SEO for Business (Part 4): Some Important Principles for SEO
In my previous three articles in this series, I looked at an overview of SEO, keywords and backlinks. These articles cover the basics of SEO.
In this article, I will look at more general principles that will help you navigate this simple but fast-changing field.
1. Keep your knowledge up to date
As previously mentioned, Google updates its algorithm 500 – 600 times a year. They are always looking for new ways to improve the search results for their users.
This means that the field of SEO is continually evolving. What was important yesterday is not important today, and what is important today might not be so tomorrow.
As with many areas of business or knowledge more generally, reading widely is a great way to consistently orientate and update your knowledge.
Whether it’s through blogs, podcasts, newsletters or simply Twitter accounts, the world of SEO has a number of free resources that will help you keep your pulse on the world of SEO.
Two of the most popular resources for SEO are Brian Dean’s Backlinko.com and Neil Patel’s website. Brian and Neil are both recognised leading SEO specialists who regularly provide informative updates on the field.
2. Create content
No one knows your business as well as you do. And the chances are that you also have expertise in your business’ industry – or at least an aspect of it.
A great way to capitalise on this knowledge is to use it to write blog posts and/or even create videos. Content will bring more traffic to your website and improve your ranking.
Remember, Google likes to provide its users with the best possible result for their enquiry. They also help you target keywords that haven’t already targeted in the main text of your website.
If two competing hairdressers’ websites are more or less the same except one of them regularly posts insightful blogs or vlogs, then Google will rank the blog/vlog-posting website higher.
Content can also help you build up backlinks. Perhaps you are a small bookshop and you write an insightful post about rare books. Someone else writing about a similar topic might then decide to link to your article to provide value to their readers.
The best way to ensure your content attracts backlinks is by ensuring the information is high quality and original.
The lay out and readability is also important. Remember to keep your sentences and paragraphs short and to the point – after all, many people online prefer to skim read.
(The overall length of the content shouldn’t be too short though. Longer blogs provide more information, and some studies have shown that 2,250 – 2,500 words is probably optimal).
If you don’t have the time to edit blogs or videos, hire someone else to do this for you. You can give them the main content, and they can polish it for you. Sites like Fiverr are a great place to find freelancers who can do this.
Posting consistently is important but, as with backlinks, focus on quality over quantity.
3. Be patient
SEO is definitely a long-term strategy and its results sometimes seem intangible for periods of time.
Of course, there are the main metrics of where you rank on Google and how much traffic you get. These will probably fluctuate over time but should follow a consistent trajectory if you continue to improve your SEO (and services!).
As mentioned before, it takes time to build up a good backlink profile (i.e., how many backlinks you have and their overall quality). The same goes for content writing: it takes time to build up an audience.
How long it does take you to rank for a particular term depends largely on your competition. Some industries are hard to rank for because they are generally switched on to SEO. (An example of this is the field of SEO itself!)
Others are less competitive. However, as users become more tech-savvy, don’t be surprised if you see your rivals up their SEO game in the coming years.
When that happens, ranking with backlinks and keywords probably won’t be enough: it may then come down to who writes the best content and gets the best reviews.
4. Embrace the process of trial and error
Don’t be afraid to try new things. Perhaps writing blogs doesn’t work for you but you’re a natural standing in front of a camera and explaining something.
Maybe your blogs or videos don’t turn out how you want them the first time. Well, practice makes perfect! Don’t let the fear of making mistakes hold you back from developing through trial and error.
There could be some unknown unknowns out there about your target customers. Perhaps they generally enjoy one kind or tone of content more than other types.
The same applies to backlink hunting. Perhaps your email outreach doesn’t get replies but your calls do.
In many ways, SEO is more of an art than a science. There are multiple ways you can build a website and rank it. Ultimately, what users make of your website itself and the content you post will dictate your traffic.
Once you have covered all the bases, you’ll likely get a feel for what aspect of SEO you enjoy doing.
For some, outreach to gather backlinks might be their favourite part; for others, creating great content that will attract backlinks will be; for the more technically-minded as well as the more design driven, optimising the site for users might be ideal; and so on.
5. Study your competition
You can learn a lot by looking at the websites that are ranking for keywords you want to rank for.
These websites don’t have to be your direct rivals. Let’s say you’re a barber shop in a small town. It will help to explore what your rival’s websites look like – what keywords do they have and how many backlinks (software will help with these, especially the latter).
However, once you have this information, you can look at barbershops in more competitive locations, such as central London or simply a larger town than yours.
Looking at the top-ranking websites of other companies in your field, you can get ideas about what your website should look like, what kind of tone and content it should have, etc.
SEO is becoming increasingly important. Some experts in the field have predicted that eventually everyone with a website will have to cover SEO.
This fact, along with the fact that Google is becoming more sophisticated by the day, means that in the future the effort you put into your online presence and the quality of your services will be the deciding factor for ranking.
However, for now, covering the basics of SEO can be make or break for many companies, and it is still possible to leapfrog your competition if you put the effort into it.
Hiring an agency or freelancer is a great first step. But doing it yourself is better in the long run. Hopefully this series of articles has given you an overview and shown you that it’s simpler than you it sounds.
So, find your keywords, start looking for backlinks, create content, study your competition and don’t be afraid to learn through trial and error!
Kain is an SEO freelance consultant and copywriter based in London. His business is called Barbell SEO (https://barbellseo.co.uk)