Last week, I went to a General Assembly workshop in Melbourne, called “How to Hack an SEO Plan”.
SEO (search engine optimisation) is basically ‘the practice of improving and promoting a web site in order to increase the number of visitors the site receives from search engines’ (via Moz; more on them later).
The session, led by Gillian Cook, covered quite a bit of ground, and here are some of the most interesting bits and useful tips that I wrote down:
- Know the basics: Google likes some more than others. When you are ‘Googling’, you are not actually searching the web — you are searching an index. That index takes into account more than 200 factors when ‘filing’ and ‘presenting’ information. ‘Spiders’ crawl out and search sites, and mark down the good content, then crawls back to Google and lets them know for indexing. The easier and tastier you make it for the spiders, the happier Google will be (in short).
- Understand the acronyms; and differences: SEO = organic search = natural search. SEM = search engine marketing = PPC = pay-per-click. SEO is based on page relevance and authority, and extends beyond an initial SEM investment. Well-done SEO can help reduce dependence on SEM. Think of PPC as a science; and SEO an art.
- Invite the user in, and make sure they have a nice stay: Improved user experience increases conversion rate i.e. if your site is not a great experience for visitors, they might not sign-up/buy. Design a website with the user in mind. Have great content, that delights and entertains. Have an easy to navigate website, and pages with purpose. Make every page within three clicks of home. Having a blog connected to your website can also help you show expertise, help people, and connect to potential customers.
- Name the art: Make sure all images on your website are titled, and have descriptive keyword-rich filename e.g. not called just DCS1011.
- Look at the data: Use AdWords Keyword Planner to learn about what people ‘Google’ when they are looking for topics/products your site offers. Use key words to inform titles of pages and because you can look at seasonal trends, it can help you plan content (i.e. months of year people search for ‘heaters’ v ‘air-conditioners’). Also, look at Moz, which can tell you who is pointing to your site.
- Get social: Building a social community around your website is important — Pinterest, Twitter, YouTube — but make it relevant (Gillian mentioned Everyday Health — a ‘provider of digital health and wellness solutions’ — as an example of a ‘brand’ that uses Pinterest well).
- Avoid a smack on the hand: Google penalises duplicate pages, weak content, thin-content. Basically, focus on great content for users, and don’t make pages for the sake of it. Also, if you have paid content, you must mark it as so because advertorials are not content-marketing (otherwise this gets a Google-smack on the bottom; just ask Interflora).
If you want to know more about the basics of SEO, Moz has a good website that can tell you more.