SEO is for everyone
I find that many digital marketers would like search engine optimisation to be someone else’s job, indeed many assume that the “techies” or the “geeks” (usually known as the digital or development team or the analytics team) will do this.
But SEO is a job for everyone.
I say this because optimising your web presence for search engines is a mindset that should run through everything everyone does that contributes to that web presence. Whether you are determining strategic objectives or writing the headlines for PPC adverts you should be thinking about how this helps your (potential) customers find you.
If that is not what you currently do, you will no doubt be relieved to find out that it is remarkably simple. You don’t need to sit through a series of Google Webmaster videos (brilliant and informative though they are).
Here’s what you do.
1. Offer quality content and services
So easy to say, so hard to do. But really, if your products and services are not getting good reviews online, they are not being recommended via social media, the chances of you getting to the top of the search results and therefore into the customer’s mind are pretty slim.
2. Make your site easy to navigate
Very rarely do individual digital marketers have control over the site navigation or structure. Increasingly companies have specialist UX (user experience), CX (customer experience) or usability teams who focus specifically on that. Those clever gals and guys keep abreast of best practice and monitor what customers are doing, they try new things, they test and learn and continually optimise the site.
All you have to do is take their advice. Really, trust them, they spend a lot more time studying what works and what doesn’t. Learn from their tests, not from your own mistakes.
3. Optimise your use of images
Everyone loves a picture, a picture tells a thousand words, videos are the way ahead … We all hear this all the time. I agree with it. But rubbish pictures and tedious videos that go on and on are not the way ahead. If you are lucky enough to have specialists in your team who know how to create, source and optimise images, wonderful, buy them chocolate, make them your friends. If not, you need to brush up your skills a bit. Try starting here with the free Hubspot video on creating images for social media with PowerPoint or have a go with this image creation tool www.canva.com .
4. Create unique, accurate page titles
As long as each page on your site or in your social media presence has a clear specific purpose (and it does, right? every page has a purpose?) creating unique titles is relatively straightforward. It can be tricky when you are regularly covering the same or similar topics or you have product or service ranges that are similarly titled. But a little thought can resolve this. Or the use of a good copywriter.
5. Use heading tags appropriately
Most Content Management Systems (CMS) or Web Content Management (WCM) systems handle this for you these days. They will allow you to create headings and sub-headings and these will be linked to the HTML heading tags automatically. Sorry, did I lose you at HTML or at tags? Let me keep it simple.
The pages we read online are produced in HTML which is a computer language. There are standard ways of identifying the most important heading, the next most important heading, etc and these are called heading tags. And Google and other search engines can read those tags and use them to understand the structure and, to some extent, the meaning of the page. So, all you have to do is use the publishing system correctly.
If by some bizarre confluence of events you are creating individual pages in HTML then you will need to code the headings correctly. But if you are doing that already, I don’t think you need my help here.
6. Base what you do on keyword research
Keywords are the terms our (potential) customers use when searching online. By understanding what they are looking for we can not only do basic matching (you want black handbags? I got black handbags!) but also start to understand intent. “Buy black handbags” implies a readiness to buy, “cheap black handbags” shows us a bargain hunter or a necessity purchaser, “100% leather black handbags” tells us the shopper has quality in mind. And so on.
By knowing what customers are looking for, when and how, we can make sure that our search results are always optimised, whatever the device, the time of day or the search term.
This is an area where there are often specialist teams, particularly for online retail sites, but understanding (potential) customers search behaviour is crucial to understanding (potential) customers, and should be everyone’s business.
7. Link building
If you have great products and services and your site works well, with carefully crafted content, then surely other sites will link to you. Comparison sites, affiliate sites, blogs, social media comments, all of these are good sources for links. Sometimes this happens organically, particularly if you have a strong brand and it is easy for others to feel comfortable to link to you. Sometimes you need to invite people to do this. Who are you in contact with that you could invite?
Make it a habit
Every digital marketer needs to be aware of how their own work contributes to search engine optimisation in this way. It isn’t hard but it is often not a natural habit, it needs to be acquired.
For me, it was acquired as a hard earned lesson of realising how much less effective my own campaigns were when I didn’t get other parts of the web presence lined up with the campaign.
How have you learned to do this or what do think will be the biggest barrier to doing this? Let me know firstname.lastname@example.org .