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  • Writer's pictureSarah Butler

SEO For Beginners: Using It Help Grow Your Business

Updated: Dec 10, 2022

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is a set of techniques that helps your website appear higher in search engine results like Google.


In an increasingly digital world, If you don’t have an online presence, how can you be found by potential customers? Because even if you don't sell online, your customers are researching online.


SEO may seem overwhelming or complicated to understand and it certainly doesn't help that search engines constantly change their algorithms. In fact, Google is said to have over 200 ranking factors (that it does not disclose). So how do you know what strategy will work best for your business? Read on to learn SEO website basics to enhance your business profile online.


While we usually think of Google when talking of search results, bear in mind that there are other search engines in use like Bing, Yahoo and DuckDuckGo, but with over 90% of all search traffic, we will focus on Google for this article. It is worth noting though that the techniques here will also assist with the other search engines also.

Organic search results are the free listings on a search engine results page (SERP) that the search engine believes are the most relevant to the user's query. Many SERPs include a large number of paid advertisements (known as pay-per-click ads or PPC). Organic search results are ranked by the search engine's organic ranking algorithms rather than advertiser bids, and therefore are distinct from these ads. You cannot purchase a higher organic search ranking and this is why SEO activities are so important.


How does SEO help your business?

With the right SEO strategy, you can boost website traffic, attract more customers, and ultimately increase sales.


By using SEO, you can ensure that your website is properly indexed by search engines, meaning more potential customers will be able to find it.


You can also improve your website's focus, making it easier for customers to find the information they need.


SEO also helps to ensure that your website is user-friendly, which can result in more customers staying on your website and exploring more pages.


Finally, SEO can help improve your website's speed, making it more likely that customers will have a positive experience with it.


All of these factors can help boost your business in the long run. So if you're just starting out with SEO, this guide is the perfect place to start.


SEO website strategies

Have mobile friendly design

With more than half of the world's website traffic coming from mobile phones, the term 'mobile first' is the key catchphrase on all digital marketers' lips. What this means, in reality, is to ensure your website is viewable and functions optimally on a phone. The best and most common way to do this is to ensure your website is built to be 'responsive'. That is, your website automatically reconfigures to suit the device it is being viewed on, whether it be a mobile, desktop, laptop or tablet.


It is good practice to also test your website on a mobile before going live - what looks great when built on a desktop can be cumbersome and irritating during a mobile experience. You can also use the Google Mobile Friendly Test on the Google search console to do a basic check on how easily a visitor can view your site from a mobile device.


If after running the test, Google determines it does not pass it will make suggestions for how to resolve errors it finds. All for FREE!


Do a website audit

If you already have a website you should do the following basic checks.


Check how long your pages take to load. The LCP tracks how long it takes to load the first frame of a page (also known as 'above the fold') that a visitor sees. It should take less than 2.5 seconds to be favourable to Google. You can usually test this with inbuilt tools or plugins on your website back end. Easy ways to reduce the load time are to resize images to smaller file sizes, use lazy loading, and limit Javascript and other third-party code.


Check for broken links. When you see a 404 page this is most often a sign of a broken link - a link that went somewhere once but no longer does and you reach a dead end. Not only is this a negative experience for a user, Google does not view broken links favourably - it takes it as a sign that your website is not working properly.


Standardise the website structure. Website structure is super important to the user experience. Your site should be easy and intuitive to navigate with a uniform structure to ensure users can get to their destination as quickly and painlessly as possible. This will also reduce bounce rates (when someone lands on a webpage and leaves without visiting any other pages) and increases the time people spend on your website. A uniform structure also enables search engines to 'crawl' your site faster. All of which help with SEO. Use descriptive URLs that give clues as to the content of the page and reduce the depth of your structure to four levels or fewer.


Use keywords and targeting

One of the most important steps in SEO is keyword research. This is the process of finding and analysing relevant keywords that people are using to search for your products or services. With the right keywords, you can optimise your website so that it appears in the top results of search engine results pages (SERPs) and increase your chances of getting more traffic. Keywords are related to queries, which are asked by users in search engines.

  • What keywords are you targeting?

  • What words are people using to find you?

  • What words would you like people to use to find you?

When doing keyword research, there are several tools available to help you. You can use Google Ads Keyword Planner to get ideas for keywords and to see which ones are most popular. You can also use tools like Moz or SEMrush to get an in-depth look at which keywords are bringing in the most traffic for your competitors. Once you have identified the best keywords, the next step is to make sure they are used throughout your website in the title and meta tags, as well as in the content like website copy and blogs.


