Search Engine Optimisation explained

Some digital marketing organisations will tell you that Search Engine Optimisation planning is essentially a technical activity, implying that clients are unable to contribute meaningfully to their SEO strategy.

While SEO is definitely a technological process to some extent, it is no longer as complex as it once was. Creating a digital strategy that is supported by search engine algorithms is the only way to rank in today’s search engines.

That isn’t to suggest that your website’s technical performance isn’t vital. Yes, it is. A website must load quickly, be easy to navigate, be responsive across all devices, and offer a positive user experience (also known as “UX”).

The technical performance of your website, on the other hand, accounts for only a small portion of the criteria used by search engines to rank websites. The most essential ranking factors, according to Search Engine Land’s Periodic Table of SEO Ranking, are:

  • Content
  • Architecture
  • HTML
  • Trust
  • Link value
  • User-experience

Trust and authority are two of the most important SEO criteria. Google can only tell if visitors can trust your website if they visit it, read the material, and take some sort of an action (fill in a contact form, sign up for a newsletter, make a purchase, etc.). As a result, driving users to the action button is the ultimate measure of a website’s success. To put it another way, if you impress your potential clients, you’re also impressing Google. Oh, and don’t get too hung up on bounce rates, time spent on site, pages viewed, and so on. These figures are worthless unless they’re seen in the context of your company’s specific sales process.

Optimising the ‘Shoppable’ Experience

The term “shoppable” has come to be associated with social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Brands must, in fact, deliver a pleasurable and convenient buying experience across all touchpoints, both online and offline.

Remember that “shoppable” does not only refer to ecommerce sites; it also refers to any website that serves as a storefront for a company, even if nothing can be purchased online (as is the case for the vast majority of websites). So, though we’re talking about purchasing anything in this blog, the same ideas apply to non-ecommerce websites where you’re seeking for a call to action to be accomplished, such as filling out a contact form, sending an email, or picking up the phone to speak with someone. For the great majority of non-ecommerce websites, these three options are the most common CTAs.

The following are important considerations:

  • deliver high-quality information that is easy to locate;
  • provide a great user experience and outstanding customer service;
  • Know who your consumers are and what their problems are.

Let’s look at it more closely.

In 2020, convenience will take precedence over pricing, according to Adobe. Make life as simple as possible for your customers, but never lose sight of the fact that trust and authority are the two most important factors for better search engine rankings on Google and Bing (who together account for the vast majority of organic traffic in the UK, with Google accounting for over 99 per cent of our domestic search volume).

Installing automated services and chatbots, for example, could appear to be a smart idea, but how effective are they? According to a PwC survey, 78 per cent of UK clients despise chatbots and other artificial intelligence-based gimmicks because they replace humans. People prefer to converse with one another. Never undervalue the importance of human interaction.

Offering both alternatives is one apparent solution. Chatbots make life easier by offering instant responses. This is an excellent example of customer service. That appeals to many people. More difficult topics, on the other hand, are frequently beyond the capabilities of robots. It’s aggravating when folks don’t get the answers they want.

When your chatbot is unable to provide a firm response, inform the consumer that their query will be forwarded to a qualified representative. Offer reference materials such as FAQs or interesting information that is relevant to their requirements while they wait. Customers will appreciate it if you try your hardest to resolve their issue as quickly and effectively as possible, which is the hallmark of a superb strategic approach.

Remove Intrusive Ads

It’s time to face the truth. Intrusive advertisements are disliked by consumers. You are most likely aware of this from personal experience. How bothersome are pop-up, drop-down, and slide-in advertisements? Readers are more likely to leave if they are interrupted by an invasive advertisement. Include a discreet native ad if you wish to advertise a certain product or service. Native advertisements appear as a distinct ad in the sidebar, naturally embedded in content, on relevant web pages, or as a naturally embedded ad in content.

Understanding your target audience’s demands and how they use online platforms is critical to increasing sales. Pay close attention to their user experience by providing relevant information and customer service choices at the appropriate times.

Offline Marketing

Offline marketing is the core of your marketing approach, especially if you are new to the online. According to some statistics we’ve seen, up to 40% of buyers make online purchases after seeing ads in print. Whatever the exact figure is, it’s evident that offline activities can drive online traffic through brand-related searches, in which potential buyers enter your company’s name into a search engine.

Depending on the industrial area you operate in and the competitiveness and maturity of the marketplace, it might take anywhere from 3 to 12 months before you start earning organic traffic from search engines. As a result, many offline techniques are required to boost brand awareness and generate leads for your products and services.

Google isn’t blind to the importance of offline marketing. In 2014, Google updated its Panda algorithm to include “brand searches” as a ranking consideration. A brand search implies that someone has heard of your firm in an offline setting and is now looking for you on the internet, rather than clicking on a digital media signal (such as a PPC ad).

