SEO is the art of optimising your website pages for search engine results. According to Wikipedia, “search engine results pages (SERP) is the page displayed by a search engine in response to a query by a searcher. The main component of the SERP is the listing of results that are returned by the search engine in response to a keyword query, although the page may also contain other results such as advertisements.”
To you and I, that means when you’re searching the web, you find what you’re looking for… fast, and the result is relevant. (The purpose of a good search engine right!?) There are lots of elements companies and brands must consider if they’re going to be discovered on search engines, get their free/earned media performing well and yielding good returns… Here, I’ve covered a few elements I find work best in my experience. Yes, I recently went through this process with the digital marketing expert James Pybus. And it works. Really works. (600% increase in leads) If you’re looking to start SEO properly, you have to be brave and trust digital marketing experts who’ve been there and done it. If you want it done right and importantly, see an uptick in your run rate, SERPs traffic and lead generation, you have to stay the course and be prepared to wait a few weeks.
Keyword or key phrase research
KISS. Keep it simple stupid… The timeless advice given to me by my Dad on several occasions well before the internet was even thought of. You need to focus, and to do that, things need to be simple right? Doing your research well allows you to focus on what’s important on your page, and focus on where you can win. Try and rank for more than one or two closely related phrases on one page and you’ll rank nowhere fast.
Keep your target keyword or more accurately, target “key phrase” in mind when you’re writing your content and this will help your page performance in search engines. But it’s not just about the words or the phrase nowadays. After Hummingbird, semantic search means the engines are trying to work out what website content you want to see. You have to think strategically about where you want to be found (ie the search term/phrase) because this will be a long-term goal. Check Facebook and your other social networks… and where your customers hang out. Where do they graze for their information fix? What search terms do your main competitors strive to rank for? Ask for input. Ask customers what they searched for – exact terms… not vague ones. Ask your prospects when they contact you. Think about it hard.
If you spend loads of time on your post and it doesn’t rank, it’s a waste of time. I’m sure you’ve heard this one but the old SEO joke is truer now than ever…
“What’s the best way to hide a body?
Answer? Put it on page 2 of Google.” Think about it… The best conversion funnels and awesome sales teams are useless without relevant traffic being driven. We know organic search results tend to have great intent, along with influencer marketing and adverts (if they’re well written)… so these visitors are more likely to convert down your sales funnel and spend a good amount of time on your page.
So… you have to have volume and be able to compete. That depends on your resources. Think about it… The best conversion funnels and awesome sales teams are useless without relevant traffic being driven. We know that organic search results tend to have great intent… so they’re more likely to convert down your sales funnel. Once you know there’s a decent search volume, high relevance to your offer and there is low competition, you’ll be in with a chance of winning that prospect’s business. With high intent and relevancy, you’re onto a winner. Now you just have to spend the time and effort getting the SEO work done.
2. SERPS competition = hard work
The next piece of the puzzle is critical…how much competition do you have and how fierce is it for that ideal search term you think is a winner? The answers to these questions determine how much effort it’s going to take you to rank and the resources you’ll need.
Once you’ve identified your list of keywords and phrases, you need to work out if you can get there and rank for these. If they’re too competitive, you’ll struggle, too niche or not enough volume, it might be a waste of your time… Longtail key phrases are easier to rank for but search volumes are lower. That’s where the finesse and “dark magic is”.
If the phrase you try and rank for is too competitive, you’ll struggle. If the search term is too niche or there’s not enough search volume, you might be wasting your time… Longer key phrases are easier to rank for and the traffic more relevant but the search volume is lower. That’s where the finesse and the “dark art of SEO” play a part.
Use tools like Moz, SEMrush, or SEO Profiler to help you, ask friends and colleagues, what do they search for. Are your competitors there? If not, ask yourself why not… If they are, and they’re showing up in similar searches as your target phrase, there’s a good chance you’re on the money. If you’ve loads of competition for the term you want to rank for, that’s when you need to get creative. You need to pick where you think you can perform well and be brave enough to walk away from those highly lucrative and relevant search terms. Literally. Don’t try it if you can’t do it. Would you swim a length in the pool? Yes. Would you swim the English Channel? With training and resources perhaps. The Atlantic? No way. Stay within your capacity and focus where you can win.
3. Site Structure
When you’re creating your website, well before you’ve even thought about your page, you must have the right site structure for that page to perform… the site structure is the foundations for your whole digital marketing on all your channels. From your URLs and your navigation to your topics, headlines, tags, images, site links and meta data. Yep, your whole site infrastructure. Reworking these core elements is critical, and if done well, will help you increase ranking for your primary target keywords… So start with a clean piece of paper and map out the site map/tree of navigation. Match your keywords and think about the navigation for users, not for optimisation. If your site structure sucks, search engines won’t rank it.
Your site structure needs to be clean, relevant, simple and fast to find the information users are looking for. Bots can crawl most of your site but not all of it in a single hit. That’s why submitting your sitemap is important, as well as including (and excluding) certain pages from your sitemap. Once you’ve worked out your hierarchy (where buyers begin their journey and engage with your site) you can start to build out your structure including your site links. Sitelinks are a listing format in the SERPs that show your site’s main page along with several internal links indented below. Sitelinks give you massive SEO juice. They help make your site easier to navigate, direct visitors to the most relevant pages, help with your brand’s reach, push your competition down the page, improve user trust, help you dominate SERPs, increase click through, as well as shorten your conversion funnel. Basically, sitelinks are awesome. A great trick is to ensure that people and bots can navigate to different pages on your website easily too without going to the navigation. So include links to other pages that are relevant to the topic you’re covering in your post.The first link in your page is also the one that get’s the most SEO juice. This internal linking strategy isn’t hard and should be consistent.
