There is always one question I am asked following the launch of a new website. “How do I get my website ranking in top search engines?” or “How do I get on the first page of Google” and rightly so, after all, that is where the magic happens. According to the Wolfgang 2016 E-commerce KPI Benchmark Study – Google organic results account for 43% of traffic. Which has grown by 5% since their last study. This is where your SEO Strategy comes into play.
Just look at your personal behaviour in search results. How many times have you ever ventured to the second or even the third page of search results? (There is a third page isn’t there?). 60% of all clicks go to the top 3 results, which only leaves 40% for everyone else!
Search Engine Optimisation or SEO is not a straight forward process. SEO processes that once worked, work no longer, Google is constantly updating it’s algorithm. If your SEO Strategy is to try and ‘game’ Google to manipulate search rankings, you have no Strategy. You should stop that immediately.
You will also need to adopt different strategies depending on if you want to rank locally or internationally, if you’re a bricks and business or an online business. For some business Local SEO will be vital, for others not so much.
There are so many influencing factors that determine where Google will rank your website. In fact it is widely believed there are over 200 signals that Google uses to rank your site I will do my best to give you some understanding of what’s required and steps you can put into action.
Each of the following points deserves it’s own post, and I’ll write these in the future. The following though should give you an idea of what’s required to rank your site higher in search engine results.
Ok, so what’s an SEO Strategy?
Any SEO Specialist worth their money should create an SEO strategy to follow.
At Media Evolution we base out strategies around 4 primary signals. Technical, Relevancy, Authority and Popularity.
Your SEO Strategy should include keyword research, keyword mapping, link-prospecting, outreach, content creation, content promotion, content distribution and more. Also depending on if you want to be completely white hat, grey hat or black hat there may be other things included in your strategy.
I hate to use clichés but ‘Content is King’. You need to give your prospects and customers a reason to visit or link to your website. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but no influencer is going to want to link to a service or product page. They aren’t that interesting.
Keywords are still relevant.
Your SEO Strategy needs to start with a list of keywords, key phrases, themes, LSI keywords and synonyms. Using a keyword research tool like the Adwords keyword tool you’ll be able to find a list of relevant keywords for your site. These keywords are words or phrases that your prospects will be typing into search engines to find your products or services.
Start by creating a list of 20-50 keywords for each product or service. Plug them into the Adwords Keyword Tool and find variations that make sense to your business. You can export these keywords into a spreadsheet, filter them, remove irrelevant keywords and pump them back into the Adwords Tool. Then go through the process again.
You can expand on your keywords by adding geo relevant information like your town, city or state. For example ‘Plumbing Services” could also be “Gold Coast Plumbing Services”
You’ll find the Adwords Keyword Planner in your Google Adwords account under Tools.
Types of Keywords.
Not all keywords are the equal.
There are a couple of types of keywords that you will be using.
Search engine optimisation companies will have their own SEO Processes but I like to group keywords into intent. I will then break them down into primary, secondary and long-tail.
You might have noticed I said Keyword Mapping above.
At the start of an SEO project I create a Google Sheet and list all the pages on the site in one column. Then in the next column all the keywords which the page is already ranking for. In the third column, I go through and tag the page with intent, either information or transaction. I do the same to the keyword spreadsheet that I exported from the Google Keyword Tool. I go through and tag each one with ‘Intent’ – information or transaction, i.e. ‘What is SEO’ would be information, ‘buy shoes online’ would be a transaction.
Why? Well, you don’t want to direct users to a service or product page when they are still in the research phase. We want to guide them to a resource or blog post and start to build a relationship with them.
I will also group the keywords into primary, secondary, themes and long-tail. I use search volume and competition to do this. 50% of search queries are four words or longer. So it is important to have some long-tail keywords available.
Why primary and secondary?
Google is a business just like us. Their goal is to provide the most relevant information to their customers. Using a variety of similar keywords helps Google to understand what your page is about. That is without stuffing it full of the same keyword – this will get you penalised.
You can also use location based keywords. For example ‘Gold Coast SEO Services‘. The more specific they are, generally the less traffic, but the traffic is going to be more qualified.
Time to get those keywords working
Now that you have your list of keywords and phrases we need to create some keyword focused pages or SEO Silos. When it comes to ranking websites in search engines, it is always better to try and rank one keyword per page. What we call SEO Silos as opposed to trying to rank a page for many keywords.
The number of pages you will need to create depends on your services, products, locations and offerings.
