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An Intro to SEO – Part 2

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We ended the Intro to SEO Part 1 on some of the shadier techniques of SEO, also known as Blackhat SEO. In part 2, we’re going to discuss the best practice SEO techniques, tools and strategies of optimising your website, also known as Whitehat SEO.  

What is SEO Best Practice?

Best practice SEO is constantly changing due to the nature of the internet, technology and consumer behaviour. As I mentioned in the last article, Google is all about the end user and is dedicated to finding and presenting the right information from the right website in the right format at the right time.

Think about the evolution of how people access and engage with the internet compare to just 10 years ago – we may as well have been cavemen! Google has managed to tag along for the ride and has been guiding the way people use technology, look for information and make decisions. They have also shaped the SEO industry with constant updates and versions to their search algorithms, keeping SEOs, businesses and webmasters on their toes to make sure the end user is happy.

What may have been best practice 2 years ago may now earn you a harsh search penalty from Google and destroy your online presence, so it’s vital for anyone even remotely involved with website optimisation to keep relatively up to date with the industry and what the boffins at Google are recommending. 

Grandpa Simpson used to be with SEO
Grandpa Simpson used to be with SEO

Best practice SEO can be time consuming and resource intensive, but it pays off massively in the long run and you minimise your chances of getting on Google’s bad side.

SEO Strategy

Before anything else, you need a strategy. All your SEO efforts should be following the same strategy and working towards the same goals, otherwise you’re straight up wasting your time. A strategy will guide everything you do, from the audience you’re trying to target, to the quality and quantity of competition, to the keywords important to your business. Some of this information will come from the business’ own brand and marketing strategy, but most of it will need to be thoroughly researched and planned.

Keyword Strategy

The way keywords are researched and used in SEO has changed dramatically over the years, but their importance has not. A keyword strategy is developing a list of primary, secondary and sometimes tertiary keywords that will dictate a large component of your optimisation efforts. Your keywords must match certain criteria:

They have to be relevant to your business and its products/services – This one is pretty obvious. You want to target keywords that have something to do with your business i.e. Joe’s Vacuum Emporium will be targeting keywords like vacuums, best vacuum, cheapest vacuum, best vacuum for carpets etc. Your keywords have to match potential customers to your business.

They have to be relevant to your customers – This is where your research comes in. You can’t just put together a list of keywords that have something to do with your business without researching whether people are actually searching for them. There’s no point in Joe spending time, money and effort in trying to rank “Joe’s Super Summer Sucker Sale” if no one is actually searching for Joe’s Summer vacuum sale.

They have to be a mix of head terms and long tail keywords – head terms are the very broad, top level phrases that people will often start a search with, whereas long tail keywords are the longer, more detailed and highly specific phrases that people use. Head terms are important to target because they’re often used when people are just beginning their search for information i.e. someone searching for “vacuums” just as they start their search for a new vacuum.

Long tail keywords are just as important because they signal a higher level of intent. Someone searching for “Joe’s Vacuums price for Supersonic Vacuum 300” are obviously interested in buying a vacuum because they’re looking for the price of a specific model from a specific store. A great keyword strategy will be a combination of head terms and long tail keywords, but do your research! 

Is there competition for them? – Be very careful about the keywords you decide to target, because the higher the competition for a keyword, the more work and resources you’ll need to put in to compete for it. Joe’s Vacuums won’t need to do too much to rank highly for “Joe’s Vacuums” but the word “vacuums” is a different story. In this case, Joe will be competing against other major retailers, housekeeping and home interest topic blogs and news sites and even vacuum manufacturers themselves. Does Joe have the resources to compete against Hoover, LG or Dyson? Probably not.  

You have to be able to work it into your content – Gone are the days when you could stuff keywords into every part of your website so Google couldn’t possibly miss what keywords you were using. In fact, if you do that today, Google will write your website off for its poor quality and spammy material at best, or slap you with a search penalty at worst, meaning you’ll slide down into the back pages of their search results.

Google looks for original, high quality, informative and engaging content on websites because that benefits the end user. Make sure you’re using your keywords appropriately and keep your keyword density at around 5% (keyword density is the number of times your keyword is used in your copy relative to the rest of your copy, so for 100 words aim to use your keyword 5 times). 

This is a brief introduction to SEO keyword strategy, but the main takeaway is RESEARCH! There’s a million and one different paid and free tools across the internet that will help you research, plan and build your keyword strategy. Your own Google Analytics and Google Search Console accounts are a great place to start as they’ll give you an understanding of the types of keywords people are using to find your website.

