How to boost your SEO (without knowing a thing) 

by | Jul 6, 2019 | Digital, Marketing

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) sounds like it ought to be complicated but chances are you’re getting a lot done without even thinking about it.


You want more eyeballs on your website because you want more customers and readers, right? You’ve heard about SEO but maybe it sounds like the sort of thing that only insiders and code jockeys understand.

Wrong.

It’s true that Google tweaks its algorithm all the time and there are more than 200 ranking  factors that could give you more visibility on results pages.

The secret revealed

But there’s a big secret about Search Engine Optimisation people don’t want you to know.

You’re probably doing a lot of it already.

You might not even know you’re doing it. That’s because those 200 factors comprise are built on common sense not HTML code. Yes, there are back-of-house adjustments that can help. But much of the SEO landscape is organic. It happens naturally.

For a start, if you know your customers and readers and you know how to write for them you’re almost home. That is the very essence of search engine optimisation – connecting browsers with content they want to see.

Yes, of course there are tips and techniques to inform and sharpen your thinking. But there’s been a huge shift in the way SEO works which has made many of the dark arts redundant. The reason is simple.

The search engines want your readers and customers to find exactly what they’re looking for. And if you’re website is the answer, then the search engines want to bring the two of you together. Google et al want to reward the sites that provide answers and punish those that cheat.

5 SEO steps that are free and easy

Of course you can help them. And we’re going to look at 5 easy SEO steps that won’t cost you a penny. So let’s get started.

1. Links

Before the Google algorithm ballooned into a complex monster, there were links. That was the original idea. If more sites linked to your site that suggested your site had something of value there. Better still, if the sites linking to yours had credibility and authority – like a government or university site – Google lends you some of their authority.

There any number of ways to get good links but here are two easy organic ways.

  • Provide good, authoritative and relevant copy that people would use as a resource.
  • Be generous linking to other sites (referring sites) which might then link back to you.

Links in brief: Network and get noticed.

2. Content

We put links first because Google loves links. But content is king. Really. Content gets you the links, the eyeballs, the kudos. You publish something people want to read, the Search Engines notice that.

If you produce a lot of fresh content regularly, then there’s momentum. Try different forms to catch the eye. People often think the web is about short, sharp, snappy pieces – which is true – but there’s plenty of mileage in a 2,000 word piece that hits the spot. Don’t forget to break up the text with subheads that keep the tease alive.

That’s because:

  • They’ll inevitably be packed with lots of key phrases people might be searching for
  • People stay on the site for longer to read your piece, which also delights Google.

Content in brief: Be relevant.

3. Keywords

Keywords (for which read “key phrases” too) are another area that the SEO black-hats have hijacked. But the sophisticated search engines are weeding out the cheaters.

Your job is simple – put key phrases in your articles that people might be searching for.

So you might have ‘thriller novel set in London’ in your blurb. Or ‘London thriller’. Or ‘London gangsters’. If someone is looking for something in that genre – hey presto. Play around with the autocomplete function in Google to find out what people are actually typing and replicate those phrases and words.

Quick tips:

  • Think about what people will ask Alexa or Siri. People ask very specific questions.
  • If you have video, provide a transcription.
  • Think about a FAQ section which asks the very questions your customers may be asking – and makes you the answer.
  • Long form articles provide opportunities to use many variation of your key word without sounding a false note.

Keywords in brief: The right word is the right answer.

4. Headlines

Does this mean clickbait?

No.

There are certainly phrases and techniques that can come into play. You’ve seen the headline – ‘What happened to Harry will make you laugh out loud’ and you’ve clicked out of curiosity.

They used to be all the rage. But people have grown weary of getting tricked by deceptive clickbait headlines from content factories. The underlying idea is sound – tease people into wanting more, like a book blurb or newspaper headline – but the content has to justify the claim otherwise the Search Engines see people leaving your site quickly and think – here’s trouble.

Quick tips

  • Longer headlines get a lot traction because Google wants to know what your article is about.
  • Make it catchy as well – use clickbait techniques with a genuine purpose.
  • There’s a sweet spot between the descriptive and catchy. It’s worth spending time to find the sweet spot because headlines are VERY important.
  • Always put your keyword into the headline (and at least one subhead).
  • Exploit the metadata to amplify, reinforce, tease or explain your main head. (Metadata is the short paragraph that appears on the Search Engine Results Page).
  • Use emotion to motivate people to click.

Headlines in brief: First impressions count

5. Look nice, work well

Content may be king but he has to look the part. Google’s bots have ways of checking if your site is user-friendly, kindly on the eye and easy to navigate. So check your UX (user experience). Does it have good internal links? Is the type easy to read and uncluttered? Is it professional? Is it helpful? Do people want to stay on your site? Or do they run away fast (bounce rate)?

One further, but crucial, question – does it work on mobile? This is vital because that’s how many people will access your site. The good news is most off-the-shelf website templates are Responsive – that is, they change shape for desktop, tablet and phone. If yours doesn’t, it’s time for an upgrade.

UX in short: Look the part.

Conclusion

You don’t need to know a word of code or understand what’s going on with your site under the bonnet to make significant steps up the Google rankings. Just remember –

  • Write well, often and with genuine intent and infectious passion.
  • Add something fresh or novel or relevant or informative.
  • Pin down exactly what your reader wants and how they might ask for it.

The Search Engines will do the rest of the work for you.

Read more: What happens when the underdog wins