To present search results, Google searches the web with automated programs called web crawlers on a regular basis, before analysing and indexing the pages it has learnt about by crawling. The internet is overloaded with information that needs to be sorted in some way if anyone is to find what they are looking for. Google relies on algorithm ranking systems based on many factors, including the keywords used in a search, the relevance and usefulness of a page, the expertise of sources and the user’s location and settings.
Beyond looking at relevant keywords in the title, body text and metadata, the systems also analyse text based on its quality, difficulty in consideration of the target audience, readability and usability. By considering these factors in your writing, you can improve a website’s ranking and boost its visibility in search results.
But why do I need SEO?
There wouldn’t be much point of having a website in the first place if nobody could find it, would there? Unfortunately, we can say the same for websites that don’t rank highly in search results because people very often find what they’re looking for on the first page of Google. Think about it – how often do you honestly keep scrolling to the eighth or ninth page to find something? Not very often, right?
And that’s exactly why every website is competing to get to the top of Google’s search results. If you want to have any chance of ranking that highly, you’ll need to get to grips with SEO. Trust us, that’s what everyone else is relying on. The good news is that SEO is something that everyone can master. Plus, it’s a level playing field for small businesses and big-name corporations alike.
So how do I do SEO?
As a general rule of thumb, Google looks favourably on websites that have been designed with their readers in mind. That means providing a short and informative summary of the site content on the homepage and keeping the URL structure clear, for instance. Most importantly of all, though, you need to include relevant keywords and produce high-quality content.
Keywords are the words and phrases that people might use to search for and find your website. You should settle on one or two keywords for every page on your website and then include them in the main copy and the meta title. Make sure that you use different keywords for each page of your website to avoid forcing your pages to compete with each other. Often, the best way to get started is to analyse all the keywords that could possibly be relevant to a business. Create a word tree to categorise those keywords and provide a foundation for the website structure. (Watch this space for another blog post on keyword analysis and writing with SEO in mind.)
Keywords can be single words or longer phrases (known as long-tail keywords). If you’re using a long-tail keyword, take care not to change it throughout the text. In other words, don’t change the order of the words in the phrase or split the phrase up by adding another word. Plurals and declensions are fine apart from in a title or meta description.
It’s important that keywords always fit in with the website’s content. Using keywords solely on the basis that they are probably often used in searches won’t achieve much. And nor will repeating keywords over and over again in an attempt to improve the ranking.
- What not to do: “We sell organic fruit and vegetables at our organic farm. Fruit and vegetables from our organic farm are always organic. You can buy organic fruit and vegetables at our organic farm. The specialists in organic fruit and vegetables can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org.”
If you write something like this, the clever search algorithm will punish you for using irrelevant keywords and repetition by pushing the website further down the search results.
- Try this instead: “We are busy producing organic fruit and vegetables for you at our farm in the Zürcher Oberland in Switzerland. You can always find inspiration for meals made with seasonal produce at our organic farm shop. We can even deliver direct to your door! Email us to find out more: email@example.com”
This is a vast improvement on the first example because it includes a location, addresses the reader directly, features additional keywords, is more informative and ends with a call to action (CTA).
Beyond the keywords, the content needs to be relevant and provide value to the reader. High-quality copy encourages people to spend longer looking at a website – another factor that determines the Google ranking. If you craft good copy, it’s also more likely that other websites will link to yours and that can only be good news for your ranking.
More SEO tips heading your way…
We’ll be looking more closely at how to analyse keywords and write with SEO in mind in another blog post soon. Stay tuned!
Did you enjoy reading this post? Have you tried your hand at SEO? Send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.