SEO - Who Really Cares?!
(Me! ME! I do!!)
Is SEO over-rated? Will it really help a site’s performance, or is it just a money-spinning ploy from those pesky digital musketeers (marketers, I mean marketers!)
It’s an ongoing debate.
Why bother with SEO? Is it really worth all the hard work and effort?
In all honesty, it probably depends who you ask. Some experts say that SEO is dead and buried; that it’s a useless, thankless task that doesn’t deliver measurable results anyway.
I have to disagree… (I’m sure that doesn’t come as a massive surprise to you…)
There are so many blogs and reports out there already, focusing on how best to approach SEO; The complete list of Google’s ranking factors from backlinko.com to all of moz.com's excellent blogs on the perceived best SEO practices. My aim is not to inform on the ever-changing list of these. My aim is to advise on the importance of implementing at least some of them.
I have encountered countless organisations, where the sole focus when building or migrating to their beautiful new site, has been on just that; creating an attractive, user-friendly site, that appeals to their audience and shows off their brand. But is that really enough? An organisation can have the most expensive, most dazzling site imaginable, but what use it that if it’s not visible to the target audience.
Without visitors to your site, you will not achieve greatness; that is the long and short of it.
So, how do you get to the top of the mountain?
And by this, I obviously mean the SERPs page, and not the awe-inspiring peaks of Mt. Kilimanjaro. But, oh, if only it were that simple!
There are so many ways and so many methods possible to you that it does become a considerable minefield of mayhem! What’s crucial is that you don’t attempt the sordid black-hat techniques of the “bad” SEO-ers; manipulating how search engines perceive the relevance of a web page - a disapproved practice that nevertheless could increase a page's ranking in a search engine result page, eg. keyword stuffing, content automation, link manipulation etc.
To remain white-hat, remember who your audience are and focus on that. Google want to provide the best possible experience for their users. Their aim is to present relevant sites with strong presences to their visitors; to ensure they are served with only content that is specific to their search query.
It’s not easy.
In my time as an SEO Consultant, I’ve come across organisations who literally have no idea on the importance of getting their site ranking well.
To me, it’s a no-brainer!
Why would you not want your site appearing on page 1 of the SERPs, presenting itself not just to your known high-quality, high-converting users, but also to those that have never even heard of you, but who are potentially...perfect!? Scary as it seems, digital still plays second fiddle in a lot of businesses, where the priority is given to off-line sales; via word-of-mouth, recommendations, cold-calling and so on and so forth. These methods may suffice for a little while, but if the long-term aim is to expand, then you have to reach out to an audience that is vast in its numbers, and limitless in its possibilities.
To give you some idea of where to start (but keeping it short and sweet so as not to scare you off straight away!), here are a few little pointers just to consider… To peruse at your leisure...;
When designing your site, think of the structure and the layout of your pages, in a way that is both user-friendly and also in a way that allows for your most powerful, traffic-driving keywords to rank fabulously! Your page headings, your title tags and your meta descriptions should all be targeted to these keywords and your content should be thorough, informative and highly relevant. Perform keyword research. Understand your users!
Understand what your key traffic driving keywords are and what topics present real opportunity, ie. past high volume keywords that have had high bounce rates (because pages are not relevant enough!)
Consider the technical aspects of your pages. Ensure you have XML Sitemaps and Robots.txt files in place. Is your site mobile-friendly? After Google’s algorithm update on April 21st 2015, Google started giving priority to websites that display well on smartphones and other mobile devices. The update meant that mobile-friendly pages were given a ranking boost on mobile search results.
Provide links. Please, please provide links! Link out to other organisations, link internally to your own pages, and most importantly of all, track the links and mentions of your site from external sites. If someone is talking about you, get them to link to you! I like to use an online tool called Ahrefs, which provides you with a list of all of the sites that mention you, but don’t link to you. The potential of those links could be considerable - don’t underestimate them!
If, from this blog, you take nothing else away, just begin to consider the importance of a well-ranked site. A site that sits proudly at the top of Google’s results page. That highly coveted position.
There is no reason that you cannot get to the top of that mountain. If you’re happy just looking up to the achievers who’ve made it up there, so be it, but don’t give up without even trying. Where’s the fun in that?!