Building and improving on your website ranking in search engines is an essential part of running an online business. It should also be considered an objective in your overall marketing strategy. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) can help you design a website that meets the needs of your customers and improve the chances of them finding you online. In this article we'll explain what is SEO and how is can be used to drive traffic to your website.
What is SEO and how does it build traffic for your website?
SEO is a set of web-best practice techniques that allows the information you publish on your website (web content) to be discovered and understood. It is then ranked against similar websites on search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo.
SEO is about understanding how people use search engines so that your website is front and centre when they search for your product or service. It's also about understanding how search engines interact with your website and what they look for when ranking websites.
It's useful to remember that search engines apply rankings to web pages by matching the relevance of the web page to the search term used. By making your web content more relevant to your customer's needs compared to other websites, you'll have a better chance of appearing at the top.
When setting up your website, consider the following points to ensure your website has the best chance of ranking well.
Understand your website customers to build an SEO strategy
Much like traditional marketing, improving your search rankings starts with an understanding of your customer's behaviour. For example, consider how a person's search behaviour changes during the buying cycle:
- Awareness: the customer is aware of a problem that needs fixing, and begins searching for potential solutions using broad search terms. For example, 'leaking tap'.
- Consideration: the customer understands their problem and is now searching for solutions that best meet their needs. They will typically start using search keywords that include a location, product feature or product type. For example, 'plumber in Townsville'.
- Purchase: the customer is ready to buy, and generally knows who they will buy from. They will often search directly for the service provider. For example, 'ABC Plumbing'.
Use SEO keywords on your website pages
Keywords are the words or phrases a customer uses when they perform a search. For example, 'flowers online' and 'where do I buy flowers online' are both considered to be keywords.
Matching the keywords used on your website with the words used by customers when they search for you is an important part of SEO. Add popular keywords or phrases to your website. These words can be used in places such as page titles, in content or even as the name of the image file you’re using.
Use keywords that are relevant to your business, services or location – anything that a customer would use in a search engine can be considered a keyword or phrase.
Tip: Be careful not to overuse keywords. This can have a negative impact on your SEO efforts. Make sure your content still reads naturally.
Refresh your website page content often
Adding new content to your website weekly and updating content on your existing pages at least once every six months is one of the best things you can do for the SEO health of your website. This could be information about a new product or service you're selling, a customer story, new images or removing content that is no longer relevant.
Refreshing your content encourages search engines to visit your website more often. The more frequently they visit, the faster they're able to discover new content on your website. You may even see some rankings benefits!
Build links from other websites
When applying a ranking to your web page, search engines look at which other websites provide links to your page and your website as a whole. To search engines, links from external websites are considered a vote of confidence in the accuracy, relevance and usefulness of your content.
However, not all links are considered equal. Links from highly reputable websites have more 'weight' applied than less reputable sites. Typically, the more links you gain from reputable websites, the better your website will rank.
To learn more about building links to your website, take a look at our Best Strategies for Build Backlinks page.
Add the meta description tag on every page of your website
Although not always displayed in search engine results, the meta description tag tells a search engine what your page is about. It’s also a great opportunity to tell customers exactly what’s on your page.
The description, also known as the summary, will help search engines rate how relevant your page is and help them decide how they’ll rank your page. The more relevant your content is, the higher it will be ranked.
Remember, search engines can change how they use your content (including your descriptions) to generate search results. It’s best to regularly check on search engine websites for guidance to see if you need to update your content.
Next steps for best SEO results
As the internet evolves and websites change, so do the search engines. Everything outlined in this article will greatly improve the SEO rankings of your website on the search engines, but it's only the first part of the picture. There are many other "technical things" that also effect how your website pages are ranked, such as HTML structure, page load times, size of images and server configuration. To make sure your website's SEO is in good health, get a website check-up from an SEO expert.