Demystifying the basics of Search Engine Optimisation


Optimising your website Google search results is probably one of the most important things a brand can do. This is usually called SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and is one of the least understood concepts in the marketing world. While SEO has changed over the last 10 years, its fundamentals remain the same and I have highlighted what are the key things to keep in mind when getting started.

Understanding what your customer or users are searching for

The first step is to understand what kind of content your customers or users want. You could use the free Google Keyword research tool or a paid tool like Moz Explorer to get a sense of it. We also use interesting tools like Answer the Public, which groups search terms together to give you a better understanding. It might be also useful to use Buzzsumo to understand what kind of content consumers are viewing and sharing via social media channels.

It’s important to understand that content here doesn’t mean only written content – it could be in the form of infographics, videos, interactive graphs, tools/calculators etc. So do the research to understand what consumers are searching for or intuitively would want.

Creating content that caters to the user’s need

Virtually everyone in the digital marketing space has finally boarded the content marketing bandwagon. We know now that creating good content for a brand is the best way to get a good ranking in Google search results. So just writing ‘Good and Unique Content’ should do the trick right? Not any more.

Content marketing and blogging has risen by leaps and bounds in the last five to six years. The rules have changed and writing ‘Good and Unique Content’ is just not enough. Writing content that covers only the basic of any topic is very easy. A user may probably visit your blog and feel that they now know something about this topic and choose not spend more than a few minutes on it. Chances of such blogs, making into the top ten positions of the Google search results are very slim. The modern SEO’s demand are much higher and you need to have the best content in your category to make it into the top results organically. Take your regular content, make it 10X bigger and better. In fact, user experience also plays a big role in the ranking algorithm making it even more important for the need to move from ‘Good And Unique Content’ to a ‘10X Content’. Only then can you hope to try and rank for those keywords

Here is a detailed guide on 10 ways to ensure that your content is 10X times better than anyone else. You could also exploring creating content in multiple languages if you feel your users would engage with such content.

Amplify the content to ensure it reaches the audience and it gets backlinks

The content is only as good as the number of people its able to reach. If you create 10X content you are likely to start showing up in search results in a few weeks (8-10 weeks for sites that have been around). Till then its key to amplify the content via social media, paid advertising, social bookmarking as well as link building requests.

Social media and SEO are two interlinked strategies as both are organic driven and is dependent on fresh content appealing to the viewers. There is no direct mention by Google that increase in social media followers will directly improve the rankings for a specific set of reason. However, Google always insists on quality links and content rather than the quantity of shares and links. Read this blog on why social media matters to SEO to get a better idea of how to leverage channels like Facebook and Twitter to amplify your content.

Social Bookmarking is another way to ensure you not only get backlinks but improve the chance of being found. Quora is also an interesting platform to do that.

Lastly, its important to build backlinks as this is one of the corner stones on which rankings improve. Backlink is essentially any link pointing from an external site to yours. Though the number of backlinks is important but poor quality or spammy backlinks should be avoided. It can result in a negative penalty for your website by Google. Influencer marketing can also be an effective tool to get relevant backlinks.

Ensure website is fast and mobile responsive

One common mistake we see brands and websites doing is ignoring the speed of the website, which accordingly to google is one of the most critical aspects in ranking. They even have new features like AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) to help websites overcome this issue.

Having a website which is mobile and tablet responsive is again a given today. Users consume content across devices and the websites need to be user friendly across devices too. Brands need to leverage every mobile micro moment of consumers and for that you need an amazing mobile website.

Technical SEO elements

This involves some help from your digital team as it requires SEO knowledge as well as technology/development expertise to execute. This includes elements like headings, tags (to allow Google to understand what content/images that you have on your site), structured data (to tell Google what kind of content it is – e.g. whether it’s a receipe or a product review or just a blog article), implementing speed elements including AMP and redirecting old urls to new urls.

Track Results & be patient

It’s important to track your return on investment for such SEO activities and we usually do that by tracking not only the rank of your keyword (which is less important these days) but by tracking the growth of traffic from Google over a period of time. It takes about 4-6 months to see any substantive results. Regular creation of 10X content is key to growth in traffic from Google and that should be the focus area on an ongoing basis.

The article was originally published at Business Line on Campus, where I write a column called Going Digital.

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