All Posts By

Steve Chisholm

The Fundamentals of Search Engine Optimisation: Practical Tips to Improve Your SEO Rankings

SEO company

Imagine you’re a tailor. You depend heavily on local business, and your area’s home to several competitors. When a potential customer searches for ‘North Shore tailor,’ say, how high on the page do you come up? Are you above your competitors or below them?

Strong search engine optimisation, better known by its abbreviation SEO, can be the difference between a thriving business and one that’s just scraping by. In this post, we’ll define SEO and outline the fundamentals of the concept in order to give you a solid foundation on which to build your own SEO practice. Read on to learn more!

What is SEO?

We like to visualise SEO as an iceberg, with the above-water tip representing the visible ‘on-the-page factors’ and the unseen, below-the-surface chunk representing the ‘off-the-page’ factors (more on both those terms later).

As the name suggests, SEO involves optimising each aspect of your website to make it more attractive to search engines, in turn encouraging them to rank you higher when a user performs a relevant search. It’s sort of like free publicity in that there’s a difference between SEO rankings (organic traffic) and paid advertising — so if you’re not doing whatever you can to improve your SEO, you’re actively passing up unpaid traffic that’s likely going to your competitors.

How does SEO work?

SEO begins with search engines crawling every webpage, collecting information, and using their own unique algorithms to spit out search results they feel will be most useful to the searcher.

For the likes of Google and Safari, this last piece — providing users with the most accurate search results possible — is the goal of SEO, which means your goal as a business must be to help the engine do just that.

Each browser’s SEO algorithm differs slightly, but in general, the key to higher rankings lies in ensuring that your website has all the pieces necessary to appeal to search engines. So what exactly are these pieces?

Let’s explore.

SEO Rankings - Search Engine Optimisation

What factors influence your SEO rank?

For robust SEO, lead with content. The more frequently you publish fresh, relevant content (blogs, ebooks, downloadable resources, infographics, etc.), the more weight search engines will ascribe to your website. Remember: search engines want to provide their users with value, so they’re looking for organisations that can help them do that.

Within that content, emphasise your keywords. Put yourself in the shoes of your ideal customer; using our tailor example from the beginning, what’s your audience searching for? Is it ‘North Shore tailor’? ‘Best tailors in the Auckland area’? Do some research — and once you’ve identified the keywords and phrases you want to rank for, build them into your content.

Content and keywords represent two components otherwise known as on-page factors. The parts of SEO that are within the control of the page owner, on-page factors also include website structure and logistics (Do your pages load quickly? Does the flow of your site make sense in the context of user experience?) and behind-the-scenes workings such as title tags, meta descriptions, and hyperlinks to your products and other content.

Off-page factors are largely outside your control and are driven by a search engine’s desire to provide users with reputable, trustworthy search results. They include things such as link building (carefully curated links to your site from credible publishers) and social engagement (shares from quality accounts and influencers, number of likes and comments on your posts) — and though you can’t directly manage them, you can improve your off-page factors by fostering relationships with worthy partners and building a loyal customer base.

What practical steps can you take to win at SEO?

SEO can seem intimidating, but if you break it down into its simplest form — making your website as helpful and relevant to your audience as possible — it’s much easier to implement actionable changes. Here are a few quick, practical tips to help you win at SEO:

  1. Research the most relevant keywords for your specific industry, and build them into your site and your content. Publish fresh content designed around your keywords on a regular basis.
  2. Overhaul your website’s metadata to optimise it for search terms.
  3. Within your own content, hyperlink pertinent words and phrases to other content pieces you’ve published. Expand on this internal link network by establishing an external network, done by building relationships with trustworthy partners and having them link back to you.
  4. Keep an eye on where your competitors rank for your industry’s keywords, and note what they do well in terms of SEO. Use these benchmarks to improve upon your own SEO factors.
  5. Plan a robust content schedule to ensure you’re regularly putting out valuable information.

