and knowledge to:
- Gain a better understanding of SEO and how it can fit into your marketing efforts
- Prioritize the low-hanging fruit + things you can control
- Use the right tools to make smarter decisions
- Build a long-term plan to grow your audience + revenue
Alright, so let’s get started!
What is SEO anyway?
The method of optimising a website and other associated online assets is SEO (Search Engine Optimization), to increase the chances of ranking higher organically in Google and other search engines. It’s a long-term strategy that provides a good ROI down the road because it reduces the need for increased spending on advertising. Instead of targeting your audience with ads, it allows your customers, clients, and others who are important to your business, to find you organically.
Although SEO shouldn’t be a stand-alone strategy and work better in tandem with your other marketing activities, today’s most effective online businesses have some form of SEO in place and for many, it’s their primary marketing initiative.
How does SEO work?
Many people are unaware of how search engines work but the aim of SEO is to ultimately capitalize on search engine mechanics by making it easier for them to find and understand websites.
Google and other search engines are working to crawl websites by sending out spider robots (sounds scary I know). It then indexes the web page within Google as these search engine spiders crawl the internet and gain an understanding of the content, meaning, and other related details of a web page. When a user performs a search query, Google quickly reviews and retrieves its indexed content to serve the results it believes are most relevant and beneficial to the searcher.
When SEO is done properly, it helps communicate your information to Google more accurately and efficiently, which helps you reach the people actively searching for your product or service.
Keep in mind that SEO is NOT:
- Overnight success
- Tricking or manipulating the search engines to show your site
- Bate and switch your visitors
- Misleading information or spam
SEO Basics: A Starting Point
In the next segment, we’re going to go through some basic SEO components that will lay the groundwork for your long-term growth strategy and help you understand how they work. Many of these elements will give your website considerable value without requiring excessive time or budget.
Keywords refers to the search words and phrases that are “key” (most important) to your business. These are essentially terms that your customers, clients, and other people relevant to your target market are using in search engines to find the products and services you offer.
Keyword research usually represents the first step in implementing SEO. You can then use these terms on your website by learning the keywords and phrases your audience uses, making it more possible for search engines to fit your website with specific search queries.
We can see from this example that not only has Google provided an exact match for keywords in some instances but also provided related terms that it has deemed relevant based on the search intent.
Keyword + search intent
When performing your keyword research, you’ll want to consider the intent behind certain search terms. Oftentimes, search intent is classified into 3 main groups (which can also overlap):
- Informational – This refers to search queries where the user is looking for information about something.
- Navigational – This refers to search queries where users likely know what they want and now they’re looking for how to get there.
- Transactional – This refers to instances where the user has purchase intent behind the search query.
As you conduct your keyword research, you’ll want to be mindful of the intent of each term. Some keywords may fit better on certain pages of your website than others. Identifying the search intent behind these terms will help you to be strategic in your overall keyword placement.
How to choose the right keywords
When determining which keywords are right for your website, you’ll want to take a few things into account such as:
- Search volume – This metric refers to the approximate number of searches each month for this term
- Competition – You’ll want to know how competitive this term is
- Search intent – You’ll want to make sure you (and Google) understand the intent behind the query
- Top performers – You’ll want to look at who is performing at the top of the Google search results page to gauge whether or not is worth pursuing
Free simple tools such as Ubersuggest, can provide most of these metrics for most domains.
Pro tip: If web giants like Amazon or Wikipedia own the top spots for certain terms, it’s probably best to shift your focus to different terms as the average website will never likely be able to outrank these established powerhouses.
The best place to start for most websites is to:
Avoid broad terms and instead focus on long-tail search keywords. These are hyper-specific terms that you’ll have a better chance of ranking for that will yield the most benefits.
Broad keyword: power tools
Long-tail keyword: affordable power tools in Denver with a lifetime warranty
- Choose a mix of keywords that have high, medium, and low search volume
- Focus on the terms most valuable to your business
- Aim for terms with medium or low competition as this will give you the best chance of ranking for those keywords
- Ensure you have a mix of informational, navigational, and transactional type terms
- Look for related terms + synonyms
- Take advantage of free tools such as: Keywords Everywhere, Ubersuggest, SEOQuake
- Analyze competitors’ websites for valuable insights
- Use Google’s predictive answers to get ideas for keywords and phrases then use SEO tools to analyze the data associated with the term(s)
Without a competitive analysis no SEO strategy is complete. It’s really an integral aspect. Not only will this help you to understand how dynamic the search environment is for the market in which you are, but it will also allow you to “peek” at what your rivals are doing right or wrong and provide insights at how you can take advantage of that.
How to perform a competitor analysis
The best and easiest place to start with this can be as simple as heading over to Google and searching for the keywords that are important to your business. Who shows up consistently? This might be a good indicator of who some of your competitors might be.
Note, from several perspectives, you will need to approach your competitive analysis. Look beyond business simply in the same space you are in and consider the keyword strategy, content strategy of your rival, and how everything blends together to shape their SEO success.
