You may have come up with a great business idea, and produced some outstanding content with which to populate your business website, but what good is your hard work if your marine business cannot be found easily online by its end users?
Search engine optimisation, or SEO, is a practice used by marketers to structure (or ‘optimise’) their webpages for search engines, making their websites more visible to people as they search the web for the keywords and phrases associated with their business products and services.
To ensure marine marketers aren’t left behind in the bid for improved web exposure, Yachting Pages presents a beginners guide to SEO, with simple tips for making your marine business website stand out online.
How can I ensure my business website is found online?
With the majority of online searches being driven by major search engines such as Google, Yahoo! And Bing, traffic from search engine results pages (SERPs), or lack of, can truly make or break your business online.
The ‘science’ of positioning your website, or ‘ranking’ in search engine results pages (SERPs) is determined by the unique algorithms set out by each search engine, and can be attributed to the hard work invested in SEO strategies by website owners and their marketing teams.
How to rank web pages: What are search engines looking for?
To help your website to rank online for your targeted keywords and phrases, it’s important to optimise webpages and their content to current SEO best practices. To do so, you will need to keep up-to-date with and implement the guidelines laid out by your targeted search engines, so that they are more likely to return your pages to users so they can find exactly what they are looking for.
Search engines keep their exact algorithms close to their chests, but current best practices and guidelines can often be found in industry blogs and online user guides. Fundamentally search engines are looking for websites with:
- Informative content that answers the common queries of web users on a certain topic
- Optimum performance, with fast page-load speeds and without broken links
- Simple navigation, made for users as well as search engines with few ads and rich multi-media content
- Page authority in links to, and from other trustworthy websites/information sources
They are not looking for websites with:
- Poor quality, paid for or irrelevant links
- Keyword and keyphrase stuffing or overuse
- Poor user experience, with misleading content and/or hyperlink anchor text, and broken pages
Beginners SEO: Eight simple SEO tips for you to try, now!
Although a large and complex subject, most people can easily understand the basics of SEO. With a little time, patience and understanding, you can begin to implement the core concepts of SEO into your website.
How can I improve the SEO of my website?
We provide marine marketers with eight steps for improving visibility of their website with SEO:
- Choose your domain name wisely: Your web domain is the foundation of your website, so it’s important that yours is representative of your business, product or service. As such, your domain should be carefully considered, including relevant keywords that you are trying to rank for, and consistent, redirecting to any possible domain alternatives – e.g. yourdomain.com should redirect to your preferred domain at www.yourdomain.com or vice versa, otherwise search engines will see them as two different websites diluting your online authority. Learn what a redirect is and how to use a 301 redirect to clean up your website.
- Create ‘clean’, keyword-rich URLs: Clean, keyword-rich URLs are equally as important as domain names, and should be easily translated by search engines and users to attract more search traffic. Your website URLs should therefore follow a consistent structure throughout, using hyphens to separate words for easy understanding, and including only the relevant keywords and search terms. You should avoid using the long, indecipherable search references typically associated with e-shops and online directories.
- Create simple site navigation:Ensure that your website and webpages utilise a simple site navigation, so that users and search engine ‘bots’ can easily understand and navigate your website to find the pages they are looking for. Each webpage should have at least one menu link or static text link at which it can be found, and should ideally include a breadcrumb. You should also use internal linking to guide users to other useful pages and articles on your website using accurate anchor text. Pages should ideally be listed as part of your XML sitemap so that they can be regularly ‘crawled’ and ‘indexed’ by search engines (found and listed in SERPs).
- Create fresh, useful and information-rich content: Use your knowledge of content marketing to create a wealth of unique and useful content for your website. You should work to answer the various different common search queries and interests of your target market with each article. Ensure that they are kept current, to-the-point and target two or three keywords and phrases throughout - from URL and title through to the headings and body text. The best way to identify the terms people are searching for is to use Google’s Keyword Planner. Once you’ve created great content, the key is to promote it properly.
- Add multimedia content, and ‘tag’ it up correctly: Where relevant, add multimedia content to your webpages – but not at the expense of extended page load speeds. Users and search engines alike prefer to find a mix of media content, including images, videos and polls on the webpages that they visit - not only as this makes them more attractive, but also as it adds extra interest and means of engagement. With this in mind, you should work to include a mix of media across your webpages where relevant, resizing and ‘tagging’ them correctly with accurate and keyword-rich descriptions and alt text, so search engines know what to find on each page.
- Make pages for users, not search engines: Above all else, your website should be made with users in mind, rather than search engines. All SEO best practice guides will therefore advise that content and navigation is created primarily for web users, so they can easily find the answers to their online searches. You should therefore always ensure quality over quantity; content should serve a need/purpose, reading naturally without the overuse of keywords and formatted for simple reading.
- Clean up the old and unwanted: Old, outdated and unloved content should be updated or replaced. Duplicate pages and broken links should be cleaned up and redirected to the correct page as soon as possible to allow for that great user experience. You should consider using bespoke ‘404 error pages’ to explain any errors and provide related or relevant pages to your users.
- Create bespoke metadata: Ensure bespoke metadata is filled out for each of your webpages to allow search engines and users to understand what each page is about. Page titles and meta descriptions should be short, snappy and descriptive, of course following current best practices for optimum word counts and formatting, and targeting the relevant keywords used on page. They should also be compelling, giving a reason for users to choose your page from the SERPs.
Although there is plenty more to be done to ensure complete SEO success, this is a great start to helping online users to find your business via online search.