A quick guide to SEO

There is a lot of pressure on companies to ‘do SEO’ and it all sounds horribly complicated. But it’s really not as scary as it sounds. So I’m going to take you through some principles that you can apply to give yourself a great SEO strategy.

Ignore anyone promises to get you on the first page of Google

Before we go any further, I need you to promise me you’ll never give money to anyone who offers to get you on the first page of Google. There are a lot of SEO companies out there who use dirty tactics to temporarily boost your SEO.

This will never work in the long run and it will end up making you rank lower. Algorithms are getting smarter and smarter every day. They’re also kept top secret so nobody really knows how search engines rank websites. If you try to trick them, they will penalise you.

That’s not to say all SEO companies are bad. The better ones will never make you any promises that can’t be guaranteed (note: nothing in the SEO world can be guaranteed, but SEO companies can work with you to outline and implement a strong SEO strategy, likely using the rest of the tips below).

What’s important in SEO

So now let’s go into some of the qualities that search engines like. The good thing is, these are all really easy to apply to every bit of content you write for your website.

Inbound links

Inbound links are still one of the best ways to show Google that your website is credible. What I mean by inbound links is having other websites link directly to your website. The bigger and more well-known that website is, the better.

The theory behind this is, other people will share high-quality content. So if your website is getting a lot of links back to it, your content must be good and people must find it valuable. So search engines will boost your rankings.

Site authority

This isn’t something you have an awful lot of control over. Google will generally rank well-known websites higher. These are websites like Wikipedia or Apple as they’re known to have authority in certain sectors.

HTML Page titles

Your page title is often forgotten about. If you didn’t know, it’s the text that appears in the top tab:

Your title tag needs to be highly relevant for the page that you’re on. Preferably with some of your keywords towards the start.

Unless you’re a large well-known brand, you should put your company name towards the end of a page title.

Age of domain

Older domain names tend to rank higher than newer ones. It’s unclear whether this is because search engines trust they have more authority or purely because they’ve had longer to collect inbound links and produce good content.

This is why I recommend people to get their websites up and running early, and then tweak as they go. It’ll give the search engines more time to find your website and rank you accordingly.

Also, don’t switch out your domain name all the time. Try to have 1 and stick with it or all your hard work may go to waste.

Frequently updated

Your rankings can change daily. That’s because there are all these little bots ‘crawling’ around your website checking for anything new. If you’re producing new content frequently, you’re probably going to rank higher.

Search engines don’t want out dated content showing up on their listings. They want new, fresh content. So make sure you’re writing, tweaking and updating your website to keep it ranking high.

Website speed

Website speed is becoming more and more crucial for search engines. These days we are seeing an influx of websites which are very image heavy.

Unfortunately images can take a long time to load. And if people have to wait to see your content, they’ll probably just close the tab and never come back. And search engines will penalise you for it.

So make sure you optimise your images when you upload them. Try to upload them at the exact size they need to be displayed at (so don’t rely on your website to scale it down for you) and run them through an image optimiser.

Responsive websites

You may have heard that search engines now prioritise website which are responsive (aka, work on desktops, tablets and mobiles) so it’s super important your website does.

Pretty much every designer and developer will make responsive websites as standard so you don’t have to worry too much about this but it’s good to know for when you’re gathering your quotes.

3 steps to SEO that will never change

If you take anything from this article, let it be these three steps. If you do just these you will be on the right road to good rankings:

  1. Write good content. I bet you’re tired of hearing that by now. You need to target real people who will read and share your content, not search engines. They don’t share anything.
  2. Get some inbound links. But don’t pay for them, under any circumstances. You’ll get penalised. But if you can do some guest blogging and link back to your website, or get people to review your products etc. this will all help boost your SEO.
  3. Target your chosen keywords. But don’t force it and don’t get too hung up on it. If you can get them in there, great! If not, then don’t worry about it (or perhaps reassess whether your keywords are really the right ones).
. . .

Just as a final word, don’t focus too much on SEO. If you do something purely to boost your rankings you need to reassess. If you’re writing a blog post because Google will like it, don’t. Write a blog post that is valuable to your audience.

SEO basically just ranks websites that will be the most useful for people searching. So if you have a good marketing strategy, the SEO will follow.

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