The search engine has become part of our everyday life. We start our day with searching the latest news. We conduct research over the web. We end the day searching for our favourite gadget, clothes or even travel options. Google has become a verb in our daily dictionary. But as a business, how are you taking advantage of it?
SEO is the process of affecting the visibility of a web page on search engines organically i.e. unpaid. Below is a simple illustration of SEO vs Search Engine Marketing (SEM).
SEO can be separated into 3 different steps: Research, Incorporate, Optimise.
The first step is probably the most important for SEO practitioners, but is frequently missed out by marketers who are time-scarce. Often, marketers decide for themselves what keywords are important, without realising that at times, those keywords are not frequently searched for. One reliable way to identify relevant keywords is with the Google Keyword Planner.
This is a useful tool that helps SEO practitioners determine the following:
• Keyword Search Volume by Country
• Keyword Search Volume by Language
• Competitiveness of Keywords (this helps determine the popularity of keywords for SEM campaigns)
• Related keywords for alternative consideration
The key to the Research phase is not to be fixated with just 1 or 2 keywords but rather a group of keywords. Use the keyword tool to identify the high volume keywords versus the long-tail keyword that you want to be known for in your industry. For example, if you are a point-of-sale equipment provider, you can search for POS, point-of-sale and decide what related keywords you should optimise.
Once you have completed your research phase, find the right platform and approach to incorporate the best practices of SEO. Some of these practices include:
1. Page title naming convention
Search engines recognises this as the title of your page and evaluates if this is relevant to the search query. It should be unique for each page and contains your primary keyword. It is also recommended to keep it within 55 characters.
2. Web page meta description
The meta description is intended as a summary of what your page is about. The objective of the meta description is to encourage users to click through to your page, but the use of clickbaits is not advised.
3. Web page URL naming convention
Use hyphens (-) to separate the words for increased ease of readability for both the search engines and your target audience. It should ideally contain your keywords and at the same time describe the content of your page.
While there are many other SEO practices to incorporate but the above will give you a good headstart.
Links are like votes to your page. When there is a backlink from other websites to your page, you are creating a signal to search engines that your page is relevant to readers. But multiple links from the same website is irrelevant. 100 links from one site will mean far less than 10 links from 10 different sites.
There are also websites out there that “sell links” which you should avoid, as such sites are often blacklisted and you may end up being penalized more than you are rewarded. Social media is increasingly important in creating the right, recent and relevant signal to search engines so that’s something you should look out for.