Now that Coronavirus has well and truly thrust most businesses to operate, or at least have a presence, online, it’s worth taking the time to understand SEO. After all, whatever content you are putting online needs to be found by your target audience. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) constantly changes and evolves as search engines, like Google and Bing, improve and adjust the way they source and present search results. And just like your website, SEO is a constant work-in-progress project that never ends.
The point of SEO, and search engines for that matter, is to provide the answer to user’s query. Historically, this has been through directing users to a suitable website. However, there has been a shift from search engines to answer user questions within the results page itself in the form of SERP features. Search Engine Results Page (SERP) features present information in a range of formats including answer boxes, known as snippets, People Also Ask boxes, and image, video and shopping carousels. The goal of providing information in this way, means that users will stay on SERP pages longer and keep using the search engine to resolve their questions.
Improving your chances of a SERP feature ranking organically, depends on whether you’re using an appropriate SEO strategy. Paid search results, eg PPC (pay-per-click) ads make up the rest of the search engine results page. And whilst these can generate traffic to websites, SEO has 20 times more traffic opportunities than PPC for both mobile and desktop. Essentially, whilst targeted advertising will help your business, organic search results through SEO shouldn’t be ignored. SEO improves your credibility and authority online, which in turn, helps your ranking on search engines.
Each search engine has its own guidelines and algorithms for searching and presenting search results, however there are some simple rules that you can follow to improve your online presence for search. Build your site for users not search engines. Provide content that is unique, valuable or engaging. Help search engines to understand your user-centric content by using meta descriptions, alt attributes for images and the like. Page speed is an important part of the user experience. Basically, don’t try to deceive the search engines, and make the user experience the primary focus of your site.
Let’s be realistic. Ranking on search engine results pages is not the be all and end all of SEO. Whilst many people can get caught up with where they rank on a search engine results page, it shouldn’t be the purpose of your SEO strategy. Yes, the point of SEO is to be presented on a SERP page and be ‘ranked’ against a search term. However, ranking alone does not give you leads or create sales for your business. A higher ranking in search results can improve your chances of your target audience clicking through to your site. But, the real goal of SEO is to get traffic to your site so that you can reach a business-oriented objective.
Once users are on your site, that’s when all your hard work should pay off. Your SEO strategy should align with your overall marketing and communication strategy for tracking and converting website clicks into leads and sales for your business. By defining these objectives as part of your SEO strategy, you’ll be able to identify which areas of SEO are important to your business. It will also allow you to evaluate the success of your SEO strategy by allowing you to set benchmarks and track your results.
SEO is just one piece of the communications puzzle. It’s important to remember that everything you do should be informed by your overall business strategy.
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