An Intro to SEO – Part 2

Last time

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!

SEO with google analytics

An Intro to SEO – Part 1

If you have anything to do with managing a website or marketing for your business, I bet you’ve heard of SEO.

SEO (search engine optimisation) is one of the most valuable channels available to ensure the success of your website. It’s also a practice that’s notorious for technical jargon, sketchy operators and constant changes in what to do and what not to do.

So, what exactly is SEO and why is it important?

To break it down to its simplest form, SEO is any activity that helps improve your website’s organic (not paid for) search rankings. The higher your website ranks for organic search results; the more likely people are to visit your website!

page 2 of google meme

Simple, right?

Wrong.

Why is SEO so complicated?

We’ll use Google for this article, because Google is the world’s largest search engine and is pretty much responsible for the state of modern SEO.

At the end of the day, Google wants to provide the best possible experience to the end user. The end user in most cases is someone looking for a solution to a problem. Google wants to solve that problem with speed, efficiency and simplicity so that person has a positive experience and will likely turn to Google again the next time they have a problem.

So how does Google decide which website has the best quality and most relevant information for that person?

The algorithm (queue heavenly choir…)

Google has a super-secret algorithm that it uses to check and index just about every publicly available website in the world. What does it check for? Thousands and thousands of factors, covering everything from the technical structure and website content to page speed and user friendliness.

The Google search algorithm
The algorithm…

The algorithm is a closely guarded secret, but Google will occasionally give hints and tips on what people should be doing. It’s also updated quite regularly to adapt to changes in trends and technology, because Google is all about the end user.

How does Google know which websites to show people?

Have you ever noticed that little message at the top of a search results page that says something like -20,000,000,000 results in 0.50 seconds-?

This doesn’t mean that Google has just raced through 20 billion websites in half a second before deciding which ones best match your search term.

Google uses a little piece of software called a bot to scour a website from top to bottom on a regular basis, checking every aspect of the website and feeding the data into its proprietary algorithm.

It learns what kind of information is on the site, how easy the site is to use, how fast the site loads, whether it has links to other websites and thousands of other signals.

By doing this, it builds an enormous index of websites so that when a person makes a search for specific information, Google can provide a list of webpages that are more likely to contain the most relevant and highest quality information for that person.

Google is constantly updating this index by crawling just about every publicly available website in the world so it always has a fast and easy to read “map” of websites and information and can point someone in the right direction almost instantly.

Like sands through the hourglass, so is the drama of SEO

SEO is a big industry, encompassing everything from freelancers doing piecemeal work to large agencies dedicated entirely to SEO. There’s one thing that’s common to all SEO practitioners – drama.

SEO is an ever-evolving industry, simply for the fact that the way people look for information is ever-evolving. Technology, consumer behaviour, culture and trends all influence the way people look for and consume information, so Google is constantly adapting both its products (Chrome Browser, Android OS etc.) and its search algorithm.

Updates to Google’s search algorithm are infamous in the SEO industry. Whenever Google is gearing up to introduce an update, most of the time they’ll give the industry a bit of warning by announcing the new version, its name and some hints and tips about what’s changing and how best to adapt your strategy.

Some of these updates over the years have been relatively minor and haven’t required SEO professionals to adapt their strategies and practices much, if at all. On the other hand, some updates have caused absolute meltdowns and forced SEO professionals to overhaul everything.

google makes the rules simpsons gif
Google makes and enforces the rules of SEO

You might have heard about some of these updates by the cute names that Google gives them, like Penguin, Panda, Fred or Bert (their most recent update).

Some are better known by the nicknames bestowed by the industry, like the Earth shattering 2015 Mobilegeddon update, when Google shifted their search algorithm to mobile first website indexing over the traditional desktop first method.

The Dark Side

There’s another reason Google are always changing the way they rank websites: Black Hat SEO. Like any industry, there’s the good guys (white hat) and the bad guys (black hat). White hat SEO professionals play by the rules, use reliable and proven techniques and most importantly, play by Google’s rules. White hat SEO is a slow and methodical process – it’s incredibly time intensive work, but it pays off in the long run.

Blackhat SEO is the practice of improving a website’s search rankings by cheating the system or going against search engine guidelines. Through trial and error, dodgy Black Hat practitioners have figured out specific techniques that can achieve phenomenal short-term results but can earn harsh penalties if they get caught.

the dark side of seo
The dark side of SEO…

Google is focused on the end user’s experience and won’t tolerate websites that jeopardize that experience. Google doesn’t want to expose a user to a dodgy website that doesn’t contain the information they’re after or that might pose a risk to the user.

Some of these dodgy techniques include:

  • Keyword Stuffing – the practice of stuffing every part of a webpage with high value keywords. Both the visible content that a user sees and the technical content that a search engine sees are stuffed with specific keywords to try and rank highly for those terms.
  • Cloaking – the practice of presenting one lot of content to a search engine and different content to a human user
  • Link farming – using a website or a network of websites with the sole purpose of hosting outgoing links instead of content

That’s just a few techniques, but the full list is massive and there have been some quite ingenious practices invented over time to try and game Google’s algorithm.

Google however is constantly investigating new methods of black hat SEO and updating its algorithm accordingly. If you get caught cheating, Google will penalise you and bury your website deep in the SERPs (search engine results pages), which depending on your business, can have a disastrous impact.

