A few years ago, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) was considered technically complicated and often were practised by a few companies with greater resources and marketing budgets. Today, the reality is different.
More businesses understand the value of being visible through organic search channels, while knowledge and information on using SEO have become more accessible than ever before.
More than 70% of marketers believe that SEO is more effective than paid advertising, PPC (Pay Per Click). Nowadays, both small and large businesses are increasingly using SEO to market themselves and attract visitors to their websites.
More and more businesses and even individuals are becoming aware of SEO because it is actually not very difficult to learn basic SEO. With fairly simple means, someone with virtually no experience of SEO can get high rankings for certain keywords in Google’s search results. Studies show that the website that ranks highest in Google for searches on a particular keyword gets as many as 70% of the clicks!
SEO can also be applied to marketing through other search engines, in addition to Google. Examples of channels other than Google include Amazon’s marketplace, YouTube and some other social media channels.
But Google is by far the largest channel, accounting for a whopping 57.8% of all web traffic. For this reason, this guide focuses only on how to get organic search traffic through Google.
Ready to talk to a strategist now? Book your free online consultation here.
The most basic type of SEO that is an important foundation for SEO success has to do with your website’s structure. For visitors and search engine crawlers to easily find information on your website, you need to structure information logically and methodically.
Think of how libraries are organized with different types of books in different sections, bookshelves and shelves.
Are you going to publish a lot of information on your website, such as product pages, blog posts and an “About Us” page? Then you’ll want to structure information in different folders. The structure might look like this: Home page/blog/topic or Home page/category/product page/ alternatively Home page/about us.
Your website structure does not have to be over-ambitious. You don’t need to have too many subfolders unless you plan to publish a huge amount of information and pages on your website. A general tip is that each page you publish should be no more than 2 clicks from the home page. The reason for this is to make it easy for visitors and search engine algorithms to quickly find information on your site.
Do you find it necessary and logical to have more subfolders to organize information? Then a hierarchical order with more subfolders is common. In the example below, I have shown how an online store can structure web pages in a logical way that is beneficial for SEO.
In this type of structure, where there are 2 tiers to navigate for your visitors and Google to locate the final product. It is then important to ensure that you take steps to optimize the navigation to improve conversion and reduce bounce rates.
The more complex the structure, the more important it is to have good navigation. Examples of features that make it easier for visitors to find your pages are bread crumbs and drop-down menus in the sidebar or the main menu itself.
Organising your site’s content into folders or “categories” makes it easier to find information on your site. You will also have more opportunities to search engine optimize web pages that are linked together in a logical URL structure.
Logical URL structures
A common beginner’s mistake is not setting up your permalinks according to a logical structure. URLs are important from a search engine optimisation perspective as they help searchers understand what a particular web page is about.
If you are creating a new website, then you should set up your permalinks so that they follow a logical structure.
In general, you want to avoid dates in your URLs. This is because you may need to update, for example, the content of a blog post at a later date. The URL should be avoided because it can damage your searchability and create confusion among search engines.
The rule of thumb is therefore to set a logical structure before you start creating content on your website. By default, the URL should contain the title of the page and, where possible, should also include key keywords. However, as I said, you should not change your URL structure for web pages on an existing website.
Site map – “Sitemap”
One disadvantage of SEO compared to some other marketing channels is that it takes some time for a web page you publish on your website to rank high in Google search results.
In other words, it is a marketing channel that pays off in the long run. However, there are some things you can do to speed up the process for Google to make your website searchable.
The most important action is to create and submit an XML sitemap via Google Search Console.
The sitemap is a kind of list of information about important pages on your website. By creating a sitemap and submitting it to Google Search Console, Google can get information about your website and also quickly manage any updates you make to your website.
After you submit the XML sitemap to Google, your web pages will become searchable much faster. Another benefit, in addition to making it easier for Google to index your website, is that Google will provide you with recommendations on improvement actions. So once you create an account on Google Search Console and submit your sitemap, Google can suggest improvements to make your SEO even better. You can read more about sitemaps and how to submit a sitemap to Google.
SEO is also about design and common sense
Google wants to create great value for their users. In other words, Google wants people who search through Google’s search services to have a satisfying user experience.
For example, Google wants their users to find what they are looking for. They also want to make it easy for users to find high-quality information. This means that Google generally rewards sites that have an appealing design that makes it easy for people to quickly find what they are looking for.
This can mean illustrating with images, visual guides, infographics and other media. But it can also be about more subtle user benefits in terms of colours, fonts, link colours logos etc.
A good rule of thumb is to always focus on the user experience. What people who visit your site favour, is usually favoured by Google too.
Here are some simple but important tips that will be appreciated by both your website visitors as well as by Google.
Approximately 52% of all internet searches (in Europe) are done via mobile devices. According to Google themselves, a 1-second delay for a web page to load for mobile users can result in a 20% lower conversion rate. Users expect your website to be fully accessible, load quickly and have a responsive design that works regardless of the type of device visitors are using.
Therefore, make sure you use a theme that is fully customised and responsive for all types of mobile as well as desktop devices.
Make sure that the text size and call-to-action (CTA) look good for mobile users as well. Ensure that your images are adapted with a resolution suitable for users connecting with mobile as well as desktop devices.
Users who go to a website more or less subconsciously judge whether your site is trustworthy or not. It is not enough to have good information, products or other added value. You need to present your offer to your visitors in a way that makes them stay on your site, search further and preferably come back.
Therefore, use a professional and aesthetically pleasing design. Avoid, long pieces of text and break them up with illustrative images and media. Build credibility with, for example, links to your website’s social media pages, customer reviews, comments and author presentations.
