Sometimes, approaching the task of digitally marketing your company can feel a little like you’ve been swept up by a tornado and dumped into an alternate universe with talking lions, walking scarecrows and flying monkeys. Some of it is intuitively understandable: for example making your website look professional and making sure your content is error free, but some tasks can appear impenetrably complex, and none more so than search engine optimisation.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the practice of ensuring that your website appears prominently when a potential customer hunts for it on a search engine such as Google. There are two main reasons the process seems complex: firstly, the requirements of SEO regularly change as Google, Bing and other search engines change the ways they rank and display results, so in the past it was sufficient to crawl sites full of particular words to push them up the rankings, but nowadays a more nuanced approach is required. The second reason SEO is considered complex is that it requires a consideration both of what is on the surface and what is happening behind the curtain of your website.
MOZ is an online marketing tool that combines a number of digital tools to help with Search Engine Optimisation. It’s not the only solution – there are many similar packages and it is possible to go-it alone, but MOZ is a great starting point for SEO training, research and implementation. For all this, navigating along the yellow brick road towards an optimised website can take skill, time and money, so it is best to approach a good digital marketing specialist to take the load off. However if you do want to know some of the basic first approaches then below are a few simple steps towards optimisation:
Know your website
The first step is a straightforward one – you need to research how well your website is doing, how you are ranking in search engines, your progress compared to your competitors and what search terms (keywords and phrases) you think prospective customers are searching to find you. With a tool such as MOZ, the technical side of this is quick and painless, but interpreting the results and applying competitor research takes skill and experience.
Find your keywords
Once you have a sense of the state of your website, you will need to identify and test existing and new keywords. These keywords will be used as the basis for the changes to your website in order to optimise it in search engine rankings. Keyword research is a two-pronged task: you need to anticipate what your customers’ desire when they are looking for your services or product, and you need to know what the popular search terms are. Finding a niche – a defining word or term for each landing page is the key to this step. MOZ can help you locate strong search terms and test new ones, but only in the abstract. Interpreting the significance of the keyword research is the tricky bit, as is what you do with your precious keywords once they’ve been confirmed as strong.
Optimise your visible content
When you have keywords, you need to know what to do with them. This is a twofold approach. Firstly, you need to optimise the content of your website that your visitors can see. To do this you need to ensure that: your content is aimed primarily at your audience; that it is keyword-rich; that it has impactful headlines and that your text is structured using a tag hierarchy.
Make changes behind the curtain
When you have tackled the surface content of your website, you need to attend to the information behind the scenes. You need to ensure that all your images are an appropriate size and have titles, alt text and captions that make natural use of your keywords. You also need to consider your URLs – make sure that they make sense, are as short as possible and also draw on your keywords. Finally, you need to check that your content works on all devices such as mobiles and tablets, that every page is included on your site’s XML sitemap and that your internal links are relevant and use anchor text, again based on your keywords. Once again, MOZ is a great tool for flagging up these issues, but it is advisable to consult a content specialist to ensure the implementation of the changes is as smooth as possible.
Test, test and keep on testing
Finally, it is important to remember that Search Engine Optimisation isn’t just about making changes – it’s about testing them and continual refinement. To maintain your website you need to keep a close watch on your rankings, and to regularly update your content. MOZ is a great tool for monitoring the results of the changes you’ve made and targeting the areas that still need improvement.
MOZ is a versatile and useful tool but it isn’t a magical solution. Used correctly, it allows you to identify issues with your website, test keywords and monitor the changes you make, but to navigate the yellow brick road without losing your way in the haunted forest (to stretch a metaphor close to breaking point), you will need the help of experienced and dedicated digital marketing experts.
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