Many people have heard the word SEO before, but not many fully understand what it means and the power it has to boost engagement of your website or blog. SEO stands for search-engine optimisation, which is basically including specific keywords and phrases in your writing to boost visibility in search engine (Google, Yahoo, Bing) results. SEO drives traffic to your website and boosts engagement without any payment required and is an easy way to help market your website.
So, I thought we’d put together some top tips to help you boost your SEO.
1. Know your audience and what they’re searching for
Understanding who your audiences are, and their characteristics and traits, is important. You want to figure out what sort of keywords and key phrases they will enter into the search bar. Knowing your patients, you may already have a basic understanding already, but if you want to dig deeper, try using search analysis and social listening to find out what they’re engaging with, and to help you see what you should be speaking about and how you should be presenting it to them.
Social listening is something that can be easily done through monitoring social media mentions for your company and your competitors (it’s good to know what’s working for them!). Here’s a blog from Marketing Land that features the top six social listening tools, and worth a read if you want to go down this route.
3. Find your keywords
Now that you think you know what they’ll be searching, they basically become your keywords (or variations of). But to make sure, you want to find out what words or phrases work best to describe the topic you’re writing about. For example, “ankle sprain” ranks better than “twisted ankle”. Google is also pretty smart and associates words and phrases. The focus is on ‘intent’ of the searcher, rather than an exact keyword match, so if one of your keywords is ‘ankle sprain treatment’, then ‘treatment for ankle sprains’, and ‘how do you treat an ankle sprain’ are also likely to be associated with your keyword.
To check related keywords and suggestions, try the free version of www.moz.com. If you’re willing to spend some money there are websites such as Google adwords (you can also create an account and use their keyword planner for free without actually placing an ad), and a paid version of Moz that gives you more detail. If in doubt, hire an expert who is experienced in writing for SEO, who can part some of their wisdom onto you!
3. Frequency of Keywords
It’s important that when we write, we use these targeted keywords and phrases, but is there too many times you can include these? Yes there is! This is called keyword stuffing or over-optimising. Here’s one strong piece of advice: If you’re trying to include a key word or phrase and it doesn’t flow naturally in the text, don’t include it! Opinion is out on whether there is an ideal percentage of keyword use against the page’s word count (which is called keyword density) – some say 2-5% of your words should be keywords or phrases… Most SEO experts say keyword density is out… It’s 2018 and user experience wins over numbers, which brings me to point four…
4. Write for humans
It’s an assumption that when writing for SEO you write for algorithms, but actually, writing for humans is a must, as the human’s action of deciding whether that page is relevant can increase or decrease your SEO ranking.
This is where we re-visit “understand what the searcher is looking for” and then give them the answer. Your blog or web page should be helpful and give the user the information they need, presented in an easy to read manner, formatted for the screen of their choice.
If your blog is only about causes of an ankle sprain, don’t start throwing in ‘ankle sprain treatment’ keywords unless you are going to include information on how to treat the ankle sprain. This may increase your google rankings initially, but you’ll very quickly drop. When people realise they aren’t getting what they need from your page, they’ll hit the back button and choose another site. Google follows this behaviour (of course!), knows your site isn’t quite right for the searcher’s keyword and will lower your ranking… So don’t do it!
Writing for humans is also much more likely to result in social sharing, which means more visits to your web page. Add in relevant photos/video, alt-text for photos, headings and a URL that all include some version of your keyword, and you’re onto a winner.
SEO can be quite complex, but for a beginner, if I had to wrap it up and stuff it in a nutshell, I would say: “Figure out what your audience is searching for and use those key words and phrases naturally throughout well-written content that easily gives the searcher the information they’re looking for.”