Updated: Oct 8, 2020
Today's consumer has access to more knowledge and information than ever before at the click of a button or tap of a screen. In fact, 81% of consumers search for products, services and brands online before they make a purchase decision. Essentially, that means that your brand has to have some kind of online presence and be ranked favourably on the search engines that they use.
Do you remember the last time you searched for something online then clicked on a site that was not on the first page of the results that were returned?
Search Engine Optimisation, commonly referred to as SEO, os a process that helps you get more organic traffic to your pages online, or rank better on search engines such as Google, Yahoo, Bing, YouTube, Ask etc. The key takeaways here is that:
1) SEO is a continuous process, not a one-off activity. Ranking highly does not happen immediately. Even with a brilliant SEO strategy it takes time before you start seeing results.
2) SEO helps you gain more organic traffic to your site - this is unpaid traffic to your pages.
We've simplified the core steps involved in search engine optimisation (SEO) below:
1. Your site needs to be accessible for crawling
Search engines need to crawl, index and rank your published web pages. Putting it simply, this generally involves scouring the internet for similar content, going through and 'understanding' it then categorising it so that relevant results are returned to searchers. If your content cannot be found by search engines, it will never be returned in search results.
2. You need to create content that is captivating and relevant
Create content that your searchers are interested in. Answer the questions that they are asking with your content. Content that your audience doesn't need is really just more stuff on the internet. If people don't click on your content, it can be interpreted as not useful. The same applies if they click on it and quickly close the page. The effect of this is that your page will not be returned in the top ranked search results.
Your content should therefore also be worthy of sharing. You earn 'SEO points' when your content is linked by other sites and/or shared. This is referred to as link building. The more people click into your pages, the more relevant and compelling your content appears to be to search engines.
3. Optimise your content using keywords
Searchers look for online content by typing words and phrases into search engines. These are referred to as key-words. Content creators need to understand how searchers look for content online and optimise their content accordingly.
NOTE: Don't overdo it by stuffing your content with keywords. Your site will be flagged and can be penalised for this if it is found out that you are keyword-stuffing. Strive to make content that is invaluable to the searchers instead.
4. Deliver a great user experience
Just as you optimise your content, so must you optimise your site pages. The technical elements of your site such as website loading speed, responsiveness (ability for your site content to adapt to the devices it is viewed on) and other UX elements need to be considered and worked into your website construction. For example, if your website is viewed on mobile, chances are the content is being consumed on the go. Your site visitors should therefore be able to view your site in the orientation designed for mobile and get the content they need quickly enough.
5. Optimise your URLs, page titles and page descriptions
This is on-page SEO. Having optimal length URLs as well as titles and page content descriptions that are compelling will increase the likelihood of people clicking your site in search results.
To ensure that your content remains relevant and your page continues ranking well, you need to continually optimise your site and content for search. You will need to be constantly abreast with what your consumers are searching for so that you can leverage on this to drive organic traffic to your site.