A beginner’s guide to SEO

You don’t always need an SEO Agency to make improvements in your SEO. Don’t get us wrong, hiring an SEO agency can be useful if you’re in a really competitive industry or if you’re pursuing ranks some very competitive keywords but if you’re a small to medium business looking to try out SEO there are a few things you can do yourself to test the water and decide if your brand has a business case to use an SEO agency and pursue even more competitive ranks.

In the first instance we recommend trying out SEO for your site using a long tail keyword. A long tail keyword is a longer search phrase so it could be something like “Email encryption with public key authentication” compared to the short tail “Email encryption”. As a general rule long tail keywords will be less competitive and have a lower search volume, but they can provide a greater level in qualification and help you stand out to customers who are looking for your exact USPs that set you aside from your competitors.

Where do I start

Most websites need some technical SEO work but provided your website is functioning okay you can make a start in SEO with writing content for SEO instead of technical SEO.

Tips for writing content for SEO

Include your target keywords as headers

You should include your target keywords in your main page headers (known as H1s). If you want to you can even create a dedicated page for that keyword, that’s called a landing page. This is quite easy because your long tail keywords tend to relate to your brand’s USPs so there is usually plenty to write about to create dedicated landing pages that focus on those USPs.

Include keywords in your copy

Don’t overdo it because that’s known as keyword stuffing and you can be penalised by search engines for it but in a natural way you should include your keywords in your main copy.

Include semantically related words

Semantically related words are taken into account when search engines decide which website to rank at which position so it’s a good idea to include semantically related words in your content. If you’re selling sports cars, you’d expect to see words such as fast, high-performance, durable and designed.

Create internal links

Search engines crawlers move around websites using links so if you create links from one page on your site to another, you’re helping them get around your site easier, and that’s a god thing for your SEO. Like anything in SEO over doing it or doing unnaturally risks getting you penalised by search engines but in your content, there will be natural opportunities to link things to related pages on your website.

Write a meta description

Most websites allow CMS users to easily add a meta description and it’s really important. This is what search engine users see in the web rankings and it’s what they read to decide if they click on your site or someone else’s. It’s the elevator pitch and it won’t help much with ranking your content, but it will help you get clicks. After all, what’s the point in ranking if no one clicks on your ranking page?

Seek out backlinks for your new content

A part of what an SEO agency does is build up a website and page’s authority by earning backlinks and social media links and that authority helps the site and page in question rank. There’s a whole science that goes into deciding if a link is good or bad for a site or page and SEO agencies use various tools to analyse a site and metrics like trust and authority (among many others) to decide if it will be beneficial to a site ranking. A bad link is a toxic link, but websites have to be bad to get toxic. You probably have some contacts with websites that work well, serve their brand, and are relevant to your brand. You could ask them if they can provide a link to your new page in a relevant place on their site. If you know the site owner and know the site works well, you can probably trust it’s not toxic and won’t be bad for your site.

Seek out social media links for your new content

Social media links are also beneficial, you can stimulate this yourself by posting your new content from your brand social media accounts, but it will be even more powerful if other users link to your content (by sharing or posting to it directly) so when you’re designing your new content think not just about SEO but its potential to get a backlink and to generate social links.

Include media such as images, videos, charts and graphics

Search engines, like web users, like content to be served in engaging and interactive ways. When search engines decide which websites and pages to rank for a keyword, they take into account media and the UX of the page so it’s a good idea to include images, videos, charts and graphics as well as ensure you page, and site has a good UX. Consider how you like to view content on websites or how it compared to your favourite news website.

Make sure your content is the most detailed and informative

Search engines prefer the most detailed and informative content, this means that often longer is better but only if it’s long because it contains valuable information. When you’re researching the other websites that currently rank for your target keyword read their content, check their word count, consider the things they have covered and the detail they have gone into. Then try and go into more detail.

Content is just a part of SEO, one of the best resources for understanding the different elements of SEO is the SEO periodic table produced by Search Engine Land. If you want to see where content fits into SEO, we highly recommend seeking it out.

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