Optimise titles and meta descriptions

The URL, title and meta description are what a user sees on the search page as shown above. The title should be short, to the point and concise while the meta description should also concisely reflect the contents of the page. While it doesn't directly affect your SEO it does influence your click-through rate.

  • Keep the title short - 70 characters before truncation

  • Use keywords you want to rank for in the page title

Do this for all pages on your website. You will be able to do this in the backend of your site.


Optimise images

As mentioned earlier, images should be resized to the correct specification for your website. Images that are not sized correctly will load slowly and may not display correctly. Images should be no more than 72 dpi and in a file format such as mobile-friendly JPEG and WebP.


In addition to sizing images, you also need to add descriptions to all of the images on your website. This is because search engines aren't able to interpret the content of images without textual support. Also it means that if images don't load on your website for some reason, users are still able to tell what the image was because the alternative text (alt-text) is displayed. This is also important for visually impaired people who use text-to-speech software to access web content.


Build links

Link building for SEO is an effective and important tool for growing your business. It helps search engines like Google identify the most relevant and helpful content for a particular query and, in turn, drives more traffic to your website.


Link building for SEO involves creating links from other websites to yours. This helps search engines understand that your website is an authority on the topics you cover, and it can result in higher search engine rankings. It’s important to note that link-building for SEO is a long-term process. You need to be patient and consistent in order to see results. Additionally, it’s important to build quality links from relevant websites. Quality links from low-quality websites won’t have the same effect


Ideas for getting backlinks include:

  • Partnerships with other complementary businesses

  • Trade associations

  • Exceptional content people want to share and link to

  • Sponsorships

  • Donations

  • Community involvement

  • Contents

  • News stories

  • Media releases

  • Events

  • Social media campaigns

Produce organic content

Organic content is content you create yourself. For example, you can start a blog and write about topics your target audience is likely to be interested in or share content such as images or videos, and share them on social media.


This is your chance to show people what your business is all about and display your expertise. But this is not a sales pitch - it is about creating content that either educates, informs or entertains an audience.


Ideas for content include:

  • Your business mission, values and USP

  • Your products or services

  • Customer guarantees

  • FAQs from customers

  • Company formation and history/reason for being

  • Employees

  • Community involvement

  • Anything new - events, employees, locations, products/services, promotions

  • Accreditations

  • Reviews/testimonials/customer stories

  • Sustainable practices

  • Sponsorships/donations

  • Loyalty programs

Local SEO tips & checklist

Local SEO is about people searching for products and services like yours in the area. This is where the importance of having an optimised website that works in conjunction with a Google Business profile is super-important. You can read about setting up a Google Business profile here.


Here are some tips for optimising your website for local search:

  • Claim your Google Business profile and populate all required fields as well as plenty of relevant images!

  • Mobile first - people are using their mobiles to do local searches for restaurants, stores and service providers

  • Always use the same business name, address and phone number on your website and business profiles

  • Make sure your location is predominant in your content including headings, titles and meta descriptions

  • Use your product/service/business as a main keyword combined logically with your location

  • Encourage your customers to review you online - read more on how to make it easy for customers to do this here

Local website checklist

  • Basic pages with clear content and calls to actions including:

    • Home

    • About

    • Contact

    • FAQs

    • Returns/guarantees/disclaimers

    • Reviews/testimonials

    • Privacy policy

  • Complete information on the Contact page and other landing pages that is consistent with other platforms and includes maps, driving directions and hours

  • Unique pages for every location, every key product/service, and key public-facing employees (if relevant)

  • Reviews/testimonials included on all landing pages

  • Social media, Google Business and any other review site links

  • High quality images (with alt-tags) and videos (with transcripts)

  • Evidence of community involvement/sponsorship or other charitable activities

(Source Moz)


Top 10 SEO tips

According to PC Mag:

  1. Build a well-designed website

  2. Focus on a specific topic

  3. Pick relevant keywords

  4. Create quality content on a consistent basis

  5. Create attractive page titles and headlines

  6. Optimise (size) your images

  7. Reduce your website's load time

  8. Write information-packed meta descriptions (small descriptive paragraphs put into the back end of your web page to explain its purpose)

  9. Use descriptive URLs (not number based)

  10. Use wise internal and external links

Conclusion

Despite what you may think, SEO is not an exact science. It's a constantly evolving process and as search engines continue to change, you need to stay on top of things. In order to do this effectively, you need to make sure that your market is targeted appropriately and that you have the necessary technical knowledge to optimise your website for the various search engines out there.


There are many SEO experts out there ready to help you, but the most successful businesses rely on a combination of heavily customised content, device-friendly web design, and strategic marketing to drive their web presence to the top.


If this all seems bewildering but you understand the importance of SEO, contact me for assistance.

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