Have you heard the story about the super-successful company that didn’t even have a website, let alone worry about ranking well on Google?
Nope, neither have we.
Nobody has, because in today’s world, they simply don’t exist!.
And how’s your business doing? Are you super-successful and got all the customers you can handle or are you just struggling to even rank well on Google? Customers can’t find you in the busy online marketplace? You sit back, wondering why your competitors rank well and you don’t. It’s frustrating. You assume they just have a massive digital marketing budget and pay for SEO experts to help them.
The reality is, that there are plenty of things you can do yourself to improve your website’s Google rankings. Here’s a guide on all of the SEO basics you should be aware of before investing time and money into ranking better.
Optimise your site for SEO from day one
Let’s just get straight into it. You’re redesigning your website or perhaps even starting a new business. You know that ranking well on Google is going to be important, so what’s the first step?
Optimise from day one.
Let’s not kid ourselves, a brand-new website or even a redesigned one is unlikely to rank exceptionally well straight away. SEO is an ongoing process, but you can set your website up the right way from the start.
This is mainly around the technical side of SEO. We’re not talking about written content, keywords or any of that fun stuff just yet.
Getting your website established to rank well isn’t terribly difficult, but it is a little technical so you’ll probably want someone who knows what they’re doing. They will be looking out for things like page loading speed, UX, setting you up with Yoast or Rank Math plugins to help your SEO efforts along the way plus much more. Get your website built by a professional developer who understands SEO.
We might even know someone who can help with that…
Understand your audience
Now, if your website is a bit older and not already optimised for SEO, that’s not a problem. You’ll probably just want a website developer to get into the back-end and tidy things up a bit. If not, installing an SEO plugin like Yoast is a great place to start, because it will give you plenty of tips and advice on how to boost your SEO.
Then, the fun begins (and it really is fun – honest) – starting your own SEO campaign.
Like any form of marketing, it starts with your audience. If you don’t know much about the people you’re selling to, SEO is going to be an uphill battle!
Most importantly, answer these questions about your audience:
· Who are they?
· Where do they hang out?
· How do they use search online?
· What online platforms do they use?
See, it’s all about reaching them. For example, if you find out that your niche audience never uses Google search and makes all of their consumer decisions from social media, you can probably close the SEO book now and focus on social media marketing.
Wow, that was easy!
But if they do use search engines like Google (and with around 300,000 searches in Australia every day, it’s fair to assume most consumers do), then you’ll need to target your SEO approach accordingly.
How exactly do you target your SEO approach, you ask?
Well, it starts with keyword research. You’ve probably heard about keywords before, but here’s an extremely basic definition:
· Keywords are the terms your target audience searches for on Google.
Once you understand the types of searches people are going to punch into Google when looking for your products and services, you can start optimising your website around those terms. You can even find keywords for yourself by using the Keyword Planner on Google Ads. SEO experts use other tools to dig deeper and find great keywords, but you can do a basic search for yourself.
Think about what you sell. Let’s use a cake shop in Melbourne as an example here and throughout the article. They sell cakes, so keywords relating to cakes are obviously going to be great.
“Great, so if I sell cakes, I can just rank for words like ‘cakes’, and customers will come flooding through the door?”
Wouldn’t that be nice!
What we’re looking for during keyword research are the terms you can realistically rank for. There will be enormous competition for a broad term like ‘cakes’, making it very difficult to rank well for it. So, think about other things your audience might search for. It might be terms like:
· Best cakes in Melbourne
· Custom cakes for birthday parties
· Kids birthday cakes
What you’ve done there is found more specific keywords/searches that likely have less competition. Check the monthly search volume too. Ideally, your first step should be to try and rank well for keywords with a high monthly volume of searches, but low competition.
LSI keywords and related terms
Are you ready for some boring SEO stuff? Bear with us, this is important.
LSI stands for Latent Semantic Indexing. Essentially, it’s a computer program that learns synonyms based on context.
Hint: Google uses it as part of the system that categorises and ranks websites according to search terms and online content.
In an SEO sense, you should consider using LSI keywords and related search terms throughout your content. Don’t overdo it, just sprinkle them through the content so that Google can accurately determine that your page is indeed about the search term you’re trying to rank for.
So, for our cake shop trying to rank for ‘kids birthday cakes’, you should look for related terms such as:
· Custom kid’s birthday cakes
· Marvel cakes for birthday
· Cake designs for kids
And so on…
These LSI keywords and related terms basically give your content more authority and relevance in the eyes of Google.
Avoid keyword stuffing
While we’ve talked a lot about keywords, you don’t want to overdo their use. All the research and planning you’ve done is purely to make it easier for your target audience to find your business.
Back in the old days of SEO, people just stuffed as many keywords and related terms into content, and Google played along….for a while.
Now that Google’s algorithm has evolved, keyword stuffing is more likely to damage your SEO rankings rather than improve them.
Using your target keyword 2-3 times in long-form content is usually enough, while your LSI keywords can be used once each.
Understand search intent
Rather than Google relying on keyword stuffing to rank pages, it’s now evolved. It’s a learning computer, just like Arnie in Terminator.
The new kid on the block, in many ways, search intent is becoming more important, and can be broken up into 4 types of intent:
Informational: People want information on a certain topic.
Navigational: Trying to find something specific, such as a business name or contact details.
Commercial: Generally looking for information on products and services.
Transactional: The customer is ready to buy something.
|Informational||How are kid’s cakes made?Best cake styles for kids|
|Navigational||Cake store addressCake store opening hours|
|Commercial||Cakes for kids’ birthdaysCustom cakes for parties|
|Transactional||Kid’s birthday cake pricesCheap birthday cakes|
The idea is to match your content to the keywords you’re trying to rank for.
