UPDATE: This SEO optimisation post was originally published on 30 October 2018 and updated on 20 May 2020.
SEO is an acronym that stands for search engine optimisation. So what is it? It’s the practice of increasing a website’s visibility within search results by following a well-defined sequence of steps. Once complete, SEO optimisation brings more potential customers to your website.
Search engines like Google, Yahoo! and Bing want to offer the best results whenever someone searches for something. They’re continuously improving their algorithms so the most relevant, helpful and trustworthy sites rank highest in search results.
If you’re serious about increasing traffic to your website, SEO optimisation is for you.
It all starts with keywords
Keywords are central to website SEO. These are the words and phrases we all type into the Google search box to find information, answers or businesses online. Soon, with the rise of voice-automated search, SEO will need to include keywords and phrases the way people speak.
Keywords can be a single word to a full sentence. For example, “barber near me” or “the best way to poach an egg” are examples of what are called long tail keywords (e.g. longer keyword phrases). Google attempts to match the words you type (or speak) with websites that answer that question.
How to find the right ones?
Start by listing what you do and what problems you solve for your customer. Now, look at the problems you solve from the customer’s perspective. What words would they likely type into the search bar to find the answers?
Let’s use XYZ Air Conditioning company as an example. XYZ sells ducted, reverse-cycle and ventilation systems. A potential customer is having problems with a musty smell coming from their crawl space. They go online and type in ‘musty crawl space.’
There’s a good chance XYZ doesn’t use the words ‘musty crawl space’ on their website. They probably focus on product features rather than this problem. So when that prospective customer types in ‘musty crawl space,’ XYZ’s website isn’t on the list of results.
SEO optimisation tools
Luckily, there are tools you can use for keyword research — you don’t even have to pay for expensive subscriptions. Many of the most popular tools offer a free version to get you started or give you limited searches as a trial.
A few keyword research tools you might want to try:
Editor’s note: Don’t have the time or interest in doing SEO optimisation yourself? Why not let the experts at GoDaddy do it for you? 80 percent of clients who take their advice achieve a Page 1 ranking within six months.
Single or long tail keywords?
As mentioned before, single keywords are broad categories, and long-tail keywords can be several words, a phrase or a question. For example, ‘camping’ is a single keyword, while ‘best family camping in NSW’ is a long tail keyword.
It’s harder to rank well for a single keyword because you’re competing with websites all over the world!
Let’s use Tiger Air as an example. Type ‘budget airlines australia’ into your search bar and see where Tiger Air ranks in the results. (If you’re using Chrome, it’s a good idea to use incognito mode so previous searches don’t skew your results.)
Search term: Airlines
Result: Tiger Air is not on Page 1 of results
Search term: Airlines Australia
Result: Tiger Air is not on Page 1
Search term: Budget Airlines Australia
Result: Tiger Air is listed 6th on Page 1
Search term: Cheap Domestic Flights Australia
Result: Tiger Air is listed 7th on Page 1
Generic words like ‘airlines’ have a lot of competition, but Tiger Air knows their market. They’re after the traveller on a budget and focus on longer keyword phrases their customers would use when searching for cheap flights.
Where to put keywords
Once you have a list of keywords, adding them to text on your website is the best place to start. When you become more comfortable with keywords, you can add them to each page’s:
Let’s go back to XYZ Air Conditioning. They might not use the term ‘musty crawl space’ on their home page, but they could add the phrase to their Frequently Asked Questions page or — better yet — in a blog post describing how to get rid of that musty odor.
Google favours blog posts because they show authority and educate the customer.
Whether you’re adding them to a blog post or a page on your website, use your keywords naturally. They should appear in the headline, at least one subhead, the first paragraph and throughout the page or post text. But you don’t want to sound like you’re repeating the same word over and over. Write as you talk and then go back and replace certain phrases with your keywords.
Note: Keyword stuffing is when you use keywords excessively on your website in an attempt to rank higher for that keyword. Beware though: Google and other search engines penalise sites that stuff keywords by dropping them down in rankings. A good rule of thumb is to use your keyword just once for every 100 words on the page. So make content relevant and searchable.
Closing words on SEO optimisation
Start your SEO journey by looking into keywords that lead customers to your website. What questions would a potential customer ask and what words would they likely use to ask them?
Keep in mind there’s a technical side to SEO. Even if you have perfect keywords, what’s happening behind the scenes could impact your SEO success. So if you need help, don’t be afraid to contact an SEO expert. Your business success is at stake.
See you on Page 1!