So you’ve launched a new business, blog or whatever it may be. You’ve published a cutting edge site and its hands down the slickest website known to mankind. Everything is looking rosy until you do a quick Google search and your nowhere to be seen… Why? You need to up your SEO game!
Unfortunately, SEO is a constantly evolving minefield with 200+ dimensions but here in this article we will give a quick overview of what SEO is and outline the quick, simple and most impactful methods to work your way up those Google Pages to that coveted Page 1 slot.
What is Google Ranking, Google Rankbrain & SEO?
To ensure users enjoy the most fruitful experience, Google enforce a ranking system to provide the most relevant & valuable content based on the user input. So, for example, the user searches “Restaurants in Dublin 4”, the user subconsciously will click on the first result and be inclined to believe that it is indeed the top restaurant in Dublin 4.
By rule of thumb, the 4th link on any Google search receives at most 10% of the clicks. So basically, there’s not a lot of loose change left for anyone at position 5 and below never mind on page 2.
How do Google do this exactly? Google Rankbrain.
Google Rankbrain acts as the gatekeeper for Google, ensuring that only relevant, legitimate and useful content is provided to their users. Leveraging their Rankbrain algorithm and factoring in 200+ criterium Google have designed an automated way to rank all sites.
The measures taken to enhance your site’s Google Ranking and trying to game the Google Rankbrain algorithm is labelled as “Search Engine Optimisation” or SEO for short. As mentioned, there are 200+ different criteria for optimising your SEO but within this article we will explain the high-level concepts and dive into the simple and quick measures that ANYONE can employ to improve their SEO.
Simply put “On-Page SEO” are all the aspects of your website build & performance are optimised to provide the user with information in an enjoyable fashion. You can also look at it as the pieces of your website that is in your own hands.
Think of on-page SEO as being the foundation of a hotel, there is no way you can expect people to recommend your hotel if it’s built on a poor quality foundation. The very same applies to your website.
Below I’ve detailed the aspects of On-Page SEO that are within your control:
1) Website Appearance:
It might be surprising, but Google take into consideration the layout and appearance of your site. When looking at your site ask yourself the below questions:
- Imagery: Is your website user interface visually appealing? Are you using High-Res images / video?
- Is the easily legible? Maybe you have too much text?
- User Experience: How many clicks are needed to get to the valuable content? Do you have too many pages? Your website may be visually appealing but it may be a pain to get to the desired end goal. Design your site with your end user in mind.
2) Keywords & Title Tags:
Basically the concept behind Keywords is to ensure that before you begin creating content you identify the specific search words that you would like to be found for. Place yourself in the shoes of the user and think “what do people search to find me”. Using this you adjust your page titles, keyword settings & refine your content to tick these boxes and appear within desired searches.
There is a huge science behind keyword research (https://yoast.com/keyword-research-ultimate-guide/) but what we’ve found is that even the most simple of tweaks based on identifying yourself with your target audience’s searches reaps huge reward in terms of SEO.
As a rule of thumb have one keyword per page and make sure that the keyword is represented within the title of the page and also within the URL. Naturally based on google’s algorithms your single keyword will fall into countless other search types.
At the end of the day, good content is what will make your page worth the visit. Which in turn makes your page worthy of a strong google ranking.
If your users visit the site and they see precisely what they came to see, this will be weighted heavily in your favour by Google. QUALITY OVER QUANTITY applies when discussing content. There is no point creating 50 bang average articles, blogs or editorials that nobody is going to read, share or even link back to.
Take your time creating your content and put some thought into it, make sure it appeals to your target market and you are providing value. From our experience long-form content is most powerful to achieve the ultimate goal of content that supplies a demand and is linkable / shareable (https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/content-creation)
4) Page Performance:
– The quality of the code (Slightly Technical but poorly written code will be penalised by the algorithm), this is only applicable for custom built sites. Web design tools like WordPress manage the code efficiently so no need to worry there.