Each page should contain relevant optimised SEO content for your prospects and clients. Include images, videos, and links to other pages within your site to enhance the user experience. You should continually be revising, improving and updating these pages until you start achieving the required results.
I like to use the primary keywords in the top few paragraphs of a page or post. Then use the secondary keywords further down the page. Once I have finished writing a page or post, I go back through and look for opportunities to include long-tail key phrases. – as long as it reads naturally.
I include a primary keyword in the post title, URL, image ALT tags and at least one or two h2 tags (headings). Secondary keywords are also perfect to use in h2s. Remember, you don’t want to keyword stuff your pages or posts (it isn’t 1995). By using an variety of keywords and phrases around a particular ‘theme’ you will be surprised at how many you can include naturally.
Content Marketing – Start Blogging
Content Marketing is a must for all serious business. In fact let me repeat that, Content Marketing is a must for all serious business. While Content Marketing covers a wide variety of content, your Blog is a great place to start. It’s also an excellent way to rank keywords; build and engage with your audience; create a memorable user experience and position yourself as an industry expert or influencer.
Google also rewards websites that have great content. Every new blog post is another page that is indexed by search engines.
You also need to give people a reason to visit and return to your website. Your product description and service pages won’t cut it. You should build your blog posts around your ‘informational’ intent keywords that you discovered during your keyword research phase. There are many other places to find ideas for blog posts, but this is a good place to start if your stuck for ideas.
When writing your blogs make sure you are writing for your audience and not search engines. Filling a page with keywords for ranking purposes is only going to get you penalised. As mentioned above, mix it up, use your primary, secondary and long-tail when appropriate. Don’t go overboard thinking more is better, include synonyms where possible.
When writing your blog posts, you should be producing long-form content when possible. Maybe not every piece but at least a couple per month. Aim for a minimum of 1000 words. If you’re on a roll, 2000 words would be better! A recent study by SerpIQ finds that top rated posts are usually 2000 words or more.
Let’s help Google by Optimising your pages
Make sure that you include your primary keywords in your page name, H1, H2 tags and in the Meta title and Description. You then want to make sure you use variations of that keyword throughout the page/post. Google is smart enough to know that certain words are semantically related.
You should also include at least one image on your page. Your image should have an appropriate name. Make sure you fill in the ALT tags – again make this natural and should include your keywords when possible.
These are just a couple all little elements that help Google understand what your page is about so it can be indexed accordingly.
Now we need some inbound links.
What I have discussed up to this point has been the basics of on-page SEO. Links to your website are still one of the dominant ranking signals. However, it’s a case of quality over quantity. One backlink from an industry relevant high authority domain is going to have more impact that 100 low-quality irrelevant links. These can be the hardest part of SEO, but once you have your plan in place, it can be easier.
At Media Evolution we do a tonne of link-prospecting and outreach to build links with industry/niche relevant sites.
Share your blogs on your social media channels, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram and Linkedin. Find other websites relevant to your industry or service and approach them to do some guest blogging, this can be an excellent way to backlink to your site. Social signals are becoming an important ranking factor.
Don’t link to any old site. Especially sites created for back-linking such as private blog networks. Google will penalise your site heavily.
Measure and track what is working!
Make sure you have Google Analytics, and Webmaster Tools installed on your site. This way you can track the visitor behaviour and see what is working and what isn’t. With Google Analytics you’ll be able to identify where your traffic is coming from, which keywords are used and visitor behaviour once they arrive at your website.
If you are happy to spend some money, there are apps like Hotjar, VMO, CrazyEgg that can provide even further insights.
This way you will know where you need to focus your efforts and drop what isn’t working.
SEO is involved and is best approached strategically. I have briefly touched on some of the areas that you need to focus on and will elaborate on each in the future.
SEO is a long-term strategy. It will take time and effort before you will start to see the results. However, beginning with a solid foundation and following your SEO Strategy will pay off ten fold down the track.
Just one last point I would like to add about SEO. While SEO is imperative, it isn’t the only way to get traffic to your website. Spend time on SEO, but don’t forget about Social Media, PPC advertising and traditional marketing. Your Digital Strategy should identify multiple channels for generating traffic to your website. You don’t want to be reliant on just one.
The more avenues to your site the better.
If you would like to discuss your SEO Strategy or how to drive more targeted traffic to your website, book in for an obligation free 30-minute consultation or get in touch.