Posted: Thu 25th Nov 2021
Business.connected in partnership with Vodafone is an extensive online training programme that will help 150,000 small businesses boost their digital skills. The free 12-month initiative – delivered exclusively online and consisting of workshops, webinars and e-learning modules – will empower businesses to kickstart digital change, adopt new technology, and stay safe online.
24 fingers founder and business.connected adviser Emma Goode provides an overview of SEO (or search engine optimisation, to give it its full name) and shares practical tips you can implement in your business straight away.
If terms like ‘domain authority’, ‘backlinks’ and ‘SERP’ have got you all fingers and thumbs, I’m here to demystify things, and help you get your SEO strategy off to a flying start.
SEO stands for search engine optimisation. Whether you’re a product-based or service-based business, it helps people find you online.
When people are searching for things you can offer, SEO gives you a presence on search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing, and helps drive traffic to your website.
There are a few different ways you can do this. Some SEO is direct – for example, when people know your company name and your URL (web address), they’ll type it in and get straight to your website.
If you post on social media, you can get traffic to your website that way. Paying for advertising on things like Facebook or Google also sends traffic to you, albeit at a cost.
What’s so brilliant about SEO is that anyone can write a piece of content that the likes of Google will file in its massive library. The next time someone searches for content that features the words you’ve included, you’ll potentially show up on that search engine result. People will click that link and come to your website.
This is fantastic because it’s really cost-effective and it’s under your control. It means you don’t have to pay any of the big platforms for advertising space, and you can do this as many times as you want.
Google uses an algorithm (basically a complex set of instructions) to understand where in its library it should place your content.
The algorithm is looking at two different things.
How relevant your content is compared to the search
How popular and authoritative your website is
These two things are really, really important.
So if I’m searching for mint-green stilettos (and I did buy some of these recently), I want to be served results that talk specifically about mint-green stilettos. I don’t want brown stilettos – I want that specific phrase.
At this point, Google needs to go away and look through its library to find not just stilettos but also mint-green ones.
It must then see how robust and popular my website is. It’s going to show the best websites in terms of ones that:
other people have linked to
offer a good user experience
are quick to load
It’s going to look at all those factors out of its whole library, and then decide who best matches those criteria and who it needs to show on page one.
Now, on page one, you probably have 10 results you can show up for. And that’s where you’re aiming to be – on page one. Because once customers have to scroll on to pages two and three, they might give up searching.
For any piece of content you create on your website, whether it’s a page or a blog, you need to show Google where you want it to appear and under what library shelf.
If you’re writing a piece about where to get the best cappuccino in Essex, for example, you’re going to be including phrases like ‘best cappuccino in Essex’ within the text. This makes sure that Google knows exactly what shelf to file that piece of content under.
You also need to make the content accessible. Something that’s really important nowadays is to include alt text for images.
Google can’t understand images without text behind them. If you’re including any images on your website, make sure you give Google a written text description for those images so, again, they go under the right shelf.
It’s not going to cost you anything to do this, but it’s a signalling factor to Google that you know what you’re doing, you know your subject, and you understand how its algorithm works.
SEO is a medium-term to long-term strategy, but when done correctly and consistently, it can be a highly-effective way of getting new eyeballs on your content, and prospective customers to your (online) door.
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Watch Emma Goode’s 45-minute workshop on 5 things to include in your SEO toolkit.