So, you’re a digital marketing rookie. You’ve got as far as deciding to implement search engine marketing (SEM) but you don’t really know what that means. As for SEO, you can just about remember which order to say the letters in, but you don’t know what they stand for. You certainly don’t know what to optimise or how. So, what do you do?
You try to educate yourself. Off you trot to Google, because it knows everything, right? Perhaps it does, but SEO still confuses the hell out of you. Every online guide, forum and blog post has something different to say. How do you decide what advice to take and what to ditch? Is it even worth the effort?
Aaaaaand breathe. Grab yourself a coffee and get ready to understand the essentials of SEO. We hear new clients battling with the concept every day, so here at 2C Digital we have written this simple article to introduce you to SEO and help you to become friends.
So, what do those three letters stand for?
OK, grasshopper. Search engine optimisation (SEO) is the process of improving the position that your website appears at in the “organic” (free) search results returned by search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo! and AOL. Organic search results are the results that appear below pay-per-click (PPC) ads, as shown in the image below:
That’s the definition nailed. Now how do you go about SEO?
Types of SEO
There are three ways to go about optimising your search engine position.
1. Technical optimisation
This is for the HTML geeks and involves keeping your website running smoothly from the back-end. Your website will climb up the SERPs if it is easy for users to navigate, well coded and free of errors.
2. On-page optimisation
You can build the following things into each web page to improve search engine optimisation:
- Relevant keywords and key phrases — words and phrases that people use to search for services relating to that web page.
- Building keywords into:
- Meta descriptions — the short description of your page in your search listing.
- Alt tags — the name labels that you give to images on your website.
- Title & header tags — the coded tiles and subheadings on a web page.
- Content — High quality blog articles that includes keywords, videos and images.
- Internal links — linking to other pages within your website.
3. Off-page optimisation
- Inbound links/ backlinks — featuring your website and specific web page links on other relevant and reputable websites via blog articles, social media posts, directory listings etc.
- Map listings — listing your business location and website on Google Maps etc.
- Google Plus — having and actively using a Google Plus page that links to your website.
What’s good about SEO?
Well, first up — it’s free. You don’t get charged for clicks on your organic search, whereas you do for a pay-per-click (PPC) listing that appears above organic search results. Some people also prefer the look of an organic listing over a paid ad.
It can form part of a blended approach to increasing conversions. SEO can be used in unison with PPC to help secure a dominant position in search engine results pages (SERPs).
It can help increase brand awareness and reputation. Building quality links is a form of SEO that gives you positive exposure.
It gives your website visitors a better user experience. Technical and on-page SEO ensures that you have a well-functioning and easy to navigate website that contains high quality content. Your website visitors will thank you for this.
What’s not so good about SEO?
It’s not a quick fix. It can take a long time before you see the impact of your SEO efforts and once you start, you can’t stop. SEO is a long-term strategy that ceases to work when you cease to feed it.
Which brings us on to…
It’s time consuming. SEO requires careful analysis and a clear, dynamic strategy. Implementing this takes time, week after week.
It’s difficult to measure. Unlike PPC, the results aren’t tangible because search engines don’t collect specific results about the SEO techniques that you implement. Instead, marketers tend to use multiple third-party platforms in an effort to collate results.
How to monitor SEO
Two aspects of SEO that you can monitor are link-building and the back-end operations of your website. The tools described below are some of the market leaders. They tend to come with a price tag, but without them it’s almost impossible to measure the success of your SEO.
These tools provide insights such as traffic channels, referrals and keyword statistics for both your website and your competitors’ websites.
These provide insights into your social media strategy, such as the % change in likes, followers, shares and mentions etc.
Buzzsumo provides insights such as social media shares, engagement metrics and backlinks for your competitiors’ websites as well as your own.
These tools provide insights into the back-end of your website, such as duplicate content, meta descriptions, title tags, image alt text and pages indexed etc.
SEO v PPC – which one should I choose?
In a world of perfection and fairies, you’d use both SEO and PPC to bag a dominant share of the search engine results pages (SERP). Perfection comes with a sizeable price tag however. If your budget is tight, we’d recommend starting with PPC as it yields quick results. You can then determine whether search engine marketing is right for you and accumulate a budget to spend on SEO.
If SEO is now starting to make sense for your business, we’d love to help you get your show on the road. Contact us to discuss your SEO needs.