Picture this: you’ve been planning the launch of your new eCommerce website. Your products are ready to go, your design is beautiful and you can’t wait to open up this red hot store to the public. You hit ‘publish’ and watch your wonderful website go live. There’s just one hitch...
There’s just one hitch – it seems that thousands of other people have also launched eComm websites just like yours.
Your carefully crafted website gets swamped by countless others, and only the ones that really stand out even get clicks.
So why did those lucky store owners get their websites opened? What makes them so special?
Long story short: they knew how to work the search rankings.
What is SEO and Why Do We Need It?
SEO stands for search engine optimisation. Simply put, its purpose is to boost a brand’s visibility online through organic search results. This drives more website traffic, which increases the chances of conversions, which leads to more customers and, ultimately, more revenue.
SEO is not exactly a simple discipline – most digital marketing agencies, like us, have expert teams dedicated to SEO optimisation. But don’t panic; there are some key SEO basics that can be implemented pretty quickly and easily. Once you get the hang of them, you’ll start to think like an SEO guru, and the way you create and interact with content will completely transform.
How Does SEO Work?
SEO basics work by optimizing a website’s content and improving its ranking. This involves keywords and phrases that people are searching for, designing a page or post with good readability, building backlinks to drive external traffic from other sites and working with the search engine to keep up with what its algorithm favours.
If you’ve ever outsourced SEO services, chances are you may have received offers like ‘Boost your website’s ranking to the top of the search results page in just two weeks!’ or ‘See the results of our SEO optimisation instantly’.
We’re sorry to break it to you, but these services may not know much about SEO at all.
SEO done properly is like a really good wine (yes, like the one you’d been saving for your metaphorical birthday party). It needs to mature before your senses can truly appreciate its notes and scents.
When looking at how to rank in Google, SEO efforts may take months or even years to show up the way you want them to – but that doesn’t mean your efforts are wasted. In fact, it’s all the more reason to get SEO basics locked down now. Your future self, and the success of your business, will seriously thank you.
Top 5 SEO Basics in Digital Marketing
There are lots of websites and services claiming SEO to be incredibly complex and impossibly difficult to the untrained eye, but here’s the secret: SEO basics are not as hard as they seem.
So what are the basics of SEO? These are the skeleton five steps our SEO team takes when building a website’s rankings and optimizing its content:
1. Keyword Research
Imagine walking into a grocery store with a full shopping list only to find there are no signs anywhere. Which way are the eggs? Where’s the baking aisle? Where can you find the dog food?
SEO keywords work like signposts to your website. They zoom into what a customer is looking for and take them to the exact right place (your business). Your job is to understand what your prospective customer wants, and use keywords to help them get it.
SEO typically begins with finding out what words, phrases and questions potential clients type into search engines.
Start simple. Identify clear topics and buzzwords that identify and correlate with your business and its services. Type them into Google and check the ‘People also ask’ list, or run them through an SEO tool like Semrush.
Track the keyword density (vol) and difficulty (KD) of each word and phrase. The higher the density and difficulty of a keyword, the more competition surrounds it. Aim for a good mixture of high and low vol and KD for optimal visibility and targeting.
Now you’ve got a nice juicy list, select one primary keyword and a few secondary keywords. Secondary keywords or phrases can be those tasty questions people ask in Google, which can also double as subheadings in your post.
The number of keywords you use in one article or page will depend on its overall length. Generally, one keyword for every 150 words works well.
2. Optimise On-Page SEO
Now you’ve got a great list of researched keywords chosen, it’s time to optimise your on-page SEO. This allows Google to recognise and understand your keyword usage so it can rank your page properly. But there are other factors to consider with SEO optimisation outside of keyword usage.
Keyword optimisation begins with ensuring your keywords are used correctly. Here’s a quick guide:
- Blog or webpage title: your primary keyword should feature in the title. Position it as close as possible to the start of the title if possible.
- Meta title and meta description: The displayed text that appears in search engine listings. Google uses these code elements to match searches with correct results, and entices (or deters) users from clicking on your page. Keep these elements punchy, direct and primary keyword inclusive. Meta descriptions should be between 155-160 characters.
- Headings and subheadings: Your H1 (heading 1) should include your primary keyword, while H3s (heading 3s) can include secondary phrases. Not all H3s need to be exact keywords, but ensure they’re direct and easy to understand so users can navigate straight to specific sections and consume the content they want.
