What is SEO
Today, the first port of call when sourcing for a product or service is the internet search engine which has now been coined as a popular phrase – “Google it”.
More people are turning to Google (and other search engines) for suggestions and education to help them take buying decisions. That is where SEO comes into the marketing scene.
Search Engine Optimization shortened to SEO is the simple activity of optimizing your website so that search engines can find and index it. This is done by adding the appropriate keywords and phrases relevant to what your site is offering using the language that your target audience are familiar with. This is quite similar to adding hashtags on social media to your content so that it can get discovered by those interested in it.
SEO’s main aim is to help you get found by people searching online for your products or services. Usually, this happens through content that matches what you already have on your website and your social media pages (Yes, Google now indexes Social Media content!)
Toyin sells Homemade Nigerian Dishes.
On her blog, she shows how she makes these dishes from start to finish, often talking about the recipe for each meal and where to find the ingredients.
Now, there’s not much competition for keywords relating to Nigerian Dishes, and Toyin is publishing a lot of great content (Articles, Videos, Infographics, short form content for Social Media etc.) about it. If she is consistent, she will get front page rankings for ingredients and recipes for Nigerian dishes in a little while.
So that is good right? But there is a potential problem.
The people searching for recipes for Nigerian dishes most likely cook/will cook it themselves, and it’s unlikely they’ll be interested in engaging Toyin’s services as a cook.
So, she’ll get a lot of traffic, but most of the traffic will not convert because the visitors have completely different goals from the one Toyin intended.
Quick Tip: For SEO to be effective for you, you need to make sure your goals align with the goals of your visitors.
With SEO, success is not about traffic, it’s about relevance. Intent is key, so you have to understand what you want to achieve with your content first, then optimize with keywords that bring in visitors who want the same things.
One of the biggest challenges that bloggers and content marketers face is writing content that’s optimized for search engines, but that will also appeal to an actual human audience.
Quick Tip: If you’re ever in a dilemma of writing content that is optimized for search engines and actual human audience, a good rule of thumb is people come first, before search algorithms.
Knowing how to optimize content to be found by both people and search engines is essential for your brand/business in this digital age where search engines play a key role in buying decisions.
How to optimize your content for both people and search engines
The first thing to do is to research and develop a list of relevant keywords for your business. This is an important step in optimizing for search engines.
Keywords are what prospects type into a search engine when they want information or a solution.
For example, Hassan has been tasked with sourcing for an Auditing Firm for his company. His first port of call will be Google where he will search for “Auditing Firms in Nigeria” or “Auditing firms in Lagos” or Leading Auditing Firms in Victoria Island etc.
The sentence “Auditing firms in Lagos” is a keyword. Businesses create content around relevant keywords to help them attract prospects and give them visibility in searches.
Quick Tip: To help you pick the right keywords to create content around, first think about the purpose of the content, then put yourself into a visitor’s shoes, if you had a problem that your content could solve, how would you search for it online?
It’s important to get into the heads of the people you want to attract and to use the language they search for content with.
For example, a Nigerian looking for information on cars and their dealers will not search for “Automobile Dealer”, instead, he will use the word “Car Dealer”
When you create content around these words, your web page is presented as a result when they search and depending on how well you optimized your content and how relevant it is to the search, search engines will rank your page higher than some others.
The goal is to not just get to the first page of search results but to be so relevant that you’re in the top 3 results on the first page. People rarely visit the second let alone the third pages of search results. Your keywords and high-quality content will help you achieve this goal.
However, you will have to be consistent as organic (non-paid) Optimisation takes a while to yield results.
Here are some free tools to help you get started on researching and selecting relevant keywords for your search engine Optimisation.
Write for Humans
When optimizing for search engines, please write with a human audience in mind. Don’t just string together a bunch of keywords in a bid to increase your chances of getting found or your search result page rankings. That’s a big NO. Search engines like google have a way of punishing sites that practice black hat SEO so stay away from such techniques if you want to build something long term and of high quality.
When creating content, first have a target audience in mind, this will help tailor the information you give out and the keywords strategy you use. You can learn more about creating a Buyer Persona in our earlier post here. You can even develop your own Buyer Persona with our Buyer Persona Template.
Create such quality and compelling content that solves the reader’s challenges and talks directly to him/her so much that the reader engages with it and best of all, shares it with their sphere of influence. This is the best way to get traffic and leads on your business website.
Headline – Title Tag
A great way to optimize your website for search engines is to include a keyword in the title of your content. This piques the interest of the right people when they stumble across your content online and this helps you get a higher click through rate from those who find you by actually searching.
A great way to rev up your SEO as a beginner is to include a number in your headline, or ask a question that references the reader. Here are some examples:
– 20 Reasons why Nigeria is a tourist destination in 2017
– Is your mobile phone killing you slowly?
– 10 easy steps to getting ready for the harmattan this December.
Sprinkle Keywords into Your Content
Now that you have done your keyword research and you know what readers are searching for, be sure to use these keywords in the body of the text when creating content.
Do this naturally by using synonyms along with your keywords to drive your point home and be careful not to over stuff your article with keywords to the point where it affects comprehension and readability. This is referred to as SEO Black Hat Practice.
Use Heading Tags
Search engines use the headings to index the structure and content of your web pages.
Users skim your pages by its headings. It is important to use headings to show the document structure. Also, because most people read content on their phones, it is vital to break long-form content into short paragraphs so that they can digest it in piece meals.
<h1> headings should be used for main headings, followed by <h2> headings, then the less important <h3>, and so on.
For more on the different types of headings and how to use them, click here
Write a Good Meta Description
According to MOZ, “Meta descriptions are HTML attributes that provide concise summaries of web pages. They commonly appear underneath the blue clickable links in a search engine results page (SERP).”
In other words, it is a 160-character snippet, that summarizes a page’s content. It gives readers a chance to preview your content without clicking on any links, to see if it matches their search query. Your meta description should not exceed 160 characters and it should be captivating enough to get the reader to click to read further.
To learn more about Meta descriptions and how to add it to your articles, click here.
This is a very important step for optimizing your website.
It helps make the user experience delightful when your site has both inbound and outbound links to related and relevant content that takes the readers deeper into their search and provides more detailed and in-depth answers to their questions with references.
When creating content, there should be a mixture of these two in your article, some should link to other contents on your website (which helps to reduce bounce rate) and others should link to relevant content on other trusted websites.
Test the waters of the web by easing these tips into your content strategy. You’ll simultaneously build loyal fans and bring in more businesses.
We would love to hear how this article has improved your content development and SEO.
If you would like to take the hassle free road and have a professional optimize your website and also help to create optimized content for your blogs and Social Media Pages, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call at +234 818 129 5000.