Aaron Rasmussen 14 July 2016 4 min read

SEO 101

Search Engine Optimisation, commonly abbreviated to SEO, is an important part of any digital marketing or in fact business plan.  Unfortunately SEO has got a reputation  as black magic with SEO wizards concocting  a mixture of technical and marketing magic and creating a spell to make Google to love them. The reality is that it’s a simple, structured and often overlooked part of a digital strategy.

What is SEO?

SEO is essentially providing Google and other Search Engines evidence that your site and pages are relevant and useful enough to display high in their Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). The basic theory being that if you rank highly for keywords that are relevant to your company, you will get more traffic to your website and in-turn, create more revenue/leads/customers.

Snake Oil Salesmen

The benefits of SEO are clear, but if you don’t know what needs to be done then the best idea looks to be to engage in a third party that specialises in SEO and have them “handle it” for you. This is great in theory and would be my recommendation, but unfortunately the industry is riddled with misinformation, outdated practices and an abundance of people trying to take your money by offering “guarantees” to get on Page 1 of Google. Sounds scary right?

How Do I Find a Trusted SEO Partner?

A reputable SEO company will keep across the latest theories and practices for the industry and tailor an ongoing solution for your business.  SEO isn’t a “setup once and we’re done” solution and requires someone to monitor, analyse and tweak constantly. In order to confirm that the work they’re doing is having a positive material impact on your business, an SEO company should be providing you with contextual reports about the state of SEO on your website.  This shouldn’t be just some pretty graphs with numbers getting bigger over time, it should be loaded with messages explaining what the numbers are doing and why they’re going up or down.  Some search terms are very competitive and hard to rank for, so your SEO company should be able to provide insights into new opportunities you could be targeting or suggest that you lighten the effort on some ultra-competitive keywords and phrases if the ROI just doesn’t add up.

Time Is Money, Friend

Good SEO takes time to see results, so a common practice to hit-the-ground-running would be Search Engine Marketing (SEM) campaigns.  Essentially buying Ads from companies like Google so you can increase the traffic to specific pages on your website. Running SEO and SEM campaigns in parallel is a good approach and should be discussed with your SEO/SEM partner. Just make sure that the keywords, phrases and pages being targeted are going to yield an ROI that makes sense.  I’ve seen a lot of SEM campaigns run where on the surface it looks like the campaigns are generating a huge amount of revenue, only to dig beneath the surface and see that most of that traffic was brand related searches that were going to come to your website anyway.

What Can I Do Myself?

The most important factor when it comes to SEO is content.  This means the Descriptions, Features & Benefits and other useful information on your Product and Category pages. This kind of information should be unique to your website and not simply copied from the supplier or manufacturer.  Within your business there will  be Product Owners and Brand Managers who live and breathe their products who are ideal candidates to provide useful and relevant information about your products.

But Stealing Is Easier Than Creating!

You might think that the information supplied by the manufacturer is good enough, but Google have plenty of smarts built into their platform that allow them to identify the original owner of content and provide them with SEO benefits, while on the flip side lowering the rankings of the sites that “copy” that content.  Simply replacing words with synonyms and presenting as your own isn’t good enough.  Put yourself in your customers’ shoes and ask “Why would they come to me for information instead of the Manufacturer or Competitor XYZ”? Offer the best information and Google will reward you. Your customers will appreciate it too!

What about these Meta things?

There are a lot of factors that make up SEO, including things like Meta Descriptions, Title Tags, URL’s, Redirects and a heap more.  Over time I will be writing more articles to guide you through how to check what you have today and the best practices that you can apply to your website.  Today is an intro article to get you thinking about SEO and have a basic understanding to provide clarity for future articles.