SEO. To some, it ignites fear and confusion, to others it simply means writing as much new content as you possibly can in the hopes of gaining more traffic, and to a chosen few the term SEO breeds excitement; opening up a whole new world of possibilities. But which is correct?
If you don’t know much, or even anything, about SEO the entire affair can feel confusing and even a little alienating, not least of all because the technique has evolved so rapidly in the last couple of years, and it no longer works in remotely the same way as it did when it was first introduced over 25 years ago (honestly, it’s that old!).
Where SEO used to be an unethical and very clumsy way of driving traffic to your website by including repeated keywords at the bottom of your homepage (yes, people really did used to do that and it’s called ‘keyword stuffing’) or excessive tagging, SEO has rapidly evolved, particularly in recent years, to incorporate so much more than just the copy (text) on a website.
From their primitive stages in the mid to late 1990s, search engines have been learning and adapting, and as search engines such as Google started to become more powerful, and started learning from the websites they were indexing in the early 2000s, SEO became more sophisticated; Google’s motto of ‘don’t be evil’ was implemented, and black hat SEO techniques like toxic backlinking and keyword stuffing were penalised.
This paved the way for a huge revolution in SEO between 2008 & 2012, which saw Google favour new content media; blogs, images, news, and video, in order to give users a more personalised experience.
For a lot of businesses, this is where SEO knowledge tends to stop; with so many considering blogging as the only, and most effective, way to get found on search engines and increase traffic to their overall website.
Whilst this isn’t entirely wrong, and search engines like the high and mighty Google will always lovingly gobble up fresh new content for every meal, truly effective SEO is more than simply writing blogs, and seeing your traffic magically increase. And there are many reasons for this…
Relevancy: in order for search engine crawlers (bots that scan your website and index it appropriately) to do their job properly, they need to understand your website as a whole entity; analysing the relevancy of the content spanning your entire site; so if you talk about selling make up – for example – on your homepage, product pages, and about page but you’re blogging about engineering, crawlers aren’t going to understand your website or where it’s meant to sit.
Quality: as part of their efforts to deliver quality content that gives users the information they need to make an informed decision, search engines want to see content that makes sense; quality content, free from keyword stuffing and too much advertising, that gives users what they want and doesn’t exist as an excuse to sell affiliate marketing. If your blog is regularly updated by your other pages as slim on content or the content is old, you will be penalised.
The way crawlers scan: simply the way in which crawlers scan a website have an impact on SEO. What we mean by this is as such – crawlers scan your website as you would read a book; left to write, top to bottom, and front to back. This means that even the small things you may not think about like your URLs and image tags will be taken into account, and your blogging will probably be left until nearer the end of the crawl.
Linking: search engines have always taken linking into consideration when indexing any website; internal links (hyperlinks on pages of your website to other pages of your website), backlinking (links from other websites to pages of your website), and outbound linking (links that go from your website typically to another totally different site), all help search engines understand the relevancy of your site in your field of work – they help build a wider picture of how useful your site really is to internet users. This is called ‘juice’, and the better your juice, the greater your ranking on SERPs (search engine results pages). Therefore, you have to be really careful when implementing a link building strategy (which you need), and ensure that any website linking to you or that you’re linking to is relevant, useful, and enjoys lots of traffic – which has nothing to do with blogging for your own website!
Usability & accessibility: these days, search engines like Google are really sophisticated, and analyse the overall look and feel of your website; how easy it is for crawlers to scan and process, as well as how easy it is for users to use! It’s all part of every search engine’s efforts to deliver great content, and they feel so passionately about it, they have their own Webmaster Rules (Google’s, of course, are king!) explaining what you should and shouldn’t do to create an effective website, and ultimately get found on search engines.
Bounce rate: search engines know all; they’re like the Big Brother of the internet, and a high bounce rate is a HUGE red flag for search engines like Google. Your bounce rate is the percentage of users coming to any page of your website and leaving straight away – the lower the bounce rate, the better. A high bounce rate tells search engines that, although users are finding your website, the information that they’re being presented with when they get there is neither useful nor relevant, and they need to leave for something better. It’s a bit like walking into the wrong shop, and quickly sloping out again when you realise you’re meant to be in the next one along. And for this, you will be penalised.
Whilst we’re in no way saying you should stop blogging, what we are saying is that you shouldn’t rely on just blogging alone to get ranked highly on search engines and increase your overall traffic.
Blogging is a great way of increasing your following on social media, presenting you as a thought leader in the field, and search engines will love the fresh, new content you release, especially if your blogs are written with SEO in mind.
However, SEO has fast become much more sophisticated than just favouring new content, and for a website to be truly, effectively optimised for search engines, you need to consider a vast number of technical aspects, that should sit alongside your content.
Gone are the days, even, where you could stuff a couple of keywords in strategic places within your page, leave it 6 months, and get ranked #1 for that term on Google. Keywords and keyphrases are constantly changing and adapting, and it’s now even quite common for keywords to lose their traction overnight; i.e. a word users have used for 2 years to find your site, people simply don’t use anymore, so your website traffic dramatically and immediately drops (yep, that happens!).
In their quest to deliver the best possible content, search engines work round the clock to understand user behaviour, and therefore what users ultimately want which, as people using ever advancing technology, changes all the time. Long tail keywords, for example, were really considered valuable even a couple of years ago. Whereas now, they’re all the rage thanks to inventions like Siri, Alexa, Cortana, and all of those lovely digital assistants you can now talk to get the answers to your questions.
A website is an entire experience, and search engines understand this. But an experience, is more than just the things you write…
To discuss your SEO options, and increase your website traffic, contact us today.
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