As an example, our cake shop wants to rank well for ‘custom cakes for parties’. This search has commercial intent, so your content should be focused on the types of cakes available, pricing, and why people should choose our cake shop.
If you were trying to rank for ‘custom cakes for parties’, but your content is focused on different recipes and helping users make their own cakes, that’s more of an Informational intent, therefore Google may not rank you well.
In addition, you should always try to match content with search intent to improve conversion rates. Giving customers information that really answers their questions is a much more effective way to convert leads to sales.
We won’t go into huge amounts of detail for these back-end basics. There is, of course, a whole lot you can do in the back end of a website to improve SEO. We’re going to focus on the basics though. Because can you really be bothered reading about coding languages and HTML?
Nope, we didn’t think so.
So, here are some back-end basics to improve your SEO.
Use title tags
The title tag of your page tells Google what it’s about. It’s the title of your page or blog, and you should always include your targeted keyword at the beginning of the title tag.
Let’s go back to our cake shop. Could anybody else go for a nice piece of cheesecake right now?
We digress! The cake shop wants a landing page that ranks well for ‘custom birthday cakes’. Rather than using a title like ‘How to Find the Best Custom Birthday Cakes’, switch it around so the keyword is at the beginning.
‘Custom Birthday Cakes: Where to Find Them’
Google gives more weight to the words early in title tags, which is why this step is important.
Quality meta descriptions
Many people forget about the meta description but this is something that helps both Google and humans.
Humans, you say?
Yep. SEO is significantly about pleasing the great Google algorithm. But everything you do should appeal to humans too.
“But I’ve just been filling my website with keywords, and that worked fine back in 2003.”
So did a lot of other people, but much like Saturday night variety TV shows, that doesn’t work anymore.
For SEO purposes, include your targeted keyword in the meta description, and maybe even another related term. You’ve only got 180 characters, so be clever with your words. But also, make sure the description matches the content, so humans are more likely to click on it. Remember, the meta description shows up on the search results page and can encourage or discourage users to click on your page.
Google loves to see interactive elements like images and videos on web pages. But they should always be tagged correctly, in a way that’s relevant to your content and keywords.
There’s an easy way to do this, don’t worry.
Each CMS is slightly different, but you just need to find the ‘alt text’ on your images. Images generally have a title, file name, caption and alt text. If any one of these includes your keyword, you’re laughing.
The SEO title is what shows up on the search results page. It usually includes your page title, the website title (usually your business name) and anything else you want in there. But you should use a maximum of 70 characters.
For example, our cake shop (which really needs a name), might have a search result that looks like:
· Custom Birthday Cakes: Where to Find Them – George’s Cakes – Order Now!
That’s how it will look on Google. We’ve got the blog title, followed by the business name (which is now George’s Cakes) and then a simple call to action which indicates to customers that this website won’t just give you information, it will allow you to buy a cake.
See, machines and humans are both catered for in one simple SEO title.
Now we’re onto the big part. Content! Back in 1996, Bill Gates penned an essay called ‘Content is King’, and a couple of decades on, the statement still rings true.
Did you think he made all of his money by being wrong?
Google’s major aim is to deliver users the best content available. So, while algorithms change and evolve, and Google’s system gets better at identifying great content, you’ll be left behind if you don’t put the effort in here.
No pain, no gain, right?
Just as we’ve seen with keyword stuffing once being hugely effective yet now damaging, it’s likely that Google will find ways to penalise content that’s obviously been written just for SEO. Because despite being a massive tech company, Google’s main business is still humans.
So, here are some content tips to help you out.
High-quality content for the win
We’ve probably just touched on the importance of quality content. The reality is, that Google’s algorithm is going to improve continually until the top-ranking pages are going to have the most useful, comprehensive information.
This is where you need to actually step away from traditional SEO a bit. We know this whole article is about SEO but bear with us.
Your content should always be written for humans. Why? Because Google ranks and categorises websites for humans. So, if your content isn’t useful to Google’s target audience, it won’t rank you well.
Invest in high-quality content now, and even if you don’t get instant SEO results right now, good content is always good content.
There is a lot of conjecture out there when it comes to content length. Now, not to scare you, but we’ve got some bad news.
Long-form content generally ranks better. We already talked about the quality of your content. The reality is, that it’s hard to provide useful, comprehensive information for users in a short 500-word blog. This blog, for example, is well over 2000 words.
However, be selective with your content length. If you’re trying to outrank competitors for a high-competition keyword, you’ll want longer content. However, if you’re trying to rank for a keyword with virtually no competition, a shorter piece of content might still be fine.
Ideally, most SEO experts recommend content should be at least 1400 words, if not more.
Make yourself linkable
We’re not going to go into too much detail here about backlinks. However, a backlink is where another website links back to yours. In theory, this tells Google that other websites find your content useful and therefore, users should too.
But then, if non-reputable websites link back to yours, it can damage our SEO, so it’s always a balancing act.
Link building is important for SEO, and there are a few different methods for achieving backlinks. However, in terms of content, you can attract backlinks easier than you think.
By creating awesome, linkable content. It might be a chart, an infographic, some industry-specific statistics, videos and more. When other content creators use something on your website, they should cite you as a source, and this generates a backlink.
So, make content that others will want to refer to, and try to generate backlinks with very little effort.
Are you ready to rank higher on Google?
SEO is a long-term proposition, and not something that can improve overnight. Using the tips above can certainly have an impact, but we can’t stress one thing enough.
Optimise from day one.
Do we sound like a broken record? Maybe.
But when your website is built correctly, with SEO as a focus in the development phase, your future SEO efforts will give much better results. Building and optimising websites for SEO is just one of the things we’re pretty darn good at here, so if you want to know how we can help, let’s chat! Start the conversation now and find out how Human Pixel can make sure your new website ranks well from the start.