The Importance of SEO
For a brand an online presence today is paramount, especially in today’s difficult trading environment. Just two days ago (9th May) the Guardian reported that UK retailers have suffered the sharpest sales drop for 22 years in April.
Consumers are however increasingly shopping online, and with events such as the Royal wedding and World Cup approaching there are opportunities for brands.
Your website has launched, but now what? This is your shop window to the world, but unless you are working with Google and you understand how to drive traffic to your site and keep users engaged all of your hard work will be wasted.
We recently attended a workshop with Verto on the importance of SEO and whilst it can seem a daunting topic to non techies, there are definitely some basic techniques to be implemented to ensure you stay visible.
This is what we learnt:
Good, relevant content is so important! Content really is king. Your aim is to not only entice a user but keep them engaged on your website for as long as possible. Know who your target market is and create content around this.
Key words – must be relevant to your location, service, sector and / or product. Put your key words in the title of a blog post of article and make sure you use a header incorporating your key words. Do not however over use and beware of ‘key word stuffing!’ This was once a common strategy where you repeat a key word or phrase over and over again. This becomes a very non-user-friendly experience. The paragraph does not flow and you will be bumped down by Google in the search rankings.
Images – make sure you give every image a description of what is going on in the 'image alt tag'.
Links – using relevant links both on your website and externally will improve your rankings, this strategy used to be much more prevalent than it is now. Companies would buy hundreds of links, but Google is much smarter now so it is not that simple. Whilst external links on high profile pages to your website will definitely help your ranking, it is not just about that anymore. Also ensure you include links on your website, both to internal pages or relevant external websites.
Google Ad Words – It is worth considering paying for an ad on google as it does help drive more traffic to your site. You carefully select your key words and then auction for them, then every time someone clicks on your ad you pay a fee.
Just-Eat used this very effectively for their business. They paid for a Google Ad and one of the key words they selected was ‘Hungry House’, one of their major competitors. So every time someone googled hungry house, the first page that comes up is ‘Just-Eat’
Meta description – Google has increased the number of characters to 300 so there is more room for your introductory text, however that does mean less space on page 1 for the top ranking websites. This description is very important as it is the first piece of information the user sees about you before they click onto your website. It must be enticing and include your key words. There is a website called Schema.org which allows you to add additional tags to your meta description such as your opening times, prices, reviews and more.
Make sure your claim ‘My Google Business’. This will help your listing appear when users are searching for a business like yours. You can update your location, hours, contact information and make sure you are eligible on ‘maps’
Google analytics and Google search console – both are free services offered by Google that track your websites traffic. This is very helpful as it enables you to understand who your visitors are, where they are coming from and the pages they are visiting. This data used in conjunction with Google Ad Words is very powerful.
Google search console helps you to monitor and maintain your sites presence in Google Search results. Anyone with a website should be using this!
Sign up to Google alerts – this will alert you to trending news and you can jump on the bandwagon and create content around an already popular topic. You can also go back to old articles if relevant and re publish if that topic is trending. That will get your content ranking again.
Google is constantly changing and updating so it is important your SEO is an ongoing process. Google’s mission statement is – ‘To organise the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful.’ Their primary concern is for the user. User first – search engine second. If you can think like this when organising your website and constantly thinking about the user’s journey this is an excellent starting point to help your google rankings. Good luck!