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Understanding SEO (the basics) – Our Workshop in a Blog

You have most likely heard of SEO or Search Engine Optimisation. In its simplest format, SEO is helping you to be seen on Google results pages. It’s really not that simple, however. Google is very complex and there are many factors that influence your rankings.

If you’re not doing SEO for your Website, Social media, or even YouTube you simply won’t be getting the exposure that you probably deserve. While it seems at first to be straightforward, appearing in the number one position can be difficult. Especially when it is a highly competitive keyword the site is optimising for or if you are a small business with a lot of competitors.

Google has over 300+ factors that decide where you sit in search results. No one has access to the information that would make optimising easy… all you can do is use trial and error to discover what the algorithm might be searching for and follow the trail to a good search position.

TheOnlineCo. breaks these over 300+ factors down to the five main aspects of SEO.


Technical

These are the on-page HTML and technical factors influencing your ranking including Image Alt and Title Tags, Page Speed, and Links.

Cleaning up the code, making it as efficient as possible, keeping in mind the keywords you are using to make it very clear to Google what the message of your website is.

 

SEO is the message of your website.

Content

This is the ‘meat’ of your website. This is the writing that is on your website as well as Titles and Meta Descriptions that are optimised by keywords.

Content is King. If you aren’t strategic about the content that you’re writing you might get lucky but focusing on the correct keywords is vital.

Sit down and really think through your advertising needs.

Local

This is how you are showing in local searches for your keywords. One of the main tools we use is Google Business which displays your business on relevant Google Searches.

Business.google.com is a good place to start. It’s a free service! If you’re not listed there you should do it right away.

Backlinking

These are the external links to your website, giving it more authority. This can include directory submissions and guest blogging.

This could be the hardest part of SEO. The best way to do this is by aiming to get backlinks from high authority sites such as .org, .edu, or .gov websites. These can be difficult to achieve so don’t be surprised if it takes some doing! If you find a less reputable site that has a great following and is willing to give you a backlink, don’t hesitate, we all start somewhere.

Catch the eye.

“Using images and text that catches the eye and draws your customer in, encouraging them to stay, is essential!”

User Experience

This is about how you captivate people on your website and encourage them to stay including hero image, lead lines, social proof, benefits and a call to action.

Be sure to create a modern, up-to-date website that is easy to navigate and understand that gives your customer the information they want quickly. Using images and text that entice a user to stay is imperative to them staying long enough to engage.

Narrowing Your Focus

When you’re looking at SEO for your business there are some key areas you should focus on in the initial stages.

What does your business do?

This one is self-explanatory… Write down every aspect of your products and services. No matter how long or short this list is it will give you the information you need when searching for keywords.

What do you NOT do?

This is an important aspect of your thought process. When you begin the keyword search process (which we will go into later in this blog) you may find a whole lot of keywords that are completely irrelevant for your business. You don’t want your website to be focused on words for things you don’t do.

Describe your business in Five Words.

If you can come up with a great tagline that makes you stand out, you will create a clear landing spot for users to easily find and understand what it is that you do. It will help a customer to understand you better in a quick and concise way that will keep them on your website longer.

While not necessarily an SEO necessity, having a tagline that keeps people interested and shares a bit more about your company can be a great hook for your business.

Competitor Analysis

Keywords – The words users will use to search for your business online. These are words that you can then use to write your content to optimise your website for SEO.

A great tool to discover those keywords is ads.google.com. Simply head to the website and search for the keywords for your business! When you begin the search, you will find many suggestions for keyword ideas you may not have thought of.

Another tool you may want to add to Google Chrome is Keyword Surfer.  This tool allows you to see the keywords for any page you visit and if you visit competitors Google search pages you will then be able to see which keywords you should be optimising your website for, to gain a higher position on the Google Search page.

 

Google Search is your key to SEO

Creating a Keyword Map

What is a Keyword Map?

A Keyword Map lists all the keywords for your website and breaks them into categories, so you know exactly what keywords to optimise your pages for and content to create later.

You can also list ‘Question Keywords’ which are direct questions people have asked on Google and write content that directly answers that questions.

Five steps to creating a keyword map.

  1. Back in Google ads, Keyword Planner, enter in your main product types, services or what your business does.
  2. Download keywords and sort through them, (be sure to alphabetize your words) removing the keywords that you feel are irrelevant.
  3. Use the ‘Get search volume and forecasts’ tab and then sort the keywords into categories.
  4. Use categories to find and sort through your Question keywords.
  5. Once you’ve finished, keep it in an easy to access place that can be shared with your team.

Check out our detailed blog about Creating a Keyword Map.

Optimising a Page

WHERE DO I BEGIN?

The first place to start is with your Title and Meta Description and Headings.

For Titles, we aim for 62 characters
For Meta Descriptions, we aim for 155 characters
Match the H1 on your page to be close to your Title
Then we optimise Images:

This is all about your image alt and title tags. This means that when Google sees an image and they are optimised for a keyword, it will also give your page more of an opportunity to become an authority in your field.

Alt tags provide information about what the image is in case the image is broken allowing you to easily find and replace a link or embed the image.
Title tags are similar to alt tags in providing information, the difference is that it is shown when you hover over an image meaning that is helpful for visually impaired people or talk to text users.

Then we let Google know the changes we’ve made through Search Console.

A great tool to use is Yoast. Adding this add on to Wordpress will help you to easily change your titles and meta descriptions to make them the perfect size.

It’s a great idea to keep track of your updated titles and meta descriptions in a simple excel spreadsheet. That way everyone on your team knows exactly what has and hasn’t been optimised and where to start the next time they come to work on it.

Another tool we use to create your working document is a free downloadable called Screaming Frog. Download this application and complete a crawl of your website. After the initial crawl is done reset the search parameters to html and export that information to an excel document. Screaming Frog will collate huge amounts of data for you including all your meta descriptions and headings/titles. After saving that data and creating a copy delete everything but the meta descriptions and titles and their lengths. Sort alphabetically! It will help you easily get rid of the junk you don’t need.

When you have the document set up you can, over time, go through and optimise your site for the best possible opportunity for Google to recognise your site as a leading authority.

SEO is a complicated ongoing process. Here we’ve covered some basics to get you started. If you have any questions about your businesses SEO or want to know more, contact us at TheOnlineCo. OR Come to a SEO workshop!

Kelista
Kelista

Kelista is one of our Content Writers at TheOnlineCo. She has the incredible capability to find the perfect 'voice' for our clients and writes blogs that reflect their unique style while covering all the content needed. She also works within our Social Media and SEO Teams.

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