Does your website feel a bit like a needle in a haystack?
It's in there somewhere, but really hard to find!
This is why you need effective website SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) from day one, at the start of your website creation or before you start to rebuild your website. This has always been our focus at Arttia Creative, Newcastle digital design agency.
Having worked on many website and SEO projects (check out our web design case studies) I have found that the best results after a website are launched, are when we have had the opportunity to include SEO as an integral part of the initial website creation, both technically, structurally, in search and from a User Experience, from day one.
I've found Search Engine Optimisation can very often be twice the task if started after a website has been created. Retrofitting SEO to your website after it has been built seems counter-intuitive and somewhat messy.
In this post, I want to empower you to understand why an effective SEO strategy can work to clarify the purpose of your website and be created to promote your business from day one of your project. Why you should want to give your website the visibility it needs and why you'd be crazy not to have SEO as part of your website from the get-go.
Why is it more effective to work on your Search Engine Optimisation first?
The problem is there are probably many business websites offering similar products or services to yours, all competing for visibility every day. You may be at a stage where your website needs a refresh, or you need to create new content, and you're under pressure to deliver a website and content that competes well, drives traffic and creates leads for your business. A website that creates revenue from day one.
A new website?
This can be a daunting task. There are many elements required to get your new website project underway; budgets to plan, finding the right website agency who 'gets' your business needs, deciding who and how you're going to create the content for your pages, how to get your message and story across in a clear and structured way that speaks to your audience... where to start?
New content? (Blogs, case studies, news stories, etc.)
You need to create new content which is up-to-date, refreshed pages, a refined user journey and create downloads and assets. But you don't want to lose any content that is ranking and converting well or do anything that can damage any of your current search positions.
So how do you find out which of your current content and pages are working well for your business?
How do you find what areas to improve and what new content to add?
How do you know exactly what your customers are looking for, what you should be being found for and therefore what is currently missing from your proposition?
How do you know where to start to bridge these gaps?
SEO first will make it easier for you to refresh and create your content
It's getting more and more competitive to reach your audience online. They face many distractions every day - social, news feeds, and your competitors! You need to give your website the maximum visibility it needs to reach out to the right audience, at the right time.
One way to grab their attention is by answering their questions better than anyone else in your industry. If you're not creating the right, most valuable content then you're not going to reach this audience. Having SEO in place from the start shows you the specific content you need to create. Without an SEO strategy or pre-defined SEO research you're potentially missing many opportunities.
Planning before execution
Many businesses are under the misconception that they need to build their website first then commission their SEO and search strategy. This is the long way around, it can work, however there is a better way.
Did you know it could take the search engines quite a few days (or sometimes a few weeks!) for their 'bots' to find, crawl and understand your content? The sooner you get your website and content SEO optimised the sooner you'll start appearing in the search results. If you launch without including SEO you're going to inevitably delay the time it takes to get found. And not getting found is costing you leads and business.
Don't start your new website design until you have completed your SEO strategy.
Set aside enough time to be the winner with SEO
If you want to beat the competition to first place on the search results, it's worth working on SEO first. Working on SEO at the start of your project means your project is likely to take longer to complete. However, when it comes to the tortoise and the hare, the steady hand wins the end result and your content will be so much more powerful. Build in time at the start of your project to work closely with your web and sales team to work on your SEO and content strategy. It will help to inform and guide you and your team on the content needed for your website.
"We could not have been happier with the service from Arttia Creative. Throughout every step of our Search Engine Optimisation campaign Arttia Creative helped with hints, tips, advice and her presentations to us were brilliant"
Matt and Gayle / Children's Clothing Boutique
The Benefits of SEO From Day One In 5 steps
Step 1. Business goals and marketing plan
Perhaps you're about to go through a website refresh. It's time to redevelop your website and you need to get started with reviewing your content and the site structure. Look at your internal factors such as, what content shall we keep, what's working well, what is missing and what new content do we need. These are all really important factors that SEO can help with.
Search Engine Optimisation helps you get found
If you want your new website to reach your audience in the right place, at the right them, then your project will benefit from a Keyword Research process. If you include SEO at the start of your project at the same time you're putting together your marketing plan and business goals, then it's going to be a whole lot easier to map out your content than your web developer or content creators trying to retro-fit your keywords to content already produced and launched.
You're not looking for a complete new website, however you are adding new content to keep it fresh and showcase your expertise. Both Google and your audience love new content. You could randomly create blog posts, case studies etc... but there is a better way.
Search Engine Optimisation target your content
Why not spend your valuable time creating content that your audience is really searching for. This is where SEO is of outstanding value, it will help you discover their needs, their problems and what you can help them with.
Step 2. Audience profile
SEO is a great tool when evolving your audience profiles. Write out a description of your perfect customer. Those that you love to work with and who are profitable. Then consider their needs, what they are looking for, what questions do they have.
