Jul 26, 2021 / Marketing

Customers before keywords: A guide to SEO and content

webdna on SEO

An easy to digest overview of SEO for business owners; from Nottingham based digital marketing and web development Agency, webdna Ltd.

If you’re one of the people responsible for your business’ website, you’re likely to have at least a cursory understanding of search engine optimisation (SEO) and how it works. With search algorithms constantly evolving, maintaining an effective SEO strategy is now much more nuanced than ever before, requiring expertise and resource. The challenge many business owners face is trying to balance keeping on top of SEO when other aspects of your business operations often seem more urgent.

If you are not keeping on top of your SEO the first sign that something is wrong might be a drop in sales. If it has got to this point, it can be quite a lot of work to resolve. A cheaper and more effective approach is to make sure that you have a good SEO strategy and regularly measure your progress. Here are our top tips for maintaining your SEO when you are short on time.

1. Define what success looks like for you

The aim of great SEO is to help you achieve your business goals. So if sales is your measure of success that is what you should be measuring. It sounds simple but with so many companies out there offering to increase rankings for a keyword or boost site traffic with no thought for the bottom line. It’s really easy to lose track of what is important. Once you have defined what success looks like, make sure you know what metrics to measure to make sure that you are on the right track.

2. Make sure your site is set up for success

Making sure the technical structure of your site is set up correctly is one of the most fundamental parts of your SEO strategy. Google’s long-threatened Core update started rolling out last month (along with four others) and those sites that have neglected load speeds are feeling the impacts.

Technical SEO such as page load speed, making a site mobile-friendly, internal linking, URL structure and hierarchy are essential elements for success. That’s why when we build new sites we include them from day one. It’s really important to get the fundamentals right.

3. Get to know your customer

Before you decide what content you need on your site, and which keywords you should be going after, really look at things from your customer's perspective. What content might be useful to them? What might engage them? And what might ultimately turn them into converting customers?

If you keep your customer in mind when you are creating content and setting up page structures you’ll be creating relevant content that works hard for your audience. And you’ll be rewarded in the rankings for the key terms that really matter to your audience.

Looking at keywords as a primary focus or motivator, rather than putting the customer’s interests first, often causes SEO to backfire. The words or phrases you target need to be highly relevant to what you do or be of interest to searchers - if they’re not, your bounce rate might increase. Remember, don’t get too carried away chasing high traffic terms. If sales is your measure of success, find the keywords that drive sales and chase those!

4. Make your work future proof

When you make changes on your site purely to manipulate a search engine algorithm and get a better ranking it's called Black Hat SEO. It’s common practice but we’d really advise against it. It can be damaging to your long term strategy, as any quick wins will be lost as the algorithm catches up with you and your site drops.

Some of the most common examples of Black Hat SEO include:

  • Keyword stuffing: When text is added to the site solely to increase the likelihood of a site ranking for that keyword. This will result in irrelevant content which is difficult to read.

  • Individual keyword landing or doorway pages: For example, a slightly different version of a company's page that mentions a targeted area and is slightly reworded. This quick-fix approach usually has minimal traffic and doesn’t contribute to the user experience.

  • Paid backlinks: To avoid confusion, Backlinking is actually a fundamental part of SEO and it can improve your ranking. If organically generated it is a great sign that other sites value your content. But it has been open to exploitation. If you have backlinks from a site that is not credible, i.e. they have low domain authority, as a lot of sites that share links for payment do, you will likely take a hit in your rankings.

  • Borrowing content from other sites: Google is hot on duplicate content so you’ll likely be hit in your rankings if you copy something directly from another site. Instead, make reference to the topic of interest and hyperlink to the source.

The algorithms continually evolve to reward websites that are truly serving the experience and content that consumers want. Inversely they will punish those that are trying to cheat. You might gain a quick win from Black Hat techniques but it’s a constant struggle to stay ahead of the algorithm updates. Good relevant content is more likely to stand the test of time and is less likely to be impacted adversely by any updates from the search engines.

5. Dedicate time to it regularly

It’s easy to neglect SEO when you have what seem like more immediate tasks you need to deal with. It takes discipline to dedicate time to it weekly or even monthly, but it’s worth the investment. Your site is constantly re-evaluated by search engines, and your end-users so you need to keep it working hard for your business and the content fresh.

Once you’ve created a great site with good content you’ve set yourself a strong foundation. Now it’s time to build on it. Regularly adding content shows your customers that the site is up to date, gives you the opportunity to talk around subjects that your audience may be interested in and position yourself as experts. And of course, target new keywords and show search engines that your site is up to date.

The other task that you need to do regularly is to run a website audit. There are lots of tools available to help with this. They highlight any issues with the site that might be impacting users ability to navigate the site or search engines ability to crawl it. They’ll also usually highlight areas for improvement such as duplicate or missing content. Make sure you’re running audits regularly and carrying out the recommended fixes.

6. Delegate if you don’t have time to manage it yourself

Optimising your site takes time and it's an ongoing process. If you don’t have the time to dedicate to it then look at alternatives. Delegate to someone in your team or if you don’t have the resources internally look for a company to support you - one that is focused on the right metrics for you. Many will promise position one on Google for a certain keyword but if your ultimate goal is revenue that word may not deliver what you need. Find a company to partner with that understands your goals and will help you work towards them.

Delivering great SEO takes a high level of expertise and dedication, but if you start with these five fundamentals you will be in a better position than many. If you feel that you need some additional support with your SEO strategy and implementation, get in touch. We would love the chance to discuss how webdna could help your business grow.