- ALT image tags: Google isn’t very good at admiring imagery. It can see image tags, though, which is why ALT descriptions are so important. Include your primary keyword in at least one ALT image tag. Make sure to hyphenate between words rather than using spaces.
- URL: finally, include your primary keyword in your webpage’s URL.
3. Create Content (A Lot Of It)
Remember that eCommerce website you worked on? Potential customers might have missed the official launch, but don’t let that deter you from driving traffic through SEO. Build more web pages, write blogs to advertise your products, and create more space in your website for rankings to use.
Creating content for your website works the same way. It’s one of the most basic yet crucial ways to boost SEO rankings. Your website needs as much space as possible for keywords and optimisations to rank, which is why regular blogging is so important. Blogs and articles build more space and more opportunities for those keywords to rank.
Content is king, and the more content you create (as long as it’s good quality), the better and your SEO scores will be.
4. Fix Technical Issues
Not the most exciting of steps, but one that left undone will essentially cancel out all those amazing SEO tactics you’ve implemented.
If a section, link or page of your website isn’t functioning properly, search engines literally can’t rank it. It goes unseen, is not recognised as an active site, and slips through the cracks of search results instantly.
Stay vigilant with your website’s functionality. Fix any broken pages, links or redirects as soon as they crop up.
5. Build Backlinks
Finally, the cherry on top. Backlinks are those shiny gold nuggets that everyone digs for, because they drive organic traffic to your site without any actual SEO or keyword-related efforts at all.
Backlinks are links placed on another third-party website that direct the user to a page or section on your website. According to Mailchimp, ‘the quality and quantity of your backlinks can help you rank higher in search engines such as Google and Bing.’ See what we did there?
Backlinks, also known as inbound links, are harder to secure because you need another website’s cooperation. You could go around asking businesses to link to your page – and this can sometimes work as a return-the-favour kind of operation – but it can also be time consuming and even cost you money.
The best way to build organically created backlinks is to publish high quality content consistently and engage in link generation ideas. Think about partnerships with your business, suppliers and retailers, the local community and even testimonials from clients. These organisations may inbound link to your website, so keep an eye out and create content targeted to their needs.
SEO Trends to Look For in 2023
SEO has changed a lot since the good old days. While once we got away with cramming in keywords left and right, Google and other search engines have kicked things up a notch.
- Overstuffing keywords and implementing the wrong keywords can be heavily penalised by search engines.
- Google updates are becoming increasingly more advanced and frequent, and Google itself is becoming smarter.
- Forget cobbled together content – you need high quality, SEO optimised content to stand a chance in your SEO rankings.
So what does the future of SEO look like?
There’s one particularly big trend cropping up in 2023, some of which you’re likely aware of. Yes, we’re talking AI (artificial intelligence). While AI is not exactly new, it is becoming increasingly more sophisticated.
ChatGPT is all the rage. We believe that, unlike past AI content generators, ChatGPT will stand a much better chance against Google’s strict policies. Google can usually sniff out something written by a robot, but ChatGPT’s advanced conversational language is changing the world of content creation.
Don’t let this fool you, though; we humans are still as important as ever in creating great content and boosting SEO rankings. With new advances comes even more competition, and that’s where a content creator’s fired-up brain can keep things fresh, interesting and way ahead of the game.
Google itself recently released a blog statement outlining its guidelines on AI-generated content. Luckily, they’ve decided to work with AI rather than against it (no outright bans on this kind of content) but on one condition: content must continue to be ‘original, high-quality, people-first content demonstrating qualities E-E-A-T’ (experience, expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness).
Google invites us to take advantage of these time-saving AI tools, but warns us not to rely on them. Our advice to those using ChatGPT and other AI generators is to be critical, check your facts and edit what you’re given. Inject the content with a strong and original tone of voice that reflects your brand.
Give Yourself the SEO Edge
There may be competition out there, but you’ve got the SEO basics now. All that’s left is to put them into practice. Trust the process, keep a keen eye on trends, create as much content as you can and be patient. Your business will reap the far-reaching rewards of SEO and search engine rankings if you put in the work.
Get ready for your party to be the talk of the town. And all thanks to SEO.