Ranking well or ideally on top of search results can prove the difference in growing sales and brand preference in your industry, but achieving a high rank requires more than a great website.
To ensure your website is working for you, here are some top tips to help improve your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO):
1. Find out what people are searching for
Each month, Australians enter 1.3 billion searches into search engines, many of which are completely unique. So it’s important to know what people think and what they are likely to type when looking for a business in your industry, so you can tailor your website accordingly. Knowing these keywords will be vital in directing traffic to your site and driving the outcomes you want your website to deliver (such as increasing sales, subscriptions or enquiries). The most effective form of keyword research is to test paid search terms (in a pay per click model) on platforms such as Google Adwords which will determine the most relevant and effective keywords connecting your audience to your business. For those on a limited budget the adwords keyword tool is an unpaid research option.
2. Find out what content the search engines are looking for
Search engines don’t simply match a search term to a website’s content – there’s a far more complex and intuitive algorithm behind every search result. The search engine evaluates the importance, value and relevance of millions of websites based on a variety of factors and rewards the best websites with a top ranking. As a marketer, the best way to understand what search engines are looking for is to analyse the websites that are currently ranking well for your target keywords and develop a competing strategy to get you on the front page. Different industries and website categories demand different content (such as text, maps, images, videos, pdfs etc), so knowing what works will help guide you to match your site to the preferences of both customers and the search engine algorithms.
3. Prepare your site to be optimised
Not all sites are created equal. In fact, some websites are designed in such a way that it is near impossible for a search engine to find them. Just like clever architecture can create more usable space and make the most of available light in your home, good website architecture and layout can create a more user-friendly experience, both for customers and search engines. You may find that you need to make changes and improvements to the structure, design and layout of your site, so keywords and content can be positioned more prominently and logically. No two sites are the same, so a dedicated SEO consultant or a SEO-literate web developer can evaluate what improvements you can make to improve your SEO performance. For those keen to dive in and get a deeper understanding of the fundamentals I would recommend SEOmoz’s beginners guide to SEO.
4. Develop great content
There is no definitive benchmark for what makes content “great”. However, a simple measure of greatness is how closely your content is aligned with the keywords your customers are searching for and how effectively it solves their problems. In a dynamic, fast-paced industry, your content needs to be updated regularly to remain relevant and effective in attracting traffic. The simple formula is giving users (and search engines) exactly what they want. Here are just a few examples of websites that are doing just that:
- www.theglobalmail.org/investigations/in/power-bill-surge/ – quality long form investigative journalism that definitively outlines why Australian power is becoming more expensive ; this page deserves to rank for the keyword “Power Bill surge”
- www.jaxquickfit.com.au/tyres/brands/pirelli/scorpion-atr – featuring images, pricing, sizes, specs and features this page deserves to rank for “Pirelli Scorpion ATR”
5. Build popularity with links and social connections
Inbound links (links from other websites) and social signals (shares, tweets, likes, RSS feeds) are a crucial part of search engine algorithms when it comes to determining who should rank number one. In the most competitive keyword arenas, the sites with the best links, content and social connections win. There is a multitude of link building strategies or ways to boost your social credibility, some of the best to consider include:
- Guest blogging
- Twitter and Facebook integration
- Directory submissions
- Event & Organisation Sponsorships
- Widget, Tools and Viral content
- Participate in relevant social media channels (forums, blogs, Q&A sites)
- Public Relations (mentions and links from trusted news sites)
- Daniel Benton is Head of Search at Salmat Digital