SEO: The Cornerstone of Online Marketing
As a business in the modern era, it is important to make sure that your marketing strategies are up to date and ‘with the times’. Print advertising and similar forms of marketing are no longer the most effective way to generate business – online marketing is the way of the future and has proven to produce an excellent ROI (Return On Investment).
When it comes to implementing an online marketing campaign, there is one particular strategy that has the ability to generate outstanding results. Search engine optimisation (SEO) has become the world’s most successful form of online marketing due to the global dominance of Google. 1.5 billion people use Google to find products and services, so you can see why SEO has the power to drive thousands of targeted customers to your website. Businesses looking to boost their website traffic and increase their online presence should consider implementing an SEO strategy – after all, SEO is the cornerstone of online marketing.
SEO in a Nutshell
In short, SEO is the process of optimising a website in relation to relevant, high traffic key phrases. When correctly optimised, a site should achieve a high search engine results page (SERP) ranking for these key phrases, ensuring it appears front and centre when potential clients enter said phrases into search engines such as Google and Yahoo! SERP rankings are determined by the search engines themselves. Using an algorithm, their ‘spiders’ will ‘crawl’ you site and determine just how relevant it is to certain search queries.
While in principle search engine optimisation sounds quite simple, in reality it is a highly complex process that requires a considerable amount of input from a number of different experts to get the best results. When it comes to selecting an SEO provider, it is important to make sure you choose a team that has a sound knowledge of the SEO process. SEO campaigns consist of a number of different components, each of which need to be carried out individually with pin-point precision, whilst still working in unison to deliver an optimal result.
Search engine optimisation should always begin with thorough site analysis, as this allows an SEO technician to determine exactly where the site is at to begin with – thereby tailoring a strategy to suit.
The best place to begin is with Web Master Tools, a diagnostic program offered by Google that allows you to ascertain just how your site is viewed by search engine spiders – in short, it helps you to determine just how ‘Google-friendly’ your site is. Web Master Tools allows you to check your site’s health in terms of any issues Google has detected; understand your search traffic and determine how users are actually finding your site; and understand what changes need to be made so that Google can better understand and represent your website.
In many cases, Web Master Tools can help you determine what changes need to be made to your Sitemap – that is, the part of your site that allows you to tell the search engine spiders what they need to be crawling. In addition, Web Master Tools can also bring to light canonicalisation issues, such as duplicate content on different URLs, as these issues make it difficult for search engine spiders to understand which pages are in fact the ‘main’ pages that need to be crawled.
In addition to Web Master Tools, Google Analytics is also a very useful way to make sure your online marketing efforts are working effectively. This tool allows you to see where your traffic is coming from, and how well traffic from certain locations is converting. In terms of SEO, you can determine just how much traffic is being generated from organic search listings, and how effective this is. Google Analytics is a free tool that every Web Master should be using.
Site analysis using Google Web Master Tools and Analytics is a great place to begin, yet it is also something that needs to be monitored throughout the duration of an SEO campaign. An experienced SEO firm will monitor your site closely for any potential issues or changes that need to be made as the campaign progresses.
Selecting the right key phrases (keywords) is a very important part of any SEO strategy, as these are the terms you want your site to rank for. Key phrases should, ideally, generate plenty of traffic (attract high search volumes), as this ensures that your business is exposed to plenty of potential clients/customers. However, it’s important to ensure all key phrases chosen are relevant to your business. There is no point choosing a phrase that generates lots of traffic if it’s a product or service you don’t offer – you may see an increase in site traffic, but the bounce rate is likely to be quite high.
Key phrases can be selected based on the products and services you offer, topics closely related to your area of expertise, and also your business location. Often, these elements are combined. For example, a painter working in the northern suburbs of Melbourne may choose to target a phrase such as painting Reservoir or house painters Epping. These phrases are designed to not only attract those searching for painters, but those who are actually searching for painters in their local area.
Of course, some key phrases are more competitive than others and it is important to make sure you have both the resources and the budget to tackle your phrases of choice. As a general rule of thumb, very specific, niche key phrases are easier to rank for, especially those that target a particular suburb or town. Phrases that are relevant to larger industries and wider areas are more competitive, for example if you wanted to rank for a phrase such as carpet cleaners Melbourne – there are a lot of carpet cleaners looking to acquire new business in Melbourne!
