There are a lot of misconceptions about what SEO actually is and how it helps. And we’re not surprised through its years of evolution, it’s had many different roles to play in the marketing world. So today we wanted to provide a guide for those looking to understand what it means right now. And what it can serve in terms of the future of the business. Giving you a clear idea of the role it can play in pushing your business towards its goals.
What is SEO anyway?
Chatting to clients, we often find the same definition of SEO cropping up: ‘adding content to your website to appear high up in SERPs’ (search engine result pages). And whilst this does define part of the picture, SEO is a more complex beast. Gone are the days when stuffing a piece of content with keywords gave you the top spot. Now, Google’s (and other search engines) clever algorithms look for more than just a keyword. They look at how well a page or website serves a purpose, how easy it is to read and digest and the authority the website has as a whole.
And this increased complexity of SEO has resulted in a need for increasingly more complex strategies. But how do you know which aspects to pay attention to? It all begins with really tapping into what your target user wants and the outcome you’re looking to get from your SEO efforts. Ask yourselves these questions to get clarity and make a master plan:
- What do you want from your SEO? Do you want an overall increase in website traffic? Leads? To build an email newsletter? Or assist in your sales process? Defining your business goals and their relation to SEO is key.
- Who is your audience? Define their demographic, needs and key questions they might have. This can give you a basis to start high-quality content creation (more on that later).
- What does your audience value? Longer form content, easy readability, well-placed images? Again this can help you to define your SEO content strategy.
Now you have these questions answered, you can dial in on key aspects to pay attention to. The information you’ve gathered should inform your decisions and help you to prioritise.
Making moves with SEO
One of the essential pieces of SEO work that is monotonous but has a monumental effect is meta-tags: invisible tags that tell the search engine and users more about the page or piece of content. These are considered vital by search engines (which determine where you land on SERPs) as they quickly allow it to categorise the content of that page and relevancy for a search term. Meta-data can also be used to strategically highlight key aspects of a page or content, enticing readers to click through. From the title to page summary, image labels to header tags (titles within a page) they create a better user experience for the end user and therefore the quality of them is used to judge the page itself.
So whilst these little details may be annoying to fill out, a well-tagged page can be the difference between the third or first spot. Helping your page to take up more real estate earlier in the SERPs.
Another key update to Google’s algorithm saw a shift toward Core Web Vitals. What does this mean exactly? CWV report how your page or website performs based on real-life data. That’s load speed, how quickly a user can interact with a site and what sort of results they can achieve. All of these aspects are absolutely key to the user’s experience and the three to focus on above all else are:
- Largest contentful paint: how long it takes for the largest components on your site take to load.
- First input delay: the speed at which a user’s first interaction is responded to on your page.
- Cumulative layout shift: how many layout shifts occur throughout a page?
Working closely with your developer or whoever built your website may be the best way to work on these key issues. Alternatively, our team are on hand to work on on-site optimisations and ensure your website is in tip-top SEO condition.
As we said before, successful SEO content goes beyond keywords. It’s about providing true value for your users – both in answering the query they might have and providing content in a format that makes sense for them.
- The first port of call is keyword research – digging into the questions audiences are asking and looking at the competition content which is being served for those results.
- From there you can distinguish the ‘gap’ in the market – what is current content missing that you could fill? Could it be easier to read, have mixed media or have a different structure?
- Once you’ve established the question you’re answering and the different ways in which you’ll be answering it, summarise this into a title that contains the keyword.
- Create the content using the knowledge of someone in the know (it might be you, a colleague or an outside expert) and a top-class content writer. This combination will ensure clarity of communication and accuracy of information – two key players in the world of SEO.
When looking at the content you’re producing, be sure to include both long and short-form content. Google rewards high-quality content and with it being a more difficult task to create long-form, it has massive SEO benefits. However balancing with shorter and snappier editorial pieces can provide balance and, from a user standpoint, a different way to engage with your brand which is more suitable on a range of different devices.
So we’ve explored the complexities of SEO but in reality, have just scratched the surface. As with every channel within the marketing world, it is forever evolving so keeping up can be a challenge. But the ultimate thing to keep in mind is providing a great experience for your users onsite from a UX and content perspective. Taking a customer-first approach will always provide you with results, no matter which marketing channel you’re looking for. We get it, SEO (and everything that comes with it) can be a bit overwhelming. So if you want to chat to someone about it, we’re here to help. Get in touch today.