Google has officially announced that websites with slow load times have a bad impact on SEO. Therefore, make sure your website is hosted on good servers by using a good hosting provider that can guarantee the loading times and storage space your website needs.
SSL (Secure Sockets Layer):
SSL is a standard that means that information on your website loads encrypted and securely. SSL is not only necessary for websites that handle customer data, credit card information and transactions.
Websites that are not set up with SSL will display the text “the site is not secure” in the browser, which of course gives an unsafe impression to your visitors. In addition, SSL is a factor that Google takes into account in its overall assessment of a website.
Niche and relevance
When creating a website, it is important to think about who the website is created for? If you are creating a website for commercial purposes then you probably have a target audience that the website is aimed at. If not, you should define what your website is about and for whom.
You should think about where your visitors are. A local pizzeria needs to be marketed differently from an international blog etc.
When Google analyzes your website, it tries to understand what your website is about. Google treats different websites differently depending on how popular a website can be considered in a certain area.
For example, a website that writes about pets for Sri Lankan pet owners is more likely to rank high in Google’s search results for keywords that are relevant to that particular niche.
For this reason, it is important to choose your niche carefully and only publish content that is relevant to your particular niche and target audience. When Google understands which niche your website operates in, you will have an advantage in ranking high in Google for keywords over websites that do not operate in the same niche.
Similarly, of course, the reverse is true.
If Google perceives that your website focuses on a particular niche, say “pets”. Then your site will have a hard time ranking high for keywords, say, “best table tennis racket”.
This is because the keyword is irrelevant to your niche and Google will give preference to websites specialising in, for example, “racket sports” in the search hierarchy.
Therefore, you should be clear and consistent and ensure that all the information on your website is aimed at your target audience and is relevant to your niche.
Silos and categories
Because it is important to limit your site to a specific area, in some cases difficult decisions may have to be made. For example, there may be an interest in creating content (product pages, product categories, blog posts, videos, guides, etc.) that spans multiple areas that are not directly of the same niche.
Consider, for example, websites such as IKEA (ikea.com). They sell furniture, plants and consumer electronics. Here, there seem to be several different niches, which from an SEO perspective is not optimal for a single site.
For smaller sites, multiple niches are usually not optimal, but in many cases, you can find synergies between different niches.
IKEA and many other retail companies set a good example for this. In addition, retailers almost always use categories to divide their product ranges into a logical structure. Similarly, in many cases, it makes sense to build a website according to a structure that is commonly referred to as “silos” in SEO.
Are you planning to create a site with a lot of information that also spans different areas?
Then it makes sense to organize your site in silos. A silo can be most easily described as different keywords that belong together and are relevant to a particular niche.
An example of a silo could be: “horse, riding helmet award, thoroughbred, best riding boots 2021, Shetland pony, riding camps near me” etc. All these keywords are related to each other and are related to horses and riding.
In the next step, we look at how to create silos and perform keyword analysis for a website.
Find and organise your keywords
A keyword analysis is one of the most fundamental parts of SEO. Keywords or “key words” are the words that searchers use in searches in order for Google to present different options of relevance to the keyword in question.
Although keywords are still an extremely important part of SEO, it should be mentioned that Google’s algorithms can nowadays also understand context without the presence of a particular keyword.
For example, Google can understand that a website that does not actually contain the exact keyword used in a search may be of relevance to the searcher.
But keywords still matter a lot in SEO.
To understand which keywords are important to be visible in your particular niche, you need to do a thorough keyword analysis. This means gathering information about what words people are searching for in your niche in your market. Then you analyse the keywords and organise them in a way that will help your website rank high in Google’s search results.
To do a keyword analysis, you need to use a program that can give you information about all the keywords that are relevant to your website. There are several good programs on the market for conducting keyword analysis.
The very best SEO programmes, used by specialists, are relatively expensive but can usually be tested free of charge for a limited time. However, there are also some tools that are completely free and are suitable for those who only want to carry out basic SEO for a website.
I use Ahrefs, which is one of the best tools on the market and can be tested for free for a limited period.
Collect keywords for your niche
There are lots of ways to collect keywords that are relevant to your field. Perhaps the easiest way is to search Google for words relevant to your website. Let’s say you want to search-optimize a website that sells products and services related to “horseback riding” and “horse training”.
When I search for “horse training” in Google, I come up with various keywords that are relevant to my niche.
These keywords give me a good idea of what people are searching for in Google. I can write the words down and use them in blog posts on my website, for example, to attract searchers to my blog.
The problem is that I don’t know how many people statistically search for each word. I also don’t know how hard it is to get high in Google’s search results for each word.
The degree of difficulty is related to the niche and the level of competition for a particular keyword. Choosing keywords with a low degree of competition is central to SEO and we’ll come back to that later.
Another problem is that there is no way for me to download all the keywords. Writing them down by hand is of course possible but can be cumbersome if there are hundreds of words to identify and write down.
Therefore, to facilitate the process of finding keywords and their relevant trends, I use Ahref’s Keyword Explorer tool.
Becoming an expert in SEO takes a long time and requires experience and training in digital marketing. But basic SEO is actually not as tricky as it might initially seem.
You can do a lot on your own by simply following a logical and well-planned structure when setting up your website. By carefully choosing strategic keywords to apply to your website, you can get your website to rank high in Google’s search results and get more people in your target audience to visit your website. Basic SEO, can be both free and fun but also give your website a big boost.
Improve your SEO with Shiraz Kuwailid
Are you ready for professional help with your advanced SEO requirements?
You can reach me online by filling out this contact form.