Search engine optimisation (SEO). You may have heard the term thrown around a bunch of times but are still not quite sure what it is. Don’t worry, in this beginner’s guide to SEO in 2019, we’re stripping it back to the basics.
We’ll take a look at what SEO is and what you can do to improve your ranking.
What is SEO?
In a nutshell, SEO helps increase the visibility of your webpage in unpaid search engine results. This, in turn, can drive more organic traffic to your website.
When faced with a problem, challenge or a choice, we turn to search engines like Google or Bing. Every second, Google processes an average of 40,000 search queries. That works out to be around 3.5 billion searches every day. Yep, you read correctly: 3.5 billion.
In the few seconds it takes you to complete a search, bots or ‘spiders’ crawl through a web of content to bring you the best and most relevant results.
So, how do search engines define what’s good or relevant? And what can you do to stand out? Well, this is where the importance of SEO comes in.
What makes good SEO?
There is no cure-all solution to SEO – no magic wand you can wave. Good SEO comes down to multiple on-page and off-page factors that affect your website’s strength and relevancy.
The good news is that SEO pays off for those who persevere. A great place to start is by understanding what search engines are looking for.
How do search engines rank relevance?
Search engines are pretty single-minded in the way they rank search results. They only care about how relevant your content is to the user.
They do this by looking at a range of complex factors, which can be (very) broadly categorised into: Relevancy – The relevance between the search query and webpage’s content. This is assessed by looking at various factors, such as the keywords used in the copy, topics discussed, and the quality of the content.
- Relevancy – The relevance between the search query and webpage’s content. This is assessed by looking at various factors, such as the keywords used in the copy, topics discussed, and the quality of the content.
- Authority – Search engines often assume that the more organic page visits a website has, the more valuable the content is.
How can I strengthen my webpage’s SEO?
To cover the basics in SEO, you’ll have to look at three components: technical, content and links.
Nail the technical
Search engines don’t speak the same language we do. They see websites in code. Speak their lingo by ensuring your website is indexed correctly.
Keep the search engine bots happy by ensuring you:
- make your URLs short and sweet (and relevant) – E.g. ‘A beginner’s guide to SEO’ might be ‘beginners-guide-SEO’
- correctly set up your web navigation and links – Ensure people can easily navigate your website without dead ends or frustration
- watch out for slow page speed – Slow page speed is bad for user experience, conversions and ranking on search engines
- create a sitemap to spell out what you want bots to crawl and index – Think of this like translating the website to a search engine’s language
- ensure your website is free of any duplicate content – i.e. no content taken from other websites, or copied across multiple pages on your own site
- make sure it’s mobile-friendly – Search engines understand mobile searches are popular and will only rank content that’s optimised for mobiles.
Create quality content
There’s not much that Google values more than fresh, quality content. By writing content that helps answer a question or need of a user, you prove to Google that your web page deserves to be on the first page of search results.
With content, it’s all about quality over quantity. Avoid low-value ‘content-for-the-sake-of-content’. Every piece of copy you publish must add value or you could get penalised for a high abandonment rate (aka bounce rate).
Valuable content must always keep the reader’s needs in mind. It should help them carry out an action, educate or inspire them. Good, valuable content is engaging, timely and relevant to your audience.
Get started with good, high-quality content by covering the basics:
- keyword research and optimisation – For example, if you were a content agency in Melbourne, you would try to include search terms like ‘content agency Melbourne’ in your content
- meta data (meta title, meta description) – This is the snippet of information you see on the search engine results page (SERP)
- image alt-tags – Adding alternative text or tags to your website’s images makes it more accessible for people and search engine spiders
- writing unique, quality content that’s useful – People and search engines have something in common: they love finding unique, well-written content that’s useful to them.
Prove you’re popular with external links
This is where the off-page magic comes in. By this stage, your page ticks the boxes for relevancy. But can you back yourself up? Think of your website as a nightclub and attendees as links from external sites. The more people that turn up and stay, the more likely it is that they liked the place.
Links from other websites – particularly ones with high domain authority – prove to search engines that you’re popular. As you get more people arriving, staying and being referred, search engines will love you for it.
The latest SEO trends in 2019
Keeping up with search engines’ latest algorithm updates can be tricky. It pays to keep an eye on the latest developments in SEO to ensure your website continues getting healthy traffic.
Prepare for voice search
Voice assistants like Siri, Google Home, Amazon Alexa and Windows Cortana are transforming the way we search for information. With many voice assistants integrating with smart devices, more and more people are adopting voice search.
For example, you may have asked Siri “What’s the weather in Melbourne tomorrow?” Notice that the way we interact with voice search closely mirrors natural language.
Here’s a comparison of how we type a search vs. ‘speak’ a search:
|Type (computer language)||Speak (natural language)|
|‘Bali all-inclusive trip’||‘How much is an all-inclusive trip to Bali?’|
To make your content more voice-search friendly, there are some small tweaks you can do, including:
- include longtail keywords
- use conversational language
- be specific.
Learn more about what voice search means for web copy.
Get ready for featured snippets
A featured snippet is a succinct answer to your search query on Google. It sits at the top of search results and can appear as a list, table or paragraph.
When a featured snippet appears in search results, the click-through-rate (CTR) is approximately 50%. But writing specifically to be listed as a featured snippet isn’t a complete SEO solution. Almost all featured snippets (99.58%) come from pages ranked in the top 10 search results.
Learn more about how to write for featured snippets.
Leave the SEO mumbo jumbo to the experts
If you still feel confused by SEO, don’t worry. That’s what we’re here for. Our team are well-versed on the ins and outs of SEO and can help you with a content strategy to strengthen your digital presence.
Contact us today to get started.
If you’ve come this far down the page, you must really be hungry for SEO tips and know-how. Well, lucky for you we’ve written a lot about this topic. And I mean a lot. Check out some of our other articles on SEO: