So what even is SEO?
Creating an online presence for your brand may seem simple at first. As long as you put your name out there, people will see you, right? Sounds pretty straightforward, but in reality, a lot more goes into it than simply having a website and social media presence. There are many different ways that internet users can come across products and services, not to mention the thousands of results that turn up during their searches. When you’re just starting out with the world of digital marketing, it can be difficult to know where to start to make sure your customers can find you. This is where a basic understanding of SEO is necessary.
SEO stands for ‘search engine optimisation’. What this means is that when people – specifically, people who may be interested in your product or service – are exploring the internet, your brand should be appearing as a search result. You want to ‘optimise’ your position in the list of results that appear – this means you want your name to be appearing before your competitors’ names. After all, the majority of people searching online want fast answers, and they trust popular search engines like Google to provide them with the most relevant results. So, how does one go about making their brand’s name appear at the top of Google’s results? The answer may be more complex than you think. Unlike some facets of business, it’s not all about throwing money at the issue and hoping for the best. In this blog post, we’ll explore two of the most important steps involved in good SEO management: webpage optimisation and playing the Google Ads game – which are essentially two sides of the same coin.
SEO within your website’s text
For starters, optimising your own website is a relatively easy concept to understand. It makes sense that your website should contain keywords and phrases that are relevant to your brand, and that people would be likely to search when they’re looking for products or services that you offer. For example, if you’re a café in Auckland that specialises in gourmet bagels, the word ‘bagels’ should probably be incorporated into your website’s domain name AND the extension of any pages you want visitors to be led to. For example, if your main goal is to showcase all the different bagel flavours you offer and be known for your variety, a good domain to link from Google would be “aucklandbagels.co.nz/our-best-bagel-flavours”. That way, people who search for keywords like “best”, “bagels”, and “Auckland”, will be more likely to be shown your website as a search result. The same principle goes for your website’s title and the actual content of its pages. If you make sure the main keywords you want to be associated with your brand are included in all these different elements of your website, you’ll give yourself the best chance of being seen by potential customers. This is pretty logical: user searches “what are the best bagel flavours in Auckland”, and a webpage titled “Best Bagel Flavours in Auckland” appears. Customers get what they want, and businesses get relevant traffic.
Getting Google to work for you
The next step is to go through Google itself to ensure that your brand is being associated with these keywords directly from their end, too. This part is a bit more complicated because Google’s algorithm for choosing which results are displayed for which keywords is rather complex and multifaceted. It isn’t a matter of just buying a certain keyword and having your brand appear first whenever someone searches it. If we return to the bagel café example, it makes sense that a local Auckland café will want to be more visible to local people who are actually able to come in and buy something. There wouldn’t be much point in showing a result for an Auckland café to someone who’s searching for bagels in Tennessee. You’d want to spend part of your budget making sure your business is mainly visible to people in Auckland, so therefore you might want to add “Auckland” as a priority keyword. Okay, that makes sense – but what if you realise people who are searching for “gluten-free bagels Auckland” are clicking on your website, even though you don’t offer gluten free bagels? You can also add negative keywords to try and minimise this, since this isn’t valuable traffic and you don’t want to be paying for these people to click on your website. So, in this case, you might add “gluten” as a negative keyword so that you aren’t paying for your brand to show up when people search that.
But how do you go about instructing Google’s algorithm to do all this? The most effective way is to purchase an advertisement space that appears at the very top of the Google results, with a little green ‘Ad’ stamp right next to your domain name. When you purchase this ad space, Google lets you choose exactly what you want shown, including which of your webpages you want to link, the title of your ad, the different ‘extensions’ (other relevant pages on your website) you want to display, your brand’s details such as an address or phone number, and of course what keywords you want your ad to show up for. A big part of the method Google uses to pick which ads to show is based on a bidding system. You need to decide exactly how much you’re willing to pay for each search result, each click, or each sale you make, and Google will compare this against how much your competitors are willing to pay. The price of your bid, combined with how relevant your website is to a particular search, will determine when your ad is being shown. There are also some rules that Google has in place against ads that sound like spam, for example, minimising symbols like exclamation marks and dollar signs.
So what now?
We know this might seem like a lot of information to throw at you all at once, but it’s important to understand the basic logic behind SEO because it’s a critical element in digital marketing. How easy it is for your customers to find you online can very easily make or break your brand. What we’ve explained here is only a very, very small part of everything there is to know about SEO – and we’ve only really scratched the surface of the topics we did touch on! If you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t fret. SEO is a complicated subject, and there are tons of tools out there for that exact reason! Here at DIY we strongly recommend getting help with your SEO if you want to see a real boost in traffic, but you aren’t sure where to start. We recommend Udemy for their fantastic training courses on SEO, which go much more in-depth than any written article ever could! Click here to check them out.