SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is the key to business success in the digital age – but we don’t need to tell you that. Any marketer knows that getting your site to the top of results pages is a tricky task and yet one that always delivers. So, what is the secret to mastering these three little letters? And how on earth is it like gardening?
Recommended reading: Why Your Small Local Business Needs A Website
Mary, Mary, quite contrary… how good is your SEO?
You should always begin with keywords, the simplest ingredient of SEO when considering your content. Think of them as the seeds to grow your garden of success. Instead of picking the right plants for the right soil, you’re choosing the right words and phrases for the right audience. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Who is your audience?
- What information do they want?
- How do they search for it?
- In what format do they want it?
Knowing the answers to these questions will allow you to connect with the people who are searching for your solutions, and it all starts with keyword research. This process, whilst intensive, is crucial for your SEO success.
Thankfully, there are plenty of online keyword research tools you can use to streamline your keyword research.
One of the most popular SEO research sites, Moz.com, boasts a free research tool with over 500 million keywords. This helps you discover the average search volume for certain words and phrases or alternative, less competitive keywords.
Seasons and competitors
You would never plant sunflower seeds in the middle of winter, would you? They just wouldn’t thrive at that time of year. In the same way, you need to adapt your SEO as the seasons change.
Your audience will be searching for different things in different months, and your keywords need to reflect this. For example, if you’re offering a limited-time deal or product for the festive season, it’s useful to know that Christmas-related Google searches spike in volume from October through to December.
A little preparation goes a long way: you can prepare yuletide content months in advance, then give it a big push at the right time.
Sunflowers are not only a summer plant, but they also shouldn’t be grown in close proximity to one another as they won’t reach their full potential. Similarly, if your webpage is overcrowded by your competitors on a results page, you won’t achieve the highest volume of traffic.
There are two different strategies to combat this: target the keywords which are used less and therefore have less competition, or deliberately use the same words that have been successful for your competitors and make your content better. The former takes advantage of their missed opportunities, whilst the latter is a more aggressive approach.
Crawlers may sound like something you don’t want in a garden, but when it comes to SEO you definitely do. They are bots used by search engines that scour the internet, scanning billions of webpages for links, keywords, website freshness and more.
Once the information has been collected, it is indexed, which makes it searchable for users. Google’s search index contains hundreds of billions of web pages and is well over 100,000,000 gigabytes in size.
Optimizing your environment
A crawler-friendly website isn’t just about good, keyword-heavy content. It also needs to be formatted correctly. This includes:
- Creating user-friendly URLs.
- Ensuring that you use titles and headers.
- Embedding multimedia and hyperlinks.
- Keeping your loading time low (it has been reported that 50% of web users expect a webpage to load in under 2 seconds!)
In your garden, consider this providing your plants with the right environment to flourish; canes for the sunflowers to cling to and prevent them from wilting, for example. Correctly formatted web pages hosted by a trustworthy provider allow crawlers to easily index your site.
Pruning the dead leaves
Just as forgetting to deadhead your flowers will detract from the living blooms, allowing content on your webpage to grow outdated is an SEO no-no.
If your ‘latest news’ is from two months ago, or the ‘monthly special’ expired weeks ago, you will be giving your audience a bad impression and they are not likely to stick around.
Showing that your website is on top of its content and can communicate well will earn you repeat visits.
SEO expert Cyrus Shepard recommends that when you update a link on your website, you should also update the text around it. This way, search engine crawlers will detect bigger changes to your page, deeming it to be fresh.
Bring in the backup
If all else fails, you can always enlist professional help. Imagine you’d given your garden all the nurture you could, yet it still wasn’t yielding the results you wanted. You have some spare capital, so you decide to invest it by employing a gardener.
SEO agencies are the landscapers of the digital marketing world. They are experts in their field and can offer you audits, content and more to direct traffic to your site. Social Eyes Marketing, for instance, offers expert SEO knowledge that will help you hone your website to Google’s exacting standards.
This option is perfect if you’re serious about SEO as a marketing channel. While it’s not a necessity, getting in an expert gardener to sort your website’s garden out is well worth it for the return on your investment.
Reaping the rewards
So, how is good SEO like gardening? It’s really quite simple: you reap what you sow. Love your garden – sorry, website – and it will love you back.
Plant the correct seeds (keywords), at the right time and in the right place. Make it crawler-friendly by perfecting your environment. Prune away what is old and unnecessary, and don’t be afraid to bring in the professionals if you need to.
Nurture your SEO and your traffic will flourish. By using the right tools and expertise, you’ll be left with a bountiful result.