When someone searches for your brand or inserts your website address into a web browser directly, it gives search engines a strong indication that you’re a respectable company that potential customers are interested in learning more about. The more people who search for your brand, the more Google trusts you – especially if those queries are backed up with relevant high-quality back links. I’ll get to that later.

Offline marketing tactics that work include:

  • Point of sale
  • Direct mail
  • Business cards, posters and flyers
  • Workshops/presentations
  • Events (networking, exhibitions, celebrations)
  • Magazine interviews (niche, local community or national)
  • Outdoor advertising (sides of car, roadside)
  • Uniforms or printed t-shirts, jumpers, caps
  • Promotional merchandise

Or the more expensive – but still effective in some instances – options:

  • TV
  • Radio
  • Cinemas
  • Newspapers
  • Magazines
  • Billboards

The Holy Trinity – Content, Social, PR

It’s no secret that high-quality content is essential for online success. While providing high-quality content should be at the centre of your SEO strategy, it also demands a three-pronged approach: content creation, social media, and public relations. If any one of these three factors is missing, your search engine optimization efforts are likely to fail miserably.

High-Quality Content

Showing up where people are hanging out is an important part of improving SEO. On the one hand, this makes it easier to reach your target audience, but it also means you’ll be up against stiff competition.

It is highly recommended that you invest the necessary resources to generate and publish high-quality material that is deemed credible, relevant, and of value to the reader in order to establish a favourable impression. We’re sure you’ve heard it before, but how often do you read articles that don’t provide such value, but instead appear to be written for the purpose of doing something? When it comes to content delivery, there are two things to keep in mind: quantity and quality, and we would choose quality over quantity any day of the week. So, what constitutes “good quality”?

  • It provides value; information that is helpful rather than just text on a page.
  • It’s engrossing; it’s a quick and delightful read.
  • It establishes credibility by demonstrating that you know what you’re talking about.
  • It is pertinent; it contains keywords that correspond to their search phrases.
  • It is visually appealing, with pictures that encourage clicks and improve the message.
  • It’s skimmable; emphasise key details you want readers to be aware of.
  • It contains links to pertinent information, both inbound and outgoing.

Marketers must also consider how readers want to consume information. When your visitors read your content, there’s a good chance that they’re doing so on a mobile device. Google, on the other hand, prefers articles with a word count of roughly 1,500-2,000 words (but you can opt for more or less depending on the scope, intricacy, and scale of the issue you’re writing about).

Do mobile users really want to read a storey that lasts 15-20 minutes? Most likely not. This puts advertisers in a difficult position. Do you write in-depth articles or quick snippets for mobile readers? Or you could do both. (Spoiler alert: this is the best option.)

You should publish material that is relevant to users across several platforms. This is where knowledgeable social media skills and effective internet PR come into play.

The length of this article is just over 4,000 words. However, it appears that this is the appropriate length for this topic. So that’s something to think about. Stop when you’ve spoken everything you need to say at the appropriate length. Longer content may be good for more complex subject matter, but 250-500 words may be ideal for a precise response to a specific issue.

Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing provides brands with a platform that allows customers to do the up-talking for you at a time when consumer trust in brands is at an all-time low. Or the down-talking if your business practices are inconsistent with your brand strategy.

For most businesses, word-of-mouth is still and always will be one of the most potent strategies to increase sales. The customer lifetime value (CLV) of each individual transaction includes not only their recurrent purchases, but also the added value they provide by endorsing you to their network or posting a positive review to your community. As a result, social media networks are proving to be a very effective tool for businesses.

As a result, organisations should encourage customers to write comments, reviews, and even publish user-generated content in order to develop trust.

Customers want to know not just what your product accomplishes, but also what kind of experience they can expect before, during, and after purchasing it. As a result, customer service is crucial. Is the entire procedure effective, especially when things go wrong? Things are bound to go wrong. The majority of businesses overlook the significance of this crucial truth. The truth is your ally. Raise your hand. Please accept my apologies. And then fix it. And you’ll have a lifelong friend.

Genuine peer reviews and the opinions of family, friends, and coworkers are considerably more credible than anything a brand can say – and it’s a lot cheaper (almost free). You may be losing out on a fantastic opportunity to create authority and trust for your brand if you aren’t active on the social networks that are most important to your company.

The following are some of the most important characteristics of social media:

  • Increasing consumer awareness of your brand
  • Increasing the number of potential customers
  • Using search engines to build trust and authority
  • Interacting with consumers in a comfortable setting
  • Providing excellent customer service at a low cost
  • Creating a community of brand evangelists

Google has stated that it crawls social networks for relevant signals, but it isn’t completely transparent about whether it utilises social shares and likes to rank webpages. We, on the other hand, believe it is a no-brainer. What makes you think they wouldn’t? On some cases, placing links in social media networks may not be considered an inbound link. There are probably no ranking points on offer there. Likes may be influential, but shares are likely to be more trustworthy.

