Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is important for any business, but it is essential for digital businesses that rely on the internet.
Yet SEO is rarely understood. Instead, it’s often jargon that is bandied around by scammers trying to sell you things (at least, it is in my experience). Or people talk about magic ‘algorithms’ that will direct traffic to their sites. I chatted with David Ritchie from Canberra Expert CEO about what SEO is and how you can use it to get noticed.
David says good SEO is about having a fast, optimised website. To achieve this, it is important to establish trust, credibility and authority. What you want is for keyword searches to direct people to your site – every time.
According to David, without good SEO, you’re nowhere. “There are literally billions of websites these days,” he said. “Unless you have good SEO, you won’t get noticed in search results.”
These are some of David’s top tips for improving SEO:
- Think like Google. Talking of search results, these days its mostly about Google. And that means any SEO strategy needs to revolve around Google and how it operates. Simply put, you need to think like Google.
- Claim your brand. Have you ever done a Google search and noticed certain information pops up on the right-hand side of your search results? Try it now by searching for The Rolling Stones. Can you see it now? This information is called a knowledge panel. It is important for you to claim your knowledge panel. If you don’t claim your knowledge portal, someone else could submit information on your behalf (e.g. a competitor could claim that you are closed or change your opening hours without you knowing it). To claim yours, search for your brand or business, and if you see a knowledge panel, click ‘claim my knowledge portal’ and follow the steps. Be prepared to put a bit of work into the process, but know that it’s important.
- Register with Google My Business. Did you do a search yet didn’t find a knowledge portal with your name on it? This can happen, especially if you are a small business starting out or if you don’t have good SEO. (In other words, because Google doesn’t yet know about you.) Get on Google’s radar by registering with Google My Business.
- Get listed. Get yourself on as many directories as possible, whether it is Yelp or Yellow Pages. Web-based directories matter because they help prove your authenticity, and that means that Google is more likely to believe that you’re real. “It’s important to ensure the name, address, phone number and website are identically spelt for every directory site you put yourself on – even down to the spelling of the street type eg “Ave’ or Avenue’. Consistency is the key. It’s just like births, deaths and marriages for Google,” David said.
- Buy Google products. Consider buying products from Google, even simple and cost-effective products such as Google Drive ($2.49 a month, which gives you additional data space) or YouTube ads. “If you are paying Google and it has your credit card details, it is much less likely to think you are a dodgy spammer and that means it can more easily verify you,” said David. Simply put, if you buy things from Google, it is more likely to like you.
- Create content on platforms Google likes. Content is king and content will help create good SEO. Consider utilizing platforms that Google owns or likes, including Google Maps, YouTube, Twitter and even Facebook. That doesn’t mean you need to use a Google-related website or blogging platform, just to be aware of what Google likes and doesn’t. Did you notice the odd one out? “Facebook is an odd one,” said David. “While they aren’t exactly friends, Google notices and picks up on Facebook content.”
- Use good keywords. Keywords matter in Google, so use good ones. If you want to get good SEO results, write with good keywords in mind. For instance, if you love to bake, think about what keywords related to cakes work. Maybe it’s things keywords like “cake baking” rather than “obscure Scandanavian cake with odd ingredients in it”. That said, using the original word for that obscure cake might help because if someone is searching for that exact thing, then they’re more likely to find your recipe for it.
- Write an alt text description. Have you ever included a picture into a post and seen the words ‘alt text’? Don’t leave it blank; instead, use that space to write a description. Alt text is designed to help describe the picture to people who are vision-impaired. Not only will your content be more inclusive if you label your photos, but Google will give improve your SEO score as well.