Before launching your website, you must ensure that ‘SEO’ is included in your strategy, which means optimising the content so that it is search engine-friendly. If you have time to dedicate to your digital marketing, an SEO plan is an essential factor as it will ultimately increase the amount of people that click on to your website, whether it includes organic SEO, paid traffic, or a combination of both. If you’re just starting to learn about SEO, we’ve broken it down into a few easy steps:

1. Be visible to your target audience

We all know your website needs traffic, but it’s the quality of the traffic that is important for your SEO. A well-optimised website will appear in the organic search rankings of your target audience’s search terms, which will lead to people clicking through to your website – this is what we mean by ‘quality traffic’. Done incorrectly, it will encourage clicks from people that aren’t interested in your product or service, which will result in people immediately clicking off your website – this is called a ‘high bounce rate’.

2. Do your keyword research

In order to appear in the search rankings of your ideal customer, you need to use the right words on your website.

A ‘keyword’ is the word or phrase your target audience is typing into a search engine to find a similar product to yours. It’s important to do as much research into these search terms as you can and then use them to optimise your website copy so that the search engines know you legitimately have relevant content that is going to appeal to your target audience.

So if your website sells cakes for celebrations, you need to make sure you’re ranking in the search results of people who are typing in ‘celebration cakes’ – this is called an SEO keyword match.

As soon as your website has the right keywords included in its content, search engines will rank your website (or one particular page) and you’ll be included into the SEO competition.

2. Improve your click-through rate

With the right keywords on your site, you should be attracting your target audience to your website via search engine results pages. Now you can focus on increasing the amount of clicks that come through from these pages (otherwise known as the ‘click-through rate’). To do this, you need to consider ‘on-page SEO’, which means optimising the content of a web page and doing everything you can to make it more easy to find.

On-page SEO tips:

  • Choose a keyword for every web page – this should be a phrase that you want the page to rank for.
  • Include your keyword in the header of the web page.
  • Make sure the content of the page answers the user’s search query.
  • Include internal links (links to other pages on your website) that will keep people on your site and help them learn more about you.
  • Remember to add external links to other websites that will be useful and valuable to the user.
  • Check how your website looks on mobile phones and tablets. If it doesn’t adapt well to smaller screens, you need to optimise it.
  • Include relevant images that illustrate and add value to your content.
  • Work on the page’s title tags and meta descriptions and make sure your keyword is included in them. These are the pieces of text that will show up on the SERP.

Off-page SEO tips:

It’s also helpful to do everything you can outside of your website – ‘off-page SEO’ can affect your search engine rankings too. A good content marketing strategy will really help you with this, which should include the creation of ‘backlinks’, or ‘inbound links’. These are links to your website from someone else’s and they effectively tell search engines to trust your site.

You should look for natural links between you and another brand or website, which will add value to the user. These can be gained through guest blog posts or news articles about your brand. Avoid paid backlinks because search engines can easily identify them and it will have the opposite effect on your rankings.

Other content marketing strategies for off-page SEO can include:

  • Turn unlinked brand mentions into backlinks – if you know any websites that mention your brand, ask them to include a link to your website, creating a credible, trustworthy backlink.
  • Use your social media platforms to encourage people to click on to your website.
  • Consider an influencer marketing strategy to gain product placement or endorsement on the websites or profiles of your industry’s most popular and relevant influencers.

3. Paid traffic

If you have a budget to dedicate to your SEO, it’s worth considering ‘paid traffic’. These are ‘pay-per-click ads’ that will ensure your website ranks within the most relevant SERPs. These guarantee your website will be included in Google’s search results when your target audience searches for your keyword, putting you above your competition’s website.

Although paid traffic is a quick way to increase your website traffic, it can be costly if you don’t continually monitor its performance as the spend can go up considerably if you accidentally leave it running. Always make sure you’re getting a return on investment and check whether it’s having an impact on your sales.

‘Organic traffic’, which is the result of your unpaid on-page and off-page SEO work, is a more evergreen strategy as it will continue working after the initial output of work. Paid traffic will stop as soon as you take down the ads.

A combination of organic SEO and paid traffic can often be the most effective. Website users can vary in their preferences, with some preferring to click on paid adverts and others only ever choosing to look at the organic search results.

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