We’ve talked before about the importance of search engine optimisation (SEO) and why it’s an essential component of any effective digital marketing strategy. Now that we’ve established its significance and you’re on-board with investing your time into the process let’s lay out the SEO basics you must consider.
1. Keywords: what are your customers searching for?
As with almost any marketing strategy, the first step is to get inside the minds of your customers. You can’t achieve a high search engine ranking without understanding what your customers are looking for, the challenges they face and the messages that will resonate with them. So, the first and most basic step in your SEO strategy should be answering these questions.
But how do you find out what your customers are searching for? Hopefully, you’ve already engaged in persona research and understand the personal and business challenges your key personas are facing. What words would they use when searching the internet to find the support they need to tackle these challenges? Have a brainstorm and write these words down. You can even ask your customers directly if you have this level of access to them.
2. Meta descriptions, headings and URLs
Once you know what your customers are searching for, it’s time to look at your website and make sure it includes these words – these are known as keywords. Keywords are an essential aspect of SEO, as they are what Google and other search engines look for when crawling your website. Ultimately, keywords determine if your content answers the user’s search query.
Include keywords in your headings, main copy and URLs. Make sure your meta descriptions are complete, tailored to the corresponding page and contain relevant keywords. Also, add your keywords to alt text for any images on your site. A word of warning, however: don’t just add keywords randomly across your website. The placement of keywords should make sense and be helpful for your customers. In fact, the likes of Google will actually penalise websites which overuse keywords as it is seen as an attempt to ‘trick’ search engines.
3. Navigation and user experience
Is your site secure, fast and mobile-friendly? Does it have a clear, logical site architecture?
SEO and user experience (UX) work in partnership. SEO helps users find your website, while UX guides them once they’re on your website. Both share the common goal of giving users the best experience. An easy-to-understand site structure is vital for both your users and your site’s roadmap for search engines.
4. Build backlinks
Link building – the process of acquiring hyperlinks from other websites to your own – is critical for the success of your SEO strategy. There is clear evidence showing that backlinks have a strong influence on Google’s ranking algorithm. So, it goes without saying that you should be prepared to commit time promoting and generating links to your website.
You can approach link building in several ways. Firstly, if your content is genuinely helpful and of high quality, you should organically build links as other websites will recommend yours. You can also author articles in prominent blogs in your industry, ask directories to list your website, and engage in PR activities.
5. Ongoing content marketing
If you’ve followed the steps above, you’ll have all the basics in place to help improve your search ranking. However, it’s important to bear in mind that even if you have your site set up perfectly from a technical SEO point of view, you won’t see dramatic increases in your ranking without high-quality content regularly being added to your website. Therefore, the next question to ask yourself is whether you have quality content that makes visitors want to stay and engage.
Starting a blog is the easiest and most standard way to embark on content marketing and share content that will interest your customers. In the first step of establishing SEO basics, we asked you to think about your customers’ challenges and the types of questions they would ask search engines when looking for support for these. Your blog should be where you answer these questions in detail, as well as a place to offer valuable advice and insights into your areas of expertise.
SEO marketing remains highly relevant, no matter the industry or business model. Cleantech start-ups can ensure a strong online presence by investing in SEO and content marketing early, paving the way to becoming an industry thought leader and achieving commercial goals.