Essential SEO: 6 simple tips to get you started

SEO… It’s always changing right? The Google algorithm moves faster than an atom charging round the Hadron Collider. And just when you think you’ve got a grasp on the latest change…

Surprise!

It changes again.

Or does it?

I’m just gonna come right out and admit it… I’m a little bit in love with SEO. As a copywriter,  Search Engine Optimisation forms a vital part of the writing, coaching and training services that I offer, so I spend a fair amount of time keeping a close eye on emerging trends that could affect my clients websites SEO ranking factor.

And actually, when you really look at it, the essentials of SEO. The really important basic stuff that EVERY blogger and online business person should be doing, very rarely changes.

I’m not talking about trends here, I’m talking about good, solid search engine optimisation. The sort of stuff that you can put in place (or commit a little time to every week) that will bring powerful, long lasting results.

Done right, SEO is like a potent serum for your website; it plumps out your products, adds seduction to your services and makes the Google gods fall madly in love with your website. So if you want to get (or stay) at the top of Google, here’s what you need to know.

1. Search Engines need to understand three very important things

  1. Who you are (are you a yoga teacher, a nutritional therapist or a branding expert?)
  2. What you do (do you teach classes, run courses, fix things? Be specific)
  3. Where you are (particularly if you serve a limited geographical area and even if you’re gunning for an international audience)

Sounds simple right? And it is. Think about what you’d type into Google if you were looking for say a copywriter, a cake maker or a yoga class…

Chances are that you type in something like ‘yoga class in [where you live]’

According to Google one third of all searches are local. And of those…

  • 50% of consumers who conducted a local search on their smartphone visited a store or website the same day.
  • 34% who searched on computer/tablet did the same.

So, if you want Google to show you in relevant local results, you need to make these three things crystal clear on your website.

 

2. Creating great content is the best way to please the Google gods

Blogging should still form a major part of your SEO campaign, but the rules have changed… A few years back every business was publishing weekly 500-word posts in a hurried struggle to have the ‘freshest’ content. Now the smartest businesses (and that’s you right?) are thinking a little more strategically.

And here’s why…

Searcher Task Accomplishment 

Google’s BIG, mega important priority is to help its users achieve what they want to do/find/learn/ or buy as quickly as possible. For this reason they identify and rank content based on its ability to deliver the most useful results and help the searcher accomplish their task quickly.

For example, Google wants its results for the phrase “how to ease back pain” to quickly explain different and effective ways to treat back pain.

So, the best way to get your content ranked is NOT to pump out a random, poor quality weekly post. Get your thinking cap on and figure out what issues your potential customers and community might be searching for (think about what your most requested treatments are, what questions come up from your clients again and again?) and create blog content that addresses and helps to solve those issues.

Basically, write bloody amazing, USEFUL content, optimise it for search and promote the hell out of it!

 

3. Beautiful backlinks rule

Google looks at a huge amount of things when deciding how to rank your content. But the top two things, the MOST important ranking factors are content and backlinks.

How do I know this? Because Google told me so!

In a Google Q&A session, Andrey Lipattsev, a Search Quality Senior Strategist at Google, was asked about the most important ranking factors, and he said…

“I can tell you what they are. It is content. And it’s links pointing to your site.”

Building backlinks to your website and your most important pages and posts is a vital part of your SEO strategy. When another website links to your site, it’s like a vote for you and your business and the more backlinks you have the more Google pays attention. But before you run off and ask all your mates to link to your site, beware!

There are rules to backlinking. Google is getting tougher on spammers, so it’s essential to build your backlinks in the right way. Quality is more important than quantity.

Your links must be relevant or natural. If you’re a florist and you get your husbands car mechanic website to link to yours, Google is going to smell a bad backlink! Trade backlinks with people in the same industry as you, so for example, I might approach branding, social media, business planning or website design businesses to link to me. If you’re a wedding cake maker, think florists, wedding planners, venues, mobile bars etc.

If you’re a local business serving a specific geographical area, look for linking opportunities with other local businesses. This helps search engines to further recognise your location and shows that you’re a trusted member of your local business community.

Listing your businesses on trustworthy local or industry specific directories  is a quick and easy way to get backlinks. Guest posting for other blogs and websites is another.

But not all backlinks are created equal. The more high profile websites that link to yours, the better, so aim for sites that have more traffic, authority and influence than you do.

A quick way to figure out how influential a site is (and so how powerful a link from their site to yours will be) is to check their Domain Authority or DA.

You can do this for free at: https://websiteseochecker.com/domain-authority-checker/

The higher the DA, the better.

And finally, never, EVER buy backlinks. It may seem like an easy way to save time and get ahead, but if the person placing your links breaks any of Google’s guidelines, your sites search ranking is likely to suffer. It’s just not worth the risk.

4. Your mobile site must be marvellous

It pains me to say it (I’m a desktop girl) but in 2016, the inevitable happened, and mobile users overtook desktop. It had been coming for a while, with Google reporting in 2015 that mobile device searches were surging. Mobile web surfers continue to rise, in fact there’s a good chance that at least half your website visitors browse your site on a phone or other mobile device.

If your website design isn’t responsive (which means it looks fab on any device) then not only do you risk losing the interest of half your visitors but Google will penalise you as well, pushing you down the rankings in favour of more mobile friendly sites. Boo.

Google says…

  1. People are five times more likely to leave a site if it isn’t mobile-friendly.
  2. Over half of mobile users will leave a website if it takes longer than three seconds to load. (More on this in point 5)

Ouch! Having your site professionally designed should ensure you’re covered for all devices. But even if you’re on a budget and need to self-build there are plenty of options.

