It sometimes feels as though barely a month goes by without us reading an ‘SEO is dead’ themed article. A lot has changed in SEO over the past decade. However, SEO – or search engine optimisation – is simply the process of improving the visibility of your website on Google when people search for terms relevant to your business.
When people talk about SEO no longer being relevant, they refer to the old tactics of gaming the search engine algorithms to falsely gain a higher search position – regardless of the value of their content. Most of these old tricks, such as using vast link farms and including hidden links on your site, simply don’t work anymore. In 2009, a website may have briefly secured a page one slot due to dubious ‘black hat’ SEO tactics. In 2019, the same tactics would get your website blacklisted.
This is no bad thing because the way people search for information is still pretty much the same. People type a search term, or keyword, into Google and sift through the results for the one that appears most relevant. For the best chance of attracting website traffic you need to make your website prominent in the search engine results page (SERP) listings, preferably within the top 10. This is because people rarely scroll beyond the first page when searching for something on Google. Content that appears further down the search results may be wasted if not properly optimised, because people won’t find it.
There are two ingredients to successful SEO in 2019: the right keywords and relevant content.
Including the right keywords in your content is crucial because this is the way search engine algorithms locate and rank your content in terms of relevance. Today’s algorithms are smart. You’re unlikely to be penalised for not using an unnatural sounding keyword X times in a blog post. However, you still need to be selective in the keywords – or search phrases – you use and the way you integrate them into your content and marketing strategy. The most successful keywords are the actual search phrases your customers use when searching for businesses like yours.
Content relevance is also critical to SEO for two reasons:
- Firstly, it gives your keywords the context they need to inform Google that your webpages are valuable to your target audience. (The whole purpose of search engine ranks is to list content in order of relevance to a specific audience.) Visitors attracted to your website through high-quality content and carefully chosen keywords are qualified traffic – i.e. they already have an interest in your website and are in the market to find out more.
- Secondly, relevant content provides your visitors with the information they need to take the next steps. This could be purchasing a product, requesting a quote or another action defined by your CTA.
When content and keyword strategy are factored in, it’s clear that the heart of SEO is not pleasing Google, so much as creating a positive user experience. Create an intuitive and attractive website, populate it with interesting and relevant content, and optimise it with the right keywords, and a good search rank will follow.
There are plenty of things you can do to enhance the process, from technical SEO, to on-page optimisation, and structured data mark up. An SEO strategy can take several months to bear fruit, but is still a crucial part of inbound marketing, and a valuable investment for any business looking to increase their online visibility.
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