The term ‘SEO’ often brings a real headache to business owners, especially those in the e-commerce space. It’s impossible to avoid mention of SEO in relation to digital marketing strategy, and is something we have mentioned in several of our blogs. The number of online resources on SEO could fill a book (and it does – there are hundreds out there!). Most articles still assume a certain level of background knowledge, which a lot of new business owners may not have. By this point in the life of the internet, all of us understand that our site’s ranking on Google is important, but not necessarily why or how to improve it without hiring expensive consultants.
This is the first blog in a series that we will be doing on SEO here at noissue, so we aren’t going to cram a complete A to Z in here – just a brief cover of what SEO is, why it matters, and the myths we would like to kick to the curb!
What is SEO?
Answering this question requires a bit of delving into the mechanics of how search engines operate. Google functions by ‘crawling’ (searching URLs) all of the webpages that are indexed (stored). From this, they pull out what they consider to the most relevant and high-quality content in response to what the keywords you have searched. It is this content that appears in that first page of search results, which receives 95% of clicks.
Naturally, this where you want your business to be! Search results are organized by the search engine algorithm, which uses over 200 different ‘signals’ to score where a site will rank in its search results. This means that inorganic efforts (paying for ads) can’t push you into that golden spot; only making Google’s crawlers happy will. In other words, this is SEO: the process of making your site friendlier to Google’s algorithm by tailoring it to the known signals which boost rankings.
Dispelling the Myths.
MYTH: SEO is super complicated.
It can definitely feel like you need an IT degree to get to grips with SEO, but in reality it only rests on a few key principles. As Econsultancy sums up, it’s not so much a matter of understanding how Google’s algorithm works, but why it works. Google has a vested interest in making sure that content is high-quality and relevant to its users. So if you want to have good SEO, you will need to focus on creating high-quality and relevant content for your audience. Pretty simple right? If you are willing to invest time and effort into this, then you have already organized for yourself a credible strategy that will boost your rankings. Obviously the devil is always in the details, but the groundwork is common-sense.
MYTH: You need hire someone to do it for you.
This feeds partly into the point above. The fact is, self-branded SEO ‘experts’ have a vested interest in making sure SEO looks complex. The more people who feel it’s something they can’t manage alone, the more business they will get. Your average online resource for SEO is often written in the form of advertising for a company’s services rather than a DIY guide. They will give you a few useful titbits, but if you want more you will have to become a paying client. These people are extremely knowledgeable and can generate some really great results for your business. But there are some pretty major advantages to knowing how to do SEO for yourself, even if you do need some help initially in putting a strategy together. Constantly getting outside help can get incredibly expensive, and for ongoing maintenance isn’t always necessary. There are some really great resources out there for those starting from the bottom up, such as Moz.com or Google’s own SEO guide, which give you a really thorough breakdown of the whole topic.
MYTH: It’s possible to totally game Google.
Just because you currently have strong SEO that gets you into the first page of Google doesn’t mean it will stay that way. SEO is something you need to keep revisiting, especially since algorithms can change and competitors will be trying to knock you out of your prime spot! But it’s very important that you don’t approach SEO by trying to ‘fool’ search engines. Google has become increasingly sophisticated in terms of picking up when people are trying to ‘trick’ its algorithm, even penalizing sites that do this. For good reason Google stays tight-lipped about specifics of its algorithm, but it does give guidelines as to what will help your site rank higher:
- Regularly updating your site with new content
- Content which is original and has high readability
- Content which cites other sources
- High engagement from your site visitors e.g. comments
- Strong use of visuals (photos, videos or podcasts)
Things that Google DOES NOT like:
- Keyword ‘stuffing’ (excessively using keywords to rank higher)
- Backlinking to low-quality or irrelevant web sources
- ‘Thin’ web pages which provide little valuable content
- Having too many paid ads on your site
- A high bounce rate (people spending very little time viewing your site)
That about does it for the first installation in our search optimization series, but keep in mind the key tips and takeaways here. Building your SEO strategy doesn't have to be complicated or difficult: it starts with simple, deliberate choices that end up building on each other. As long as you've got SEO in your mind, you're already ahead of the curve!