Competing for clicks in the digital age is a near-impossible feat without visibility across search engines.

But how can you get your website to appear above your competitors’ sites for those key terms that your prospective customers are searching for?

That’s where Search Engine Optimisation – or ‘SEO’ comes in.

Unless you are well-versed in digital marketing techniques, SEO can seem like a dark art; the game of getting to that number one spot is shrouded in mystery. With around 1.7 billion websites in existence and new algorithms emerging all the time, you might think that the basics in SEO aren’t enough to get you ranked.

If this sounds familiar, think again.

The truth is, there are a number of quick wins that will improve your search ranking without the need for a crash-course in Google algorithms.

What is SEO?

Search Engine Optimisation is the simple act of enhancing the design, mechanics and content on your website.

Your goal? To signal to Google (and other search engines) that your website is the search result that will provide the most appropriate and valuable answer to the searcher’s query.

When a website ranks first place for a particular word or phrase, it’s because the search engine has deemed it to be the most useful to the searcher.

For example, if you were to search Google for ‘how much does it cost for washing machine repair services’, the engine would point you in the direction of websites that provided costs and relevant information clearly and concisely.

Of course, there’s a bit more to it than that.

Google has over 200 factors that they use to determine which websites to rank for which key words or phrases.

These change often and are kept under wraps by the search engine company to prevent web masters from building their sites with the sole the purpose of ranking rather than helping visitors to find information.

If the latter is your intention, the former should be the outcome.

Why does SEO matter?

It’s no secret that people buy from people (and businesses) they trust.

Ask yourself this: which business comes across as the most credible and trustworthy – the company whose website is listed on page one of Google search results, or the company whose website is buried deep in one of the hundreds of other pages? It’s a no-brainer.

In the mind of the searcher, page one equals authority.

What’s more, Google is undoubtedly the most popular search engine. The more content you can get to rank on that prestigious first page, the more chances you have of attracting a steady flow of on-target traffic to your website.

Whether the goal of a webpage is to generate sales, drive page views, get newsletter sign ups or boost conversions, SEO is a cost-effective solution to standing out in a crowded market.

How can I enhance my visibility on search engines?

A brilliant website may as well be bland if no one is visiting.

If your website were a physical shop, a page one listing would be the prime high-street real estate that takes the lion’s share of footfall – 67% of all clicks, to be precise.

The good news? There are 4 basic SEO steps you can take to optimise your website for searchability:

Think beyond keywords

By now, you know that keywords are critical to optimising your site for search engines – they signal to Google the sector in which you operate and the solutions you offer. However, Google and other search engines don’t take kindly to keyword stuffing. When planning your website content, we recommend thinking beyond exact-match keywords and considering the wider concept.

For example, Vegan Banana Bread may be your focus keyword, but the wider concept will include vegan recipes, vegan breakfast ideas and vegan loaf cake ideas. That’s because the searcher may not always know exactly what they want –your job is to catch them at every intersection.

Think of the searcher

With a bit of research, you can capitalise on searcher motivation to plan and produce your content. After all, Google favours those sites that provide value, while they penalise those that try to ‘hack’ the algorithms. Before conducting keyword research, have a think about the problems you are trying to solve for your customers – in most cases, it’s these unanswered questions or pain points that will be driving their search queries.

As a rule of thumb, never think of the algorithm – think of the searcher.

Keep your structure simple

Google’s goal is to present searchers with relevant information – if your content is difficult to find due to a complicated website structure, you aren’t helping your case. Consider how fast a potential customer could get to the answer or solution they needed from their initial search query. Do they have to click around and scroll several times before they get anywhere close to an answer? Ranking factors may be shrouded in secrecy, but a simple site structure is a sure-fire way to boost your chances of getting to first page.

Optimise your alt tags

Today, Google’s search engine results deliver just as many image results as they do text-based results. So, no matter how valuable and informative your content, you could be missing out on a stream of organic traffic if you don’t optimise your images for search results.

Behind every image in your media library is an opportunity for optimisation in the form of an Alt Tag. Easily forgotten yet highly impactful, editing the alt tag so that it accurately describes the image will help Google and other search engine’s algorithms to acknowledge the asset when crawling your site. When editing your alt tags, try to keep this text fewer than 125 characters and don’t go overboard on keyword stuffing.

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