4. Publishing and reach
Search engine bots are pretty clever nowadays and semantic search results are yielding good performance even when the article relates to the search term or intended search of the user but not your keyword. Did you know you can help your target users find your content and ask the engines to index your pages and site map? That’s awesome because it means the content is relevant and the search engine is using the context the user wants… so they’re more likely to serve it to the reader going forward. But how do search engines decide what content to rank? You need to have the right keywords and key phrases… and the right volume… as well as the right inbound links to drive serious web traffic and increase your site authority. Links from your page to other pages that are relevant/helpful will help your page appear useful but you’ll leak traffic. Inbound links to your content are much more valuable as it means people are interested in what you have to say and willing to drive traffic to your page. Reciprocal links are also valuable but not as valuable as inbound links. Ultimately, search engines want to help the user find what they want… so when other pages point to your pages too, they know it’s interesting and relevant for that search.
Another key element is how your content marketing behaves on social channels (literally!) with key metrics being how many times your content is viewed, favourited, shared, downloaded or comments generated. Even your responsiveness is measured. This engagement is critical and increases your site’s attractiveness. As well as these authority signals, when people repost or shared your content, add it to a list, post it in a group or share it community or on a board, you’ll get a little more SEO juice from the search engine for being interesting. Over time, this juice adds up and improves your relevancy, authority and ranking. In short, it takes a little time but you’ll be rewarded. Search engines will rank your website higher and you’ll be found more often. Imagine that… the search engines actually bringing up your content higher because it’s getting better results.
But how do you do this? It’s pretty straightforward once you know how but you need to know what you’re doing. You simply submit your URLs to the search engines… Sure bots visit your site from time to time, but you’re not in control. For the web-savvy readers, you’ll be familiar with Google Console and Bing Webmaster tools. If you want your site to rank, submit the URLs you just posted to those search engines… on mobile and desktop pages. Go to Google Console or Bing webmaster tools and you’ll be able to ask the major search engines to index your page right away… Use data highlighter, page sets and monitor your site errors to reduce bounce rate.
5. Measure value and results
Think of those terms that have such high competition that if you begin to rank for them over time, you’ve a bonus for doing great work on different longer tail keywords you can rank for. Once you start to rank, your pages will begin to bear fruit but you have to have volume… and that means targeting a keyword that you’re able to compete with. If you’ve 4.16 million pages competing for the same term, it’ll be pretty tough. With just a few hundred thousand pages, it’ll be much easier.
If your page converts at 2% (you’ve got a form on it right?) and your ads are converting to contacts at a similar level, multiply the advertising cost by the customer conversion rate and you’ll be able to put a value on the organic results and traffic you’ve generated.
What’s all this worth? The simple answer is whatever you’re spending on AdWords for those search terms that you’re ranking for.
Let’s say you spend £5 per click… and you convert at 2% (pretty high for good traffic terms) for 100 clicks you’ve spent £500… and got 2 contacts… that’s £250 / contact. Now let’s say you drive traffic (using off page techniques) to your web page and it generates 100 visitors and your page converts at a similar rate – or half as effectively (low intent vs the ad search term) that’s still £500 saved on your media spend but now you’re 50% of your contacts. Not a good way to run the business right? However, just think… that content should generate an equivalent contact volume each month, so now you’ve generated 12 contacts not 2 within a year which is 600% more effective than your advertising spend. Pretty cool hey? Plus, you’ve released some budget for some more content marketing work in month one… that will keep on producing for you as long as you keep up your efforts. Think of your content like an evergreen advert… Don’t cut your advertising, but balance your channels appropriately to those that convert best for your business.
That’s why brands and businesses need to produce more content and publish it more often. Once you have this traffic, the next thing to think about is conversion and adopting different marketing technology to improve conversion from your visitors to harvest more contacts and engagement from your visitors. Either way, your advertising dollar just got some serious internal competition from free ‘inbound’ and earned media channels. A good thing right? If you’re just starting out, my advice would be to start with relevant terms that aren’t so competitive that you’ve not a hope in hell of winning… for example, trying to optimise for “Tennis, Tennis rackets, Tennis rackets Wimbledon, Tennis rackets Wimbledon Babalat” are totally different levels of competition… and include local SEO techniques as well as good optimisation. My top tip is to choose keywords that are relatively high in volume, with medium competition and high relevancy. This allows you to rank pretty easily but chose terms with high enough search volumes that they’re worth pursuing.
To produce good levels of relevant content to get above the water line… You can’t expect to rank for your target key phrase with just one piece of content. You’ve got to throw more into the mix. It’s like trying to get dressed and only putting a sock on. It’s just not enough, your effort is going to be a complete waste of time. I think this is possibly the unsung hero of the whole SEO piece. You have to be consistent and develop a Teflon thread through your site, URLs, navigation, headers, titles, tags, images, image descriptions, alt tags, topics, link text, content, publishing and user experience.
- Search volume/Search competition
- Target Keyword / phrase / Similar phrases
- Ability to execute
- Site Structure
- Publishing and reach
But what’s the most important bit of the recipe? Well, to be honest, they all work together but there is an overall binding agent is your engagement… Without it, search engines think your content is pretty dull. This is your secret sauce and the most effective way to ensure your content gets pushed up the rankings, shared, liked, comments and you build the holy grail of your site authority and influencer score.
What’s the most important element in your opinion? What’s the one thing you’ll do differently as a result of reading this post?
Strive to be happy,
#SEO #SERPS #Website #Optimisation #Keywords