SEO – everyone’s doing it, but are they doing it right? What role can you play within your business to ensure that the wrongs are righted and rights are amplified?
Is there a trick to the dark art of search engine optimisation, and indeed on-going management? Do we have secrets to share?
There are no quick ways to reach the top of the search pages, and perhaps if you feel that is all that matters, don’t read on.
However, if you want to get up to speed on what you should be looking from your website, and what you can do to direct or speak more knowledgeably with you SEO agency or marketing team, look no further.
Here are 6 simple SEO boosts that’ll make a big deal to your business.
1. Remember your messaging and purpose as a business
Who are you and what does your business do?
That’s a reasonable question to ask. If you’re a window cleaning company that works in Warwickshire, Dudley, Wolverhampton, Walsall and Solihull then that’s where you’ll be seeking web traffic from.
You know that your website must, above all else, talk about topics which are relevant to window cleaning in those areas.
Then, dig deeper. Are you transactional, expecting one booking from a client and then onto the next? Or are you looking at a B2B audience where you’ll need to think about keeping people updated on your business and the topics that will keep your key accounts engaged?
From your messaging and business purpose you can look at your website’s navigation and structure.
Do you need a news section if you have no news to share? Are you publicly trading and need an investors’ centre? Are you a software company that wants a demo request, meaning that the site should be structured with information first and conversions are possible on every page and highlighted in bright neon lights?
Don’t overthink this. SEO may be a deep, and quite possibly complicated art, but your website must come back to who your business is and what they want to achieve.
2. Think about the customer journey and buyer personas
If you know your site speaks clearly about your business and what it wants to achieve, that’s the foundation that you build upon.
The next step is to think about your buyers, their needs and their journey from visiting your site to becoming a customer (or making a repeat purchase).
We’ve written at lengths about the value of buyer personas, but with websites it is absolutely crucial that your ideal buyers are front and centre when you consider the navigation, layout of pages and the routes to conversion (demo, more information, purchase etc.).
Buyer personas are not just for content or enabling better sales conversations.
If you target HR manager, financial directors and project management offices, you *must* speak to these people.
Your site is the digital store front to your business. Talk about the topics these people care about using the language they’d expect. Have product use cases for your personas that show these people the value of who you are and what you do.
Think about creating FAQ docs – an inventive way to build traffic after all, as Google builds its use of schema mark up (the technical SEO which provides featured snippets and ‘people also ask’ in the search results:
You can build these questions around those buyer personas.
And then consider their journey. If you’re selling project management software, you’ll want the demo page to speak to this persona.
Your pricing page should address the issues the finance persona cares about, and the product information pages include information about training and on-boarding for your HR persona.
Don’t write for Google and Bing. Write for your buyer personas and build your site for them.
3. Don’t black hat and spam
How often have you or someone in your business received an email saying that the sender can get you to page one of Google?
That, in and of itself, is a big claim. In fact, even if it were to come true, what would you be ranking first for and how much search volume would there be in the areas of the country(ies) that matter to you?
Aside from that surface level question, how about the means of achieving this?
In the late nineties and early 2000s SEO was at its embryonic stage.
That stage saw the development of link farms and link-buying.
Link farms were shady websites which would link to the site of your choosing, at a cost, to help build search visibility. After all, if more people link to your site, search engines love this, as it indicates that people value what you’re saying.
On the surface, that logic holds. However, as Google evolved, so too did its ability to think as a human, that being, why would a yoga studio be linking to a project management software site, a Ghanaian FM radio site, and a healthy food blogger’s site?
The answer: they wouldn’t.
Link farms have slowly died down, but black-hat techniques have not.
These are a natural extension of link farms.
The concept is that you would pay for someone to link back to your site, often at high costs (both financial and to your business’ reputation).
It would also extend to simple acts like writing in a link on a webpage but putting it in white to hide it from the reader.
In short, don’t do this. Sure, look at providers like HOTH who offer a paid link building service, but be mindful to provide a list of sites that you would consider relevant to your buyer personas and what your company offers.
Did we mention to avoid black hat links like the plague?
4. Adopt content marketing, specifically a pillar strategy
The most effective way to drive more traffic and increase your SEO value is through adopting content marketing, specifically a pillar and cluster strategy.
With your navigation, pages and the content therein decided via your buyer personas and business purpose, you can turn to building content marketing campaigns on the topics which matter to your buyers.
Buyer personas will reveal the issues your buyers care about the most.
Your products will look to serve a solution, but your content can go a long way to driving traffic because those people are looking for answers to the questions they have (i.e., their problems).
The pillar strategy sees you take that topic and find sub-topics to build content (blogs, videos, infographics, FAQs etc.) which talk in greater detail about the issue.
A pillar page will act as the main page for all of those sub-topics to point towards, thus building a cumulative effect of pushing traffic and SEO value back to the very page which points the reader to more content they’ll find interesting.
More traffic to your content equates to more form submissions and, with progressive profiling and lead scoring in place, a funnel full of highly qualified leads through what is a quite simple SEO tactic.
5. Link in and out
Build links from your own web pages to other pages on your site and to external websites and ask for links from other relatable sites back to yours.
With a pillar strategy you’ll naturally be linking from one internal page to another, that’s how the strategy works.
You’ll also be able to link to product or service pages from this.
As for external links, think about the relevance to your site and content. In SEO speak you’ll also have to think about domain authority (the overall quality of someone’s site).
The logic is that the more relevant and higher domain authority, the greater value it can give to your site.
How you go about requesting links from a site requires an entire strategy around this. Your marketing agency should be able to either support this or advise where to go for this service.
6. Alt text, tags + file naming and sizes
Do you know what page speed and load times are for your site?
This is something you need to know about, and quick. Add mobile first to the list.
Why? Because the larger the files on your web page, the slower it will load. Mobile usage is also growing exponentially, and Google has accordingly switched to ranking sites on their mobile performance above desktop.
So, the first thing to do is consider compressing the size of the images you have on your site (without losing quality, of course). From there, think about how you’re getting the images to appear on your site. Investing in a CDN where you host your content in the cloud and link in the image from that onto your page will speed up time greatly.
Then, going back to your buyer personas, and thinking about accessibility for visually impaired people, give relevant, keyword friendly alt text to your images and the file names themselves.
Furthermore, ensure that your web pages have a relevant meta description.
This is what appears on search engine preview pages, optimised to the business, their purpose and buyer personas, such as these results for buying fresh coffee beans in the UK:
These are all what search engines consider signals.
Signals of what a page is about, who you are and who you are trying to talk to. If Google can find a strong alignment between what you’re saying and what the searcher is after, you’ll be returned in the results.
You needn’t be filled with uncertainty when it comes to SEO and your business.
Sure, there are more technical aspects to SEO such as featured snippets, but these are 6 SEO tips that you can go ahead and put into motion straight away.
At the minimum, it will give you a base knowledge to support your conversations with the people that are conducting SEO work, and that can only put you in a better position to work with the right people and, ultimately, drive the high quality you need to be able to convert web visitors into paying customers. Result!