Onsite or onpage work covers any work that needs to be done to your site, from general site structure to the page titles and everything in between. The aim of onsite work is to ensure that your site is easily and favourably read by the search engine spiders, so that they read and recognise your site as one that is highly relevant to the key phrases you are targeting.
The page titles should include all of the main keywords relevant to the particular page in question, and ideally you need them for every page on your site. They need to generate maximum impact in just the right amount of words, as they are designed to be one of the first things search engine spiders see when they crawl your site. Page titles currently truncate at 512 pixels.
When carrying out onsite work, it is also important to take a look at the URL and overall site structure – are the URLs structured in a logical way that makes them easy to navigate? URLs are essentially road signs, and you therefore need them to state what the page is about, rather than a bunch of numbers and symbols that mean very little to a site visitor.
Internal content links are also very important as a part of onpage work, and it’s a good idea to link internal pages to other relevant internal pages. Just make sure the hyperlinks appear natural and read well – they shouldn’t affect the flow of the content.
Website content is perhaps one of the most important (if not labour-intensive) components of the SEO lifecycle. Simply put, content gives a site relevance. If your site contains high quality, in depth content that relates to the key phrases you are looking to rank for, then search engines will recognise that you know what you’re talking about. You are providing information that is highly relevant to search queries that include your chosen key phrases, and therefore you site is ‘bound to be of interest’ to the user.
Good SEO content should:
- Include all key phrases at the correct density (preferably 1-2%)
- Provide enough information so that your business is positioned as an ‘expert’ on the products or services in question – thin pages should be avoided
- Not be over-optimised for whole key phrases or any particular words that appear in or are related to these phrases
- Enhance the user experience by providing relevant information
- Accurately represent your business, otherwise this could affect your conversion rate
In addition to website content, it is also important to consider creating a blog. Regular blogging ensures that your website is updated regularly with fresh content, improving the relevance and authority of your website in the eyes of search engines. In a similar vein to website content, blogs need to be information-rich, a decent length and offer the user valuable information relevant to your area of expertise.
Link building relates to off-page links on other websites and blog pages, which point back to your site. High quality links have the ability to improve the authority of you site, as it shows that people are ‘talking’ about your business. From the perspective of search engines, people ‘talk’ about websites that are relevant, authentic, high quality, and above all worth visiting.
Off-page links should occur on web pages and blogs that are relevant to your business, as they need to appear natural. You won’t be fooling anyone, least of all Google, by posting a link about your fitness classes on a blog that is dedicated to online gaming (unless you feel those gamers really need to improve their exercise routines).
The most effective type of link is a permalink – that is, links that are permanent in nature.
These backlinks remain unchanged and are not as susceptible to ‘link decay’ (when backlinks become broken over time due to the website owner making various changes and updates to its structure or content). Any good link building strategy should aim to include a number of permalinks.
Problems Faced by SEO Companies
Search engine optimisation is an ever-changing field, and what works well today may not work tomorrow. Search engines such as Google implement regular algorithm updates, and while some are minor, others have the ability to severely damage a website’s SERP rankings.
SEO companies need to have a finger on the pulse at all times, checking for updates and ensuring their practices are in line with the current algorithm. Recent Google updates, such as Penguin 2.1 and Panda 4.0, had some serious consequences for many sites – in fact, some that had being enjoying a page one ranking suddenly found themselves off the scale completely and wallowing in the depths of a penalisation.
The good news is that experienced SEO companies can generally predict or pick up on any changes quite quickly, changing their process accordingly and ensuring their clients emerge unscathed. These companies are also highly skilled when it comes to bringing back businesses who have been hit by a penalty – so if you’re feeling the pain of Penguin or Panda, all is not lost.
Choose the company that delivers
At Web Marketing Experts, we have a sound knowledge of search engine optimisation. Our team is comprised of specialists who focus on their specific component of the SEO process, as this allows us to ensure each and every aspect is carried out to the highest standard. Working in unison, these specialists are able to provide an SEO campaign like no other – a campaign that delivers real results and an exceptional ROI.
If you’re looking for an SEO service provider that can effectively increase your SERP ranking by implementing effective marketing strategies, contact Web Marketing Experts today on 1300 663 995 .