Recently we had the pleasure of collaborating with Vodafone and WeWork to share our expert guidance with some of the country’s brightest startups and SMEs. From Mastering the SEO Mindset to insider Growth Hacking tips, we shared our knowledge with a room of budding entrepreneurs. If you were unable to make the event, worry not. We’re sharing our expertise with you now. First up is Xaver Matt’s presentation on Mastering the SEO Mindset. Keep your eyes peeled for next week’s post where we’ll share Ashley Salek’s Growth Hacking tips.
Why the SEO Mindset?
Xaver Matt, MD of Netleadz and Angel Investor, was the first presenter of the evening. He looked at how your brand can Master the SEO Mindset. He started off by discussing the excuses we’ve heard about SEO. 90% of startups we talk to at Netleadz have no clear plan or strategy for search engine optimisation. What are their reasons?
- It’s too difficult
- We haven’t got a budget for it
- We don’t see a need for it
- We’ve got no idea how to go about it
We hate to say it but they’re wrong. We’ll explain why but first we’ll begin with a few astronomical facts:
- There are 2.3 million searches per second
- There are 117 billion unique searches per month
- There are 60 trillion indexed web pages in existence
- 18% of all search queries have never been asked before
- 0.01% of the world’s electricity is consumed by Google’s data centres
If you don’t optimise your website for search – you’re not going to rank. It’s as simple as that. Rest assured, you don’t need to be a technical wizard to utilise the power of search. It’s all in your mindset.
The Curious Case of Jayson DeMers Vs Rand Fishkin
So, let’s get this out in the open from the start. There’s a clear debate in the SEO world about what it takes to be successful. Recently, SEO guru and co-founder of Moz, Rand Fishkin, went on record criticising an article from Jayson Demers. Featuring in Entrepreneur, Demers’ article spoke of ‘Why Modern SEO Requires Almost No Technical Expertise'. To give a brief overview, Demers made the argument that Google’s algorithm boils down to one clear motivation: ‘the experience of its users’. However, Rand Fishkin claims that this general approach isn’t accurate, instead opting for ‘Why Effective, Modern SEO Requires Technical, Creative and Strategic Thinking’.
In our opinion, both arguments have their validation. And yes, there is a very technical element to SEO. Having said this, you don’t need to know the technical aspects to ensure your brand is successful in rising up Google’s rankings. In our experience, it all boils down to the mindset that you implement. Thinking differently can be all that’s required to boost your brand’s SEO. We’ll explain exactly how you can do this.
What do search engines actually look for?
There are 8 key factors that search engines look for:
Let’s deal with these one by one.
1. Relevancy – The Gravity of SEO
Relevancy is the gravity of SEO. If your site isn’t relevant to a specific search, it’s not going to rank. So how do you boost relevancy? You need to have a logical site structure, a thematic approach to content and an awareness of the intentions of your searcher. Inbound links need to be from good quality, relatable sources. Your content must be fully optimised and your audience must be able to access your content with ease. If you share the same target audience with another brand, try to obtain some referral traffic. This is going to boost your relevancy and get visitors that actually convert.
2. Quality – Adding Maximum Value
What does quality actually mean in the context of SEO? It’s simple really, your brand must add maximum value to the searcher. If Google is noticing a trend of people clicking onto your site and then leaving immediately, they’ll assume you’re not adding any value. The usefulness of your content amplifies your site’s relevancy.
So now you’re scratching your head wondering whether your site’s poor quality or not. If you’re anxious about this, there are a few giveaways:
- Thin content
- Duplicate content
- Random content
- Poor UX
- High bounce rate
- High exit rates
- No engagement/shares
3. How Popular Are You?
Popularity in SEO is really as simple as it sounds. It’s all about the external endorsements your site is seeing. If you’ve got high value pages linking to yours, you’re going to see a boost. If the referral traffic from these leads to conversions, even better. Popularity goes further than just backlinks though. Look towards social media. If your content is receiving lots of engagement, shares and interactions, it proof of popularity.
4. Authority – Be the Go-To Brand
If you’re a market leader, you’ve got high authority. You need to be seen by consumers as the go-to brand for your field, area, sector or industry. Think about Uber for taxis, Coca-cola for soft drinks or McDonald’s for fast food. Okay, so that all sounds great but what if you’re in a crowded market? The answer’s simple, own a niche. When it comes to SEO, authority runs deeper than the surface. Consider the brand, domain or even individual pages.
