As a business owner your website is your shop window. And, with any shop window you want to make sure it is seen by as many potential customers as possible, drawing them in by being as relevant and attractive as possible. SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is the equivalent of having the prime spot on the high-street, with a window designed to entice.
When someone searches for terms related to your business, will it be your website they find – or your competitors? This all comes down to whether you have created and maintain your website for ‘searchability’ – in other words is your site SEO optimised?
Making search engines like Google favour your site above competitors in their results is no easy task.
Fear not. You don’t have to be an SEO wizard to give your website an SEO boost.
For this SEO myth-busting quiz we will blow the cobwebs off outdated SEO advice and give you actionable and achievable steps to make sure customers are drawn to your website whenever they search for a relevant topic or product.
Fact - sort of… Google’s algorithm currently gives huge weight to ‘consistent publication of engaging content’. While you don’t need to become a full-time blogger, if you want to sow strong SEO seeds you do need to post useful and informative content regularly.
In other words, if users appear to have their query answered by visiting your page, your ranking will earn points. One way to do this is through posting of regular, informative articles, blogs or news about your business or industry.
Think creatively. What advice could you give your customers? What are the questions they most often ask you or your team? What trends do you see coming up in your industry? Can you take inspiration from the wider world, or the news? Whether that’s ‘101 ideas for delicious cake fillings’ or ‘How to build a home office in the garden’ - your expertise is as important as your products.
If you sell products online, another way of building SEO-friendly content is to make sure that you include detailed, up-to-date information about each product listed. Don’t just include a one-line description. Think about how the product might be used. For example, if you’re selling clothing, rather than listing ‘short sleeve t-shirt’, describe where it might be worn. For example, ‘the perfect going out short-sleeve women’s t-shirt perfect for day to night made with soft cotton for a comfortable fit.’
Remember though - this is not about having the most content, but the most useful content.
FICTION - No matter what sales emails from ‘SEO Expert4U’ says - paying for advertisements on Google does not help you climb the search rankings. They can be a useful tool, but in Google’s own words:
“Advertising with Google won't have any effect on your site's presence in our search results. Google never accepts money to include or rank sites in our search results, and it costs nothing to appear in our organic search results.”
By all means, invest in well-planned Google Advertising, but don’t expect it to keep you top of the search page over time.
FACT, but… - What we are talking about here are backlinks. These are when another site links back to yours, which Google can consider a badge of credibility. This is why engaging with tactics like guest blogging can reap big rewards.
But also… FICTION. Not all backlinks are made equal. There’s no point getting a backlink on a low authority or spam website. They won’t do any good when it comes to SEO. When it comes to back links, it’s always quality not quantity.
Moz Link Explorer is one free tool (requires registration) that gives you valuable data on the ‘domain authority’ of websites – i.e. whether a backlink is likely to help you for SEO purposes. Ranked out of 100, a higher score means it will perform better – for example BBC News has a domain authority of 96. There isn’t necessarily a ‘bad’ score – but anything lower than 30 is likely to have lesser impact. However, some sites have been created just to ‘sell’ backlinks and will rank low on domain authority. It’s likely you will be able to see through these sites – they are generally poorly written, cluttered and have a ‘spam’ tone to them. If in doubt, use a free tool to check.
FACT - When it comes to your hard work on social media, while it might bring you great recognition and awareness, it won’t impact your Google rankings.
That doesn't mean you should ignore one in favour of the other. Making social media and SEO work together is the key.
Can you translate what you’re doing on social media to your website? Are you regularly posting tips and tricks to your socials? Perhaps this can be turned into a blog or article for your site?
Fiction - Just like your new work-from-home houseplant, you can’t just water SEO once and expect it to thrive. SEO requires nurture and regular maintenance.
Check your site regularly to see where it can be updated with new information so it remains engaging. Schedule an SEO check-up, on a weekly or monthly basis, depending on your business needs. Make sure your site reflects your here and now, updated with your latest and greatest offers, news or reviews.
Don’t accept default URLs: When you create new pages, make sure your page URLs contain keywords. If you are using a site builder like WordPress or Squarespace this is easy to change.
Simplify your site structure: Make sure your site makes sense! Don’t add random pages without thinking how they fit into the rest of your site navigation. Users should be able to easily navigate your site if you want Google to give you the green light.
Use the description meta tag: A meta tag is a short summary of what the page is about - a sentence or two or even a short paragraph that tells Google what it will find. Don’t ignore this when you create a new page. The devil is in the detail!
Still need help getting to grips with SEO? We're got you covered with our latest guide.