Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is all about building a sustainable pipeline of qualified, inbound leads. If executed well, an SEO strategy could become a crucial element of your business’ growth strategy.
As a digital marketing agency and video production agency, we spend a lot of time on SEO for clients and for our own business too. SEO is definitely not only for the big boys – with a bit of effort and initial learning, small businesses too can benefit from a search strategy.
Here’s how to get to grips with the basics and follow best practices.
Get an understanding of SEO
To make a success of any SEO strategy you want to implement, be it yourself or with an agency, you’ll need a basic understanding of what SEO is and how it works. First, read Google’s helpful guides on how search works and their SEO starter guide.
Use Search Console
Finding out what your website visitors searched for to find you is incredibly useful when it comes to building out your keyword targets and content strategy. Search Console is a free tool – from Google – that shows you 16 months’ worth of user search queries. It’s really handy data to have no matter how far down the line your SEO strategy is.
It also features an array of tools to help you analyse your website’s traffic and pick-up on any issues affecting performance on an ongoing basis.
Create content with the right keywords
Your audience will be searching for certain key terms, and the aim is to rank as highly as possible for them. You’ll need to choose the right keywords to use in your copy. This will require some research – this guide from Moz is helpful, as is and Google’s Keyword Planner (however it only gives us rough search volumes).
Obvious keywords are often too competitive for smaller businesses. For example, if you’re creating a new page on TVs and trying to rank for “HD TV”, you’ll have your work cut out trying to beat a retail giant like Takealot. By comparison, a long tail keyword like “what is the best TV for watching nature documentaries?” is almost certainly easier to rank for. Finding the right balance between decent search volume and realistic difficulty is key.
Once you have chosen your keywords, include them in all the right places: the title tag, meta description, URL, and header tags and within the main text. Search engines will make you regret spamming keywords so it’s a practice best avoided – it’s much more important to think about the quality of the content you’re creating and the experience it’s giving the user.
Grow your voice
To Google, links and brand mentions act as trust signals, so having your business cited on authoritative websites will help build up the authority of your own domain thus improving your chances of outranking the competition.
Regularly invest some time in securing some links and brand mentions from high authority and industry relevant outlets. The best way to do this is via good PR.
The link building rabbit hole goes fairly deep, but this beginners guide from Moz is an excellent resource to help you get started.
Follow SEO best-practice
‘Black-hat’ SEO agencies will prioritise short-term gains and use various shifty techniques (like paying for links) to make their client sites appear better than they are. But Google will catch-on before too long, sometimes by removing sites from search results entirely.
If in doubt, research best practice from an authoritative source and stick to it. It’s not worth loosing 100% of your organic leads over a few days on page one.
Another free tool worth using is Lighthouse. It’s a free Chrome extension that analyses pages and tells you how to make them more search engine friendly.
Follow Danny Sullivan, Google Public Search Liaison
Remember, Google wants users get higher quality results every time they search for something – so it wants us to succeed in making our sites better. That’s why it recently hired former analyst and SEO journalist Danny Sullivan as public liaison for search. Follow Danny on Twitter and listen to what he has to say.
SEO is a long-term game – if you’re going to give up in six months’ time, there’s no point. But if you’re dedicated to it, you can get some great results for your business. Get to grips with the basics, follow best practice, create quality content, build some links in relevant places and you’ll be on the road to success.
Tom Pallot is a strategist at digital PR agency TopLine Comms. He crafts client strategies and is a big believer in PR-led SEO.