What you need to know about SEO
Welcome to our brand-new podcast: Demystifying the Dark Arts – where Fuller’s digital marketing team will uncover and demystify the sometimes dark, and a little scary world that is digital marketing.
From Google to Facebook, to HTML coding and meta descriptions, there’s a lot to take in when it comes to digital marketing.
That’s why we have set out to make the lives of modern marketers a little easier by breaking down the “dark arts” with easy to understand language, a few laughs (and the occasional sing-along), so you can learn something new and have fun with us at the same time.
So, without further ado (adieu to you, and you, and you), grab your smart-phone, plug in your headphones, take a stroll or cook up a storm while listening to our very first episode.
Episode one: Why the name of this podcast is terrible for SEO
It’s Halloween, which means it’s the perfect time to introduce you all to the dark arts (AKA digital marketing).
In our first episode we dive straight into it, by introducing you to the greatest buzzword of the last 20 years, SEO.
Or you can listen to it on Spotify here.
What is SEO?
It sounds so easy doesn’t it? SEO, it rolls off the tongue and whenever you say it you feel very intelligent. But what does it mean? And why is it important?
Let’s start at the very beginning (a very good place to start).
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation, which is the art of making sure your website turns up on the first page of a search engine (Google, Yahoo or Bing) so people can find you.
How do you do this? Well, put simply, you need to answer search queries (or questions) relating to your brand or product better than anyone else on the internet.
Simple right? That’s it! Podcast over. Off you go and write some answers to questions.
Well… not so fast, it’s actually not that simple. In fact, good SEO is quite tricky.
There are over 200 factors that contribute to you “answering the question” properly. But don’t let that scare you, listen to our podcast and read on to discover some of the simple things you can do today to start improving your SEO.
Why is SEO so important?
This is where Google comes in. We’re going to assume that you have already met and are fairly well acquainted with the world’s most powerful search engine, but did you know that Google processes 3.5 billion searches every day? That’s 40,000 searches per second!
Don’t believe us? Head to Internet Live Stats and you can see how many Google searches have already taken place today.
This is important because the sheer amount of searches Google processes daily has given (and continues to give) the search engine an unprecedented amount of data about the people who are using it.
Google knows what information, topics and products people are interested in, where they want to go, what they want to do and how they want to do it – which makes it an incredibly powerful tool for marketers.
Fortunately, Google doesn’t keep all of this information to itself, it has created a free tool called Google Analytics, for people to install on their websites to track what people do when they get to your website and how they ended up there in the first place!
Google Analytics tells Google (and you) things like how much time people are spending on your website, how quickly they “bounce” off of it, who left, who stayed, how old they are, where they live and even what they might be interested in purchasing.
Ultimately, Google knows what questions people ask, when they ask them, what websites they go to and how they reacted to a website once they got there.
This means, if you want to sell something – yourself, your brand, your product, your event, your crochet beanies (?), Google can help you find your customers and speak to them.
How to SEO
It’s all well and good to understand why SEO is important but how does one actually do the S (to the) E (to the) O?
In our podcast (or more informally known as a blog-cast) we have taken the 200 factors of SEO, and broken them down to just three key themes: page speed, content, and mobile friendliness.
Consider these themes the starting points to your SEO strategy, get them right and you should begin to see results (business leads, phone calls, or more beanies sold) in no time.
According to Google (the fountain of all knowledge) 70% of consumers will leave a website if the page they’re on takes longer than three seconds to load.
While three seconds is a very short period of time, the introduction of smartphones and faster bandwidths have meant that people now expect instant digital gratification, which means when it comes to waiting for a website to load three seconds feels like an eternity.
So, if you want people to stay on your website, you need to make sure your website loads quickly.
But a slow page speed not only turns your potential customers off, it also impacts your Google rankings, a kind of “Google demerit point” for not providing customers with the best experience possible.
This brings us back to SEO, and the importance of answering the question better than anyone else, which in this case means quicker than anyone else.
Not sure how fast your page speed is? You can find out by using websites like GT Metrix.
Got a bad score? You’re not the only one.
To help you overcome slow page speeds, Google has built an amazing tool called Google PageSpeed, which gives you a list of all the things you can do to improve your results.
If you’re a website whiz, have a go at fixing your website speed problems yourself, or (better still) send your Google PageSpeed results to your web developer to fix the problems for you. This will improve your Google PageSpeed score and ultimately your Google rankings, driving more business and organic traffic to your website.
Improving your page speed is very important, but it’s quite tricky to do yourself, so if you have a web developer or digital team get them involved from the get-go.
Ever heard the term “content is king”? (Or queen, or QWEEN depending on whichever generation you come from), well, we’re here to tell you it still is. Content is literally the Beyonce of the SEO world.
Why? Well, the more information you give Google, the more likely it is to know whether you are answering peoples’ questions properly.
Don’t believe us? The average number of words for all websites that rank number one (for any search term) on Google is 1,890.
That’s a lot of words.
But it doesn’t stop there. Here’s a list of things that you should consider including in your website content to ensure it gets to SEO Bey-status:
- Make it scannable – your content should follow the 80/20 rule, meaning, you should be able to scan the page and read just 20% of the content to understand 80% of it.
