The three essential elements of SEO

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Date: 3 March 2020

A business owner smiles happily at her website after effectively optimising it for search.

In simple terms, search engine optimisation allows your website and your online content to be effectively read by search engines, so it can be put in front of the right people - relevant people!

Whether you’re looking to strengthen your existing SEO strategy or simply advance to the next level, you're in the right place.

First things first - SEO takes time, care and attention to detail, so don't expect immediate results. What’s more, there are thousands of recommended techniques and approaches to take, which can be overwhelming and actually obstruct action.

Here we’re going to discuss three actionable techniques which will skyrocket your SEO performance:

  1. technical SEO;
  2. content optimisation;
  3. link building.

1. Technical SEO

Technical SEO involves problem-solving behind the scenes of your website. Its purpose is to optimise your website's functionality so that search engines like Google can interpret it correctly.

Most search engines have pages of free advice, stating their strict guidelines and recommended practices that will boost your SEO performance and allow you to appear in front of your desired audience.

However, this information isn't always easy to find - so here are some standard practices that you should follow:

  • Optimise your website speed - a slow website will cause you to lose visitors before they can become customers. Large images and other files are the main cause of slow loading speeds.
  • Create a mobile-friendly website - if your site isn't already mobile-friendly, you’re behind the times. By 2020, £43bn of UK e-commerce purchases will be made using a smartphone.
  • Amend 404 error pages - letting your visitors know that the page is currently unavailable in a friendly manner is the best place to start. Also, giving it the same navigation options as the rest of your website will allow a visitor to leave the page and continue shopping without leaving your website and going elsewhere.
  • Use canonical URLs - having multiple URLs linking to the same content is not good. Simply adding rel="canonical" to the head of your website page code will identify it as the preferred URL to reach that page. Any alternative URLs will be redirected to your preferred one immediately.
  • Optimise your website structure - the easier it is for information to be found by users and read by a search engine, the better the impact on your SEO. This will also help search engines identify the most important content on your site.

2. Content optimisation

A site with regular fresh content gets 350% more traffic than ones that don't post new content consistently, or not at all. However, optimising your copy with a few keywords relating to its topic is unfortunately not enough to get you ranking high in the search results.

Try these tips to optimise your content:

  • Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) - LSI keywords are terms that help a search engine understand your written content. Content used to be recognized by all of the keywords on the page, but now algorithms such as Google’s crawl content for keywords based on relevance. LSI keywords can be easily discovered using LSI Graph, who will generate terms based on the keyword you enter in the search.
  • Image alt text - alt text is a genius tool. It simply describes an image as it is, stating exactly what can be seen. Writing alt text for an image allows search engines to understand the image and put it in front of a relevant audience. All images on your website should have alt text and not printed text, as search engines will not be able to interpret them.
  • Competitor analysis - reviewing your competitors’ content is a great way to see what you could be doing better. Whether you should be including more imagery or writing content with a higher word count, it can all be seen in a few clicks. Using SpyFu to download the keywords your competitors are using is an effective way to identify your relative position.

Here are some extra resources which can help optimise your content for SEO:

Using a combination of tools and consistently practicing the methods mentioned above will give you the best chance of creating properly optimised SEO content.

3. Link-building

Link-building is an essential part of the SEO process and arguably one of the most important.

Search engines like Google use backlinks - links that point from other sites back to yours - to essentially rank the quality of your website. A site that has links from trusted sources is going to be regarded as a quality source of information, resulting in you ranking higher in the search results.

There are various ways to build backlinks, but here are the most effective:

  • Become a reference point - the advantage of publishing informative content online is that people want to read it! Expressing your point of view on a trending topic or piece of news will encourage others to reference your post in another blog or news article.
  • Outshine the industry - many opinion articles are uninspired, discussing the same topics as everyone else in your field. Taking a relevant topic and writing about it from a unique perspective will allow you to outshine your competitors.
  • Reference authoritative sources - referencing trusted sites in your content will increase your visibility and brand awareness.
  • Write guest posts - writing blog posts and publishing them on other sites can increase your exposure and allow you to link back to your own website. Having content on a range of platforms communicates to visitors that you can be trusted.
  • Network - expanding your network can open new collaborative projects and content creation opportunities - another chance to be referenced and link back to your website.

Building backlinks is a fiddly process that takes a considerable amount of time to achieve, but a good digital marketing agency like The Good Marketer can assist you.

Summary

SEO is a tedious process that is technical and constantly changing, but keeping up with the latest tips, tricks, and algorithm changes will give you a competitive advantage.

Taking care of technical issues, optimising your content and building backlinks will increase your site’s traffic and hopefully make it more relevant to your audience.

Consistency is key to SEO, so practicing the three methods discussed in this article regularly should allow you to see positive results.

Copyright 2020. Featured post made possible by Tom Welbourne of The Good Marketer, a marketing agency in London which drives more traffic, generates conversions and increases sales for small- to medium-sized businesses

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