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Stop thinking about SEO. Focus on what your customers are looking for.


SEO isn’t about Google making it harder for your business to be found, it’s about Google helping its customers to easily find the businesses and services that best meet their needs.

When businesses talk about SEO, the focus is often on the Google algorithm, and how to make sure a website meets everything Google is asking for. However, Google isn’t consistently updating its algorithm to catch businesses out; Google wants to ensure its customers find the best and most relevant websites when they use the search functionality. As Google’s AI improves it makes changes to its algorithm, giving a better search experience to its customers.


By focusing on the Google algorithm, many businesses find the concept of SEO a daunting task and spend a lot of time and money focusing on it. However, by focusing on understanding what your target audience wants to know about your business, and how the content of your website meets your business objectives, you will automatically be ticking all the SEO boxes.


The traditional way of talking about SEO is on-page, off-page and technical optimisation, which can sound daunting. If we translate those to a more user-friendly language, the task is much less daunting. On-page optimisation is about making your website relevant, off-page optimisation is ensuring your brand or service is trustworthy, and technical optimization is about providing the best user experience (UX).

Let’s take each of these separately.


  • Your website content needs to be relevant


Google is looking for content which is relevant to their customer’s needs as they are searching. Your business and Google both have the same objective, making sure people find what they are looking for quickly and easily.

Keywords are an important aspect of relevance, but they don’t need to be complicated!

Don’t start by focusing on keywords, but by understanding your customers and their needs. What is the purpose of your website/landing page? What customer need/problem is it solving? What do people ask when they are searching for this information? Create groups of words/phrases that you believe customers and potential customers will search for to get to your website/landing page.

Before confirming your keywords, do a little more research on Google too. Put your keywords/phrases into Google Search, and see what other businesses come up, and which similar search terms are used (shown at the bottom of the search page). Explore your competitor’s websites, to see what keywords/phrases are working for them.

Google Keyword Planner then allows you to fine-tune your keywords, and prioritize the ones which are most likely to bring traffic to your business — not necessarily those with the highest frequency, as mixing less competitive ones with low/medium frequency may be more fruitful.


By following this process, your chosen keywords should flow naturally into your content, keeping your website engaging and relevant to your target audience. At the same time helping the Google algorithm to know exactly when to prioritize your website.

Your meta-tags and meta-description (what people see when your business comes up on Google) should also be optimised using your keywords. This then makes it clear to people that your business is relevant to their search, and it is worth their time clicking on it to find out more.


  • Your website needs to be trustworthy


Google is looking for trust signals on your website. It wants to be able to prioritize to its customers those companies that have a good reputation.

Backlinks are an important aspect of this. If your business is recommended by other businesses, the trust signals and consequent likelihood to purchase, amongst potential customers will be higher. So backlinks are not only important to Google but to you, to grow your business as well.


Think of your backlink strategy as part of your PR strategy. For example, a mention in a relevant magazine is a strong trust point for Google, and is also likely to bring more potential customers to your website.


A backlink strategy can be time-consuming, but there are some quick ways to get started. Find all the relevant directories and listings you can join, add your social media feeds to your website, check out what your competitors are doing (there are several tools available to help with that) to get some ideas, contact local magazines, write articles/blogs — so many ways to get started!


Customer reviews are also a key signal that a business is trustworthy. Reviews can be captured over a range of different sources, with any source adding credibility to your website. A review widget should be incorporated onto your website, which will keep the reviews updated as they come in.


Backlinks not only provide a trust signal for your business but are a great way to spread brand awareness in a cost-effective way.


Your website needs to provide a great user experience


Everyone prefers a website that is easy to use, and reliable. Google places a high level of importance on indexing websites that provide a great user experience but isn’t that the experience you want to create anyway? The UX (technical) experience will largely be taken care of by the technical team, including such things as:

  • The site structure needs to be organised and logical. This is for both readers of your site to navigate and for it to be indexed by search engines when they crawl the site.

  • The URL of each page should follow a logical structure, so users can easily see where they are on your site.

  • All links should work — both within the site and to/from external sites. (No 404’s)

  • There shouldn’t be any duplicate titles and tags — each page should have a specific purpose.

  • The website should be fast — people don’t want to wait for pages to open.

  • The majority of people now search on their mobile, your website should be optimized for mobile or even mobile-first for many businesses.


Finally,


Your website is your shop window, and for most businesses, it’s the most important aspect of marketing — as most marketing activities send customers to your website. SEO is an important element of digital marketing, however, by putting your customer first and creating a website focusing on their needs, you will automatically satisfy the majority of the needs of Google.


By understanding your customer, and creating a first in class website for them, your website will have a positive impact on sales, and by default will also meet the needs of Google for SEO and higher search rankings. Remember though, Google can take time to take into account all of your actions, so coming to the top of the rankings is potentially still a bit of a waiting game.


Customer-first marketing always reaps the best results. Don't stress about SEO, just focus on customer needs!


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