As the online world has grown and become a bigger part of our lives (thanks, 2020) there are more and more ways for businesses to promote themselves.
Alongside the ability to ‘Google’ any question you’ve ever had, you can also find out about businesses through countless social media platforms, junk boxes full of promotional emails and, of course, ads in every corner of the internet.
Because there are so many different ways to reach audiences online, some business execs (with what is clearly outdated knowledge of digital marketing) have said they don’t want to put any effort into SEO since they don’t see the value in it anymore or that they “don’t believe in it”.
But SEO isn’t dead.
As we just mentioned – Googling something is one of the most common ways to find any information these days. So if you’re not trying to appear in these results, how do you really expect to grow your business?
Yes, the old SEO practices where you had to use a keyword 200 times on a page to rank aren’t relevant in today’s digital landscape – however, the practice of optimising your web presence to show up higher in search results is relevant which is all ‘SEO’ actually refers to.
Now, we’ve explained the basics of SEO on this site quite a few times – we believe the more we teach our clients, the more everyone will benefit (attention business execs – do some reading!). But we get that this could seem misleading because what we teach is not all that modern SEO is.
SEO is more than using keywords
Let’s be clear – SEO is about using keywords on your website. But there is a lot more to it. You are not going to rank at position 1 on Google simply because you’ve used a keyword in the right places. It will definitely help that you’ve done this but Google’s ranking algorithms have evolved beyond simply looking at the number of times a keyword has been used. (Which brings us onto our next point…)
SEO is being relevant to users
Today’s ranking algorithms are much more focused on providing the most relevant results for users. This means taking into account everything your users would want from their Google Search and being the result that provides it.
A user searching for “pancake recipe” is planning to make pancakes soon – so what else are they going to need? On your page, provide more than just the recipe – talk about frying techniques, the best equipment to use and any substitutions they could make. Link to your favourite retailers where they can buy the ingredients and equipment they’re going to need or link to another page you have with different pancake recipes. By clicking on your search result, the user has been able to access all the information they need without having to go back to the search results page at all.
Tip: Refer back to your buyer personas to make sure you’re providing relevant information.
Other ways to make sure you’re providing relevant results for your users is to fully optimise your Google My Business listing and to earn backlinks from relevant websites that prove you’re a reliable source of information.
SEO is writing blog content based on keyword research
How do you decide what blog content to write? Is it a gut feeling or a company-wide message you’re trying to get across? Sometimes these articles can work (like this one as an example) but if you use them too often you’re probably not going to see any results come from Google – or even other platforms.
The problem with these articles is that the idea has come from within the company. As a company, you already know what you do – so what you want to write about shouldn’t matter. Instead, you need to be looking at what your audience wants to know and the questions they want answering.
Enter, keyword research…
By doing keyword research you can find out exactly what questions your audience is asking about your industry and answer them with your blog content. This means that you don’t have to go back through an article suggested by your stakeholders to cram in slightly relevant keywords – everything will naturally be focused on the user’s query and will therefore be relevant.
Not only will this help your pages rank in search results, by addressing questions people actually have they’ll be more likely to be read when shared through other marketing channels.
SEO is making sure your website runs efficiently
In May 2020, Google announced that they would be introducing a new set of ranking factors called the “Core Web Vitals” measuring different elements of a pages load speed for users.
Page speed has always been a key element of SEO – but because speeding up your site can be slightly more complex than adding keywords into your content, a lot of people ignored it.
So while the concept of having an efficient website was nothing new in the world of SEO, what the Core Web Vitals did was remind everyone that they really need to pay attention to the experience that a user has when using a website if they want to rank highly in search results.
These Core Web Vitals are:
- Largest Contentful Paint – how long the largest content element takes to load in the viewport – should be below 2.5s
- First Input Delay – how long until you can interact with elements on the site – should be below 100 milliseconds
- Cumulative Layout Shift – how long until elements are in their final position – should be below 0.1
Speeding up your site can involve anything from reducing your image sizes to changing the code used to build your site. As we said, it can get quite complex, but it’s worth working on! Use tools like PageSpeed Insights and GTMetrix to diagnose what’s slowing down your website.
Modern SEO is simply making your website work for your users – not for the technology and not for the stakeholders.
Even if you’re not focused on getting users to come to your business through search engines – shouldn’t audiences from any source be treated to a relevant website that provides a good experience?
Want to chat about how to improve your digital marketing activities? Get in touch with our team!