While a great looking website design is absolutely essential for any business wanting to reflect its professionalism online, it is the ability for search engines to find your website that will ultimately ensure its success.

Search Engine Optimisation, or SEO, is therefore one of the most important factors within a comprehensive online marketing strategy and without a solid SEO plan in place, there is little chance that your website will be found online by your customers.

There are many companies on the internet that offer cheap, quick to build websites, but these companies very rarely offer the comprehensive approach that is required to ensure that your website is well optimised so that your customers can find you, that it is a dream to navigate and that it is packed with the kind of content that keeps your customers coming back for more.

There are four key components that you need to consider when building a new website. In addition to SEO, which we will discuss in this post, you also need to consider your website designwebsite development and website content.

We’ve covered all the components that you need to be aware of in our informative series of blog posts. Look out for this series entitled ‘Why a Professional Website Matters’ or click on the links above to find out more.

SEO – a definition: most of us are quite familiar with the term ‘Search Engine Optimisation’ (SEO), however before we continue further, let us quickly clarify what this term actually means.

Search Engine Optimisation is any process or tactic that impacts the page ranking and visibility of a website in the natural, or organic (un-paid and non-advertised) search results of search engines such as Google. Your search ranking is literally the position that your website assumes in the list of search results on one, or numerous search result pages.

If your website looks great and also contains professionally compiled or well written content, then you may be forgiven for wondering just why SEO is really necessary for your business.

Why is SEO so important?

You should be seen as popular and important: Search engine optimisation is based on the concept that the more people who like your website, the more important your business and website must be and therefore the higher the ranking it deserves in search results. For this reason, your website needs to be seen by the maximum number of people and it needs to provide further means (which we will discuss later) for people to show search engines just how much they like your content!

Search engines help customers find you: The object of a search engine, such as Google, is to help users like yourself, to find the information that they are looking for. Leading search engines look at specific elements of your website which carry a certain level of relevance, when searching for suitable websites to list in search results. Making sure that you incorporate or link all of these elements to your website, will help your business rank higher in search results, which means that your customers, or prospects will find your business more easily.

More cost efficient: Unlike paid advertising which either has a limited lifespan or a high ongoing cost, SEO tactics offer a long term benefit and can be built upon and improved over time.

The move to online product research: More consumers than ever before are researching and comparing products and services online before they buy. If you wish to attract more customers, it is essential for them to be able to find your website easily online.

Find out more about why professional website development is so important to a successful website when you read our earlier article HERE.

The 6 key features of effective SEO

1. Relevant Keywords

Prospects searching for your products and services online use specific, related words and terms to get the information that they are looking for. Because search engines look at the text content of your website pages for those words and terms, it is essential for your website to contain the words and phrases that your prospects would use. Both the paragraphs on each page and the headings (including primary and sub-headings) must contain relevant keywords and phrases.

But keyword optimisation is not only restricted to the content in each page of your website. Your meta-data, which includes the headings and page descriptions that prospects see when search engines reference relevant websites in search results, also need to contain these keywords and phrases.

How to do it: Hire a professional website copywriter to compile search engine optimised content for your website, or get a few additional tips when you read our earlier article which provides some great insight if you would prefer to write your website content yourself.

2. Great Content

Content marketing is central to effective search engine optimisation. While it is necessary to provide professional, relevant and valuable content on your website when you first create it, it is imperative to keep updating your website content on a continual basis too. Search engines prioritise those websites that feature information relating to ‘hot topics’ on a regular basis. All your website content should always be keyword optimised to ensure the best possible results.

Whether you provide weekly, bi-weekly or monthly blog articles, or regular video content – your website must be updated regularly in order to be successful. In addition, interactive websites fare far better than those that don’t invite visitor participation. If you provide the facilities for visitors to leave comments to your blog posts, then be sure to encourage your customers to do so. As far as search engines are concerned, each visitor interaction on your website is seen as a recommendation of your content – and that is precisely what search engines want to see.

How to do it: If you don’t have the time to write your own blog articles, hire a professional agency such as The Formula, to handle this for you. Mobile short videos are also extremely popular and effective, while they cost virtually nothing to compile. Read more about how to produce your own mobile short videos HERE.

