Search engine optimization is all about getting your website found by the right people.
The outcome of good SEO practices is clear: more site traffic and sales. However, to many business leaders, the means of getting there can be a complete mystery.
Over the years, the rules of what constitutes as good (‘white hat’) SEO and bad (‘black hat’) SEO has shifted in a number of ways. What may have worked to bring in more clicks in the past (like keyword stuffing in titles) could harm your website’s search rankings today.
This post will outline six things many companies get wrong about SEO & why it matters.
1. Content is all you need
Regular content on a site will indicate to search engines that your website is up to date with the latest industry information.
This is a trust building exercise for potential customers too, and businesses should never just create content as ‘search fodder’.
Some companies have been led to believe that ALL OF SEO is actually just ‘great content’ — ignoring the essential work undertaken by technical SEO or digital PR teams. Whilst content is important, it’s not all there is to SEO...
A good SEO company will talk you through their plans for building up an editorial strategy for your website. It is vital that they have a clear strategy, i.e., how each piece of content will help you rank for specific keywords (and why that’s important). At the same time, each blog post should also act as a mini conversion funnel. Great content is only great if there is a tangible goal behind it — too many company blogs waiver from a clear strategic path.
Great content on your domain is good for SEO, but it also helps you build backlinks and mentions to your site. The better and the more authoritative your content, the more likely it is that you will get great editorial placements and features. Great content is also a way to pick up backlinks from roundup posts and resource pages.
The most important aspect of creating great content is to make your products or services memorable in some way. Great content is one of the most influential and inexpensive ways to boost your reputation online. Make sure you have a clear strategy that benefits your customers and that’s aligned with your SEO goals.
2. It takes a long time to see SEO results
A content strategy may take some weeks to plan and execute. But, once it is in place, you can start to see results relatively quickly.
For instance, if you land an excellent guest post placement on a globally known site, you can quickly see increased traffic. In some cases, you may get thousands of visitors and purchases just from that one online article!
Even little adjustments to your site can quickly boost your website’s SEO in a short while. Try this technique on some of your existing content pages:
Take a long tail keyword phrase you wish to rank for, preferably one that ‘qualifies’ the lead within the statement – Example: “Training courses for newly qualified teachers.”
- Once you have identified your phrases, look to your existing copy and think about where this expression would work best. You may need to completely re-plan the ‘angle’ and purpose/central tasks of each page to do this correctly.
- Check out the ranking of the selected landing pages in your Google Analytics dashboard. Any of your pages that currently appear on the second or third page of Google would make good candidates to try out with your content updates, as they are already ranking. A few tweaks might be enough to push them to page 1.
- Adjust any titles, meta descriptions, body copy and alt tags to include some of these key phrases. Make sure they appear naturally and do not feel or look forced into the content.
- Check the ranking of the pages you adjusted in a few weeks and hopefully, you will see some results.
I’m not saying that SEO is quick and easy — and large-scale sites will take longer to optimize — but there are some relatively quick wins that you can test out for yourself. Within a few months of launching an SEO contract, you should be seeing some tangible results.
3. SEO is just about rankings
Good SEO should help you build a site with reliable ‘foundations’. It will work to improve the experience for the visitor as a priority, rather than just the search engines. Your website's UX (user experience) and UI (user interface) are key in putting your customers first.
People often forget that technical SEO improves your website as a whole— but a sound technical SEO audit always includes suggestions and recommendations for an improved site UX. From a search perspective, the better the site experience and health, the better the overall engagement metrics, the conversion rates, and the foundations for future updates.
SEO does not exist, or work, boxed into a silo. It’s all about bringing in conversion rate optimisation, usability, web design, and software development into the mix.
4. There are no shortcuts to great SEO
This is, of course, true when it comes to planning and strategy. However, there are specific tools that you can use along the way to make tasks easier. You should 100% embrace SEO if you want to make the most of it — and that includes learning more about it yourself.
As a busy business owner, it’s a good idea to get to grips with some basic SEO tools and metrics so that you can monitor what’s happening in the search landscape. Watch videos on YouTube and read popular blogs to get a feel for what’s required. Similarly, you will want your SEO team or provider to have privileged access to company records and plans so that they can advise you correctly.
Whilst it’s not really a ‘shortcut’, great communication is essential for a well-rounded SEO strategy!
5. Mobile responsiveness as an afterthought
Anyone engaging with SEO needs to put a mobile strategy in place, and keep developing and adding to the existing mobile experience.
And that means looking beyond responsive design to how users are actually engaging with mobile search and your business online. Especially for local searches, ranking in featured or rich snippets can really help brands make the most of mobile traffic and custom.
However you choose to set up a mobile site, make sure that you are a user’s optimal path for making a purchase or finding out more about your brand.
6. Measuring the results that really matter
As you may have already noticed, search engine rankings are important. But, they are not the ‘be all and end all.’ You will need to think about your customer satisfaction levels as a whole, and for this, you will need to analyze incoming data more carefully.
Check out the bounce rates (i.e., how much time visitors spend on each page), device access to your site and the sources of any direct referral traffic. These are just some of the signals that will alert you to changes you need to make, including pages that are ripe for an update.
You can also use analytics tools that incorporate social media and CRM data. The more insights you can gather all in one place, the better equipped you will be for making educated decisions on website and marketing investment.
Working with an SEO provider should be a fun experience for your brand, so don’t approach it with apprehension. Be ready to have open and honest conversations about your business direction, and engage with their recommendations as much as you can. Small SEO website tweaks may seem ‘unnecessary’, but you could be missing out on important sales figures, so take them on as a priority!
Author: Kayleigh Toyra is a Content Strategist. Half-Finnish, half-British marketer based in Bristol. I love to write and explore themes like storytelling and customer experience marketing. I manage a small team of writers at a boutique agency.