Your website’s visibility is obviously very important, you ultimately build a website to engage your audience and to deliver your proposition, but if no one can find it, you’re clearly not going to succeed.
First of all, it’s important to caveat that there is no quick fix to SEO, every business in the world says ‘I want to be number one in Google’, so with everyone battling for this top spot how do you begin to achieve these lofty goals. SEO is always ongoing, it’s a continuous approach to supporting your website and improving its visibility through search rankings.
But SEO always comes with an element of mystery. It’s funny, whenever you talk to digital marketing agencies or SEO experts, they always like to make it sound like it’s a dark art.
You throw questions at them, from all angles and they’ll never actually tell you the answer you’re looking for, they always seem to dance around it. You always hear the same message; ‘Oh, we have our ways’ followed by a maniacal laugh, making you feel like you can never address any of these issues yourself.
This is concerning, so this article is designed to demystify 5 key elements that will support your SEO goals.
It’s funny, whenever you talk to digital marketing agencies or SEO experts, they always like to make it sound like it’s a dark art.
1.On page SEO vs Off page SEO.
SEO is broken up into two main areas On page and Off page. On Page is the one that’s most within your control, this is how well your website and the content within your website is optimised to support search, this is everything from the speed of your website, it’s mobile friendliness, metadata, micro data, keyword optimisation and many more factors.
Off Page SEO, is all of the activity you do externally from your website to build your authority and raise your page rankings. Your goal here is to build relevant links from authoritative websites that help to build your own authority, other quality sites linking to yours demonstrates trust and that in turn means search engines trust you.
Social activity will also help support this authority (even though this is a bit confusing we will go into more detail later on), this should be supported with a content strategy designed to help you generate backlinks and proactively create outreach.
So, which one has the most impact and where should you start? You should start with the optimisation of your website, otherwise everything you do to build authority and page rankings won’t have the impact you want. Whilst On Page SEO is more tangible and within your control, Off Page SEO can be a longer and more difficult process to achieve, but it does have by far the biggest impact. You have to remember one doesn’t work without the other.
2. On page SEO optimisation.
So, when you’ve just had your website built often your developer or digital agency will tell you it’s optimised for SEO. The truth is that’s a bit of a false statement, because what they mean is your website is mobile friendly, your source code is optimised for search, your content management system is structured to support your SEO goals and your robot.txt file is telling search engine crawlers which pages/files can be crawled.
And that’s all very important, but it comes as standard. This is how your website should have been developed, no extra work has been done here by your provider to support your SEO goals. If it hasn’t been built this way you’ve chosen the wrong provider.
So the hard work is still to be done, you need to develop your page content, optimise it for keywords, write meta descriptions and ensure your titles/URL aren’t too long or too short.
You need to ensure your canonical tags, redirects and your page assets are optimised to prevent slow load times. The list goes on, essentially there are a lot of things you need to consider when optimising your website and once this is done you should also continue to monitor and make changes to support your goals.
If you are looking to do some of this yourself, there are some amazing tools out there which will help you to do this; Moz is expensive, but it’s an incredible tool to help even beginners start to understand the performance of their website and how to begin to optimise it. The site’s crawl and support recommendations are invaluable; it monitors all aspects of your performance/authority and its keyword research/link research help even the novice to understand and make implementations to their own website.
Other tools such as Google Speed test can help you understand the speed and performance of your website, how that impacts the end user and your search engine results.
On top of this you can also look at microdata, this is data that supports Google search that can be nested within existing content to help google identify and provide richer search results.
All of these things are there to give you the best possible chance to succeed.
3. Off page SEO – Backlinks have the biggest impact on your rankings.
Off Page SEO is about creating authority for your website and backlinks are the most important component to this. Backlinks are a sign of trust and the more of these you have from other authoritative websites, the more Google trusts your website and in turn the content it’s delivering as part of its search results.
The problem with building links through outreach is it’s a very time consuming process. Getting third party websites to carry your content and link to your website is a very manual process. You have to do the research to make sure your publisher is relevant, you then need to approach them, write the content and hope it gets published. Even after all of that there aren’t any guarantees.
But there are tools out there to help you do this and will automate parts of this process for you, such as Pitch Box. This tool helps you to find bloggers, publishers and influencers. It creates a workflow of customisable correspondence that allows you to engage these individuals – it’s a great outreach tool.
It’s important to know all of this activity should form and be supported by your content strategy but we’ll get to this shortly.
Social media and backlinks are a bit of a tricky subject, my understanding in the past had been that social media didn’t boost your search rankings, at least I understood it didn’t have the same impact as a backlink from an authoritative website. There is a lot of mixed information around this. When writing this blog, I did some research and read a post by Neil Patel (a good read if you want to learn more) and it’s complicated.
Essentially Google have clearly stated in the past that social signals do not impact search results and may not consider backlinks from social channels as credible backlinks. However, in recent years research has been carried out that disagrees with this and concludes Google does care about your social profiles and will continue to into the future. In 2018, ‘Bing’ (Google’s Microsoft competitor) has clearly stated social signals had an impact on their rankings. So smart brands will continue to build and invest in their social channels.
Off Page SEO is about creating authority for your website and backlinks are the most important component to this.
4. Content strategy.
A content marketing strategy is an organic long-term approach to improving the search engine results of your website, as well as your social activity and social engagement. This is a plan to support your long term SEO goals, focused on building awareness of your business and increasing interest in your brand.
By utilising a variety of third party websites and social channels that complement and give authority to your business, your content strategy should be designed to give you maximum exposure. Thus allowing you to promote key values and messages about your business and brand whilst increasing your organic presence and improving your organic search engine results.
Combining this with a channels strategy, which allows you to identify and distribute your content to your audience, this activity will support your Off Page SEO goals and should be thought of as an ongoing activity.
This should take the form of creative content including blogs, vLogs, thought leadership, insight, products/services, events and news, as well as social proactive and reactive engagement. You should also consider the different mediums you want to use to do this. Remember content is king!
5. Focus! Don’t let this feel daunting and focus your resources.
When you read about all the factors which affect and support your SEO objectives, it can seem incredibly daunting. If you have a fairly big website it can feel almost impossible, but it doesn’t have to be; start small. Focus your resources on small sections or key areas of the website that support your own KPIs as a business.
Choose one product or service page, optimise it to the best of your ability and begin to generate an outreach strategy as part of your content strategy designed to support that product or service – don’t try to do everything at once. Monitor and record its performance and try to influence the performance of that page by making alterations.
Once you’ve done this, choose a second and so on and so forth. You will never make any progress if you try to address every section or element of your website at once, especially when it comes to outreach, this should be focused and planned to support key objectives within your business.
So take your time and implement these 5 top tips step by step.
Focus your resources on small sections or key areas of the website that support your own KPIs as a business.
So, I know that’s a lot to take in, but start small and monitor your impact. If you don’t understand how to best approach outreach, start simple by optimising your content and using your own organic social channels to support your SEO goals and generate engagement.
However, if you’re a business looking for support with this, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
I hope this was useful. Thanks for reading.
Author: Matt Hickling