By Caroline Betts, an Overdrive contributor and Head of Marketing at Access Self Storage,
A crash course for the CEO whose SEO is AWOL.
Search engine optimisation (SEO) is important because doing it well increases your web traffic and leads. Almost 50,000 Google searches are made every second but users rarely click on sites not on page one – so how high you rank counts for everything.
It’s therefore important to have a good grounding in SEO. Getting acquainted with site structure, keyword research, the value of links and the importance of mobile will give you a solid SEO foundation from which to explore more advanced techniques when your company is ready to do so.
- Keyword research and optimising your content
Proper keyword research is the backbone of good SEO and will ensure you’re attracting the right traffic to your website. There are many ways to say the same thing so thorough research is required.
Keyword research requires you to think about the search terms your customers use when they’re trying to find things online. Google’s Keyword Planner is a free tool enabling you to find what your target audience is searching for.
Once you’ve found your keywords, prioritise them based on relevance, monthly traffic, and competition and then update your website copy and meta data (which consists of the title tag, meta description, and header tag on the page) to make them keyword friendly. This might sound confusing but it’s typically fairly easy to update in most content management systems.
It sounds obvious, but trying to optimise one page for ten keywords is not as effective as trying to optimise it for a couple of keywords. Make sure to include them in a natural, non-spammy way (write for people not robots!) and then ensure keywords are kept in mind for all future content – for example, new blogs or product pages.
- Site structure
It’s hard to reverse-engineer a website for good SEO, so building a good site filing system early on will pay off in the long run. Because a single web page can’t be optimised effectively for more than one or two keywords, you should be creating separate pages, each focussing on a different keyword, and then grouping similar pages together. Note: this is advised as long as the topic and content on each page is suitably different to be valuable to the user – don’t get yourself in a situation where you have ten pages all saying the same thing in slightly different ways.
The URL of each webpage provides search engine bots and users with important information about its content. Make sure to include keywords in your URLs and use a logical siloed architecture to organise them to increase relevancy. This helps Google understand what they’re about.
A link to your website comes in two forms: internal (pages on your site that link to other pages on your site) and external (links from other websites). External links also come in two forms: follow and nofollow.
Search engines use the links pointing at a page to better understand what that page is about and how important it is. The value of a link pointing at a page on your site is determined by the authority of the website it sits on. This value however is only realised if the link is ‘followed’. Should the site the links resides on not want to pass on SEO endorsement with the link, they can do this via a piece of code that marks it as a ‘nofollow’ link.
High authority websites provide trusted answers to the questions people using search engines ask. Therefore getting a followed link to your site from places like the BBC, national newspapers, charities, government websites etc. is a strong endorsement of your site to search engines, and should benefit how well your site ranks for the keywords you’re interested in.
When it comes to internal links, you should ensure where possible that you’re using your keywords in the anchor text (the text of a link) to help search engines know what the page being linked to is about.
- Mobile friendly
From April 21 2015, Google is making significant changes to how it ranks sites on its results pages to give preferential treatment to sites that are mobile friendly.
Mobile friendly sites offer features such as larger text and links that are easy to click. The two most popular approaches to mobile friendly websites is to build a separate site on an m.examplesite.com sub-domain, or use responsive design – the latter means web pages use the same URL regardless of whether they’re being accessed on a desktop or a mobile device, and adjust (or respond) to fit the right screen size.
To check if your site is up to scratch, use Google’s mobile-friendly testing tool and get your web team working on anything that it flags up as a priority. Around half of all web searches are now made on mobile devices so if you’re going to spend web design money on anything this year it should be this!
Caroline Betts is Head of Marketing at Access Self Storage, a provider of personal and business self storage solutions.