Nowadays, in order to satisfy consumer behaviour and demand, the majority of businesses have a website that they hope will attract new clients and customers. It is imperative for any successful business to be able to be found online, but simply having a website doesn’t mean that the job is done and that customers will come flooding in.
There are, after all, only a limited number of places on the first page of search engine results (with Google Ads taking the top few), and studies show that in Google, the undisputed king of search engines, 92% of clicks go to sites listed on that first page. Very few people bother to go past Page 1 to find what they need, so if you are not on that page, you may as well not exist.
Competition is fierce, even in the most specific of industries, so in order to stand a fighting chance of making it to the top with your organic content, you need to do things right, and that means implementing Search Engine Optimisation across all of your online content.
What does that involve? Here are some ways to improve your SEO, and your chances, of getting found online and generating new leads.
Go Mobile for Better SEO
Consumer behaviour has changed rapidly in recent years, and today most people access the internet via a mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet. You only have to look around you on public transport to see that this is the case. Consequently, your online content needs to be optimised for mobile devices, not just the traditional laptop or computer screen, because with more than 90% of people researching online before making a purchase, or even reaching out to a business or agency, it can be assumed that most of those are doing it on a mobile device.
If consumers can’t enjoy the same (or better) user experience on their mobile when they access your content, they will simply leave, and few will return.
It’s not only the consumer you will be putting off either. Google and other search engines use their ever-changing algorithms to discover pages that are not adapted to mobile, and penalise them. They prioritise web pages that have mobile optimisation, so if yours are not, your business is already at a disadvantage.
Map Out Your Website
Your website should be aimed not only at pleasing your target market by making navigation to useful and relevant content easy, and providing context, those search engines also look for the very same things. Search engines need to be able to understand your content within your overall website structure to identify its relevance to an online search.
Just as you want to provide the most relevant results for consumers, Google, as a business (albeit an all-powerful one) needs to do the same. If the results they offer for a search are not relevant or useful, users will try a different search engine, so they want to ensure that what they deliver is what the user expects.
In order to do this, they work through your website structure to pinpoint the most relevant content, so you need to give them a helping hand by mapping out exactly what you have, and where it can be found. A sitemap will outline this, how often you update your content so that they can recognise how up to date it is, and the hierarchy of your site. They don’t want to return results about, for example, Inbound Marketing and GDPR, if your website contains a one-line explanation of the topic.
What they want is proof that you have provided the right useful content and authority on a subject, and this can be highlighted by using appropriate headings that indicate the important stuff can be found on your pages.
Headings (of fewer than 70 characters) containing keywords on every page will separate the main title, the relevant sections, and the rest of the content, so Google et al know exactly what you are talking about, on what page, and how much weight you place on it in the context of the rest of your content.
Keywords Are the Key
Despite many changes to the content creation strategy, such as pillar content (which we will come to later), keywords do still matter, but it is no longer good practice to simply shoehorn them in. Use them strategically – in the title, headings, the URL, the alt-text, etc – and naturally throughout the content. They should never be included at the expense of the sense of the content itself. Remember, a collection of words does not necessarily make a sentence in the English language.
Search engines are becoming smarter, and they now understand context and that we are referring to the same topic when we use variations on a theme, or keyword, so use them naturally within the confines of what you have to say on a topic. Chances are, if you are talking about a specific topic such as ‘the changing role of the salesperson in inbound marketing’, if it is written well, your content should include the relevant keywords, or versions of it, anyway.
Given the competition for search engine places, there is of course a lot of competition when it comes to the keywords you are using. ‘Inbound marketing’ for example, will be a tough one to rank for, but if you use long-tail keywords that branch out into specific areas of that topic, you will get better results. For example, use ‘inbound marketing for agencies in Ireland’ or ‘keyword best practices for inbound marketing’.
By being more specific, you can attract more relevant visitors, and this will help push you further up the ladder and provide more visitors and more leads you can then nurture along the conversion path.
Go Meta for Search Engine Ease
Google says that meta descriptions – the text displayed under the title of the page in your search result - do not directly affect your ranking in the search (I don’t 100% believe that), but it is still very important because it allows you to give a brief description of what your web page has to offer.
As with everything inbound marketing-related, there are best practices to observe here.
- Try to fit your meta description into fewer than 155 characters so that a complete version shows in your description (after that, it trails out of sight)
- Use those keywords to show relevance to the searches people have made
- Include an invitation to take action (it increases click rates, which in turn increases your ranking)
Related to this, you should also make sure that any images, graphics, illustrations, etc include alt-text. These visual aids to your content can’t be read by search engines by themselves, but the alt-text can, so it helps to outline the relevance of the content further.
Quality Control in Your Content
While attracting consumers to your website is one thing, getting them to stick around, browse your content, and hopefully be enticed to give their details in order to download an offer, is really what you want. That means having to produce good quality content that is not only relevant to their needs, but is also entertaining while offering them some solutions to their challenges.
Google will know when people visit your web pages for a second or two, and will assume it is because the consumer did not find anything relevant there, or were unimpressed by what they did find. Search engines can track how many people have visited your site, how long they stayed, how many pages they visited, and how high your bounce rate is.
Quality content plays a key role in getting people to stay by showing them that they have come to the right place. First and foremost, that means no clickbait that promises something that isn’t even on the page. You must also ensure that the content on your page is written with your personas in mind, that it is useful, and that it can be navigated to easily.
Also consider where people likely to read your content are on the buyer’s journey. If your content is top of the funnel, offering advice or insights regarding a certain topic, don’t bring them straight to a sales pitch they are not ready for. If, for example, I browse for information about blog writing tips, when I click on a page, I don’t want to be met with a list of reasons why Agency A is the best digital marketing agency in the world. I just want tips on writing blogs, and I won’t be returning to their website any time soon.
The content itself must be entertaining and worth reading, so consider what makes people read on, and try to include these traits. Storytelling, for example, is proving to be a very effective blog writing strategy.
Link to Other Content
It should be standard practice to include internal links to other content on your website so that people can find other relevant material they need, and today, best practice is to create pillar content from which other topic clusters branch out, with each page, blog, etc, linking back to that one, all-encompassing page that gives an outline of everything you cover regarding a specific topic.
Search engines are looking across the internet for helpful, authoritative content containing links to other relevant sources to give consumers the results they want. If you interlink your main pillar content to clusters of relevant and related content, Google will understand your relationship to and authority on that topic or subject, and the more easily they find you and verify your relevance and authority, the higher they will rank you.
You should also include external links. On the one hand, this may send consumers to other websites, but on the other, it boosts your position of authority and trust as you become a credible source of relevant information. That too boosts your position in search engine rankings.
Action Stations with CTAs
Of course, you want to attract people to your content, but you also eventually have to turn visitors into leads, qualify them, and then hopefully turn them into customers, and to do this, you need to have a Call to Action on every page. This will show clearly where users can find more information, or go further along the buyer journey if they are ready to, and begins the engagement process.
Your CTAs need to fit with the content you have on that web page, and be the next logical progression for the user, so again, don’t dive straight into a sales pitch.
It may be tempting to plaster your web pages with CTAs, but it is best to have a single CTA there to focus the audience on a single course of action to take. Otherwise, they can become distracted or confused by where to go next.
Getting to the top of the search engine ladder is not easy, but implementing these steps to improving your SEO will help. Once you have created your content, you can always check it on this handy website grader.
In the meantime, find out how you can create great content that will generate more leads for your business by downloading our Lead Generation Survival Kit: