All of SEO summarised in three steps
Most businesses have getting their site to page one on Google as an objective in their digital marketing plan. Being on page one means high visibility to customers, without having to pay for Google adverts. Whilst Google Pay Per Click (PPC) adverts can be costly, getting to page one can also cost a pretty penny and can take some time to accomplish. Sometimes it is easier just to pay for the ads. In fact, we recommend PPC in the short term at least whilst you get your site to page one for organic natural search. To get to page one, you need to invest in Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).
There is a wealth of resources on the web about SEO and it can be overwhelming. There is seemingly a lot to learn, with lots of jargon, tricks and rules to follow. It isn’t that complicated though. Three simple steps contain everything you need to know.
1 – Conduct an SEO technical audit
The first step is to conduct a technical audit on your site and fix any issues. Websites should be built to follow SEO best practice and there are also rules for the content itself. For example, there shouldn’t be any broken links on the site, each page should have a meta description, browser titles should be a certain length etc. The list goes on. A technical audit is simply a check to see if your site is breaking any of these rules. This is the easiest part of SEO because the audit will produce a checklist of things to fix. Most companies will ask a digital agency, such as Contra, to conduct a technical audit and then fix the issues. Having a technically excellent site is a really good practise and audits should be done on a regular basis. Unfortunately, it isn’t enough. A site can rank highly, even while breaking the rules, what really works is great content.
2 – Write great content
Google does a couple of things – it reads (indexes) your website and notes the key terms. It then ranks these terms against others with similar content. How this happens is Google’s secret sauce and nobody knows exactly, but in the early days ranking was determined by the number of links to your website.
In the early days people would write “keyword stuffed” pages and try and get a lot of backlinks. This lead to lots of essentially useless content that was written for the search engine and not the human. Nowadays, Google uses a huge number of factors (including artificial intelligence) to determine how good a piece of content is. Google’s advice now is to produce great content.
What makes a great piece of content? If a piece of content is great, then people we want it. Essentially, it has to be useful or interesting to the target audience. If it is useful, it will naturally contain the search terms that people use, along with other language reserved for that product or service. Language is important as Google is comparing the words used across niches or industries. If you write an authoritative and useful blog post, it will contain words that will signal that it is real content and not a piece there for SEO alone. Useful content will be shared on social and linked to by other websites.
It doesn’t have to be a blog post. One of Contra’s best traffic drivers is a film we made called The Wait. It is a documentary piece about a wildlife photographer. Because the film is great, it has been featured on a number of high profile sites including National Geographic and has won several awards. People love it and want to watch it. They seek it out, link to it and share it.
You should spend most of your time producing great content; this is the hardest thing. A good SEO company should spend time assisting you with content ideas, producing the content in collaboration with you and optimising it (ensuring that it does actually have the key search terms in it etc)
3 – Get quality backlinks
The third thing to do is get people to link (backlink) to your content, so that Google can see how useful it is (and thus more important than similar pages). Back in the bad old days of SEO, companies would use “blog networks” (thousands of websites full of basic waffle) to link back to their sites for key search terms. These were essentially fake backlinks. Google has done away with this practice via updates to their algorithms and now you can get penalised for following this route. Nowadays, Google uses a variety of factors to determine the ranking ability of backlinks. For example, the links to your site are assessed for quality – a link from the BBC is better than from a random blog. It is quality over quantity. In Contra’s case, the links for The Wait from great sites like National Geographic helps us rank highly for video production in London.
Just because you can’t fake backlinks, doesn’t mean you should wait for people to naturally link to your content. There is no reason you can’t suggest your content to other sites. Indeed, many sites are on the lookout for great content and will be happy to link to you. Research into legitimate sites to get backlinks from is a genuine SEO activity. This is also where a digital agency comes in as it can be time consuming to research and contact sites. The Google Search Console is a great tool to help you see who has linked to your site, and many other details.
The devil is in the detail
There is obviously lots of depth to each of these steps – there are lots of technical things to get right, producing great content requires serious work and there are many techniques for backlinks. Whilst there more to each element that I have outlined here, these three steps are the basic outline. If you follow these three steps your site will start ranking higher –
- Make sure your site is technically excellent
- Write great content
- Get people to link to you
Sounds easy when I put it like that, doesn’t it?