Google now processes over 8.5 million searches each day, making search engines one of the most prime spaces to find and connect with your audiences. While Google and search engines alike are significant origins for curiosity, it takes more than existing on the web to reach and attract these curious audiences. SEO is essential for your success if you’re interested in boosting your website traction, engagement, and sales. Ultimately, incorporating SEO is not an option if you exist in the digital marketing space. As a free advertising tactic for your business, there is no reason not to implement SEO practices into your business strategy. SEO relies on your ability to create a site that attracts the right audiences for you, allowing you to take control of the online realm, your competition and overall marketing success. SEO can be considered a powerhouse in the marketing space when set up accordingly. However, this means taking the time to properly do the groundwork and understand where your business is currently positioned and exactly what you’re trying to achieve. Allow us to break down the intricacies of SEO to provide you with the ultimate list of basic essentials to get you started on your site optimisation journey.
You’ve likely heard of the term SEO or search engine optimisation, but beyond the acronym, what does it actually mean for your marketing endeavours?
The number of users that have fled to search engines for information, community and services is phenomenal, meaning it would be foolish for marketers not to jump at these networks’ opportunities.Search engines, like Google or Bing, use formulas we know as algorithms to determine what sites to serve up in response to a user’s search. Algorithms are not just a buzzword but an incredibly meticulous series of instructions that transform and control how search engines process information. Without algorithms, it would be nearly impossible for users to sift through and navigate the enormous amount of data and information online that is only being added to by the second. As search engines are notorious for regularly updating their algorithms, it can be challenging for marketers to capture audience attention. However, this is where SEO comes in. There are many ways you can track and predict the behaviours of algorithms and modify your SEO efforts to keep your site relevant among the noise of algorithms and the attention economy.
Search engine optimisation
SEO, or search engine optimisation, is the process of improving your site to increase its visibility when people make search queries online. Simply put, the better visibility your page has in search results, the more likely you will garner attention and reach prospective audiences. It all comes down to playing the game. And in this case, algorithms are the game, and audience engagement is the prize. In the modern era of tech and marketing, successful SEO relies on much more than black hat marketing tactics. While it is a game, it’s not one to cheat at. When done thoughtfully and effectively, focussing on aspects of user experience (UX), you can give users exactly what they are looking for while also benefiting your own business. Unlike paid search ads, you cannot throw money at the search engine and receive higher organic search ratings. However, with time, labour and SEO tactics, you can achieve outstanding marketing results for the price of free advertising.
The Basics: SEO Best Practices
The basics of SEO are essentially just a list of practices and tasks that lay a strong foundation for your continuous SEO journey. While these tips won’t directly boost your site to the top of search engines, they are an essential part of the process to begin setting yourself up for ranking success. SEO is ultimately about creating a seamless experience for users, where content is relevant, accessible and engaging for customers. In this sense, the good news is that the work for SEO also aligns with a positive user experience (UX). Ultimately, doing the groundwork and setting up the basis for an SEO-friendly website makes it easier for you to connect with your audiences.
1. Set up Google Search Console
After you have set up your content schedule, perfected your UI, and polished your branding design, you ultimately want to have a way to look back, reflect, and measure your success. Search console tools are specifically set up to provide you with the information, data and reports to help you measure how your site is performing. It will help you identify if Google is finding and indexing all pages of your site accordingly and notify you of places where you can improve. In addition, it can help you measure your site's traffic and performance. Google Search Console is extremely powerful and valuable as a free tool, enabling you to find holes in your site and quickly fix them.
2. Set up Google Analytics
Slightly different to search console tools, Google Analytics provides you with the tools you need to analyse data, including that found with the search console, and analyse it in one place. Setting up a Google Analytics account is the best way to discover how people find and use your site and identify what behaviours you need to modify to make smarter marketing decisions.This web tool includes additional helpful features that help you identify:
- How much traffic you are getting from Google searches,
- What pages on your site are bringing you the most traffic,
- If and how much your traffic is increasing,
- What other sites are sending you traffic, and
- Valuable metrics including average bounce rate, views, and time on site
EXPERT NOTE: Connect your Google Analytics with your Google Search Console for a seamless analytics experience.
3. Install an SEO plugin
Plug-ins, or ‘extensions’, are computer software that adds new functions to programs without altering the host program itself. This means that you can run an original program without disrupting users while simultaneously updating and conducting improvements for optimisation purposes. There are a variety of popular SEO plugins that serve different purposes. Some of the most common include SEMRush, AIO SEO, and Yoast, offering powerful tools and features like audit checklists, sitemaps, and content insights to help you optimise your website.These plugins ultimately make both your marketing efforts and user experience a more seamless process. What this ultimately achieves is boosted SEO and enhanced user experience.
4. Create a site map
A site map is essentially just a condensed version of your website. If it is just a lesser version of your sophisticated site, you may be thinking, what’s the point? These site maps contain only the most important pages and effectively allow search engines to find, crawl, and index content on your site. As a result, your site will be more efficiently decoded and sorted among the algorithm, making it easier for users to find your content and increase traffic to your site. Site maps essentially tell Google what pages and files you deem important.
5. Create a robots.txt file
While this may sound like tech jargon, robot.txt files are simply plain text files that communicate to search engines where they can and cannot go on your site. These files are always recommended to include. They are considered necessary to prevent search engines from crawling certain pages or sections of your site. This might be the case if you run an e-commerce store where you don’t necessarily want search engines indexing your customer's carts or checkout page. You can quickly check if you already have a robots.txt file by going to yourdomain.com/robots.txt - if you see a plain text file, you’re good to go. If anything else appears, you will need to create one by sourcing a ‘robot.txt generator’ on Google.
And that’s all there is to it. Well, to the basics, at least. Now that you have done the groundwork, you can begin working on the technical elements, including the:
- Keyword research strategy,
- On-site SEO techniques (web accessibility, external link building, quality content, image optimisation, defined target audience, etc.)
- Encryption and security
Ultimately, SEO can be extremely time-consuming to set up and start seeing results. However, if you carefully approach each task and spend the time doing the groundwork, monitoring, improving and optimising your site will become a breeze. For more information on how you can optimise your site for the best results, contact the team of digital professionals at Anchor Digital. We pride ourselves on knowing a little too much about the online world and strive to help you navigate the web and reach your marketing goals.