SEO – search engine optimisation – helps your website get found on Google. A simple statement and the ‘brief’ for every business we’ve helped with their SEO since we’ve been doing it. How this happens is slightly more complex than this simple statement though, and it’s important to note that it’s a healthy mix of several things that will see you succeed.
It’s no use doing one or two of these things and ignoring the rest, expecting everything to fall into place. A good programme of SEO involves a number of changes over an extended period of time, where each of the techniques should work in concert with each other to get the best effect.
Underpinning all this SEO activity is the need to fully understand what you are optimising your website for. In this previous article we discussed how SEO helps your website make a good first impression before the potential customer has ever even clicked through and visited your website. What you also need to do is align your website’s content with search intent.
Sentinel questions to ask yourself when approaching the editing of each page for SEO on your website can be outlined as:
With steps one and two, we often coach people in critically thinking about their keywords lists by using a business in ‘ceramics’ as an example. So for example, you might be a ceramicist that produces high-end tableware. Your ‘it’ in this example might be that you are a ‘ceramicist’ and that you produce ‘highly decorative tableware’ and you are a ‘ceramic artist of acclaim’.
At this point in answer to question 1, you might then think that your keyword phrases should be ‘ceramics’, ‘ceramic artist’ and ‘decorative tableware’. This isn’t wrong, but it’s also not the whole answer.
Having determined that this is what you have identified your products as, you need to then switch things around to examining your answer to question one, in context of question number two. What do they (your customers) call it?
If you have a physical store, you might overhear visiting customers talking about ‘these beautiful mugs’, or those ‘patterned plates’ with their companions – keep a good listening ear out to learn from your customers because this is how they will pass around information by word of mouth. Similarly when people email and phone you, think about the language they use when asking you about the things you make. If they call your tableware by the names they function by, eg ‘mugs’, ‘plates’, ‘serving dishes’ etc. then these are the words other potential customers will be using to find the things you make. You also need to be honest with yourself and ask yourself how often you hear them mentioning the word ‘ceramics’.
So at this point in answer to question 2, we now have the keyword phrases ‘patterned plates’, ‘beautiful mugs’ and if you have a distinctive design style, there might also be phrases like ‘geometric design teapots’ or ‘square serving dish’ to add to your list of target phrases too.
By this point we have also gone part way to answering question 3 and what ‘it’ is for. If your dinner plates cost £50 for a 6 plate set, you are targeting a different audience than if they cost £50 for each plate, so you need to think about the language you use to describe what they are used for carefully to strike your audience appropriately too.
Similarly if you make plates from bone china versus stoneware or slipware, or if you have a melamine collection, or even a bamboo collection they will have different applications. Keyword phrases to add to your list in response to question 3 would then variably include phrases like ‘picnic plates’, ‘shatterproof plates’, ‘fine dining dinnerware’ or ‘stylish everyday dinner plates’.
To address the elephant in the room with this example, we also then need to look at the word ‘ceramics’ or ‘ceramicist’. The Ceramicist will be wedded to the notion they are a ‘ceramicist’ and not a ‘potter’, and that they produce ‘ceramics’ and not ‘pottery’… but… if your customers refer to you in this way, we also then need to work those words into your copy somewhere too.
So in conclusion, you need to look at your product and services from a few angles to help you strategise the keywords you need to focus on. Good copywriting can help you strike a balance that feels ok to you, whilst serving the needs of SEO. As long as you approach the task expecting to compromise, a happy conclusion can be arrived at.
Continuously adding content as part of a well thought out content marketing strategy will help you make steady gains on google.co.uk over time.
Just like any ship, if you are rudderless, you are going to go adrift. So whilst getting all of the above mentioned technical SEO techniques in place you also need to develop a content marketing strategy.
Most websites have a series of product and/or services pages with language already in place to describe those individual products. The act of SEO’ing these pages is often a one-off job to enhance them; the aim being to strengthen them to help those particular pages get found more readily. Maybe you might go back and tweak a few things or occasionally you have a new product to add to your shop and that will need editing for SEO too. Other than this though, you have a fairly static website that then doesn’t really need to change that much.
