Effective search engine optimisation (SEO) is important for businesses to increase relevant traffic back to their website. SEO does this by helping improve your chances of ranking highly in relevant organic search engine results. The more relevant the searches you appear in, the more likely you are to receive visits to your website.
From understanding SEO to implementing effective organic search engine practices, there are plenty of factors to learn. Although there are more than 300 factors to consider for SEO, we’ll break it down into 10 simple factors to focus on and explain what, how and why SEO is important for your business.
Photo by Benjamin Dada on Unsplash.
What is search engine optimisation?
Search engine optimisation, means optimising your online presence for search engines with the purpose of increasing your visibility in relevant search engine result pages (known as SERPS). The result of being in good positioning on relevant search engine results is the opportunity for more people to visit your website. However, this may not always be the case.
There are more than 300 factors involved in doing SEO and they are always evolving. This is one of the reasons why SEO is an ongoing process requiring frequently analysing data, researching and updating your website.
However, SEO is as much increasing your rankings as it is getting yourself in the right search engine results. Many dodgy SEO agencies will increase your rankings and show you how many times they’ve done this, but have done so on easy-to-achieve search engine results with minimal traffic. As a result, you don’t see the benefit of increased website traffic due to minimal users actually seeing you in those results.
What’s the difference between search engine optimisation and search engine marketing?
Search engine optimisation is used to get your website to rank highly in organic search results, which search engine marketing (SEM) is for the same thing, but for paid search results.
If you look at a results page, you can see the top few results will often say ‘Ad’ to the left of them, which means the business has paid to have their ad show up for that search (keyword).
Below the ads, you’ll find the organic results, which are shown in that order because Google or whatever search engine you’re using, has ranked them in that order based on a variety of factors to deem which is the most relevant to your search query.
How do search engines work?
Search engines aim to display the best results for a user’s searches. To determine these results, they detect new content online and compare them against hundreds of factors to ensure the information is reliable, from a secure and trustworthy source and much more.
If your website is optimised for search engines, then you’re more likely to have a better chance of ranking higher for keywords related to your business. For example, if you’re a plumber in Townsville, you would want to show up for “burst pipe Townsville,” and so on.
However, if you’re in a highly competitive market, it’s more difficult to rank highly.
This is why optimising your website is important to give your website the best ability to be seen on search engines and other platforms.
10 Ways to Improve Your SEO
1. Crawl and index accessibility.
Having crawl accessibility allows search engines to easily read your website. One thing that can inhibit crawl accessibility is if the code is too complex, it can be difficult for search engines to crawl your website, which is bad for SEO.
However, for search engines to actually find and check your website, they need to be told they can. In the backend of your website you’ll have a setting allowing each page or blog to be indexable or non-indexable. Being indexable allows the search engine to list your website on search engines, while non-indexable doesn’t allow them to do so.
2. Great user experience.
User experience should be the core focus of any and every good SEO strategy. If you provide users with a good experience, they are more likely to remain on your site and search engines will recognise your website is user friendly.
On the other hand, if your website doesn’t provide good user experience, users will leave your website quickly, which will signal to search engines their users would not receive a good experience on your website, whether it’s your site being unsecure, not mobile friendly, receiving pop-ups, poor content and more.
How to improve user experience:
- Optimise your website’s content with good SEO practices.
- Improve your page load times (refer to point 8).
- Ensure your website is mobile friendly.
- Keep your SSL certificate up to date.
- Design your website to be user friendly, including no pop-ups.
And much more.
3. SSL Certificate.
A Secure Socket Layer certificate, or SSL certificate, ensures your website and website user’s information is secure. Search engines want to recommend users the best websites, so if your site is secure, Google will favour it as it wants to give its users safe results.
To tell if you have a current SSL certificate, look to your URL (the wwww.yourwebsite.com.au). If you can see a locked padlock, you have a current SSL certificate, and if it’s open or broken, you do not. You should also see HTTPS in front of your URL instead of only HTTP — the ‘s’ obviously representing secure.
Google Chrome will even advise users if they are visiting an insecure website, warning them their information may be at risk. So, aside from the SEO and obvious security benefits, you should ensure you have one.
To get an SSL certificate, you’ll want to have a current domain name registered, which should come with your web hosting, depending on your provider.