A quick wrap-up

It’s critical that you view your SEO strategy as an interconnected web in which each part strengthens the others. If any one component is weak (i.e. if you have a sub-par content game or haven’t put work into improving your page titles), the entire strategy will weaken as a result — so your best chance at success is to optimise each piece of the puzzle to the best of your ability.

Want to see how your SEO stacks up? Talk to us about a free SEO benchmarking audit, or head here to request one.

Alexa, How is Voice Search Shaping the Future of SEO?

Voice search is no longer the work of science fiction. It’s real, it’s here and it stands poised to transform the search game as we know it. What’s driving this trend? What does the future have in store for voice search? And how can businesses and marketers prepare themselves for the revolution?

The Rise of Voice

SEO Company

Voice recognition technology might seem like a modern innovation, but it’s actually been around in one form or another for more than 60 years. Back in 1952, Bell Laboratories designed a system known as Audrey, which could recognise spoken numbers. A decade later, IBM introduced Shoebox, a computer that could understand 16 basic words. And in 2008, the technology finally went mobile, when Google released the Voice Search app for iPhone.

Fast forward to today, and consumer adoption of voice search is skyrocketing. Between 2008 and 2016, the volume of voice searches increased 35-fold, according to Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends report. In 2016, about 20 percent of Google app searches were voice searches. And in 2018, 91 million people in the U.S used voice technology at least once a month, according to figures from eMarketer.

Looking at the timeline, it’s clear that voice search didn’t arrive overnight. So why are consumers only now starting to get interested in voice search? There are two main reasons:

1. It’s Everywhere

The explosive growth of voice search mostly comes down to the fact that the technology is now supremely accessible. Voice search has been successfully integrated into a huge range of mainstream consumer products, with smart speakers (such as Google Home and Amazon Echo) leading the charge. In fact, smart speakers sales grew 300 percent between 2016 and 2017, according to figures from Strategy Analytics.

Of course, it’s not only smart speaker manufacturers who are getting in on the action. Just about every major tech company is leveraging the power of digital personal assistants and voice search. You can ask Siri to send a text message for you while you’re driving, tell Google Assistant to read you the news, use Cortana to update your calendar and command your Xbox to start streaming Netflix. Voice search is no longer about the novelty factor; it’s a useful, efficient and convenient feature that is quickly becoming a normal part of everyday life.

2. It’s Getting Better at Understanding Us

The way we communicate verbally is very different from the way we write and type. We’re less formal, less specific and more verbose, which stands in stark contrast to the keyword-laden,  ultra-concise queries we’d usually type into a search engine. This has been a bit of a sticking point for voice search, as the technology has traditionally struggled to separate meaningless human chit chat from user intent (i.e. what we’re actually searching for).

Thankfully, this is (mostly) a thing of the past. The AI that powers voice search has become exponentially smarter in recent years and is constantly getting better at understanding context and user intent. In 2017, Microsoft’s voice recognition software achieved an error rate of just 5.1 percent, which put it on par with human error rate. Consumers are feeling more inclined to use voice search because they can use natural, conversational language and still get accurate results.

How Can Businesses Prepare for the Revolution?

    1. Use schema markup: Schema is a type of on-page data markup that helps search engines better understand your website and content, and therefore the services your company offers. This type of structured data can be used to increase the chances of your business being found for local voice search queries.
    1. Focus on long-tail keywords: Short-tail keywords fell out of favour a long time ago, and voice search may well be the final nail in the coffin. As we’ve learned, users are more likely to ask long, complex search strings when using voice search. With this in mind, focus on using long-tail keywords that are very specific to your business.
    1. Incorporate FAQS into your content: Voice search is conversational. An easy way to naturally replicate this style is to use FAQs to answer common questions that your audience might have about your business, services or industry.
  1. Rethink your SEO strategy: The world of SEO is constantly changing. This might be the perfect time to audit your current strategy and rethink your current digital marketing spend.