So how do you prove authority to Google? If you’re referenced by other high authority sites, mentioned in publications, talked about on social media sites/forums and endorsed by influencers, you’ll see a huge boost in authority. Sites like this have a few common traits, here’s what to look for:
- High click-through rates
- Low bounce rates
- A long time spent on the site
- A high conversion rate
5. Can You Be Trusted?
Trust may sound like an abstract concept but it can be measured when it comes to SEO. You’ve probably heard about the importance of online reviews. In fact, 88% of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. If you can establish trust with Google, they’re not going to penalise you.
So how can we turn this abstract concept into something we can actually work with? Here are a few handy trust boosters that’ll help your site:
- Genuine reviews and endorsements
- Links for high authority sites
- Kill the bounces and blocked pages
- User interaction
- When making a point in your content, add a source/reference to back it up
6. UX Begins at Search
User experience begins at the search results. There is absolutely no point ranking number 1 in Google if you’re getting zero clicks through to your site. As we said earlier, if you’re getting low click-throughs or high bounce rates, you’ll be penalised.
So how can we ensure your Search UX is on point? Think about unique page titles and meta-descriptions. Both should include keywords, a USP and call-to-action. Look towards image search, do your images include descriptive alt tags? Above all, does your content deliver on the promise you make in the search results.
7. Stop Link Building, Start Brand Building
Many, many companies chase around after links trying to boost their site. Stop making this your sole focus. Start looking towards building your brand. Google loves and trusts brands. If you can be seen as a brand by Google, you’ve nailed it. Now, think about what will actually make Google recognise you as a brand. You can’t sponsor a sports event and expect search engines to suddenly take notice – after all, they’re only an algorithm.
Google looks for key brand signals. Think about quality, relevant content. The value your content adds to searchers – how likely are readers to share or refer to your work? Brand searches should increase from the moment you launch your site – if this isn’t happening, you’ve got a serious problem.
8. Local Search – Mark Your Territory
Local search is an understated component of SEO. If you focus on local search, you’re removing competition from everyone outside your immediate area/city. 35% of all mobile searches are local – this is expected to be a rising figure.
Start this off by registering for Google My Business (you should have already done this!) then put effort into growing your local presence. Build accurate citations, add locality on your website, add local schema markup and get reviews – you’ll be surprised how much difference this makes.
But wait! That’s not all. Here are some additional points that will help your SEO.
Are You Mobile Friendly?
Over 50% of searches are mobile! It’s the device of choice for online discovery. Your site absolutely must be mobile friendly. No ifs, no buts, no excuses. Must we dwell on this any longer?
Keyword Research – More than Just SEO
Keyword research should really be your first port of call. It shouldn’t be seen as a solely SEO tool, look at it as a helping hand to your entire business. Think about what keyword research can actually tell you:
- Market demand
- Specific questions being asked
When you’re starting up in business, keyword research can actually provide a level of validation to your proposition – is there actually a significant enough demand for what you’re looking to offer? It can tell you about the content currently being produced, are there any gaps or opportunities you can exploit? Can you give the answer to any commonly asked questions? It can also help with your website structure and architecture – take a look at Google Adwords for suggested Ad groups. It’s a simple tool that will yield huge results.
Content is one of the most important aspects of any website. It helps with every aspect of SEO we’ve spoken about here. Content can be the driving force that sends your brand up Google’s search rankings. But (and this is a big but) it must make a difference. This is an art in itself.
There are 60 trillion indexed web pages. There are 56 million wordpress posts published every month. So how can you make a difference? Find an edge, own a niche, do something unique. There are entire libraries of books published on this topic. It’s not easy but it is possible.
How Does Social Media Affect SEO?
There are 2.3 billion active social media users – that’s 176 million than last year. This figure continues to rise exponentially. Quality content should be validated by meaningful engagement and interactions. As of yet, social media isn’t a ranking factor but that doesn’t meant it will always be this way.
Irrelevant of the fact social media doesn’t help you rank (yet!) it does have a huge impact on your brand:
- Social sharing boosts content distribution
- Social shares help search engines to evaluate your credibility
- Social media profiles/content do rank in search
- Social media channels are search engines too – YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine
Remember, you CAN do SEO – it’s not as hard as you think. Stay relevant, add value to consumers, become popular and gain trust. You don’t need a big budget but you will need your organic search traffic to be successful.
If you’re looking for expert advice or assistance, don’t hesitate to get in touch. Here at Netleadz we offer the full range of digital marketing services, from SEO to social media, paid media to content production. Find out more about how we can help you here.