However, the problem with Google and SEO is that Google likes change and SEO bots like content. You can’t just keep on editing the same product pages over and over, and sometimes you can’t quite fit in all the keyword phrases you want to score for with say, a total product set of 20 products. This is where creating a stream of fresh, new content through a content marketing strategy helps.
Through a series of regular new articles on your blog you can plug all the gaps your more static website pages can’t fill. You have freedom to write about very narrow topics such as, ‘Summer picnic plates’ or ‘Special Christmas themed dinner settings’ to cover off these more specific time-delimited searches. You can talk about your industry, getting the opportunity to tell the world, ‘Award winning ceramicist wins best in show for new collection of dinnerware’. You can also talk about your processes with content such as, ‘Behind the scenes creating the Gold-Leafed Baroque Teapot’ or that you are ‘Exhibiting at the NEC in October’.
Content marketing planning also allows you to score for more left-field topics that might otherwise not be answered out there on the internet. This can be a valuable opportunity to grab and can become a great source of traffic for some businesses. So for instance continuing our ceramicist theme, you might want to write an article with the headline, ‘The difference between Bone China and Fine China’ or ‘Why Bamboo Is The Eco-Friendly Alternative To Melamine’. Once you have hooked a reader in with a topic that’s of interest to them, you have them on your website and can route them off to other pages of your website to keep them there.
Think about the gaps you have, and then seek to fill them with a content marketing strategy. Don’t forget that these blogs make great subjects for your social media marketing plan too, giving you a wealth of things to talk about on social media that’s not just sell, sell, sell messaging.
‘Get me to the top of Google!’ is often the briefest of briefs we get from prospective clients, and sometimes, for some keywords, that is not going to be possible. Full stop.
So, if you share this mindset, then there is a universal truth you need to come to terms with right away. You can get to the top of Google for *something* almost all of the time, but it might not be what you had in mind. Just SEO’ing your website is not a silver bullet that will see the millions suddenly start rolling in.
If there are a dozen other businesses in the country called the same thing as you; think ‘Excel Cleaning’, ‘Elite Electrical Services’ or ‘Speedy Tyres’, and you have a three page website, there is not much SEO can do for you. If you are a local company that makes trainers with three stripes down the side, you are going to lose the battle against Adidas every time. If you make burgers – even the best burgers in town – McDonalds and Burger King will always win out on searches for hamburgers.
If you are called ‘John Smith’ or have a very common name like this as your business name… good luck trying to rank anywhere for your own brand name. If you share a name with a famous person, or your business’ name is very similar to a big established business – whether you make the same thing or not – you just aren’t going to rank.
These problems aside, there is also very little point in trying to rank for single words on Google. You may have heard of ‘long-tail searches’ and this basically means two or more words put together in a phrase to make a search. So if you are that three striped trainer company, then put aside notions of trying to come up on page one for ‘trainers’ but instead look at your USPs and hang your hopes on those phrases instead. So think ‘unicorn-striped pink glittery trainers for girls’ or ‘ethically produced, vegan trainers’ or some other element that stands you out from the crowd and chase those phrases instead.
If you are “John Smith” the piano tuner, look at SEO’ing your website for ‘local piano tuning company’ rather than expending effort on pushing your business name; whilst “John Smith” the car mechanic can focus on ‘specialist Saab garage’, or ‘car service and oil change in Derbyshire’ type phrases instead.
If you are “John Smith” the architect, look at creating content that focusses on the big buildings and projects you have worked on rather than focus on your name, for instance ‘architect that built the Shard’ is more likely to be searched for than your business name anyway, as more people are aware of a prominent building like this than they will be of the team that were responsible for building it.
Having realistic expectations about what can be achieved depending on what you do, coupled with realistic expectations of timescales for seeing early results will help you when choosing what to do and how much effort to expend on it. But as the graph from a freshly launched website above shows, plugging away at the task consistently will bring the rewards eventually. The true joy of SEO is that whatever you gain, you get to keep too, making it a true investment of time and money.
If you’d like help with digital marketing, ads management, SEO, copywriting, websites, branding or social media management… or anything else related to the internet and digital, then get in touch with us. We’re a friendly bunch.