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Search Engine Optimisation is vital in today’s online world – but what it means, how it works and what it can do for your business may have passed you by. However, getting your head round it – and understanding how you can create content that will catapult your business ahead of your competition in online searches – can make a significant difference to how many potential customers find your website.
SEO as part of your marketing strategy
SEO is not a stand-alone strategy. You need to have a clear, concise and consistent message that reflects your brand values and offering, and these need to be conveyed via your website, which is your shop window for the world.
But SEO needs to be worked into this consistent brand messaging. You can have the most beautiful – and beautifully worded website in the world – but if it’s not using the right words (the ‘keywords’ for which you want your business to be found) it’s the equivalent of having a shop window in the Sahara desert. Creating content that is rich in these keywords – while still upholding your brand values and messages – can take you from the Sahara to the high street, and if you get it really right, it could even take you to the online equivalent of Oxford Street.
There are many tricks that you can deploy to boost your website’s search engine rankings. Some of them require bespoke skills and even software, but there’s much you can do for free yourself. This type of SEO falls under the umbrella term ‘organic’ SEO to drive traffic to your website via search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing.
Key strategies within organic SEO include:
When you type a phrase into a search engine’s ‘search’ box, it kicks off the searching of billions of pages of internet content via a process known as ‘crawling and indexing’, with the search engine striving to find the pages that most closely meet your search criteria. Each page – and there can be hundreds of pages within any one website – will have a Uniform Resource Locator or URL, which, in simple terms, is just the address of that page. Creating content that is rich in the right keywords for your business means that the search engines are more likely to think it is relevant to the searches, and therefore put your website higher up in the search results.
Optimising your content so search engines find you
The aim of the game is to make sure your website is as clearly ‘labelled’ as possible, so the search engines can pick up on it and what it’s offering, raising your SEO ranking (how soon in the search engine you appear in any relevant list of businesses). When writing, you need to:
Writing for SEO is a fine art, simply because though the keyword is king, you do have to write for your readers/customers, and not just to satisfy an algorithm. Always bear in mind the message you want to get across, the need to convey it with clarity and consistency and you can’t go far wrong. For ideas on how to come up with ideas for your content, read our earlier #SharpTips guide, but if you’re stuck with how to write your content, have a look at this .
Organic SEO is a must; there’s no point pursuing other digital marketing strategies if you haven’t got the organic SEO in place. It’s like decorating a room without taking time to prep first – and your lack of prep will undermine the results.
But having got your organic SEO sorted, you can also consider paid SEO, which includes strategic link-building, which can enhance your search rankings further.
In addition, Pay Per Click (adwords marketing) may also be appropriate; while this will put you at the top of search results, it will not contribute to your SEO. It can also be expensive; how much it costs will depend upon the keywords you’re pursuing and how competitive they are. In some instances, the cost of each customer you acquire through PPC can be more than you charge for your goods or services, so it’s important to work with experienced digital marketers who will give you an honest assessment as to whether the economics work for you and your business.
If you’re a small business, there’s a lot you can do yourself to maximise the power of your website to help your customers find you online. Be aware that there’s plenty you can do to make your pages as user-friendly (and search-engine-findable) as possible, with much of it down to keeping your message clear and simple.
Based in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, Sharp Minds offers brand development, digital marketing, offline marketing and public relations to businesses across Kent, Sussex, Surrey and Greater London. You can see what our customers say about us here.