Search engine optimisation is the driving force behind your company’s visibility online and getting it right can bring considerable returns. Bronwyn Williamson, managing director of marketing agency Adams, explains how to use SEO effectively
In an online world where Google processes more than 40,000 search queries every second, it’s never been more important that your website has a visible presence amid the vast ocean of internet information. Search engine optimisation (SEO) means optimising your website so that search engines can easily ‘crawl’ it for information relevant to a user’s search query. It is essentially the tool for improving your online visibility.
Businesses can achieve myriad things through SEO, but if you want to increase the bottom line you’re likely looking to boost sales and enquiries for your business. To achieve these ‘conversions’ online, it’s all about driving targeted traffic to your site – that is, people who are really looking for your product or service, rather than those who have landed on your page by accident. Bronwyn Williamson, managing director of Adams, offers these five tips…
1. Pick keywords and phrases carefully
“Keyword research is essential to your online visibility. But it’s not as simple as putting some keywords into your content and hoping for the best; it’s about really understanding your
target audience and conducting competitor analysis to determine which keywords will attract highly targeted traffic to your site and making sure this formulates part of your SEO strategy. There is little point in ranking highly for keywords and phrases that have no relevance to your site or using keywords that have low traffic [for example you wouldn’t use canis familiaris when you mean ‘dog’]. A common mistake that businesses make that prevents conversion is to focus on short words or phrases which have higher traffic but are less targeted. If you are selling red shoes and you were to just target the keywords ‘red shoes’, you could have many people landing on your page but few conversions; there are lots of reasons why somebody might search ‘red shoes’. If you have a longer phrase such as ‘women’s patent red shoes size five’ you’ll have more targeted traffic coming to your site.
2. Ensure your website is ‘marked up’
The technical ‘markup’ or ‘schema markup’ of your site will either help your online visibility or cause a barrier to SEO success. [The schema markup tells the search engine what content means as well as what it says. For example, Google will return a search result for the name ‘Joe Bloggs’, but with the right schema markup Google will see that Joe Bloggs is the author of the article not just a random term]. The search engine wants to find the information it’s looking for quickly and easily, and a possible barrier to this can be having information in formats it can’t read, such as Flash, images or videos. This will affect your website’s ranking, as will not having information in areas where Google looks for keywords in your metadata. You should also consider an internal linking structure, which involves connecting different areas of your site to each other so that the user and Google can reach the next piece of information they want easily. If you’ve an article about red shoes but also mention a red handbag, it would be useful for Google and the user to be able to click on a link that leads to a related article about red handbags.
3. Don’t miss out metadata
When we speak about metadata, generally we’re referring to the bits and pieces of your website’s code that should be changed for SEO purposes. Your metadata is important to SEO because there are certain places that you can put keywords and information that Google and the user will prioritise examining. For example, a page title and description tag are part of your metadata and are important: this is where the search engines are looking for keywords and how the user knows your site is relevant to their search. While these tags don’t necessarily determine where Google will rank you, it does help conversion because if you do not utilise them yourself, Google will pull random, possibly irrelevant, information from your webpage for you.
4. Optimise the user journey
Identifying the user pathway through the site is important if you are to ensure users get all the information about your business you want them to know. This will also increase conversions as users will be able to make a decision about your product or service without leaving the website. Ideally you would get a user straight onto your page looking at exactly what they wanted to find out and have them travel through your site in a pre-determined fashion, getting to what we call ‘actionable points’. Look at your customers and find out what information they want from you and ensure you’re presenting that information to them in a way that is easy to understand. You could have thousands of people coming to your site every month but if you don’t know who they are, and they’re not engaging with you it’s worthless, as you’re not converting the business.
5. Try ‘off-page’ techniques
This is where the fun starts. Off-page techniques involve anything that happens off your website that can boost your website’s traffic or ranking, and the best of these is content marketing. An example of this would be to take a blog from your site and get it published on another website where your target audience is likely to see it – a review site or a popular blogger’s site, for example. People will then see your company’s alignment with the industry-leading website or their favourite blogger and, hopefully, follow the article back to you. How much you have to employ off-page techniques depends on how competitive your market is, what your competitors are doing and how targeted your service is. If you’re a multi-faceted business, you’ll have a lot more to market and may benefit more than if you were offering a very specific, specialised service. Not every company needs to do this, but it would give any website a boost.
For more information about marketing your business, visit adams.uk.com
Who Bronwyn Williamson
Role Managing director of Adams digital marketing agency
1998-2000 Graphic designer, Piquet Communications
1997-1999 BA (Hons) Fine Art, University of East London
1994-1996 Office manager, Christopher Keats