A couple of fantastic free tools are the Free Google Keyword Tool and the Keyword Research Tool 2.0 by SEO Review Tools. They’ll help you get an idea of search volume and competition for any keywords you want to target as well as helping you discover related words you might not have thought about. 

Google Analytics & Search Console

It’s vital that you set up these two tools. They are the bread and butter of digital marketing and should be set up the day your website goes live. Google Analytics is the industry standard website data analytics tool, while Google Search Console is a tool for webmasters (website owners) to verify ownership of a website in Google’s eyes so webmasters can access data and insights relating to how a website performs in search results. Google Search Console is also a crucial tool for performing a number of critical actions for maintaining and improving your website’s search presence.

google analytics screenshot
A Google Analytics account dashboard

They’re both free, relatively simple to use and incredibly powerful. If you don’t have them set up, contact us ASAP and we’ll sort it out for you. The sooner you start collecting data, the more information you’ll have to base future decisions on and you might be able to identify any urgent issues affecting your website results that you didn’t know about!

You should always be monitoring how people are interacting with your website, regardless of any marketing activity you’re running. This will give you a good understanding of how people interact with your site, what pages they spend time on, what pages they’re not spending time on, how they got to your website in the first place… the list is endless.

The point is, when you’re undertaking any marketing or SEO activity, these tools allow you to measure your results so you can tell what’s working and what’s not.

On-page SEO

On-page SEO is any activity undertaken that happens on your website – both the front end (what users see), the back end (what website admins see) and the page technical structure (the code and the files on your site). On-page SEO is super important because it displays the quality, safety and ease of use for users and search engines.

Think of on-page SEO as running a hotel – a hotel will clean their rooms and premises while doing everything they can to make sure guests enjoy their stay, right? A website’s on-page SEO is the same concept, except your making sure your hotel is presentable for guests, health inspectors, hotel reviewers and anyone else that’s looking for a good hotel.

When you have a nice, clean, welcoming hotel with great facilities, people are going to want to come and stay and the good reviews will come flooding in. Travel journalists and hotel reviewers will write amazing articles about your hotel which will encourage even more people to come and stay. 

There are thousands of different On-page SEO techniques, but some of the more important ones include:

Page Speed

This is crucial! Google indexes and ranks for a website’s mobile friendly performance over its desktop performance, so your site is slow on mobile you risk turning visitors away before they’ve even started looking at your site! There are many factors that affect page speed; some of them you will be able to change and some of them will need to be changed by a web developer, an SEO professional or your hosting company.

man going fast
SEO has the need – the need for speed

One of the most important aspects of page speed is image optimisation. For the love of bandwidth, please don’t upload photos you’ve taken on your phone straight to your website. You can optimise your images for both dimension (the actual size of the image, measured in pixels) and file size (measured in bytes, KB and MB).

Before you upload an image to your site, make sure you’ve resized it to an appropriate pixel dimension using an image editing tool like Microsoft Photos, Mac Photos, Microsoft Paint or any other software you have access to. Once that’s done, use a free image optimising tool that will shrink your image file size while maintaining the image quality and dimensions.

Use of Keywords

Keywords (also called search queries or search terms) help search engines understand what your content is about, as well as being the actual terms that people search for. Make sure you have inserted your keywords into important parts of your webpage, but do it so everything reads smoothly and naturally. Like we mentioned in Part 1, keyword stuffing is a Blackhat technique and can hurt your website. Make sure your keywords are found in your page title meta tags, page description meta tags, H1 tags, website content and image alt tags.

Regular, Quality & Original Content

Good quality content (like blog posts) is the bedrock of good SEO. If you are publishing original, informative and relevant content that attracts and engages your users, search engines will take notice and give your website massive brownie points. When writing your content, be sure that it’s relevant to your business, industry or customers. DO NOT STEAL CONTENT! It’s perfectly OK to reference content from another business’ website, but if you are straight up copying and pasting large chunks, search engines will take note and slap you down with a penalty.

Internal Links

Internal links play a major part in on-page SEO because when used correctly, they help direct website users to other valuable pages on your site that they may not have found by themselves. They also signal to search engines that the content on linked pages is important and search engines should pay attention. Link building is another major component of SEO, but we’ll get to that in the next article.    

Best practice SEO is all about quality and simplicity

If your web page loads quickly, user experience is awesome and has high quality content, you’re doing it right. Keep up the good work and watch your search rankings improve and your traffic grow!

