by Andrew Strange – Apr 23, 2021
Google has become the make-or-break audience for most content programmes – if it likes your article, your video or your animation it will propel them to the top of its search rankings, where thousands of people are likely to see them. But if your content doesn’t excite Google, it will languish way down the list where it may never see the light of day.
So, what is search engine optimisation (SEO) and how can you get on Google’s good side? SEO is essentially a series of steps you can take to make your website more visible in Google searches. The key first step is to produce good, regular and relevant content – Google wants to serve up the best possible information to anyone using its search engine and is looking for well-written and up-to-date pieces. If you’ve done that then you are already on your way but you can give yourself a better chance of being found by using keywords wisely.
It’s tempting to use the most obvious keywords. If you are an insurance company, for example, the most obvious word is ‘insurance’. According to the market-leading SEO software we use here at Wardour there were, on average, 90,500 searches per month containing the word in the UK alone in the past year. The trouble is that lots of organisations use the term and the same software gives it a serious difficulty ranking of 87.61% – anything above 80% is considered to be among the most difficult keywords to rank against.
This is where a little research can make a big difference. Are there alternatives that you could use that are more specific to your business? Terms like ‘public liability insurance’ or ‘learner driver insurance’ fall below that 80% threshold, while ‘motor trade insurance’ would be much easier at 67.86%. It’s also a good idea to study which keywords are proving successful for your competitors. And before choosing any keywords type them into Google yourself – do you see yourself among the organisations it serves up? If not, try something else.
Keywords can be placed almost anywhere on your page, whether it’s the header, title, meta description or body copy. But keywords alone are sadly not enough to give you the top spot on Google, which rightly judges that just because your site mentions insurance, doesn’t mean you know what you are talking about. A key way that Google judges your pieces is by assessing your backlinks. It knows that if credible organisations such as the Government, the BBC or a well-known university are linking to you, your content is probably pretty good.
That brings us to the task of building backlinks. There are lots of ways to do this. Using influential guest bloggers is likely to see them and their organisations linking to your site. The same is true about case studies of clients, while using social media, and in particular LinkedIn can have a big impact. But it’s about quality rather than quantity. When you have high-quality backlinks their credibility rubs off on you. Again, it’s possible to check who is linking to your competitors’ content and so might be interested in linking to yours.
Another useful tip for boosting your SEO performance is to optimise your images for search. Google can’t see your images (yet) and has said that it relies on the Alt text on the page. So, if you have a picture of a dog, say so rather than calling something like ‘Image89.png’. A descriptive Alt tag is a sometimes-neglected ingredient of SEO.
It’s also important that your site is optimised for mobile devices and that your page loading times are fast. If your page is slow to load it will lead to a higher bounce rate and probably a lower ranking on Google, which is all about providing high-quality content to searchers as easily as possible.
Ultimately, the quality of your content is the starting point for effective SEO and once you have that there is a great deal you can do to promote it to Google.
Published Apr 23, 2021