Curious about what you need to do to optimise your business for voice search? Book your free strategy session to get a better understanding of how the voice search revolution is going to affect you.

Top 3 benefits of Facebook advertising for Kiwi businesses

Facebook Advertising for Business

Facebook was once little more than a junkpile of pointless memes, poorly framed selfies and needy updates from your attention-starved friends. Okay, so if your feed’s anything like mine, Facebook is definitely still home to all those things, but it has also evolved to become one of – if not the – most powerful digital marketing tool for New Zealand businesses.

Regardless of which industry your company operates in, there are very real benefits to leveraging the power of the most popular social media platform on the planet. Here are three of the most important:

 

  1. Marketing AudienceHighly targeted audiences

With almost 2 billion users (and 2.5 million users in New Zealand alone), there’s no denying Facebook’s potential for getting eyeballs onto your brand. However, while these figures are impressive in their own right, I think it’s important to note that the real power of Facebook advertising lies in its ability to segment audiences right down to the nitty gritty – and I do mean nitty gritty!

For example, Facebook advertising enables you to target your campaigns by:

 

  • Location: Ensure your messages are reaching relevant markets by targeting your audience by country, city and post code. You can also choose to exclude certain locations.
  • Demographic: Further refine your audience by age, gender, relationship status, education, career and income.
  • Interests: This is where Facebook advertising really starts to get good. Define your ideal audience according to their hobbies, interests and pages they engage with on Facebook.
  • Behaviours: Get a more complete picture of your customers by diving deep into their buying habits, travel preferences and more.

 

These segmenting options allow you to really drill into your market base and create tailored campaigns that are targeted towards a very, very specific audience. For instance, a jewellery company could target Auckland women aged 18-54 who are in a relationship, earn $40,000-$100,000, have an interest in beauty and fashion, and have recently shopped for fine jewellery. When executed correctly, this type of highly targeted advertising can drastically boost your chances of conversion.

Brand Influence

  1. Enhanced brand influence

Social media has democratised marketing in many ways. In years gone by, building strong brand influence was often only possible with million dollar marketing budgets, but thanks to Facebook and other social channels, businesses big and small can now cultivate long-lasting, meaningful relationships with their audiences.

How?

Well, Facebook advertising removes many of the layers of traditional marketing, allowing you to connect with customers in a way that is transparent, honest and human. With some strategic planning and a healthy dose of empathy, Facebook advertising allows you to establish your company not only as a thought leader in your niche, but as a brand that customers actually like and want to engage with.

In this regard, Facebook advertising is less about cramming your product down people’s throats and more about fostering trust and loyalty through honest communication.

 

  1. Visual nature creates demandVisual

Humans are highly visual creatures, and few things resonate with our sense of desire as much as a well-placed image or video. Consequently, visual content is very much the name of the game in the modern marketing world. In fact, 95 percent of marketers say their visual content is at least twice as effective as their text content, while almost 1 in 10 report it be 10 times more effective, according to figures collated by Chute and Digiday.

Simply put, bang for buck, there is no better platform for your visual content than Facebook. More than 350 million images are uploaded to Facebook daily, while 100 million hours of video are watched every single day.

How can you get in on the visual action?

 

  • Images: Create demand and strengthen your company’s brand. Image carousels can be used to showcase new products, while infographics are an effective way of condensing data-heavy reports into easily digestible tidbits.
  • Videos: Take your storytelling to the next level. Educate your audience with how-tos and demonstration videos, create excitement for new products or take your customers behind the scenes. Facebook’s algorithms tend to favour video content, so a well crafted video can have excellent results.
  • Live videos: Candid and spontaneous, Facebook Live gives customers a transparent window into your business that can further build trust.

 

Proof!

I’ve worked with a number of Kiwi businesses across a variety of niches, all of which have seen fantastic results from Facebook advertising. Get in touch today to discuss how targeted Facebook advertising could work for your business.