As marketers, we’re constantly being told that we need to optimise for search engines. But why is SEO important? Do we really need to care? The reality is yes, and here’s why you need SEO: to make your website more important than that of your competitors. Doing so will help you to rank higher in the search engines and hopefully grab that coveted position at the very top. Unfortunately, it can be very time-consuming, and not all marketers have the necessary skills.
But with so much changing all the time: algorithms, what’s allowed, what’s no longer allowed and even how our competitors’ behaviours impact our results, it can be nothing short of a challenge trying to keep on top of it all.
To help, we’ve created a quick overview of some of the things you should be thinking about when looking at optimising for search engines.
Keeping on top of technical issues may not be the most glamorous part of owning a website. Still, it’s the most impactful and probably the easiest fix. If Google can’t access your pages, it doesn’t matter that you’ve got the greatest content in the world – no one is going to see it. Make sure you run an audit regularly to catch any problems.
Here are some things to look for:
Optimise for core web vitals
These are three user experience metrics announced last year by Google to determine search engine ranking results. In addition to safety, security, lack of pop-ups and mobile-friendliness, Google will now assess sites for loading, interactivity and visual stability.
You can use PageSpeed Insights or Search Console to see how you’re doing against the new criteria, and Google will make suggestions for improvements. However, while important, it’s essential to continue to focus on page authority, search intent and quality of content as these are still top of the list for Google.
Loading will be determined by Largest Contentful Paint (LCP). This means that Google will track how long it takes to render the largest content and then the next and so on until either the entire page is loaded or the user starts to interact. Ideally, the largest part of the screen should load in under 2.5 seconds.
Google will now measure Interactivity using First Input Delay (FID) that evaluates page responsiveness. This looks specifically at how long it takes a page to react to a user’s input, such as a click or pressing a key. Ideally, the time taken for the site to react should be under 100 milliseconds.
Visual stability is measured by Cumulative Layout Shift (CLD) that evaluates how much the content moves around after the page has loaded. This can cause a user to click on the wrong content with even more changes then made to the page, creating a great source of frustration. This is addressed by correctly sizing images and videos and not adding new content before existing content, with content loading from top to bottom. No more than 10% of the page should shift during loading.
Use schema markup
Schema markup helps search engines understand the structure and relationship of content on your website to provide richer search results for users. This is also known as structured data.
The language uses HTML tags to describe the content to the search engines. The tags can be anything such as opening hours, phone numbers, cooking times, event details and so on. Once the tags have been added, the search engines use this information to create rich snippets that provide more detailed information for the user to select the right website. This is essential information for local services such as a local car garage or restaurant with a specific geographical catchment.
Google has a structured markup helper that will help you allocate the right tags and structure your content correctly. Simply go to the helper, select the content, add your URL and then add the relevant tags by highlighting text and following the drop-down menu selection. Then, follow the instructions for adding the markup to the header section of your website. Make sure you test it and address any issues highlighted by the tool
Content optimisation: creating great content
Creating truly effective web content is another reason why you need SEO. Optimising for search engines requires attention to length, structure and keywords you want to optimise for. There are several tools available to help you with all of these aspects. Keywords must be used as naturally as possible and ensure that your main keyword appears in the title, first paragraph, as well as in the meta title and meta description.
Pay particular attention to the length of content used by your competitors. If your content is 1,000 words long and your competitors are working along the lines of 5,000 words, then you should consider adding more content.
Structure is important, so make sure you use headings to break up your content as well as adding HTML tags.
Google EAT SEO
Google EAT stands for expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness. The acronym summarises the overall experience based on content and the creator of that content (recognised experts). Google uses these three “pillars” to evaluate the quality of a website.
To improve in these areas for SEO, ensure that content is correctly attributed and carries a date. Tread carefully with some content such as Covid-19 information that saw a spate of issues concerning misinformation. Avoid anything unethical or where you are unsure as to the origin of the data or content.
Build quality links
Most marketers know that link building services are important for helping with rankings, but it is the quality of those links that are critical. Pay attention to the website those links are coming from. Is it similar in theme to your own? Is it a website with plenty of good, quality content and high user engagement?
Outreach is important in building your community of partners for backlinks. It is much better to have a wide variety of backlink sources than to have a large number from only one source. Put your emphasis on editorial organic backlinks that carry a much higher weight with Google.
Make sure you include a “dofollow” instruction in your links and ensure they are included in copy rather than in footers, sidebars and elsewhere on your website.
Prioritise local SEO
If your business has a geographical catchment, then make SEO services for local business your top priority. Use Google My Business to help you get set up and make sure you are using all the features in the dashboard to promote your business locally.
Don’t forget to add local schema markup to your website to promote your business in local search results – at the very least, ensure that name, address and phone number are included.
Search Engine Results Page rankings come from organic, paid and SERP features. The content that makes up the results has become so complex that it can be difficult to keep up and appear in the top results. Being featured (but not necessarily first position) is key to success, and there are several steps you can take to improve your rankings:
- Use schema markup to create rich snippets.
- Focus on text formatting for featured snippets with HTML tags, keywords and query-like headings.
- Implement alt-tags with keywords for images and markup for videos in timestamps and closed captions.
Use available tools to help analyse how your competitors are ranking with SERP features and identify any gaps.
One of the most common questions in digital marketing is “how to get my website noticed on Google?” Hopefully, with our tips, we’ve been able to provide you with some ideas as well as answer our original question of why is SEO important?
We’ve seen that making the most of SEO is all about analysis, careful and strategic use of the features valued by search engines and ongoing review and adjustment as necessary. We’ve explored that it’s critical to keep an eye on your competition as well to ensure you outrank them on the searches.
If you’re not sure where to start on your SEO journey, we’d recommend a digital audit to give you insight into your current situation. From there, you can decide on the tactics that make the most sense for your business, industry and audience.