You can become as advanced and detailed as you want to be by using crawling software like Screaming Frog to scan a competitors website and audit their SEO. Additionally, you can use full SEO suites such as Moz, SEMrush, or Ahrefs which offer a host of tools and resources to analyze keywords, competitors, and more in greater detail.
If you’re looking for an in-depth walkthrough on how to perform a competitor analysis, check out our guide below.
Part of the SEO method is making it easier to crawl your website for search engine spiders. At the same time, you are going to want to make sure that your website provides easy navigation and good user experience overall. Ensuring proper site hierarchy is one of the most fundamental aspects of this. Not only does it make it easier for users and bots to find the information they are looking for but it helps keep things organized and multi-page websites typically perform better than their one-page counterparts.
Basic site hierarchy tips:
- Breadcrumbs – Help with indexing and users orientating themselves on a site
- URL structure – Multiple levels help users and Google understand
- Don’t make every page the same level
- Keep URLs succinct, avoid stop words
Website Design vs Copy
While Google is becoming more and more advanced with each passing year, the reality remains that it still has a hard time understanding multimedia. Written text on the page is still the best and essentially the only way to perform well in Google overall. This ties back into the importance of keywords and including them in strategic locations across your website.
Many websites aim to have an impressive interactive or visual experience. This may seem exciting and creative from the user’s point of view, which may keep users coming back for more. Despite this, if there’s not enough copy on the domain, it can eventually be hard for both Google and users to understand what your website is about, which may impact your SEO efforts negatively.
The flashiest website in the world isn’t worth much if nobody can find it and considering there are over a billion websites in existence today, it’s important when people search for you, that they can find you.
When you consider your website, you’ll want to blend a mix of user-friendly design, sufficient page copy, and accessibility elements together. If someone has a hearing or visual impairment, will they be able to have a quality experience on your website? Google wants websites to be accessible and you should too. The more you can focus on providing an exceptional user experience coupled with effective SEO, the more likely your website is to perform well in the search results.
Priority changes you can make right now
Search engine optimization involves many different components, however, some tend to bring more immediate benefits while others focus on long-term growth. Here are some easy wins that will have the biggest positive impact in the shortest amount of time.
Your meta title and description are often the first things a searcher sees when discovering your business in the search results page. Not only do you want to make this as enticing and accurate to your business as possible but this is also one of the most significant ranking signals Google takes into account. Therefore this is considered prime real estate for those valuable keywords you spent so much time researching.
Typically, every page will have a meta title and description. If none has been created, Google will automatically try to improvise one for searchers. One of the most effective things you can do to boost your SEO initially is to customize your meta title and description to align with your keyword strategy.
Pro tip: Use your most important keywords first and be cognisant of the meta title and description character length. The meta description length is generally recommended to be between 150-180 characters and the meta title is recommended to be between 50-60 characters. Following these guidelines will help your meta tags display properly instead of potentially getting truncated.
Ensuring proper content formatting keeps text clean and organized, helps users navigate content, and helps search engine bots crawl pages with greater ease and efficiency. Making use of headings and subheadings with h-tags (H1, H2, etc.) is often a good place to start. Although it’s not a ranking factor, including keywords in headings helps to let users know where they are in the content.
You’ll want to break up content into easy-to-read paragraphs. Having a giant lump of copy together or a new paragraph after every sentence won’t do anybody any good. Prioritize your most important information closer to the top and be sure to include images and other visuals whenever relevant. Ensuring you have a clear CTA (call to action) for each page can help direct website visitors appropriately, which can improve the overall time they spend on the site and inspires them to take the desired action.
One that’s well linked is an optimised website. It is also necessary to ensure that successful internal linking is in place, beyond the site navigational menu. In addition, linking back from other corners of your website (such as blogs) to the most relevant service or product pages helps to direct users and also highlights the relevance of a page from the viewpoint of a search engine spider. The more links that point to a particular destination, the more it will be clear to crawlers that this is an important page.
The anchor text for hyperlinks helps to clarify context so it is usually better to ensure the anchor text accurately reflects the page content at the destination URL. Ideally, internal linking should be set up so that there are no dead ends on the page and instead there remains ease of access to continually navigate elsewhere. Furthermore, be mindful of orphan pages (pages that have one-way or no navigation to or from them). If they are being indexed by search engines, it will not foster a good user experience, which Google will eventually notice.
Remember, Google’s objective is to serve the most relevant, helpful, and trustworthy websites to answer searchers’ queries. Websites that do not meet these standards will typically not perform well in the search engine results page.
SEO is a long term growth strategy and there are no quick wins to instant success. Despite that, by implementing the techniques discussed here, your website can gain a solid foundation in search engine optimization, which will set you up for long term success.
To elevate and evolve your SEO past the basics, you’ll need advanced strategies and techniques unique to your business. This is usually when seeking out an SEO agency with a proven history of success comes in handy.
In the meantime though, anyone can implement the SEO basics we’ve discussed throughout and see improvements in the weeks that follow.