You may get asked the same questions every time you receive an enquiry. Answer each question via a blog post on your website. Go into every detail of their questions.
You need to find out how they are currently searching for answers, how they describe their issues and problems, what words they use, what places they visit and what websites and content they already like.
Step 3. Keyword discovery
Get cracking with Keyword Research. Before you plan, create or post content, research the best phrases to include and weave them into your writing with variations and synonyms for variety.
There are methods and tools to aid your Keyword Research.
Read my blog post here, to kick-start an effective Keyword strategy.
Create a keyword list, look at competitors, use Google’s auto-suggest, Google’s related searches and if you are serious sign up to use Pro SEO software for really in-depth keyword research and competitor research - compare your findings to the existing content on your site. It's worth using a range of SEO tools to get a full overview.
Then start to map your Keywords to your content. This gets your content working as hard as possible to let Google understand what your page is about and so helps you get presented in search results.
Step 4. Content audit and mapping
Go through your website and create an audit of your current content. Take note of the number of pages indexed and top performing keywords which provide you clicks and shares.
Then make a list of the keywords that you need to be found for. Make sure you’re not missing out on using the right keywords for the right phase of your audiences buying journey in your content.
Keep in mind any 'easy win' keywords that need to be covered in your content, such as phrases that include your brand and business name.
Map out your content based on your research and audit. If you’re targeting a specific phrase you must have a page of content for that phrase.
Step 5. Creating the right, targeted new content
For your individual pages; add your target keyword phrase in title, content and alt tags. Aim for an article length >300 words in which you weave in your target phrase and any semantic variations.
You want quality over quantity, however Google is said to consistently rank higher content with over 1,200 words, so aim for in-depth, useful SEO copywriting and SEO optimised images. Try to get your target phrase appearing as early as possible in the first paragraph.
Take time to thoughtfully craft your titles and Meta descriptions for each page. These are your sales messages on Google search page results, designed to entice a searcher to click on your result rather than another. A carefully optimised Google search snippet is a driver of traffic to your website, so make each page unique.
Include internal links on each page. This cross-linking will help Google understand your site structure and also encourage visitors to dig deeper into your site, so lowering your ‘bounce rate’.
Keep your website visitor at the forefront of your goals. If they are happy then the search engines will be happy and reward you with higher ranking.
During this process, make sure any current content doesn’t lose its existing ranking. Create thorough 301 redirects or retain and don’t adjust any already high-ranking, high traffic content.
There are many factors that Google uses to rank your page over another; here is a useful resource by Moz to enlighten you further:
Include these essential on-page SEO basics on every page:
- Do your keyword research
- Title tag and description
- Human readable permalink (URL)
- Check your page load speed
- Content mapped to your SEO keywords
- Educating your audience at every stage
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Work in progress...
Keep an eye on your website traffic
When you have completed the above 5 steps it's time to track and monitor your website traffic. You need to make sure you have a record of your Google Analytics activity before you make any changes. Then compare this data against your new content. Take note of content that is working well and refine the content that isn't working. Your new content needs to drive traffic and engagement and your analytics will tell you this. You can then replicate your most successful content wins, creating deeper, long-form content.
Rinse and repeat
Like most aspects of the web, things change all the time. The web is ever evolving. This process isn’t a ‘set and forget’. You'll need to keep optimising your pages and checking their search rankings. Compare your content to your competitors. Can you analyse why competitor’s pages could be out ranking you? What could you be doing better on your pages to convert those clicks into traffic and enquiries?
SEO Bootcamp for your business, it's time to take control
Customised Search Engine Optimisation training and guidance. Perfect for your business team or those tasked with updating your website and creating content to market your business.
Find inspiration from your SEO and audience research and take the guesswork out of creating your content.
In summary, it's important to create website content and messages that effectively showcase your business, it's also important to create content that your audience is looking for. And sometimes the two can be very different.
SEO research and discovery
Make sure you take the time to include SEO research and discovery at the very start of your project and it will most likely highlight many gaps between the content you are creating and the content that is being searched for. Spending time on this process can be really inspirational, giving you new ideas for page content, tone of voice, messages, case studies, blog post ideas.
Make sure you include SEO competitor research at the start of your project. It can highlight areas that your competitors are ranking for, that (perhaps you do better or in a totally unique way) and you're currently not showcasing.
A new map for your content
Map your content to the things people are searching for. Enlighten yourself with exactly what your audience needs. Make sure you set aside enough of your time to work on this aspect of your project.
Need help getting started? We're here to help.
Let's get started on your pre-launch website SEO
You need effective Search Engine Optimisation research and implementation.
"Seriously useful Search Engine Optimisation presentation by Belinda [Arttia Creative, Content Marketing Conquered Workshop]".
Gerry King / I-nectco