What we can tell with certainty is that search engines are likely to take into account user-metrics from social media material that drives traffic to your website.

It’s important to note that Google ranks webpages rather than entire websites. As a result, a strong link-building strategy is required.

I’ll get to that later. First, let’s talk about public relations.

Before we do that, let’s finish off with the no-brainers. You’ll be taught that including keywords in your meta titles and meta descriptions don’t matter to Google anymore. That may be true, but we have different suspicions (and merely suspicions). What is the reason for this? Only ad hoc proof based on the performance of a few websites that have done so. There is no harm in doing so, as it is not perceived as a negative, and it can also assist in clarifying your SEO approach while creating your website. So go ahead and do it. If you’d want.

Effective Online PR Strategies

Yes, we know we keep harping on about trust and authority, but it’s crucial to the success of an internet business. The public opinion of your brand has an impact on not just potential customers, but also on influential industry advisers who can influence prospects and suspects.

Public relations is critical for leveraging your brand online. Customers, suppliers, employees, investors, internet influencers, journalists, and regulators can all provide “earned media.”

Consumer trust, to put it plainly.

Customer Testimonials

Nobody believes client testimonials on your website, regardless of whether they are genuine or not. Peer-to-peer platforms with five-star reviews aren’t persuading many users either. At least not until one has amassed a substantial amount.

For good reason, many of us are sceptical of reviews: they are either fraudulent or paid for. Consider Amazon. Those reviews are worth their weight in gold. That’s why corporations pay for five-star reviews, give out free things in exchange for a nice rating, or simply make them up. It is being curtailed, but it still occurs. That’s how things progress. Every time one hole is patched, a new one appears.

So be pessimistic. Don’t take everything you see on the internet at face value. That is a fact that we are all well aware of these days.

Demonstrate the authenticity of customer testimonials to get the most out of them. As you may know, social media is the most potent online medium for true brand comments because, in most cases, viewers can see actual criticism.

Show off when you obtain favourable social support. Make certain that others are aware of it.

Use impartial review platforms like TrustPilot or any of the many others available to suit the demands of businesses ranging in size from a microbusiness or SME to a worldwide corporation, in any marketplace, you can think of – for example, TripAdvisor for the leisure industry.

You might also do interviews with customers to learn about their experiences with your products and services, as well as provide footage of how they use them and the advantages they provide.

Create a Community

Creating a social media community is a terrific method to attract people to interact with your brand. You not only reach a larger audience, but you also develop a network of prominent people who can help you promote your company.

Building a community of supporters and champions for your business, whether online or offline, earns you accolades. Connecting with people fosters loyalty and increases profits.

So, what is it that people today are most interested in?

In 2020, 70% of consumers want to know what social and environmental concerns a company supports. Companies are being pressured to be more socially responsible and to support causes that benefit the local community.

If you don’t provide a product or provide a service that directly benefits a social cause, consider sponsoring one. Whatever is essential to your consumers should be essential to you as well.

Influencer Marketing

One of the fundamental characteristics (benefits?) of the internet is that it has provided a forum for actual consumers to offer ‘expert’ advise to other potential buyers.

Bloggers and social media influencers have developed their own personal brands and have the ability to influence purchasing decisions. As a result, influencer marketing provides brands with a trusted voice and the ability to reach a ready-made audience.

According to a study conducted by Tomoson, influencers might earn £5.00 for every pound spent.

Regrettably, brands have exploited the influencer marketing arena, resulting in a loss of brand confidence. Consumers have questioned the validity of tactics like social celebrity gifts, accounts with phoney followers, clickbait adverts in mainstream media, and advertorials in so-called “serious” magazines. Google, social media platforms, and the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) are cracking down on deceptive influencer marketing.

Consumers who are well-informed about celebrities are already wary of celebrity endorsements. Today’s buyers are more likely to believe an expert with a solid reputation in a certain field than a celebrity looking for a quick buck. Consider Martin Lewis of Few people have more credibility than him.

Earned media generation through journalists and bloggers is the way to go for up-and-coming brands. Brands should seek out a group of well-known influencers with whom they can form strong, long-term partnerships.

We urge that you choose quality over quantity. It’s not all about the number of followers – in most cases, a disproportionately large following with poor participation is a significant warning signal. Avoid such influencers at all costs, as they are likely to have gained their following using spammy methods.

Effective Link-Building

Poor industrial practises have also harmed the link-building sector’s reputation. Link building, on the other hand, is a powerful SEO tactic that you should invest in if you want to obtain the best potential results, but it’s rarely something that can be done internally.

Because black-hat webmasters maintained sites for publishing content with a link leading back to a certain domain, link building gained a poor name in the early years.

