For the uninitiated, SEO or search engine optimization can sound like yet another buzzword drummed up to sound fancy. But really, SEO does just what it says: optimise your website for search engines. What many don’t realise is Google actually does this without you doing anything! Google ranks every website, and decides the order in which your site appears in search results based on a whole range of factors – no, not just blog content! These search rankings are so important because they can determine how high your sales figures go this year – it certainly has for us!
Say you work at a financial consulting firm. When potential clients type the term ‘financial consultation’ into Google’s search bar, you’ll want to make sure that your website appears as high up the list as possible. Sounds trivial? Recall the last time you checked out the second page of search results. If you can’t recall when you last did that, then you’re in good company.
75% of internet users only click on 1st page results. If they don’t see what they want, they will most likely try a different search term rather than check out the 2nd page of search results.
The thing is, when done right, SEO can get your site on the first page of search results which will lead to increased organic traffic. That’s right, organic. No more paid ads. In our humble opinion, organic traffic should be the holy grail of advertising because it’s sustainable, long-term and more credible. More importantly, the traffic does not drop off the minute you pull the plug on your ads. Caveat: It’s a slightly different story if you’re a florist trying to sell bouquets on Valentine’s Day – go ahead and buy those ads!
No SEO agency required
We know what you’re thinking – but don’t I have to pay for SEO services? Now here’s the real truth. NO, you don’t have to pay for SEO services. With a bit of training, SEO can be managed in-house. It’s not the rocket science that it’s made out to be. That said, it is time consuming and it is tedious, so if you don’t have the time or resources, outsourcing to an SEO agency might be something that will work better for you.
But you may (rightfully) ask — what exactly does an SEO agency do? And what determines the order of search results? Well, the short answer is that there’s no clear cut answer. That’s exactly why it requires tedious trial and error.
The first thing to know is that no SEO agency or SEO specialist knows Google’s algorithm. If they lead you to believe they do, RUN, because no one does!
Content might be king, but the king needs a high enough throne
Websites are built by a ton of elements, including media, code, links, and our specialty: copy. All of these elements can be SEO optimised. The saddest part about SEO though is that many companies have been led to believe that content is king. We know what you’re thinking – “hang on a second, aren’t you a content writing agency?” Well we are, but we’re also an honest one! We’re not going to sell you content unless we’re confident that it will drive results.
Sure, content is important, BUT the truth is you can have the best written website blog in the world but if that website is not set up following Google’s technical health standards, that blog content isn’t going to get very far. And that’s exactly why Etymon entered the SEO arena.
Actually, we’re probably the only content marketing agency to tell you this, but Etymon actually got to position 1 for the search term ‘B2B copywriting agency’ in Singapore, outperforming competitors who have been operating much longer than us, without a blog! This blog was only launched in July 2022, after we held onto position 1 for that search term for almost 9 months.
Honestly, there’s so many companies out there spending excessively on blog content to try and improve organic traffic when really, all their website needs is some set up fixes. The most shocking part about this is even when we tell some of our enquiries this, and tell them that blog content isn’t going to help them because their site is in poor technical health, their response is – “that’s okay, the website is managed by overseas HQ, I just need to create content.” That’s the equivalent of throwing cash in a rubbish bin!
Okay, composure. Breathe.
Now, diving into every single SEO metric can send you barreling down a bottomless rabbit hole, so for starters, we’ll just introduce a few unspoken truths to get you thinking.
Keyword research is every content marketer’s life buoy
When embarking on SEO, you need to get your hands on a keyword research tool. That’s because you’ll want to do keyword research to determine the search terms that are most commonly searched right now. For example, the terms financial consultant, financial advisor, and financial planner may be used interchangeably in practice, but you’ll want to select the term with the highest traffic and craft your website copy around it.
But don’t just mindlessly repeat your selected term over and over again. This practice is known as keyword stuffing and actually does more harm than good. What’s more, Google’s bots are becoming more and more efficient at analysing syntax and whole sentences. So keyword stuffing is more likely to earn you penalties rather than higher search rankings.
