Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is an essential of modern marketing and is crucial if you want to reach the greatest number of people with your online content. The Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) has produced a handy guide to getting started with SEO, put together by online analytics specialist Andrew Smith MCIPR, @andismit on Twitter.
Being able to access helpful resources like this are one of the reasons why if you’re in PR it’s good to be a CIPR member or if you employ a PR, for them to be one.
Here’s an overview of what this particular guide has to offer.
Move your website up the search rankings
Optimising website content with keywords that Google’s algorithms pick up to lift your site higher in its page rankings is at the heart of effective SEO. When you consider just how often people use Google search when they’re making a buying decision or researching a product or a business, it makes sense to get up to speed.
And Google can help you. It provides free tools to analyse who is clicking on your content and how to improve your reach. According to the CIPR guide, the search engine’s Media Planning Toolkit should be an essential part of your arsenal along with the Consumer Barometer, which gives insights into what is driving your online customers to buy.
Google has more than 200 signals it uses when ranking pages in search but unfortunately, there isn’t a publically available list. According to the 2014 Searchmetrics report, Google currently favours brands and sites with longer content that it believes to be useful to searchers. But that isn’t set in stone – Google is constantly tweaking its search algorithms and you’ve probably heard about some of the key updates that have appeared in the last few years such as Hummingbird, Panda and Penguin.
Get your PR consultant to help
Your PR consultant can advise on and implement a number of website adjustments to improve its position in search rankings, using free tools such as Screaming Frog that audit what is successful. Media relations can also play a particularly important role because online coverage is able to generate high quality backlinks to your site and these are known to be key to enhancing search visibility.
Social Media is now ubiquitous and while Google says it doesn’t use shares from the likes of Twitter and Facebook to rank pages, the reality is that the more shares you can achieve, the more people get sight of your brand and are likely to click links to your content. As such there is an indirect contribution to SEO.
At the heart of SEO is getting your keywords right. You need to know what words people are using to search and tools to help you work this out include Google Trends, Google’s Keyword Planner and Moz. It’s also essential to look at what your highly-ranked rivals are doing – for example, what words are they using and do you have a realistic chance of overtaking them? Check out Market Samurai’s SEO Competition module which can help you decide whether it’s worth the time and investment to take on the big boys.
It's an ongoing task
Finally, SEO isn’t a job you can start and then forget about. It requires constant monitoring and managing if you are to get the best out of it. Google likes fresh, regularly updated content that is relevant to the target audience; plus you’ll need to keep tabs on the type of visitors you are attracting. Are they ‘valuable’ visitors that can be converted into clients?
It may seem like a daunting job, but getting your SEO programme in place and staying on top of it will play major dividends for the future.
To find out more about the CIPR and how it can help you, visit www.cipr.co.uk.