Search engine optimisation (SEO) – it's all over the marketing and PR forums at the minute, but if you've got no experience in it, SEO can be a minefield to get your head around. There's new terminology, new tools and new concepts to learn, and what's more, Google never stays still. You might think you know everything now, but in a month's time the search engine giant might completely revamp its algorithms, and you'll have to change your SEO tactics yet again.
Although SEO is constantly changing, there are some essentials that will always hold true, and it's best to learn them as early as possible if you want to pursue content marketing in your communication department.
1) Put yourself in the audience's shoes
The most important thing to do when getting to grips with SEO is to put yourself in your audience's shoes. To rank highly on Google, your content needs to be the most relevant to someone's incoming query. So all content creation should start with that potential query in mind.
For example, if you run a retail business that sells trainers, you'll want to create content that directly answers questions your audience is likely to have. For example, "what are the best running shoes?" will be a query that many have googled in the past. However, key players in the running shoes industry will rank highly on this query – think your Runner's World or Athlete's Foot.
You have a much better chance of ranking if you make your search term more specific. For example, consider creating content that answers the question "what are the best cross country running shoes?" or, "what are the best running shoes for a middle aged person?" This will help show Google that your content is as relevant as possible.
2) Optimise your website
Website optimisation is linked to the principle of putting yourself in the target market's shoes. Think of app designers – user experience is always high up on the agenda. You might have a great idea for an app, one that meets many people's needs, however if that app isn't easy to use or looks bad, it's still not going to sell.
The same rule must apply to your content. Your website needs to load quickly, using a good quality server and featuring good quality coding. Google will automatically penalise your website if it's not easy to use or read, or if it is slow to load. So even if you have the most relevant content in the world, it's never going to rank highly on Google if the website doesn't look good and doesn't have the end user in mind.
Remember to consider how your content works on mobile as well. In 2017, mobile formed the majority of internet traffic, standing at 52.64 per cent, according to Statista. This trend is only set to continue as mobile becomes more widespread, so it's worth getting your website optimised for mobile as early as possible.
3) Use social media
Google doesn't operate alone – it also tracks how your content is doing on social media sites. This means to improve your chances of ranking you'll need to ensure you're amplifying content through social media. Conduct market research to discover what platforms your audience use the most, and make sure you set up accounts on these platforms.
Share new content as it comes in, and encourage engagement by replying to people's comments and creating campaigns that encourages them to share the content as well (for example by offering prizes to someone who tags their friends in the comments section of the post).
If Google can see that your content is getting meaningful engagement on social media, it is much more likely to bump up the SEO rankings.
4) Learn the basics: Keywords, linking and quality content
As important as all of this is, it's also essential that you don't forget the basics. Keywords are the main way in which people will arrive at your content, so ensure you're including these in your titles and meta descriptions (the short summary of your content that appears under the title in the search page – if you're not including this you should be!).
Adding keywords into the URL is also a good way to ensure Google knows your content is relevant to the query being searched.
Inbound links onto your website from authoritative sources will also help Google to rank, and you should make sure you're linking to other relevant pieces of content as much as possible. Just know that Google also has criteria for penalising when it comes to SEO, and paying others to link to your site or creating links that look spammy certainly falls under that category.
Likewise, it's not just a case that content is king – it needs to be quality content. This means unique posts that aren't just duplicating something else on your site or on a competitor's.
If you can create truly unique content that adds value to your audience and takes into account user experience, you'll stand in excellent stead to rank highly on Google. For more information on how to improve the visibility of your brand, visit Salt & Shein's Insights page today!