Expertise, authority and trust (E-A-T) are crucial elements of SEO, especially for industries which can impact the wellbeing of a person, like finance, health, etc. However, they’re also important factors of SEO for any industry.
E-A-T essentially tells search engines the information is safe for users to consider in relation to their query. Some ways to improve your E-A-T rating includes:
- Ensuring you have plenty of positive, authentic online reviews.
- Using the authority of real people connected to your business on your website and in blogs.
- Writing thorough content covering all angles of a topic.
- Keeping pages and blogs specific to one topic.
- Obtaining more quality backlinks pointing back to your website.
Websites with more authority also tend to score higher rankings on search engines, since expertise and qualifications means you may be more credible, which is what users want. If you’re a legal, financial or medical service, Google will want to show your business on search results since you have authority and qualifications consumers looking for your service desire.
5. Consistent details (NAP).
Your business’s name, address and phone number (NAP) play an important role in your SEO. You want to ensure your NAP is consistent in all places it’s shown online (known as a citation), and is kept up to date. This helps Google confirm who you are by utilising multiple sources. If one or more were different, it would confuse both users and search engines, which as we know, bad user experience is bad for Google. If you’re posting variations of your business name, search engines won’t be able to recognise each platform is related to your business.
For example, if your business name on your website is CT’s Plumbing, but you have it listed as CT’s Electrical & Plumbing on Google My Business (GMB) and Charles Thomas’s Plumbing on your website, search engines won’t be able to recognise all of these as your business since the names aren’t the same. This means it’s a lot of SEO efforts going to waste.
6. Keeping your website up-to-date.
Keeping your website up-to-date is important to ensure it’s running smoothly and help with SEO performance. Similar to updating your phone and computer software and apps when new updates arise, it’s equally important to do this for your website and plug-ins.
Plus, it also helps keep your website secure, which is also effective for good SEO.
7. Off-page website optimisation.
While updating what’s on your website is important for your SEO, optimising what’s off your website and online also helps too. This is known as off-page SEO. Guest blogging, reviews, online directories, brand mentions, being active in answering questions in forums, joining industry networks etc. are all examples. Essentially increasing your online presence and keeping it active outside of the website.
8. Fast page speeds.
Fast loading times is an essential point for good search engine optimisation. If a website takes longer than 3 seconds to load, 57% of users will leave the page. This is not only bad for SEO, it’s bad for your business.
There are various factors to increase website speed, from making file sizes smaller to ensuring your website hosting has a fast server response time. If you have a slow website, speaking to an SEO specialist can help you pinpoint and fix the problem.
9. Keyword optimisation.
Keyword optimisation means utilising the search result terms you’d like to appear in, relevant to your business and the page in the content, images, meta data, etc. You can use these keywords on your website, in blogs, social media platforms and anywhere else your business has online presence to help search engines recognise your business.
However, in the past, overusing keywords (known as keyword stuffing) was common practice. This is now not recommended and should be avoided as the content won’t be enjoyable or natural to read. It’s recommended to use keywords no more, but ideally no less, than every 150 to 300 words.
When using keywords, you also want to ensure you’re using them in relevant headings, closer to the top of the page and in image alt text. If this all sounds too much, an SEO specialist can do all of this for you and correctly.
10. Answer search queries.
When users enter their query on a search engine, they have a question they want answered. If your website answers all the questions they have related to their search, you have satisfied the searcher, and therefore, search engine. Of course, you need to satisfy the other SEO factors, but this is just one factor.
For example, if someone’s searching for ‘custom cakes in Rockhampton’ they’re going to want to know:
- Who can make custom cakes?
- What custom cakes can they make?
- How much is a custom cake?
- Where do they make custom cakes?
- When can they make custom cakes?
- Who makes the best custom cakes in Rockhampton?
Therefore, if you own a bakery in Rockhampton, you want to have all this information on your website. For example, you’d want this information to be easily accessible:
- Who: Chloe’s Rocky Bakery — Custom Cakes.
- What: A gallery of custom cakes you’ve made, with example photos and sizes of cakes.
- How you make custom cakes and the steps customers need to take to arrange to have a custom cake made.
- Where you make the cakes.
- When: How quickly you can make cakes and when customers can pick them up.
You would also want this information on quality online directories (like localsearch.com.au), a Google My Business and have plenty of online reviews for people to read.
Looking to optimise your website? Find your local SEO service on localsearch.com.au.