If you’re looking for sustained, long-term success from your marketing efforts, then you’ve come to the right place. Search Engine Optimization, better known as SEO, is the digital marketing channel synonymous with sustainability.
While other channels require you to pay to get people to your site and for advertising space, SEO does not. The money you spend comes in the form of effort and tools you may need to help you with your efforts.
But those efforts need to be directed in the right direction. So in this piece, we speak to 3 entrepreneurs about how they directed their efforts, how they first got stuck into SEO, what they learned, and the results they gained.
And as you’ll see within this piece, there is no singular task to undertake. To really make SEO successful, there are ranking factors that you need to adhere to. These mainly center around three main pillars:
- Your website’s architecture
- Your content
- Your website’s authority.
But we’ll get into that more within the piece.
“Learn, Learn, Learn”
- Jake Munday, Co-Founder of Custom Neon
One of the things that push many people away from SEO is the fact there’s so much to learn before you get started.
To really get a true understanding of SEO, it’s imperative to take time to learn how you can affect the aforementioned ranking factors in your favour through a number of wide-ranging tasks. That’s what Jake advises, and he gives you a few tasks to concentrate on when starting out:
“Whilst SEO can seem daunting, there is an abundance of free resources available to help you get started. These include Facebook groups, online tutorials, Google Trends, and numerous blogs detailing all the tried and tested tools available.
“Free keyword research tools also provide an excellent framework to follow when it comes to creating content and highlighting the target keywords that you should be using.
“When learning, you will come across some straightforward tasks that will make a difference in the early stages, such as developing keyword-rich meta descriptions, enticing title tags, and the use of multimedia imagery can all have drastic effects in the early days.
“Factors such as difficult navigation, irrelevant content, slow site speed, and a poor website user experience can all be detrimental to your rankings, so it’s important to get these elements right.
“Once you’ve gone through the learning process, you’ll know how to properly implement these tasks.”
- Stella Matin, Click Matix
When starting any business venture, before you’ve begun anything you need to plan out what you want to do, who you want to target, what you want to achieve, and how you want to achieve it.
And it’s the same with SEO. SEO requires key foundational work to be undertaken to make your SEO journey a successful one. One of those foundational steps is to make sure you’re focused on the right audience and you need to make sure you’re targeting the right keywords.
This is a hugely important step, and it’s through targeting the right keywords that you can make this happen. ‘Keywords’ are the name for the words or phrases that people type in when searching on Google. If you’re not targeting keywords that are relevant, have a high enough volume, or are not going to help you achieve what you want to achieve, then your whole strategy is going to be misaligned.
You also need to assess where your website currently is ranking in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) and continue to assess your ranking to make sure you’re on the right track. As Jake alluded to above, free tools out there like Adzooma’s Business Score will be a perfect accompaniment to guide you along your journey
It gives you blueprints to follow to help with keyword research, provides you with a measurement of metrics like page speed, on-site performance and authority, and allows you to easily conduct SEO audits to see how your business is performing. It means you can track those three key areas of performance at all times and continually take steps to improve.
Stella did similar foundational work, and she stresses the importance of remaining patient when assessing performance:
“When we started out, we performed a number of tasks, which included registering with Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools, creating a Google My Business Listing, conducting keyword research, and organising those keywords with the right corresponding landing page.
“After getting all this in place, we then asked some philosophical questions about our website and our business like:
- What are our customers looking for?
- What products/services do we offer?
- What message do we want to get across?
- What topics do we want to write about?
- What topics do we currently write about?
“After performing all these tasks, we left our website for two weeks. In these two weeks, we got valuable data that let us know where we were lacking.
“We then gathered all the data of the two weeks and started to revise our initial keyword research, conducted a full SEO audit, and began defining our goals.
“We knew when deciding to pursue SEO that we needed to be patient and we couldn’t rush things. SEO needs optimisation and re-optimisation to perform to its utmost.
“Have faith in the OAAW rule: Observe, analyse, adapt and wait.”
“Don’t Forget About SEO Away From Your Site”
- Harrison Sharrett, Digital Marketing Manager at London Office Space
We’ve covered a lot on what you should be doing on your own website, but with SEO it’s important also to combine that work by making an impact away from your site too.
One thing that Google really respects from a website is its authority – how prestigious, trusted, and valuable your website is. This is measured in many different forms by Google’s technology assessing content, site age, and arguably the most important measurement stick: backlinks – other websites linking to your website.
This is really important for Google because if a reputable website like the New York Times is linking to your website, it shows that you are trusted by an established brand. Of course, you don’t have to just be linked to by elite publishers like NYT, but if you’re getting links from relevant and authoritative websites, Google will look favourably upon you and realise that you are to be trusted and will give you a huge bump up the rankings.
That’s one of the main reasons why when you search Google, so many of the well-known brands are top of the search results. They’ve been creating content for years that have been receiving adulation and backlinks. Here’s Harrison to detail a few ways you can build top quality backlinks:
“Our link-building process involved performing outreach to topical and authoritative websites in order to provide guest posts or fill content gaps with our extensive commercial property knowledge.
“We also performed wide-scale outreach to government websites (e.g. Council and Borough websites) to offer our map-driven commercial property search feature as a resource for their economic development pages.
“These two strategies, whilst fairly time-consuming, led to the acquisition of a number of high-quality links that contributed to London Office Space appearing on the first page of Google for multiple highly sought-after keywords.
“The initial plan that we put in place called for a 3-month focus on link building in parallel with our on-site optimisation efforts. These changes resulted in significant improvements in our rankings and almost doubled the traffic to our website within 6 months.”
The three main pillars for success
To make SEO a success you always need to be fine-tweaking those three main pillars: website architecture, your content, and your website’s authority. If you pay attention to these three things, there’ll be no stopping in you in your drive for true long-term, sustainable success.