Search Engine Optimization is a popular buzzword nowadays, everyone is talking about it, everyone wants it. But how do you know if you really have it? And how do you know when it’s working? Our simple guide will help walk you through the key steps you need to consider while setting up SEO for your brand, product or website.
What should I know about SEO as a business founder?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is essentially, optimizing the wording in all areas of your website for search engines. The better your SEO, the higher you will rank on search engines like Google. The higher your ranking, the more potential customers can find you.
In the early days, most SEO practices focused around the use of keywords, and optimizing content and links around those. Today, Google continuously tries to improve the search process for human language and its semantics; this is why having relevant, high-quality and engaging content is so important. As such, SEO has grown into a tree with many branches, including technical SEO, content marketing, link-building, and social media.
When is the right time to start thinking about SEO?
When launching a new business, or rethinking the business you’ve had for years, it's important to incorporate SEO into your website or mobile app early on. Most startups and tech companies tend to think of their need to optimize landing pages and content a bit too late in the game, or often realize they have to redo a lot of content in order to get back on track.
So when is a good time to think about SEO? The real optimization starts way before your website goes live, even before it’s designed. While working on the drafts of your website text, you need to start researching your client demographics, try to find the questions your users are asking, and determine the specific language they use, then answer those questions.
If you already have users, the first step is getting to know them thoroughly. It may be valuable to look at the questions your business is frequently asked, do a Facebook poll, or have a closer look at the comments on your social media. You can also interview your clients, document your insights and findings, and then introduce these keywords and questions into your website coding, meta-info and written content. Continue to beta-test, keeping track of your analytics to see which keywords perform best.
With all your research in place, you will be able to create website pages in a language which your customers will relate to. Moreover, the keywords and phrases you’ve identified will be relevant and embedded throughout your content in a way that feels natural to read.
Who am I optimizing my search for?
Say, for example, you’ve just opened a new coffee shop, and you’re trying to get the word out. You’ve got detailed website descriptions of your drinks and beans, with stories about the farmers who grow them and where they are located. Score! You get tons of hits! Two days later your website is still pinging but no one is actually showing up to buy a drink - what’s going on?
You’ve optimized your search for the wrong audience. Maybe you’re attracting wholesale retailers, with a special interest in fair-trade beans from Brazil. Or seasonal labourers are seeking you out for the best paying coffee farming gig in Costa Rica. You’ve optimized your website for the search engines but for the wrong customers.
In the case of software companies, hits tend to come more often from other software companies, rather than potential customers, when the lingo gets too tech-y for a general audience.
Ultimately you should speak in the same language as your potential clients, and provide content relevant for them. Going back to the coffee shop example, you could include phrases like “served hot,” “friendly customer service” or “welcoming atmosphere.” These phrases make it clear to search engines that your business is about serving high quality, fair-trade, organic coffee beans imported from Brazil, rather than growing those same beans for export.
Where is my SEO?
It’s totally okay to ask this question. Most people don’t even know they need to. The answer is: it’s in many places.
Embedding keywords into the coding of your website is a great start. As a tech company, on-site (or in-code) SEO is our primary focus, along with research and understanding your key demographics. Going through the first steps is crucial in choosing the right keywords to attract your audience. Working with an expert programmer, who can help you make the most of this behind the scenes tool, will have you off to the races in no time!
Ever heard of meta-info? It’s that two line blurb which shows up under your name and website in search engines describing your business. This is more than a chance to introduce your brand or product, it’s a speed dial for search engines to locate your keywords - so optimize it!
You’ve posted beautiful photographs which hook users attention and provide a visceral feel to your brand. Do these images have descriptions? Make them as detailed as possible, we’re talking full sentences or comprehensive phrases, not just titles. A detailed description of the photograph, which illustrates the scene verbally to the visually impaired, makes your brand more accessible and easier to find.
E.g. “A woman sits alone at wooden coffee table facing the window, slowly sipping a hot mocha-latte”
By adding additional tags to the code of your web pages, you can help search engines to better understand your content and display it in a useful way. That’s what structured data is all about. It’s a standardized format for providing information about a page, and classifying that page's content. For example, on a recipe page, include the ingredients, cooking time, temperature, calories, and so on.
By adding structured data to your site, you can enable more of your site’s functional and visual elements to appear directly in search results.
Speed and Performance
Since most Internet traffic is now searched via mobile phones, Google ranks fast websites and pages higher than slower, heavy ones. Optimizing your website performance is crucial to ensure fast loading times, while maintaining your amazing branding and images so that they come through nice and crisp.
In summary, navigating SEO isn’t all that scary. You just need to think like a human, and help the search engines to do the same. Follow these helpful hints and you’ll be attracting target users to your website in no time.