Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the process of getting your website the best possible positions on search engines (predominantly Google) so that you can receive a stream of high value traffic to your website with the ultimate end goal of sales and/or leads for your business.
This is applicable for all forms of business whether you offer local services, ecommerce, saas, you own a physical store, professional services or any other type of business.
When it comes to growing your business online, there are only a handful of channels that are viable acquisition options. Most of the online marketing spends go into the 3 black boxes being Facebook, Google Ads and Amazon.
The downside of these paid channels are endless, but fundamentally, building your business around these channels carries a lot of risk in that at any point in time, they can discontinue servicing you, Facebook most notably has an endless list of businesses, industry and individuals that cannot advertise on their platform for no reasons beyond their canned responses.
They are also all steadily increasing in price, Google has on average increased in CPC (cost per click) by 30% annually across industries. This means that if you build a highly viable campaign that has made a substantial impact on your business around this channel, this time next year, it is likely to be 30% more expensive for the same result. Assuming this is still a profitable campaign at this now elevated price, will it still be profitable the following year when it has another 30% compounded on top? What about the following year?
Now, I don’t want you to feel that it is all doom and gloom, these are fantastic channels to acquire customers, and sharp marketers will still be able to run highly effective campaigns on these platforms in years and decades to come, but when the business does grow off the back of these channels, diversification is integral to the longevity of the business and will provide stability.
SEO is one of the most effective marketing channels, providing business owners with the highest quality traffic on the internet with organic traffic converting on average 31.5% better than the paid traffic coming from the same search engines.
It is also a brilliant channel in that the longer you do it, the better the results are for your business, which is the opposite of the paid sources I mentioned earlier. It also has no pay to play threshold in the fact that in working on your SEO, if you have a stable investment going into it on a monthly basis, as your traffic climbs from 500 monthly visitors, to 5,000, to 50,000, your campaign is very unlikely to require any additional investment with the small Astrid of diversification within the business or target markets.
So let’s get into the meat of the reason you are reading this. How can you get your website onto page one of google?
First, we need to look at Google as a business and understand where they are coming from in evaluating websites. Google as a self serving business cares only about one thing: Google.
How this translates is in understanding how Google makes money. Google makes money from a mass volume of people who love using their platform and go to them to search for things. If you went to Google to look for a new pair of shoes, clicked on the first link and it was a website selling hot tubs, you wouldn’t put up with it for very long and would make the move to Bing, Yahoo or another alternative.
With this in mind, the way this translates to Google is that they care most about user experience above all else.
So what does this mean for you as a business owner trying to get on page 1?
What this means is that you need to do everything in your power to show Google that you are answering your potential customers search terms highly effectively, that Google can trust you and that customers enjoy going on your website.
Ie. The 3 core pillars of every SEO campaign.
- User Experience
- Trust & Authority
- Relevance is truly the secret sauce that most businesses miss when building their websites. The best example of this I can speak to, to illustrate my point around this is a client of ours who sells jewellery online through an ecommerce site. She is currently outranking Tiffany and Co, Pandora and many other highly regarded jewellery brands that have been online for two decades longer and have millions of people searching for them every month.
- The reason for this is very simple, if you open the Pandora or Tiffany & Co websites, you will see almost all of the content is around a new release or collection as opposed to their core service. Right now, Tiffany & Co’s homepage is all about their garden collection and Pandora is about their Disney collection. Google isn’t a person looking at the website and understanding their offering, it is a series of bots that scan pages for information to see what a page is all about.
- Our clients’ website by comparison (while perhaps not as aesthetic), talks about the things that they offer and sell. Jewellery! The H1’s and H2’s on the page refer to Australian jewellery stores, their collection page of gold earrings refers to gold earrings and has a few hundred words on the topic. This means that when Google reads the page, it is blatantly clear exactly what the page is about and what kinds of search terms Google ought to show their website for.
- User Experience very strongly pulls back to Google caring about Google above all else. Once we have tackled getting Google to recognise our website and started pulling in a trickling of traffic, how do we turn the trickle of traffic into a torrential downpour? The traffic Google sends to your website is closely monitored by Google, they monitor time on page, bounce rate, scroll depth, interaction etc. They know if when people are finding your website they are finding what they are looking for and having a positive experience.
- If Google sends users to your website and the users aren’t finding what they are looking for, Google will stop sending you traffic! On the flip side of this, if they are having a positive experience Google will rank your website higher and higher not only for the term they have come from, but also for some of your more competitive higher search volume terms!
- The final one is trust and authority. This is built in three main ways; onsite, search console, and offsite. The onsite portion of building trust and authority on the website itself. This is done in a few different ways, things like “schema codes” are a simple illustration of one of the ways this is done. Schema codes simply put are a big red neon sign pointing to the information Google looks for to authenticate your business as a trustworthy place to send traffic. The information you put in your schemas is information such as opening hours, location, social media profiles, rating and reviews you have received on Google my business etc. The more ways you give Google to authenticate you as a real business the better!
- One important takeaway from this is to set up your “Google My Business” account as they do a physical postcard check for you to authenticate your address, this goes a very long way in the authenticity department!
The second portion of this is Google Search Console, Google makes a lot of recommendations on what Google’s best practice is and what they want to see from your website, but if you have a new website, how do you get Google to see you? Search Console. This is where you submit all of your hard work with Google and get them to take a look at your website! You submit your URL’s, your sitemap XML’s and you say “scan me and rank me”! This is also where they alert you to anything you are doing wrong! Any missed site errors or additional information they need from you to ensure you are ranking properly, they will actually notify you via this platform. They want you to do well. This is one of the most important tools to ensure you get indexed and stay there!
And the final item in trust and authority to cover is the mysterious black box that is backlinks. Backlinks have earned a bad reputation over the years as the link buying world is viewed as “dodgy” primarily because most of the major Google algorithm updates over the years. The short version of the story if you are not familiar with it is around a decade or so ago, Google decided another website putting a link of their website to your website was a sign that your website was good. The switched on business owners essentially went offshore, ordered a few million backlinks and shot to page 1 of Google over night! Google caught onto it pretty quickly and responded harshly by penalising those who had taken these actions and saying anyone with these dodgy links will be kicked off Google (more or less). Again, the clever business owners rebutted by going offshore, buying millions of these backlinks for their competitors kicking them off Google and again, skyrocketing to page one of Google. Google then came back with their tails between their legs and more or less now ignore bad backlinks for the most part and only take into consideration high quality backlinks. Why am I telling you all of this? Because this lays a foundation for the current position for backlinks in SEO. Most of our SEO campaigns only get 1-3 backlinks per month and instead of focussing on quantity or content, the most important aspect is quality. Getting a high quality, slowly and steadily built backlink portfolio is how you build a solid foundation of authority for your website.
If there is anything I want you to take away from this short ebook it is the following.
SEO above all else is not about you, nor Google. It’s about giving customers a good experience on your website, helping them find what they are looking for and helping Google understand exactly what it is that you offer so they can send the right people to you for the right thing.