Digital jargon is a minefield, and search engine optimisers are the worst culprits of all when it comes to launching buzzwords, bastardising definitions and suffocating clients in a smog of vocational gibberish. We hear you, we understand and we want to help.
Whether you’re a business owner looking to get to grips with the fundamentals of search for the first time, an SEO sceptic unconvinced of the logic behind so-called best practices or a director or marketing manager toying with the idea of outsourcing to a specialist provider, this post is for you.
We’re looking past the noise surrounding some core SEO concepts, making these seemingly complex ideas a mystery no more. With this no-nonsense guide at the ready, you can begin to navigate the labyrinthine world of search engine optimisation and, if it suits you, hand over the reins to an expert.
Think of your website like a house. You’d never insist on having two kitchens, because a kitchen serves a singular, fixed purpose – just like every page on your website should.
Before any devil’s advocates pipe up about having two or even three bedrooms in their house, bear in mind that the singular, fixed purpose aspect is crucial to remember. Because your different bedrooms are used differently – say, by inhabitants vs guests, or for sleeping vs storage – they therefore have a unique purpose and, as such, a unique right to exist.
In the context of your website, every page should similarly have a unique right to exist. Whether a page is demystifying a product range or service offering, sharing purely informational content, providing background on your business and team or absolutely anything else, it should be the only page that does this particular job.
If every page has a rightful purpose and, better yet, achieves this purpose, your information architecture will be built on a solid foundation.
False advertising is a concept we’re all painfully familiar with – particularly in the age of ecommerce intermediaries like Wish, on whose platforms third-party sellers play fast and loose with product descriptions, clothing size guides and more. We have what’s often a very low bar for product quality, expecting only that a product will be what we were told it would, and that it will solve the one and only problem we need it to.
These completely reasonable expectations we have as consumers play a huge part in the concept of searcher intent. If, for example, you took to Google on the hunt for a new cricket bat and, in the interests of efficiency, simply searched ‘buy bat’, you might be surprised – perhaps even vexed – to find that every last organic search result on page 1 of Google assumes you’re ready to venture into the world of cryptocurrency investments.
However, it’s clear in this case that, based on historical searcher behaviour, the majority of users searching ‘buy bat’ want Basic Attention Token – not sports equipment.
This is why it’s crucial to do your research before deciding a keyword is the right one for you to target. Before chasing a page 1 ranking for any search query, start by getting familiar with that neighbourhood. If your page doesn’t belong amongst what’s already on page 1 of search results, chances are Google has reached its verdict on the most likely ‘intent’ for that term and your efforts will be best spent elsewhere.
‘Traditional’ SEO copywriting, better known by modern search engine marketers as ‘keyword-stuffing’, is long dead – thanks to Google’s Panda algorithm, which sought to stamp out thin, irrelevant and all-round low-quality content after some manipulative, quick-and-dirty optimisation tactics became just a bit too commonplace.
Today, semantic optimisation reigns. In order to dominate organic search results, you have to go the long way round – whatever it takes to truly and completely satisfy searcher queries. Semantics, of course, is the study of languages and meaning – particularly in terms of the relationships between elements like words and phrases – so, for this example, let’s say you bump into a tourist on holiday in your hometown.
Unfamiliar with the area, they ask for directions to [insert local landmark here]. You know the place like the back of your hand – it’s your hometown – but to get them from here to there, you’ll have to use an artful combination of directions and frames of reference.
Although not the most elegant metaphor in the world, this has more than a little in common with the art of semantic content optimisation. When writing on any topic, make sure to not only use the core word or phrase you’re targeting wherever it’s appropriate to do so, but also incorporate as many synonyms and related words, phrases and tangential topics as possible.
Google will come to understand what your page or post is about based on the ‘families’ of words and phrases you’ve used – piecing together the topic based on its existing understanding of the language used therein.
Perhaps the most simple and elegant analogy you’ll find in this post, the idea and importance of redirecting old web pages can be likened to moving house and forgetting to update your postal address with your various providers.
When embarking on a site rebuild, particularly one that involves any changes at all to your domain name, URL structure or information architecture, a redirect plan will be absolutely vital. Without giving due consideration to where abandoned URLs will be redirected, you’ll end up in a situation where users attempting to navigate to those abandoned URLs encounter dead end after dead end. For many of us, that’s enough incentive to hop off and look elsewhere.
So, the next time your site’s being given anything more than a glorified reskin, spare a moment for all of those forwarding addresses in need of an update.
Since we’re talking about EAT factors, let’s talk about food. If you were thinking of eating out at a new restaurant but a friend told you the service was abusive and the food was barely fit for human consumption, I hope for your sake that’d be enough to make you think twice. An extreme example, but worth consideration: the opinions of others can and, in the case of assessing service providers, should influence the decisions you make.
No business – online or otherwise – exists in a vacuum. They have customers or clients, they have direct competitors and industry influencers – and when it comes to expertise, authority and trustworthiness (EAT) signals, it’s crucial businesses are perceived positively with respect to all of these individuals.
To get full marks in the EAT test, you need to keep customers or clients happy, and have the positive ratings, reviews or testimonials to prove it in order to stack up against your competitors. For bonus points, you should also have some proof of recognition within your sector – be it an award or whatever other accolades are available to businesses operating in your sphere. With evidence to back up your excellence, new customers or clients will feel assured in their decision to buy, book or partner with you in the long-term.
With any luck, these simple SEO analogies will have cleared the fog for you on some of today’s most weighty search concepts – giving you the tools to get started, perhaps with us.
For a no-nonsense chat about digital marketing, get in touch today by heading to our Contact page or giving the Land Digital team a call on 0191 5111014.