Search engine optimisation: What is SEO?
What is Search Engine Optimisation?
SEO (search engine optimisation) is the practice of implementing strategies on your website to improve your rankings in search engine results pages (SERPs) of search engines such as Google.
The best thing about SEO as a marketing tactic? Its mostly a free activity, it will cost you some time but once you have a good SEO strategy in place you will start ranking in search engines which will generate traffic to your site long term. Plus each person that finds your page or post will be far more targeted; for example if you rank for “booking tours in Asia”, the people searching that term are showing buying signals and they’re going to care about your content.
There are lots of factors when it comes to SEO; this article will take you through some of the simplest ways you can improve your search rankings. Moreover it is important to always have your site users in mind; make your website as engaging and user-friendly as possible.
On-site Vs Off-site SEO
SEO is often split into different areas and it is important to consider all of them in your SEO strategy as they all work together to improve your search rankings. On-site SEO references the tactics used across your site such as your internal linking and permalink structure. Within on-site you also have on-page SEO which refers to the methods used at the page and post level of your site; this largely boils down to a good keyword strategy.
Off-site SEO involves all the strategies that occur away from your site; mostly this will be back links from other sites and social signals from social networks.
How should you measure success?
There are lots of metrics you can use to measure the success of your SEO strategy. In the end you want to be looking at conversions you’re receiving from organic search i.e. how well this traffic is converting into leads for your business. Keep an eye on the following key performance indicators (KPIs) to benchmark your progress:
- Domain authority (DA) – popularly used by Moz, they give domains a rank which stands for how likely that domain is to rank well in search, the higher the DA the better a site should rank. They have a free chrome extension you can use to quickly gauge the DA of a site. Try to work on getting your DA up to at least 30.
- Page authority (PA) – another term used by Moz which refers to the authority of a page rather than the entire domain.
- Search rankings – Results on the first page receive 92% of clicks so its no wonder that rankings are super important when it comes to measuring the success of your SEO campaign.
- Website traffic from organic search – make sure you have Google Analytics installed on your site so that you can measure the volume and quality of the traffic visiting your site from organic search and other sources. When looking at your traffic metrics, take into account the following;
- Traffic volume – how much traffic you should expect depends on the size of your target audience but you should see significant increase in your traffic with a good SEO strategy.
- Pages per visit – the number of pages per visit should be high you want your visitors to stay on your site and visit multiple pages in line with their interests
- Average visit duration – the average visit duration of visitors should be high, you want your visitors to be engaged enough that they stay on your site.
- Bounce rate – your bounce rate should be as low as possible. A high bounce rate can be a sign that your visitors aren’t targeted enough or your keyword strategy isn’t quite right as users are getting to your page but leaving quickly.
- Conversions – how much of your traffic from organic search is converting into leads and sales for your business, depending on the volume you receive and how in depth you want your analytics to be I recommend you consider investing in an email marketing, marketing automation tool or CRM system to properly track your conversions.
Your keywords are the most important thing in your SEO strategy. You can have great on-site and off-site SEO but if your keywords are ill-informed you won’t hit those all important traffic and conversions KPIs mentioned above.
A keyword in the context of search marketing is simply the term or phrase that someone enters into a search engine to find results. Keyword phrases come in two camps. ‘Short tail’ and ‘long tail’.
If you want your page/post to rank in Google you need to tell Google what your page is about by using keywords. When selecting your keywords don’t make the mistake of picking ones with the highest search volumes – if its going to be really difficult for you to rank on page 1 because of the level of competition for the keyword then you’re never going to get the traffic volume you need. Keysearch is a great tool for both checking and researching your keywords for your strategy – the higher the score the more competitive the keyword will be, see the screenshot below, you can see that ‘tours in asia’ is pretty competitive with a score of 41 and ‘travel asia’ is a total no go with a score of 53. Instead choose keywords that are less competitive and more specific.
In terms of a strategy; choose one primary keyword phrase to focus on per page or article and use these in your on-page SEO, I’ll talk about these elements further down in the article. Then choose a selection of other related keywords to use once or twice each throughout your article.
You can sign up to Keysearch with this link and enter the code KSDISC for 20% off.
On-site SEO Strategy
- Permalink structure – your permalink structure is basically the structure of the URLs of your site. Make sure that your URLs contain keywords to help your pages rank better. If you’re using WordPress, set your default permalink structure to ‘post title’ which will look something like this https://deepbluedigitalmarketing.com/sample-post.
- Internal linking structure – In SEO links are like votes. It can be difficult to get links from other sites however it is easy to structure your site internally to make sure that the benefit from external links is spread throughout your entire site. Having a clear internal structure is also important for your site visitors so that they can easily navigate through your site. You should be able to get to every page in your site within 3-5 clicks from your home page. Use the menu structure plus image and text links within pages and posts to link to relevant content within your site; top-down, bottom-up and across your site.
- External links – it is a good idea to add some links to other relevant, high authority sites within your own site, it says to Google that your site keeps the same company as those sites. Don’t link to low authority sites.
- Nofollow links – Don’t make all the links in your site nofollow.
- SSL certificate – Install an SSL certificate on your site. SSL Certificates are small data files that when installed on a web server, activates the https protocol and allows secure connections from a web server to a browser. You’ll notice this in Chrome where the address bar highlights in green and shows a green padlock.
- Site speed – The load speed of your site and pages is also a factor in SEO, slow pages will mean high bounce rates and other poor traffic stats. Read more about improving your site speed here.
On-page SEO Strategy
You should have an SEO strategy for each new article or page that you write, this is where your previous keyword research will come in handy.
Use your primary keyword in:
- Page titles
- Meta descriptions
- The URL
- Within the text, earlier in the article is better.
With your other relevant keywords; use them once or twice each throughout the rest of the text, it is better to use a good range of relevant keywords than one many times over.
Crafting your Off-site SEO Strategy
Your off-site SEO strategy is a little tricker than on-site as you have less control over it. It mainly consists of gaining high quality, relevant links back you your site. Read the guide on ways to get high quality back links here.
SEO Plugins for WordPress
Installing an SEO plugin such as Yoast in your WordPress site is a good idea to help you keep SEO in mind when creating new pages and posts. I don’t advise that you follow the plugin by the book, for example when looking at on-page optimisation it only allows you to enter one keyword to optimise against, but use it as a checklist to keep in mind the factors you should be optimising and as an easy way to create meta descriptions and XML sitemaps.
So there you have it; the basics of search engine optimisation and the tactics you need to employ in a great SEO strategy plus some recommendations for tools to help you improve your search rankings.
Need help creating or implementing your SEO strategy? Learn more about our search engine optimisation services here.