Epicure Digital Marketing Breaks SEO Down
If you run your own business, chances are you are approached on a daily basis by people who have a tool, product, or service that you “desperately” need. One of these is probably SEO. There can be a certain anxiety for business owners when it comes to services like this – you are proud of your business and you want it to succeed, but you are no website expert, and you are not even sure you know what SEO is. Do you really need it? Or is someone simply trying to sell you something?
To help, this week we are demystifying SEO.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation and, very basically, means ensuring that your website is high up on a search. Any search engine – let’s say Google – will look through all websites and work out which fit specific search terms. The more relevant a website is to a search, the higher up on the list it will be. Search engines tend to be clever and know how to examine a website’s copy, images, location etc. to determine how relevant it truly is to the search. This is why a Google search for “adorable baby kittens” will turn up pictures of adorable baby kittens, and not a second hand tyre shop trying to attract more visitors.
Optimising your website for search engines will mean your website is more likely to be seen - this will attract more visitors, and these visitors can be turned into customers.
SEO – Then and Now
In the past, the way to show that your business was, for example, an Italian restaurant in East London, was to fill your website with the keywords that would be used by the people looking for businesses like yours. This could mean repeating the words “Italian”, “Restaurant” and “London” several times on each page. This also applied to the structure of your page, so instead of labelling your menu page “Menu”, you might label it “Italian Restaurant Menu”.
Thankfully things have moved on since those days – and the Google bots have gotten smarter than ever – so smart, indeed, that they can essentially mimic human reading patterns. This means that instead of looking for 18 instances of the word “Italian”, they will instead be scanning for content which genuinely relates to Italian food.
They will also be looking for content which is updated and changed regularly, to make sure that your website is still live. Every time new content is added, Google’s bots have to come back and “crawl” your page again, giving additional weight to your website.
Do I really need SEO?
The short answer is yes. Google is the world’s largest marketplace, and to miss out on an opportunity to rank well would be a mistake. However, this does not mean you should jump on board with the first SEO “specialist” who gets in touch – optimal SEO work can be both simpler and wider-reaching than that. Dan Zarrella, the author of The Science of Marketing began his career as an SEO specialist and is keen to point out that SEO is constantly shifting and changing. In actual fact, “you probably don’t need more SEO help. Most businesses would benefit much more from increasing content quantity and quality.”
How to improve your SEO in 5 easy steps
1. Optimise your copy
This does not mean throwing in keywords left, right, and centre - but it will never hurt to use them. Do you cook authentic Italian food? Then mention it! But back up this assertion with pictures of said food and further elaborations, and always make sure your copy is well-written and clear. If it hard for a human to read (too small, flashing, white writing on light background, full of misspellings and incorrect grammar) then it will be hard for Google to read.
2. Fool-proof your architecture
This is where an SEO specialist comes in. Find out what keywords apply to you (they may not always be exactly as you would expect) and use them not only in your copy, but in each webpage’s meta data, such as title tags, headers, and meta descriptions.
Essentially this means including links to other pages on your website. For example, having a link to your Menu page in the main body of your homepage. The more links you have directing people to important pages, the better their visibility.
4. Get Blogging.
Remember we mentioned updating content? Having a blog on your website is the best and easiest way to have relevant, well-written, frequently-changing content on your site, without having to re-write your copy every couple of months.
A blog will also provide quality content to share with people over social media. This is where back-linking comes in. The more inbound links to your website, from whatever source, the higher it will rank. Simple!
SEO algorithms are consistently changing – in 2010 alone, Google made over 500 changes to their algorithm - that’s over one a day! Because of this, SEO can seem like a risky investment, intangible and uncertain, but if you commit to filling your website with relevant, interesting, well-written content – with just the right amount of guidance – it will make all the difference.