A not-so-scary guide to mastering SEO basics for your blog
If you have had a website designed or have a website, you have taken the first step to marketing your business online, the next step is optimising it so people can find it. Chances are the first place you think of is ranking well in Google. At first glance, the art of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) may seem overwhelmingly complicated. You could find yourself spending hours trawling through blog posts on MOZ & Search Engine Land only to find yourself more confused than you were before you started.
There is an overwhelming amount of SEO guides out there. With Google not entirely forthcoming with what makes websites rank in Organic search results (unpaid Google search results), many online guides are based on theory and trial and error.
So you can avoid the nonsense, we have compiled a simple guide that extracts the basics what will help you rank in Google search results.
Step 1: Establish exactly what people are searching for around your niche
Obviously, you must first define what you want your site to rank for. But how do you know what people are searching for?
There are a number of tools which allow you to see roughly how many people are searching for specific terms, within NZ each month. The best place to start is with Google’s Keyword Research Tool.
This tool allows you to type in a few search terms that you believe you should be targeting and generates both monthly search rates and other keyword suggestions that have decent search frequency.
It is important to note, that the search terms that you think your website should tank for, may not necessarily be what people are searching for. If your business is B2C, it pays to avoid terms that are industry jargon.
Also important to realise, if your website is relatively new, Google will not rank you for highly searched, competitive terms. This means you need to be savvy with what you optimise for. For example, if you are an Auckland based accountant, it will be difficult to rank for “Auckland Accountants” as it is highly competitive. Start with something more specific, if you are based in Albany, try for more specific terms such as “Albany Accountants” or “Albany Accounting Services”.
Although these are less searched, it is much more fruitful to rank on page 1 for “Albany Accountants” than on page 4 for “Auckland Accountants”.
These types of search phrases are known as long-tail search terms – these are the best place to start when optimising your website.
Step 2: On-page SEO
The first and most important aspect of ranking is on-page optimisation. On-page aspects of your website are elements that are either visible on the website or are editable in the backend (administrative side) of the website.
Once you have established your target keyword in step one, you need to work these into the on-page elements. These include the page Title Tag (The heading of the website visible in the web browser tab), The Meta-Description (The short description of your website that shows in Google search results), Page Headings and Copy.
By working your target keywords into these elements, Google will have a better understanding of what your website is about and then rank you higher for these terms.
However, there are some common pitfalls that many make when trying to optimise their website’s on-page.
i. Copy & Pasted Content
Never copy text from another site on the web and paste it into your website. Google devalues unoriginal content, meaning all written content on your website needs to be original
ii.Over-optimising your copy
While you need to include your target keywords in your websites body copy, don’t make the mistake of over-optimisation. As a general rule, ensure that text content is easily readable for your websites visitors and does not excessively overuse keywords.
Step 3: Off-page SEO
To compete in among the highly competitive search terms (i.e. “Auckland Accountant”, “Outdoor Heaters”, “NZ Real Estate Agents” etc.), you need sound off-page SEO.
Off-page SEO is how many sites link to your website. Google treats links as votes of confidence, so a link from an established, trusted website comes with more ranking benefit. Also important is how relevant the website linking to you is to your business niche. If you are a builder, for example, a link from another trade person’s website is seen as highly relevant and therefore offers greater ranking benefit.
The best place to start is by utilising your network. If there are other local businesses you work with, ask for them to place a link on their website to yours. Many businesses will have a “Suppliers” page something which you can also emulate so you can repay the favour.
Another good starting point is online NZ business directories. There are a number of such directories which allow you to list your website either for free, or for a small fee.
Another great tactic to acquiring a link is approaching website owners to write a guest blog post for their website’s blog. Find a site that is in your niche and thus your area of expertise and ask if you can contribute a well-written, interesting article, in exchange for a link back to your site.
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