– Ensure your site is not set up to block crawlers. Crawlers are the tool Google use to scan through web pages, links and items on the web and put together their rating system. If you want to be found it is key to ensure that you are not blocking these. (https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/70897?hl=en)
– Page Load Speed: test your site speed here (https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/)
In essence “Off-Page SEO” is everything that happens online related to your website but not on your website. Effective Off-Page SEO tactics are initiatives that you will employ to generate traffic to your site.
Think of it this way, if you receive a recommendation from a respected peer to watch a movie, naturally your impression of said movie will improve. The more credible sources that you can have share and link to your site, the higher you will move up the rankings.
1) Link-Building (https://backlinko.com/link-building-strategies)
This ties back to what we’ve discussed regarding your on-page SEO. What you are trying to do is have people share or link to your website on their own site or social channels. Rule of thumb on this should be that if you create genuine high-quality content then people will share it. Whether it is thought-provoking, controversial or helpful. If it is of a high benchmark, people will share.
What we have found extremely powerful at Future Proof is the use of PR activities and events. Using the example of our own media launch we were able to generate a huge amount of online coverage and backlinks from national media agencies.
Which are precisely the kind of credible links that Google loves. Our media launch had a huge impact on our SEO catapulting us up in the search rankings.
Similarly, any PR events that we have run that have made reference to our site have impacted our SEO. People often forget the Public Relations aspect of generating traffic, but it is and always will be hugely powerful in driving visitors to your site.
2) Directory Registration:
Also, a quick and easy win is to make sure that your business is registered within all the relevant directories. Ensure all references to address, phone number & email ID’s are consistent. This is across all registries, social platforms & Google MyBusiness. This will confirm your legitimacy and credibility in the eyes of Google and in-turn enhance your SEO.
Identify key stakeholders both within and outside your industry who will drive your message for you. If you have several affiliates sharing your values they be more inclined to share your content. And vice-versa.
This is very much a “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours approach”. Although avoid doing this aimlessly. Always do this with your branding and messaging in mind. Otherwise you’ll fall into the trap of spamming, which will be negatively penalised by Google.
4) Manual Outreach:
This is your plain old, bog standard direct marketing. Get out, get active and get to your target audience and get them to share your content.
Now your next question is how do I even know where to start, basically you need to reverse engineer (Brian Deane from Backinko hits the nail on the head in chapter 4 of his SEO guide (https://backlinko.com/link-building#chapter4)
Simply put, his advice is:
- Find Likely Linkers: bloggers or key influencers within your field
- Find their email address: Use Hunter.io or dig around their site and other forums (use the contacts form as last resort…)
- Send a personalised script: Tailor what you send to them. You want their help, so sending generic text will not make them feel valued or make them more inclined to sign up.
5) Reviews & Local SEO
What is more powerful than a glowing recommendation from someone you know? A happy customer, provided that you have your Google MyBusiness page set up correctly with the right linkage to your URL can reap huge rewards from an SEO perspective.
Each 5-Star review from your happy customers will only serve to enhance your reputation. Make sure to follow up with happy customers to get their reviews.
Finally we have User Interaction, which in a sense is a culmination of all the hard work you’ve done in your on-page SEO & your off-page SEO.
Think of it like this, you’ve managed to create a huge network of backlinks that finally directs a huge amount of visitors to your site. Now that they are there, Google are tracking behaviour on-site. So what this means is you need to keep them engaged. Site Performance, Quality Content and User Interface are huge here.
Analysis and points you should be looking at are:
- Are visitors completing your contact form to get in touch? Do they sign up for your newsletter? When they are on the site do they stay to read the entire article? Do they click through to another article that you’ve published?
- Google analyses visitor behaviour to gauge experience. Trust me, if users are leaving your page after a few seconds due to load speed you’ll suffer!
Hopefully these hints and tips can help you get started on your SEO journey. SEO is a long-term play with so many dimensions. I’ve focussed on the most logical and impactful themes in this article. If you’d like anymore information, feel free to reach out.
Finally, it will take some time before you reap the rewards of SEO, but if you get it right it is hugely powerful in creating brand affinity and recognition.