Site-builders such as SquareSpace, Wix and Moonfruit will ensure that your site is responsive as standard and the majority of WordPress themes are built to be responsive too. Just check before you buy.

Want to find out if your site is optimised for mobile? Use this handy tool: https://search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly

Of course, I shall continue to use my beloved BIG screen!

 

5. Fast sites seduce users

Hot on the heels of mobile optimisation is speed. Yep, search engines (and your readers) want your site to load faster than a Formula One car. So if you want to get up close and personal with page one of Google, forget about playing it coy, because fast moving sites get much more attention.

Every second counts so make sure your network provider is playing their part, do away with hefty images and graphics by resizing them in Canva or use a plugin like Smushit. Speaking of plugins, deactivate and delete any that you don’t use. Keep 301 redirects to a minimum and slim down your site until it’s super speedy.

To check out your websites load time use the Pingdom Website Speed Test.

 

6. Social media matters

Ok, So for the most part, social media does not have a direct influence your Google ranking, so don’t agonise over how to squeeze your favourite keywords into your Facebook posts. However, it does play an important role in your wider SEO.

Firstly Google crawls social media sites like any other site (ever notice how your social profiles pop up on page when if you type your name into Google?) and it IS paying a lot more attention to social media activity.

Search engine Bing is on record as saying that it does look at social engagement when it comes to ranking content. The real goal is engagement. The more shares, favourites and likes your posts have, the more important search engines pay attention.

Secondly, social media has the potential to drive traffic to your website. This is particularly important to think about when it comes to creating posts that share your blog content – search engines measure click through rate, so make these posts good uns!

In terms of which social sites are best for driving traffic, Facebook and Pinterest tend to lead when it comes to driving traffic to your website – where if you’re set up right you can then guide the reader to, explore further posts, sign up for your lead magnet and even check out your products and services.

“But what about backlinks?” I hear you cry! Social media sites are well popular… Facebook has a DA of 100, the highest score possible! Surely the links in my posts count for something?

Fraid not love. You see when it comes to SEO there are two different types of link: DoFollow and NoFollow.

  • DoFollow Links pass trust to search engines, they allow search engines to see good SEO value to help rank a site.
  • NoFollow Links are essentially invisible to search engines and DO NOT transfer PageRank or other important page attributes.

And the links you post on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest are all NoFollow.

One exception is Google+ which, if you embed a link into your post rather than simply posting a link, creates a DoFollow link. Hurrah! In fact G+ links can be so effective that I’ve seen results from them before any other form of SEO.

 

7. Variety is the spice of keyword life

So many businesses use the same keywords over and over again throughout their site. I guess with the view that the more times they use the keyword, the beter their chances of dominating Google. Alas, this strategy is a dead end folks, so stop.

Not only is this kind of SEO largely uneffective, but it can actually lead to your different pages and posts competing with one another! Plus you’re missing out on a whole heap of potential SEO goodness by not targeting at least 10 different single or long-tail keywords across your website.

Think variations on a theme and use a different keyword or long-tail keyword phrase for each page on your site. For example, some of the keywords I use on my pages are:

  • SEO Copywriter in Norwich
  • SEO Copywriting in Norfolk
  • Find an SEO Copywriter in Norfolk
  • Website Copywriter in Norwich

See what I mean? If you’re stuck on what keywords to use for your pages ask Google and it will show you! Start by typing something simple into the Google search box. Let’s say: wedding cake maker in Darlington. The scroll to the bottom of the page and you see a list called ‘Related Search Results’. These are actual searches that you potential customers are making on Google and they are a potential goldmine for keywords.

 

Feeling stuck on SEO?

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My live SE-Oh So Local workshop is an easy peasy, step-by-step guide to getting your local SEO sorted.

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By the end you’ll be armed with the skills and drills you need to start creating a SEO-stir in your local area. EVEN if you’re totally tech illiterate.

Yes, really! This workshop does not require ANY existing SEO knowledge. It’s so easy my mum could do it… well maybe not my mum, but you get the idea!

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9 Comments

  • Reply Marie Fell September 8, 2017 at 4:53 pm

    Fab read Kerry – thank you so much for the tips! Must add to my “to do” list!! Marie x

  • Reply Helen Owen September 9, 2017 at 5:30 am

    Great simple tips Kerry, thank you

  • Reply Mariella Blago September 10, 2017 at 7:28 pm

    Agreed 100%. Bang on post.

  • Reply Emily September 10, 2017 at 7:32 pm

    I’ve been researching SEO and this is the first post I’ve found that is easy to follow with actual steps I can take. Thank you so much I will be saving this for later!

  • Reply Mila September 10, 2017 at 7:37 pm

    Great read, really valuable info, thank you!

  • Reply Tracy September 10, 2017 at 7:52 pm

    great tips Kerry and easy to understand and apply, thank you!!

  • Reply Claire - Heart Handmade UK September 10, 2017 at 8:12 pm

    Hi Kerry! this was a great read.
    Do the backlinks you create on blogs need be follow links? I make all the links going out of my site no follow links because I was advised that mixing follow and nofollow links wasn’t a great idea in terms of SEO, I just wondered if there’s any truth in that? Great website! I have another blog called http://www.startacratblog.com/submit-a-guest-post/ would be happy for you to contribute 🙂

  • Reply Rachel September 10, 2017 at 8:50 pm

    Love this afraid I’m clueless on SEOs so will now be looking into these

  • Reply Sarah Arrow September 11, 2017 at 8:57 am

    Love these tips Kerry. So many business owners skip over the geographic, local aspect of doing business with someone. Research shows that people like to buy from within a 50 mile radius – take advantage of this!

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