- Dot points – to adhere to the 80/20 rule you might like to use dot points wherever possible to make the page easier to scan and read.
- Headings – the use of headings is another way to break up large sections of text, so readers can choose the points they want to read and bypass the parts that don’t interest them.
- Visuals – graphics, photographs, infographics and videos are incredibly important. People can process images 60,000 times faster than words, so if you want to stick to the 80/20 rule visuals are highly important.
- Pull quotes – quotes help to focus attention, they are like a beacon in the mist that says “STOP AND READ ME” but in a slightly less shouty way.
- Meta descriptions – this is the content that sits below your page title and URL on Google. The meta descriptions are really important for telling people (and Google) what your page is all about and will be the catalyst for why someone might choose your website over another site when they’re searching Google.
So, while your content needs to answer a question, it also needs to do it in a really user-friendly way.
Fortunately, if you’re living your truth (say it Oprah!), it really shouldn’t be that hard.
This brings us to authenticity.
If you are being true to yourself (your brand, or product), writing content about the things that your customers identify with, or find interesting or useful should be relatively easy, and fun.
We understand that not everyone is a writer, but sometimes all it takes is starting. Just get the words down on the page and ask a friend or colleague to read through and sense check it for you.
You can also employ freelance writers or agencies like ours to edit or produce blog content for you! #shamelessplug
Alright, last point. Promise.
Truthfully, we’re just trying to smash out 1,890 words. Because… SEO.
Mobile phones are a scary thing aren’t they? Steve Jobs really did a number on us when he decided he wanted his phone, and his music, and his internet all in the one place!
But why are mobile phones so important to SEO? Well, mainly because Google told us so.
Seriously! On 15 April 2015 Mobile-Geddon happened, where Google came out and openly stated if you do not have a mobile friendly site your organic rankings will suffer.
Scary right? Well, it gets scarier. On 26 March 2018 Google announced that they would no longer be crawling (looking at or screening) desktop websites at all. Just mobiles. Which means that any website that wasn’t built to be viewed or accessed or used on a mobile phone would automatically be downgraded (those damn “Google demerits”) in search, because Google deemed it so.
This means that the beautiful image, fancy side bar, or impressive hover states that look great on your desktop site (but drop out or are skewed on mobile) no longer even exist in the eyes of Google.
So, if your mobile website isn’t great, go and spend some time with your web designer and developer and ask them to provide you with a mobile-first design – not responsive “down” to mobile, but responsive “up” from mobile first to desktop.
That isn’t to say your desktop design doesn’t matter, it is an incredibly important part of your customers’ experience, but when it comes to SEO your desktop experience will not increase or decrease your search rankings, because Google no longer considers it.
So how do you make your website more mobile friendly?
First of all, head back to Google PageSpeed and go to the “mobile” tab to make sure your mobile website is fast and easy to load.
Then follow the below steps:
- Make it easy to read – the size and contrast of font is important and whilst mobile phones seem to continuously grow, they are still a lot smaller than your desktop screen.
- Make menus easy to use – ever gone to click on a blog and somehow clicked on the “contact us” button instead? Mouse clicks are only a couple of pixels wide, fingers are not. Make sure menu items are spaced appropriately for fingers, ensure the text is large and easy to read and make important information (such as phone numbers) icons.
- Make forms user-friendly – people are trying to give you information, don’t make it hard! Make it easy for people to use and where possible allow pre-fill on your forms so there’s less typing needed.
- No pop-ups – just don’t do it.
- Icons – icons, icons, icons! Icons are amazing! They are easy to understand (images are processed 60,000 times faster than words, remember!) they are easy to click and they load quickly. Fall in love with icons, they are your friend.
There you have it, 200 SEO factors broken down into three key themes.
So, where does that leave you? Now that you are an SEO guru and have the acronym and the meaning down pat, what can you do to make it happen?
How can I do SEO myself?
While you’ll need to be (or know) a web developer to fix your page speed and mobile friendliness is pretty much out of your hands, what you can do is onsite SEO… or content creation.
You may not be able to make a high-end video with endless production value and expensive talent, but you can make sure every page on your website has a title and a meta description. And that you follow all of the on-site page content rules we have listed above.
To help you stick to the rules we’d like to introduce you to the Yoast plugin.
This is a free tool that you can install on your WordPress website that applies to every page.
In very simple terms it gives you a red, orange or green light to tell you whether or not your onsite SEO (for each page) is good enough to go live.
It allows you to insert unique titles and meta descriptions for each page and then gives you a list of things to fix on each page before you publish your content.
We have a handy instructional guide here if you want to know how it works.
If all else fails, get an audit.
A digital audit will reveal what search terms you (your brand or product) turn up for, what your organic traffic does, who is your audience is, and any technical issues that might be getting in the way of your SEO performance.
If you are serious about SEO, the best place to start is at the very beginning.
If you’d like to learn more, subscribe to our Demystifying the Dart Arts podcast on spotify to receive updates, or call us to speak with our team of digital marketing “dark arts” experts!
Until next time, stay spooky, Kate & Tilly.