By Blake Ng — 5 Sep 2019
Recently we hosted and recorded a webinar with General Assembly for a foundational education on SEO – it’s well worth it whether you’re new to the topic, want to expand on everything you’ve learned or you have a basic understanding but just need a refresh.
In 2017, The Shed took the UK by storm, becoming the #1 rated restaurant in the country. The owner was flooded with booking requests while the restaurant gained the attention of national media! The only problem was, the restaurant didn’t exist! By utilizing reviews, great photos and the right keywords, The Shed faked its way to the #1 position on the travel search engine giant, Tripadvisor!
If anything, this shows the power of correctly identifying the things people are searching for, then influencing the way your business ranks during those searches. Which is essentially SEO.
SEO has been the buzzword of the decade. It’s the most commonly used phrase digital marketers say to make you think you need them to implement digital marketing strategies for you.
In all honesty, it’s not that complex and you can do it yourself. SEO is simply practices used to help your business rank higher in Google search result pages.
SEO is great but if you want to rank higher on search results pages, you’ll first need to understand how search engines work.
The two steps you want to focus on for SEO purposes are where Search Engines Crawl your website and where Google ranks your pages. When Google crawls your website, it indexes your website information. The information is then used to rank your website on the search results page when a user makes a query. Your website rank is determined by two things.
You want your pages to be as relevant to the user’s search query as possible. To be relevant, you need to effectively answer the user’s question.
One of the biggest signals to Google that your website is relevant to a user’s query is keywords. For example, if a user searches for ‘best places to visit in New Zealand’, the keywords may include places to visit and New Zealand.
You’ll need to figure out what keywords your potential customers are using to search for services or services like yours. There are a couple of ways to identify your keywords:
Put yourself in their shoes and imagine what they would search for.
Search for competitors related to your company and put their URL into Semrush. You can then look at the keywords they’re using and pick some for yourself.
Once you’ve identified potential keywords, put those into tools like Google Keyword Planner where you can assess the search volumes and competition for those keywords.
Once you’ve got your keywords, use them in your paragraphs, headlines, and page titles.
Meta-descriptions are a brief summary of the webpage that Google displays in the search engine results page. It’s kind of like your Tinder profile.
While this doesn’t directly influence how Google ranks you, it is the biggest influencer to whether or not a user clicks through to your webpage and a higher click-through rate is a large signal to Google that your web-page is relevant.
You’ll want to fill your meta-description with the right keywords and signal to the user that your page will answer their question.
You should also regularly update your content. This is a signal to Google that your content is up to date and therefore, more relevant. People are also naturally attracted to newer things, which is why they always ask for a fresh batch of fries at McDonald’s or a ‘new’ item from the back of a retail store instead of the one on display(in its original packaging) because apparently sealed doesn’t mean new if it’s been on a shelf.
By regularly updating your content, you’ll also be able to better answer your potential customer questions. Many companies use blogs as a way to answer user search queries and therefore, bringing them to your website as potential customers.
For example, if you were providing food tours in Las Vegas, you could write blogs about the best things to do in Las Vegas or Foods you have to eat while in Las Vegas then including your tour as one of the recommendations. These are all things that users regularly search for. Blogs are a great way of answering the user’s question while exposing them to your brand. It’s a win-win situation for both parties.
We’ll go over this more thoroughly in the next chapter.
Your site authority is essentially how trustworthy your website is and why it has the ability to answer a search query. Domain authority and Alexa rank is a great measure of authority.
One of the quickest wins out there is to create a Google My Business Listing. In some cases, Google has already created the listing for you, in which case you can claim the listing and update it. Filling up your listing with accurate information representing your business makes your business appear more trustworthy to Google.
With these listings, it’s best to include:
Photos are probably one of the more important items on this list. Ensure that they’re high quality and accurately reflect your business.
Customer reviews are also a big signal to Google that your business is trustworthy. They signify people who will vouch for your business. You’ll want to gather as many reviews as possible, whether it’d be on your Google Listing, Facebook or even sites like Tripadvisor.
Here are some of the best ways to gather more customer reviews:
Ask.It’s honestly the most efficient way. The majority of the time, as long as the customer has had a good experience, they’ll be happy to oblige if asked.
However, if you’d like to learn more about setting up an efficient stream of customer reviews, check out this article.
Link building is quite possibly the most important element of building authority. Your website’s authority is largely based on the number and quality of incoming links to your website. Essentially, that is the number of people referring to your website. In simple terms, the more people there are talking about you, the more authority you have. Think of yourself as Kim Kardashian, do everything you can to get people to talk about you!
Here are some great ways to gather more links:
Of the four, business directory websites are probably the quickest wins. Most of these sites are free and easy to register with. In Australia, you could use sites like truelocal. In the US, you could use Yelp. Otherwise, check out this list of directory websites by Hubspot.
The thing I hate most in the world is ordering something and having the waiter come back to tell me they’re out of the dish. Deadlinks are links that lead to pages that are broken or do not exist. Your rank will be penalized because of these as they signal to Google that you’re out of date and don’t know what you’re talking about. It’s also a horrible experience for the user. Why?
Because a page that does not exist will not answer the user’s question. As Google aims to answer questions as quickly as possible, it’ll very likely bring down the score of your entire site.
To simplify things, just get rid of them. They’re like the weeds in your backyard.
Google Webmaster Tools is the best way to detect broken links. It’s also free.
I already know some of you are thinking of ‘creative’ ways to boost your rankings! I’ve done that too but please don’t! It’s called black hat SEO and it got BMW kicked off Google. Check out our Black Hat SEO article here.
We’re excited to see you as a top result on Google! Download the SEO Checklist below to ensure that happens!