This is part 2 of our intro to SEO series. The next instalment will be on our site soon, but if you have any questions about SEO for your site or SEO in general, drop us a line! We’re always happy to talk to people about their projects. You can leave us a message through the contact form below, call us on 0413 353 013 or drop in to our office for a coffee.

You can also check the current health of your website SEO with our free website SEO audit tool! It’s completely free; there’s no obligation and you’ll be emailed a website SEO health report in minutes!

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Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

SEM is an umbrella term used to describe any activity that uses search engines to promote your website and/or business. The two main components of SEM are PPC advertising (pay-per-click) and SEO (Search Engine Optimisation).

PPC Advertising is the practice of running paid ads on a publisher’s network to drive traffic to a website – you’re essentially paying for people to visit your website.

PPS involves targeting specific keywords or phrases or even targeting a topic, so that when someone visits Google and searches the keyword you’re targeting, your advertisement can appear and you will be charged if that person clicks on your ad.

Prices can vary wildly depending on how many businesses are targeting that specific keyword, but if you pay $5 for someone to click on your ad and visit your website and that person purchases a product worth $100, that’s a pretty great return!

When PPC is done right, it can achieve sensational results for your business.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

SEO is all about organic traffic, or traffic that you haven’t paid for.

Organic traffic is the art of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website from people making search queries in search engines like Google, Bing & Yahoo.

Organic Traffic is incredibly valuable to the success of your website and your business. People that find your website through a search engine are more valuable as those people are specifically searching for something related to your business. They’re already actively engaging with what you have to offer when they reach your website.

SEO covers a wide range of work but focuses on two areas – on page optimisation and off page optimisation.

On Page Optimisation involves making sure your website is easy to use, is well designed, has plenty of fresh, relevant content and adheres to technical specifications that search engines like to see.

Off Page Optimisation involves work done outside of your website that improves your search rankings. This can include building links from other websites to your website, social media activity & engagement as well as local SEO.

SEO can be a bit overwhelming, but is definitely worth it if you want your website to be achieving the best possible results. Lion & Lamb will work closely with you to understand your business and product or service offering to ensure that we are driving the highest quality traffic to your website.

EMAIL MARKETING

Email marketing is one of the most valuable and effective tools in your marketing toolbox. It’s cheap, can reach large audiences and provides valuable data about content that works and content that doesn’t. You might associate email marketing with all the spam in your inbox, but a well-crafted email campaign shouldn’t feel like spam at all.

A great email marketing campaign can:

improve customer relationships – email marketing relies on people having given their email address to you in return for news, updates, events or any other pertinent information about your business that a customer or client may find valuable. When you send out a thoughtful email with an exciting update, your customers know that you’re thinking about them.

Promote your knowledge – chances are that if you’re a small business owner, you’re an expert in your field. Not every email needs to be selling something – you can give your customers some insight on a product or a trend from the perspective of an expert and further engage your customers.

Gather valuable information – depending on the program you use to send your business email campaigns, you should have access to a treasure trove of information about how many people opened the email, how long they had the email open, what content was received better, what subject lines work better, what factors sent people to your website or even what factors led to a purchase.

With this information, you can constantly improve your campaigns for better results.

If you’re interested in running an email marketing campaign, get in touch for a chat! We’ll sit down with you to work out what you want to promote and how to go about it. We can then design a stunning email campaign for you that reaches your customers, says the right thing and gets results!

BRANDING

Branding is a mixture of strategy, marketing, design and communication.

A well-designed and executed brand is so much more than a logo and a style guide; it tells a story about your business- who you are, what you do and how you do it. Your branding should dictate how and where you talk to your customers and how a customer should feel after interacting with you.

A weak brand means a business is already playing catch up with the competition.

Every business needs a strong brand to ensure the best possible public perception of who you are and what you do. A strong, unique brand is important for:

Standing out from the crowd – why be another boring corporate copy when you can be unique? An exceptional brand is a steppingstone to exceptional results.

Brand awareness and recognition – a unique and memorable brand stays in a customer’s head. If they have a great first interaction with your business, the next time they’re in need of your product or service, they’ll think of you!

Telling your brand story – your brand helps give potential customers an idea what to expect to expect from your business overall as well as your products or service. Cheap brand, cheap company. Fantastic brand, amazing products and service!

Encouraging your whole business – a fun and lively brand can help motivate staff and other internal stakeholders. Give your people something to be excited about!

Generating more business – word of mouth is one of the most powerful tools for any business. A customer that’s enjoyed your brand and had a positive experience with your business is far more likely to recommend you to friends or family, so give them a reason to pass on the good word!