3. Active Social Media

Many companies shy away from social media, believing that either they have nothing to say or that their customers will not be interested in the content that they have to share. The bottom line is that search engines place great importance on the social media activity of a company, as this tells them that your business is a credible author of relevant, popular content and that you are well trusted by your audience. Sharing content from your website to your audience via social media channels is also a very important part of SEO.

How to do it: apart from general posts and updates, be sure to regularly share content from your website to your social media audience and ensure that your website features live social media feeds and the ability for visitors to share all content and pages from your website. You can hire an agency to manage your social media for you, or if you would like to keep this function in house, get your employees involved. We tell you how in our article ‘Step out of fear and into the future with employee enriched social media’.

4. Low Bounce Rate

Search engines place significant relevance on bounce rates (the quantity of visitors who leave your site quickly). A high bounce rate signifies that your website content is not what users are looking for which means that search engines won’t necessarily rank your site, while websites with lower bounce rates feature higher in search engine results.

Visitors should always be encouraged to stay on your website for as long as possible and should be enticed to view as many pages as possible. To achieve this, your website design needs to be inviting and logically laid out while your website content should not only be relevant to what your customers are looking for, but should also be easy to read and understand quickly.

How to do it: an online marketing strategy is the starting point for online marketing success. Asking an experienced online marketing team such as The Formula in Cape Town to help you, will save you money, time and resources and will ensure that you get the best internet marketing results – sooner. In addition to this, reviewing your website statistics on a regular basis will help you to determine what pages are popular and which ones you need to address in order to increase the time that visitors spend reading the content of your website and interacting with you.

5. Good Quality Backlinks

When search engines recognise links to your website from other websites, these are seen by search engines as recommendations from external sources. The most common means of building good quality links is to select reputable websites with which to share links to content, or provide relevant, high quality content for other websites to use.

The trick is to always seek out good quality websites, within your niche which contain great, in-depth content and on which activity and visitor interaction is high, both directly on the website, as well as via social media.

Backlinks are also often built by listing your business in local online business directories, however this method only works if the directory is reputable and popular. Social media is also an important means of creating backlinks by sharing valuable content from your website and blog over all your social media pages. In fact the more of your content that is shared via social media, the more your search engine ranking will improve over time.

Take a look at the Atlantic Beach Golf Club website (which was designed by our team at The Formula in Cape Town) for a good example of a well maintained website with plenty of good quality links.

How to do it: Creating quality backlinks is an ongoing marketing function that requires regular attention. If you are comfortable with the process of sharing links with websites and social media, as well as online networking, then try to set aside an hour or two per week to generate relevant links and build your online community. Alternatively, seek professional assistance and set aside a monthly budget for this function.

6. Professional Website Development

Professional website development is critical to SEO success. The key areas that search engines evaluate include:

Mobile responsiveness: Apart from the fact that more people in South Africa today use mobile phones to access the internet than they do desktop computers, search engines will prioritise websites that have been built to scale or adjust to the needs of mobile users.

Page loading time: Pages that take too long to load do not rank well in search engine results. Ensure that multimedia elements such as animations and videos, as well as large images are omitted from those pages that you want search engines to reference the most.

Errors: Search engines penalise websites when pages don’t load correctly, if content on any of the website pages themselves don’t load correctly and if links on websites don’t work. Periodic website maintenance is key to keeping your website as secure as possible and to ensuring that the entire website works optimally for visitors at all times.

How to do it: Unless you are a website developer, we suggest that this aspect of SEO be given to an experienced company to manage. Many people confuse the terms website design and website development and there aren’t many articles on the internet which adequately define what your website developer should be doing, so to help you, we’ve written about website development in this detailed article.

Create a website experience worth returning to!

At The Formula in Cape Town, our talented, experienced team of marketers and professional web designers and developers can assist you with every aspect of your online marketing. We’re here to help you grow your business through a solid online marketing plan and our comprehensive range of professional digital marketing services.

Let’s get talking about how we can help you reach your business goals!

Call Garth or Shiraz on 021 556 5661 or email us: info@theformula.co.za to set up your FREE online marketing consultation with us

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