Whenever you read or talk about SEO (search engine optimisation), it’s almost always focused on...
Before we answer the question of how you can stand out among the many search results in Google and get your content to the first page, we need to take a step back and answer the big question; What is SEO? Here’s what you need to know about SEO in 2018.
SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is all about optimising your content for search engines by making it visible, user-friendly and engaging. Therefore, the goal of SEO is to increase traffic to your website, and make sure that the traffic you get is relevant by customising the content on your website and for your personas:
Read more: What are personas?
How do I optimise my website in 2018?
Like most things in this digital age, SEO is constantly developing. Google and other search engines continue to alter their algorithms, the competition grows stronger and more content is available online every day. So how can you separate yourself from the crowd and get to the top of the search results?
1. Choose who you want to optimise the website for
Who are your personas? What are their characteristics? Which questions do they ask? When your salespeople contact a potential client, they probably get asked a lot of questions from the prospects.
If three people have asked these questions in a sales process, chances are that many other people are asking themselves the same questions. And where do they look for answers? Google. In fact, 94 % of B2B buyers do online research before they buy.
You need to make a choice: consider which personas you need to prioritise and ask the sellers to write down the questions these personas ask. You can answer every single question they come up with using content, like producing articles in a company blog.
2. Consider the way you express yourself on the website
Do you use the same words as your potential customers? As part of the work of defining your personas, you should ask the salespeople, customer service and other people who are often in contact with your target group, in order to get input on the words and expressions they know and use themselves.
If your findings show that you are describing your industry and services with completely different words than your potential customers, it’s likely that they won’t find you in a Google search.
You can also use tools like the Google Keyword Planner (free), to compare search volumes on different variations of an expression.
3. Shift your focus from keywords to key topics
Like we mentioned in the beginning, Google constantly changes their algorithm. The changes affect how Google ranks your content. For instance, a few of the changes that have been implemented the last couple of years is “punishment” in form of lower ranking for unsecured websites and sites that aren’t optimised for mobile.
Google is currently shifting their focus from keywords to “key topics”. In order to rank higher, you need to show Google that your website has a lot of content about a topic and structure your content based on topics on your website. You can do this by creating “Content Clusters”.
A Content Cluster consists of a main web page about the main topic – for instance, inbound marketing. This web page gives you a simple overview of everything that touches upon the topic of inbound marketing, like personas, content, SEO, measuring ROI and HubSpot. For each subtopic, the reader can click on a link and read an article that goes into the depth of the subtopic.
The main web page links to these articles, and the articles link back to the main topic web page. This way, both search engines and users can get an overview of the content you have on a specific subtopic. In addition, you can rank higher in search results even faster due to the comprehensive main topic web page.
4. On-page SEO
After finding out who you want to optimise your content for and what type of content you need, it’s time to optimise the elements on your website. This is called “on-page SEO”, and includes:
- Length: Content with over 500 words performs better than content with less than 500 words.
- Security: Websites with an SSL certificate is higher rated than unsecure websites
- Relevance: Even though you need to focus on key topics, keywords still brings value. Make sure you include the keywords in the title, URL and meta description.
- Add a video: By adding a video to your website, you are showing Google that you have a variety of content with high quality.
What tools do I need?
When you start doing search engine optimisation, it can be both confusing and overwhelming. How do I do a keyword analysis? How do I find the data to support my assumptions? And who can tell me if my website is good enough without breaking the piggy bank?
Luckily, for us working with marketing, there’s plenty of great, and free, tools that help us get the data we need. Here are a few of our favourites:
- Website Grader: Check how well your website is doing when it comes to security, SEO, mobile and performance. It also gives you answers to how you can improve it all!
- Google Keyword Planner: Get search volumes and trends to find the best keywords, expressions and topics you should be optimising for.
- Google Search Console: Monitor how your website is ranking, the search topics that provide you with traffic and get suggestions for improvements.
- Screaming Frog: Get a full on-page SEO analysis for up to 500 URLs for free – or buy a licence to analyse even more URLs.
- HubSpot: A marketing automation tool with its own tools for content strategy, allowing you to work strategically with content clusters.
HubSpot has listed their top 13 favourite SEO tools in this great article.
Read more: 7 free tools for SEO
How do I create an SEO strategy?
Now that you know which of the elements to consider, it’s time to take action. But first, let’s start with the most important question: what is your goal with SEO?
Most people will answer that the goal is to rank as number one in the search result pages. We disagree. In fact, it’s not even interesting to rank as number one if you can’t get results from the traffic it generates. That’s why the real goal is to generate more leads and customers, as in making people visiting your website convert to leads.
That’s why you need to think of what you can offer people who visit the website. Do you have a relevant way to convert the visitors? If not, start by making one. You can offer downloadable content, like a checklist or a guide. Maybe it’s even relevant to offer a demo or a free consultation?
When you have decided upon a goal, the next step is to set up a strategy. If your goal is to get more people to convert on your demo offer, you should add a Calls-to-action (CTA) or a form on the website you want to rank high. From there, you work your way from the bottom of this document and upwards.
How well is this web page performing today? Which words and expressions are being used on that web page? Is this page a main page or a subpage? Does it contain links to relevant information? Is the web page of value to our personas?
When you are done with the assessment of your website, it’s time to implement the initiatives to improve your SEO. That includes producing new content, linking different web pages together, changing titles and URLs to have the correct expressions, creating pillar content and a lot more.
Decide on deadlines, delegate responsibility and get started now. Good luck with your optimisation!