A great brand should give your business, your staff and your customers direction and value. When we work with a business to develop their brand, we don’t just play around with a logo and a font and send you away. We sit down with you and work to understand your business, your products or service and what sets you apart from the others.

You’re proud of your business and what you do – make sure others can see that!

GRAPHIC DESIGN

A stunning piece of graphic design is not only a joy to look at, it can be the main factor in making a sale or signing up a new customer.

Like branding, graphic design says a lot about your business. Good graphic design isn’t just about creating a pretty picture; graphic design is communication. Graphic design is how you exhibit your business, your products or your services to your target market.

To earn a new customer, the customer needs to be interested in your product, right? So how do you create that interest? You make it look good!

Graphic design encompasses anything from internal company communications to product catalogues; online advertisements to business cards.

If something can be created, graphic design can be used to make it look amazing.

Lion & Lamb has a passion for good design as that’s where our business started.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Social media is a complex beast and can be difficult to get right. There are always new social media platforms appearing and existing platforms fading away into obscurity. One social media channel may be a great way to reach one demographic, but terrible for another demographic. There are so many platforms, so many methods to engage with, constant changes in trends, usage and content.

How do you keep on top of everything?

Don’t worry about it! We live and breathe social media and are always up to date on what’s trending, how to reach the right audience and how to craft the perfect message for them.

Social media is a powerful tool to engage with existing and potential customers. It can be so helpful to:

  • Create valuable dialogue between your business and exiting or potential customers (i.e. customer service, support etc.)
  • Promote brand awareness
  • Drive traffic to your website
  • Improve conversion rates both on and offline

We work with you to identify your key objectives, which channels to use and how to pull it all off. We’ll then push the button and you can sit back and watch the results roll in.

STRATEGY

Marketing strategy is a vital part of the success of any business and is all too often overlooked. Everyone has a general idea of what marketing is and the benefits it can provide for a business, but a well-defined marketing strategy is worth its weight in gold.

We will sit down with you and go through EVERYTHING! We’ll pepper you with questions to make sure that we understand every aspect of your business because, as they say, knowledge is power.

A great marketing strategy takes into account your business, your product and/or services, your target market, your competitors, your budget; pretty much everything that might impact your business and your ability to earn new business.

Because no two businesses are the same, a marketing strategy works best when it’s customized to your business. When we have every scrap of data and information we can possibly find, we’ll start with three important steps:

  1. What makes your business awesome?
  2. How do we let people know about your awesome business
  3. How to we persuade people to choose your business

We’ll work through these 3 steps with you before developing a comprehensive marketing strategy outlining what marketing channels you should be using, how you should be using them and a timeline to wrap it all up.

You’re free to use this plan however you wish. We can partner with you as your external marketing team and manage the whole plan, we can implement parts of it or you can take the plan and use it yourself!

If you’re not sure about something or you have some thoughts on how to improve the strategy, we’re a phone call away. Even better, drop by for a coffee and a chat! We’ll never understand your business or your industry as deeply as you do, so your input is vital.

Our success depends on your success, so we’re dedicated to perfecting a marketing strategy that works for you.

WEBSITES

A website can be the most valuable asset of your business. A well designed and built website can:

  • Help you reach new customers – a website is an extension of your business and a well-designed website can reach and earn your business new customers that might never have known about you without you needing to lift a finger! A professionally designed website also adds credibility to your business and helps build trust between you and potential customers.

  • Build your brand – a well-designed website can act as an incredibly powerful sales tool for your business. By displaying your product or service offering the right way, your website is effectively marketing your business to people 24/7, 365 days a year.

    People can interact with your business in their own way and time, while you can sit back and watch cheap, qualified leads fall into your business.

  • Gather important information – everyone is online these days. Whether they’re on their phone, tablet, computer, smart speaker or even in their car, the internet is a part of our lives.

    With so many people spending so much time online, a website can help capture valuable information about current trends, what people do online and most importantly, how they interact with your website. Imagine being able to track someone around a store and know how they feel, what they think about different products and whether they will buy something or not. Sounds amazing, right?

  • Share the right information – a website is such a powerful informational resource. If your business depends on sharing important information with existing or potential customers, a website is vital.

    You can share product or service tips, allow customers to leave reviews, share news about new products or an exciting industry event; the options are limitless and the benefits for your customers, your business and your brand are incredible.

  • It cuts costs – A well designed website can sell directly to customers; it can provide essential information to help a potential customer make up their mind; it’s a perfect platform to advertise your business and once it’s up and running, it’s yours to do with as you please.

    Customer service, sales, advertising and so much more all from your website means fewer overheads for other parts of your business.
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