SEO is a digital marketing service that has this big reputation for being complex, confusing, and way too difficult to DIY. The truth is, when you get deep down into the nitty gritty of SEO and SEM… it can get a little confusing. BUT! The basics? They’re easy. You just need to understand a few things. What are those few things? What Google wants from you, what your customers want from you, and how to find the perfect balance between the two.
A really simple example of the difference between Google and humans, is that Google reckons the more content, the better. Google loves it when you deep dive into a topic, in fact, no matter what you’re talking about, Google reckons you should write a minimum of 300 words. Humans? Not so much. Most humans flinch at the idea of reading a long form landing page. So, what’s the balance? The balance is giving Google all of the content but giving the humans easy to glance at headings throughout. So they can skim through the content.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for search engine optimisation. It’s the optimisation of websites and content for search. It’s using a range of techniques to better rankings on search engines (usually just Google if we’re being honest). The techniques might make your website easier for Google to crawl and understand and they might make it more obvious what your website is “about”. Those two things make you begin to rank on Google, then the rest is up to the quality and quantity of the traffic visiting your website and of the websites citing you.
The Basics of SEO
Keyword research is all about working out which keywords you should target. You do this by working out which keywords are being searched, how many people are searching for them, and what sort of information they want. But, it’s not as simple as typing your service into a keyword research tool and taking the word with the highest search volume. Ahrefs have put together a really handy resource for keyword research here. If you were wondering, we’re obsessed with Ahrefs at Sonder.
As an agency that designs websites, when we’re talking about it as a service, we’ll call it web design. Someone who’s ready to make a purchase on a website design will probably call it that too, if they’ve been researching it for a while. Buuut, if you’re a business owner making your very first transition to digital, and you’ve just started looking and all you know if that a website is the starting point, would you search for web design? Probably not.
User intent is working out what the people you want to find your content or your website are searching for. Of course, you should optimise for “web design” as a service. If you’re writing blog content to prepare and educate a potential client who’s just started looking at websites though, you should probably optimise for “websites”.
While we’re on the keyword research topic, optimising only for the most-searched keywords in the beginning isn’t ideal. They’re the most searched terms, so they’ll 100 per cent have the most competition. We’re not saying to omit all terms with high search volumes from your website, but don’t base all of your content on it. Use a variety of terms with lower search quantities to catch the “low hanging fruit”. It’ll give you a good base set of traffic and help you rank more competitively as you move forward.
Alongside your keyword research and working out the user intent behind key search terms, you can benchmark your pages or content against your competitors. Once you’ve worked out the few keywords you’re targeting, go and check out who’s already ranking for those terms. How much content is included? How many words? Have they used an explainer video? What about an infographic? What’s their keyword density?
Put together a kind of framework for what you need to do to outrank the existing top results. Work out your ideal word count, the media you must include, and the extra media you could use to strengthen the content. Remember, it’s not the more keywords the better. It’s all about finding the sweet spot for your keyword density (usually between 1.5 and 2.5%).
No matter how good all of your content is, your website won’t rank well if Google can’t crawl it. Google doesn’t load up your website and just know all of the pages that are there. It crawls through it. If you imagine your website or your website’s sitemap like a spider web, your homepage is the centre, then your services will be the first spots google can crawl to via your spider web. Next, they’ll go wherever your services have linked to. Google won’t do this forever though… Google wants to find all of the pages in your website in no more than three clicks. First click: homepage, second click: services, third click: specific service. Big footer menus, resource pages, and a logical sitemap can all help you make a highly crawlable website.
Strong, Engaging Content
We touched on this earlier and if you’re up to date with our content, you’ll know we don’t shut up about it. But strong, engaging, valuable, long-form content is the ticket to good rankings. Content is king for a reason. Google wants you to give its users value. Creating long form content that seeks to answer their burning questions, provides internal and external resources, and uses explainer videos, graphics, or infographics will show google you’re here to add value. Content also allows you to up your internal linking profile and up your keyword count on your website.
The whole content thing is even better if you make highly shareable content. Shareable content means you get more traffic to your website, which already helps your rankings. But then, receiving backlinks to your content tells google it’s even more valuable — helping your rankings even more.
A quality User Experience
If people keep leaving your website after they land on it, Google’s probably going to stop sending as much traffic there. This might happen if you’ve optimised for the wrong thing, so you’re targeting PPC and Adwords as a keyword but the page is really just about SEO. It might happen if your website takes too long to load or is too slow to navigate. It also might happen if your website is outdated, unattractive, or generally difficult to use. People want modern, minimalistic, easy to navigate websites, and they’re impatient, so they want them to load quickly too. Give it to them.
Optimisation of SERP Display
SERP is the Search Engine Results Page. When you show up on Google, your page will be displayed to the user via three things. A title tag, a meta description, and your URL. See, showing up on Google is only half the battle. To have any success at all, you need people to also click on your links. Optimising how you show up in SERP will improve your click through rate (CTR). A better CTR means sustained rankings. The dream.
Your URL should be a breadcrumb sequence. So: yourwebsite.com.au/page/final-destination. Or, sonder.com.au/services/search. It shows Google exactly where it needs to crawl to find the page and it quickly shows the user how the page fits into your website.
This is the title of your page. It should be between 50 and 60 characters. The rule of thumb or formula for title tags is: Primary Keyword – Page – Website. So: SEO – Services – Sonder Digital Marketing.
The description introduces the page. A lot of users will glance at the meta description to work out what the page is about, so make sure you include the primary keyword and manage to explain exactly what the page is about. Meta descriptions should be between 50 and 160 characters.