It didn’t take long for Google to notice that businesses were seeking to sway their “trust” rankings in their favour. They imposed sanctions on both the host and the target websites.

This kind of link farming is still going on. The difference nowadays is that some websites excel at it. Last year, in an interview with Google’s John Mueller, it was disclosed that link-building sites will not be penalised provided statistics proves that visitors value the page.

Influencers can be found on several of these websites. Link farming is now referred to as guest blogging outreach.

As a result, in 2020, developing relationships with reliable influencers can be a highly effective SEO tactic.

Internal link building is also important for properly ranking your webpages with Google (and Bing). While many of your landing pages will be integrated into your blog, sending ‘link juice’ to relevant product pages boosts their exposure in search results.

A word about Bing. If you focus on doing the correct thing on Google, you will almost certainly appear on Bing as well, so you won’t need two different tactics. However, there are a few things you should do on Bing as well, such as claiming your business. Google provides some excellent rules as well.

SEO Techniques to Avoid

Now that we’ve discussed what you should do, it’s time to discuss what you shouldn’t…

On landing pages, don’t put too much emphasis on keywords.

Pages that match the search content are returned by search engines. Your website will become tough to administer if you develop many pages targeting specific keywords, and Google will smell a rat. And Google isn’t fond of rats.

Don’t write for robots; instead, write for people.

When you write, focusing on SEO keywords can make your articles read strangely. Fortunately, search engine algorithms have advanced to the point that they can now recognise the context of individual page content automatically. This implies you should always write in a natural tone – this should be simple if you know what you’re doing and how to do it well. If writing isn’t your strong suit, hire a journalist to conduct an interview with you and transform the results into a nice article, or write it down and get an industry copywriter to do the rest.

Accept no guest posts that are poorly written.

Guest posts can help you improve your SEO. There’s a chance for you to publish material that you haven’t put much effort into, and it could even make you some extra money while driving high-quality traffic to your site. But don’t slack on your quality standards.

Don’t rely on low-quality links purchased for a fee.

Paid links of low quality are strongly penalised by search engines. Despite the fact that inbound links placed in advertorials on high-authority websites are almost always paid for, search engines allow this. Other content authors are frequently prompted to link to your website as a result of these publications. You will naturally get organic links if you consistently produce high-quality content.

Avoid Black-Hat SEO Techniques

Last but not least, there are black-hat marketers to consider. Unfortunately, there are some SEO companies out there (the ones that send you emails every five minutes telling you how horrible your website or SEO is and how they can fix you quickly and cheaply…) who use strategies to manipulate search engines on purpose. It’s critical to know how to spot black-hat marketers while looking for a trustworthy digital marketing company to deal with.

The first red flag is if they promise to get you on Google’s first page in a couple of months or even weeks. Black-hat marketers frequently employ strategies that make it appear as if a website is receiving more visitors and encouraging more interactions than it is. The following are examples of common strategies:

  • Keyword stuffing is the use of irrelevant keywords to affect a page’s ranking.
  • Cloaking – displaying different pages to search engine crawlers than what your website visitors view
  • Low-quality paid-for links, likes, and shares are examples of schemes.
  • False information in structured data that deceives search engines and users; for example, a pasted five-star rating from a reputable review site.
  • Hide– obfuscate keywords so that they aren’t visible to readers.
  • End-users are redirected to a different page or website then the link they thought they were clicking.

These kinds of SEO gimmicks are detected by search engines. It’ll only be a matter of time before tampered data is exposed. You’ll be blacklisted and pushed down the ranks if you do.

Why SEO?

Search engines are, without a doubt, the most potent marketing tool ever devised. They have the potential to draw thousands of interested customers to your storefront. There aren’t many marketing channels that are as effective as that.

However, because online brands are sometimes perceived as faceless corporations, establishing a credible online presence across many channels is critical.

When you show consumers that you are a trustworthy and genuine company, search engines will promote you in search results. This necessitates a tactical rather than a technical SEO strategy.

SEO is estimated to be 100 times more effective than paid advertisements. That isn’t to say that sponsored advertising aren’t a good idea for some (many) businesses; it just means that you’ll have to spend £1 on PPC to obtain the same results as if you spent 1p on SEO. We calculated this based on the fact that SEO is ten times more reputable than PPC and generates ten times the number of CTAs.

Also, once you’re on the first page of Google, you’re there for the entire year, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. When it comes to PPC, once your daily budget is depleted or you cease spending, that’s the end of it. You’re virtually unnoticed by potential customers.

Of course, the best of all worlds is to use SEO to bring traffic to your website, capture their IP address, create a remarketing list, and then send out display advertising your brand to them while they are browsing relevant third-party websites. You can run advertisements for up to a year, and you just pay when they click. The CPC is around a tenth of what PPC costs.

In Conclusion

Understanding SEO and the benefits it offers to rank your website higher is crucial to be found in front of your target audience.

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