If you do get penalised (you’ll know for sure if you get a message in your Google Search Console account), you’ll have to go about fixing whatever issues Google identified with your site. Don’t take this lightly! In Google’s eyes, you’ve broken the law and must atone for your sins. Fix whatever Google has told you you’re doing wrong, triple check that your fix actually addresses the problem and submit a Reconsideration Request in the Manual Actions Report of your Search Console account (you will only see the Reconsider Request option if you have been penalised).

Some people are willing to risk it for the biscuit, some people are happy to toe the line, but for many businesses and SEO professionals, it’s just not worth it.


This is part 1 of our Intro to SEO series – check the Intro to SEO – Part 2 here. If you have any questions about SEO for your website (or SEO in general), please leave us a message from the form below, give us a call on 0409 111 776 or drop in to our office and say hi!

You can also run a FREE website SEO audit on your website to see check what state your SEO is in.

smart device icons

The rise of the smart assistant

OK Google, tell Alexa to ask Siri to remind Bixby…

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a weird and wonderful aspect of our modern society. The IoT refers to all the devices we use that are connected to the internet that collect and share data.

And it’s MASSIVE.

It goes way beyond your phone and computer! Cheap processors and our ever-expanding wireless networks have given birth to an astonishing range of devices, gadgets, tools and doodads used for personal and professional purposes across the world.

Here’s a short list of some of the devices of the IoT:

  • Phones
  • Tablets
  • Computers
  • Smart watches
  • Any device that’s part of a smart home network (light bulbs, fridges, thermostats, doorbell cameras, TV remote controls, toothbrushes, security cameras, door locks, air conditioners, scales, vacuums…) the list is endless! 
  • Blood pressure and heart rate monitors
  • Cars
  • Military and aviation devices

In fact, smart clothing is already here! Google have collaborated with Levi’s to develop a range of smart clothing that integrates with your phone. You can use gestures and features of the jacket to control certain functions on your phone, like a smart watch.

One of the biggest aspects of the ever-evolving Internet of Things is smart assistants. Google, Alexa, Siri, Bixby, Cortana… there’s a bunch of them and they’re starting to appear in more and more devices. Smart assistants have a range of purposes, but to keep it simple, they’re a piece of software than can perform tasks or services for an individual based on voice prompts.

You have your standalone smart assistants like Amazon’s Echo Dot & Echo smart speakers with Alexa, Google’s Home Mini, Home & Home Hub with Google Assistant, but that’s just the start.

Smart assistants are now being installed into a range of regular household and personal items and some of them are just weird.

Take for example, the Numi 2.0 Intelligent Toilet. Yes, that’s right – a smart toilet. This monstrously expensive bathroom ornament has mood lighting, surround sound, automatically opens, flushes and closes and has individual user profiles. Where does Alexa fit in? Choosing your music settings and ordering more toilet paper, obviously.

The rise of the smart assistant

Smart assistants have been around for a while now and they’re already changing the way we look for information, find new brands or products and even how spend our money. Instead of typing “show me a recipe for chocolate cake” or “where is the nearest GP to me” in your favourite search engine, smart assistants allow you to ask the question using your voice, which is especially helpful when your hands are busy and you can ask one of your smart assistant enabled devices.

A white paper by iProspect in 2018 found that 57% of Australian respondents had adopted voice search and the numbers only get higher for other countries. iProspect Asia Pacific CEO Joanna Catalano said:

The transformative impact of voice technology is being felt across the globe. Brands that aren’t reacting to this burgeoning technology risk becoming invisible sooner than they think across key customer touch points. This piece of research explores the proliferation of voice technology across the region and key considerations for brands when crafting a voice strategy.


https://www.bandt.com.au/study-57-aussies-use-voice-search/

The change in the way consumer’s look for information has changed the way brands present and market their goods or services. Any business with a website should be using SEO techniques, but with the rise of smart assistants, it’s vital for brands to adapt their top-level marketing strategy and their SEO strategy.

Google has been working with large brands to help them develop a voice technology strategy. One of the first things Google asks its clients is:

Consider the kind of explicit or specific phrases consumers might use when they’re searching, such as “Play the Today Show” or “Give me a recipe for roast chicken.” Equally important to think about, however, are open-ended or implicit commands, like “I want to watch TV” or “What should I have for dinner?”


https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/intl/en-aunz/advertising-channels/search/voice-technology-strategy/

How can brands take advantage of voice search?

Taking a customer-first approach and building web experiences for question-based queries is the best strategy brands can use to ensure they’re getting a good piece of the voice search pie.

Collecting good quality data is key here. You don’t want to make the mistake of optimising your content for what you think your customers are searching for. Set up quality analytics tools, start collecting data on what your target audience and website visitors are searching for so you can optimise your content for what you know your customers are searching for.

Once you’re collecting the right data, you’ll start to notice are telling you exactly what they’re searching for. Search queries like “where is”, “near me” and “what” give you further insight into exactly what information someone is looking for and how you can help give it to them.

Get on board the voice search train

Voice search has already become a regular tool of consumer’s shopping and decision-making process. People are using it to find information on businesses, services, products and even content they’re interested in and smart assistant are being installed into more and more devices.

Have a look at your website content – does it align with the questions people are asking about your products or services? If not, it’s time to collect some data and create some new content.

Or, repeat this line: “Ok Google/Alexa, call Lion & Lamb so they can help me with my website.”

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