Instead, you’ll want to write your landing pages in a way that relates to your selected keywords and then create blog content that aligns with long-tail versions of that keyword. Not only will this inevitably populate your website with related search terms, it also signals your expertise to Google, creating an exponential effect where all your pages get a ranking boost – say hello to more website traffic – kaching! Just remember, search term trends come and go, so keyword research is not a one and done process. We’ll talk more about this in a future post so stay tuned!
Content should be written for Google Bots and for people
Getting on the first page can indeed take time and effort, it really depends on how competitive your industry’s keywords are. But getting there is only half the battle won, you also need to be able to stay there. Google has limited spots on its first page, 10 to be precise, and it’s not going to hold space for websites that don’t receive attention, or load slowly. If people are not clicking on your page, Google will eventually take the hint and remove you from the top rankings. And, if your page speed is slow then it goes against Google’s mission to provide good user experience, and they’ll push your rank down accordingly.
That’s why it is so important to write for people AND bots, all while making sure that your technical health is in tip top shape.
One thing that is often overlooked (and honestly so easy to do) are keyword optimised page titles and meta descriptions. These appear on the search engine results page, but you need to implement them on your backend using an SEO plugin like Yoast. They not only send important signals to Google to tell them what your page is about so it knows how to rank it, but they also determine the thing everyone is looking for – click-through rates.
Google provides sites with a small window of 155 characters to give readers a quick rundown of what to expect if they click on a search result. So if your meta description does not tell people what they can expect and why they should click, then rewrite it until it does. But whatever you do, don’t leave it empty. Otherwise, Google will just pull the first 155 characters from your website, which may or may not even make sense!
How site health and page speed affects SEO
So we’ve talked a lot about content, and more specifically, how words affect SEO. Which makes sense, because words are what people type into the search bar. But there’s a lot more that goes into SEO than words on a page. You may have the most engaging content complete with keywords in all the right places, but Google will still push you to the bottom barrel of their rankings if your site health is not up to snuff.
Again, this ties back to Google’s business objective of delivering good user experience. Google may be everyone’s go-to search engine today, but they wouldn’t have attained this ubiquity by directing people to slow loading, broken link laden websites.
Thankfully, the fixes for site health can be pretty straightforward if you know where to look. We’ll go into more detail in a future post, but some of the things to look out for include ensuring that you’ve compressed the files of feature images and designing a site architecture that is easy for both readers and Google’s bots to navigate. The latter can be easily achieved through use of navigation menus, breadcrumbs, and internal linking so that users can find the information they need in as little clicks as possible. You’ll also want to group similar content under tags and categories to build up your website’s authority in specific topics.
The best part of this is that with a highly skilled developer (like ours!), most of these fixes can be done within just 1-2 months. Which is why it boggles our minds that most SEO agencies drag them out over the course of a 6 to 12 months contract. Oh yes, progressive fixes means progressive results, we forgot about that!
Of course, fixing your site’s health may take longer depending on how large your site is and the extent of your problems — you can’t expect to get out of the dentist in 15 minutes if you’re visiting for the first time in 10 years after all. But once you know where to look, boosting your site’s SEO will just become a matter of plucking weeds from your garden.
Still don’t know where to start with SEO?
We’ve barely scratched the surface when it comes to SEO. We really do mean it when we say that everything can be search engine optimised, even your links’ anchor text, image file names, and your site’s loading speed. If you haven’t got a My Google Business Listing that’s a huge missed opportunity also. Think about it, if you don’t make use of Google’s free business services they’ll rank somebody else that does. It can be tedious, but it is also a space with the perfect blend of technicality and creativity which is where Etymon thrives.
If you’d like to learn more about SEO and multiply your website’s organic traffic, drop us a note, or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll give you an SEO makeover that helps you stand taller than your competitors.