Hi there and welcome back to Sellpore Systems. We are a web design business in Harare, Zimbabwe.
As part of our services, we offer search engine optimization (SEO), so that your web pages can rank on Google.
One of the questions we always get asked when talking to our customers is “what is SEO”? and “why is SEO so important”?
We’d like to address that and then move deeper into the topic.
What is SEO?
SEO is an acronym for Search Engine Optimization. Search Engine Optimization is where we build a website with digital marketing in mind.
Digital marketing involves many different topics. But for the sake of this article, we are referring to page rankings on Google for certain keywords.
There are other search engine companies as well, but Google is the biggest.
SEO is all about following certain strategies and procedures on the content of each web page.
These strategies are designed to get a search engine like Google to index key words and key phrases. In turn this helps each page to receive certain rankings when someone types a query into Google.
The reason why this is so important is that this is a marketing strategy to help your customers find your website.
The better we do SEO, the higher your pages will rank and that means more people can find your website online.
Our Guide to SEO
It doesn’t matter what stage your business is in. If you considering building a website or a re-design, SEO is going to play a major role.
Of course, it is important to have an attractive website.
In fact, when we are marketing, we need to consider every aspect to get the most out of each Marketing dollar.
In this article we would like to cover some of the basic concepts of SEO. We would like to help you to get an understanding of how it can help your business and why it’s important.
How Does SEO Work?
SEO helps to attract organic traffic from a search engine. Organic traffic refers to traffic that is not paid for.
You can get organic traffic from Social Media platforms such as Facebook or LinkedIn.
But when we’re talking about search engine optimization, we’re referring to traffic from the search engine results page.
In other words, when you open your web browser and you go to the Google home page.
Here you type in your query and Google will present you with the 10 top results of your search on the first page.
The goal of applying SEO to every page on your website would be the same.
You would want anyone searching for your products or services to see one of your pages on the first page as well.
The better your page rankings, the more visitors you will receive on your website. As you can imagine this is a crucial part of your digital marketing.
The fact that this traffic is free means that you can spend more marketing dollars in other places.
Now, there are many factors to SEO and it can be a little complex to implement on your website.
But as we mentioned earlier, our goal is to give you a basic understanding of SEO which is not difficult.
Understanding A Search Engine
The goal of any search engine is to provide the best results to their users.
They do this because that’s how they make their money. This means that companies like Google spend a lot of time perfecting how they deliver results.
They must deliver the very best results to each user and satisfy their queries.
If they are unable to do this, their users will search on a competitive search engine. If more users move across to the competition then advertising dollars will follow.
That means that Google would lose out on Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising revenue.
So to clarify this point. If you know that lets say 65% of people in Zimbabwe use Google to search for SEO Harare.
It makes sense that you would want to optimize your website for Google rankings for this search term.
You would also consider at some point to buy Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising on keywords on your website.
You would go where you could capture the bulk of users and take advantage of that platform.
How a Search Engine Works
A search engine will crawl or scan your website to try and understand what the site is all about. The information provided on the website will help the search engine accomplish this.
The more content you have on your website the more Google is able to deliver to users searching topics or keywords on your website.
Of course, a search engine is able to perform more complex tasks than that. It also tries to determine how easy your site is to navigate and read.
Also, very important right now is that a search engine will determine how fast your website loads on a mobile device. This is determined by how much data is on each page.
It’s important to reduce the file size on each page, so optimization is key here. Your web pages should not tax a user’s data package unnecessarily.
Google has migrated to their Mobile First Platform. This means that if your website is heavy on data for mobile users, you can lose your page rankings.
If you rely on search engine results to attract visitors to your site, this could hurt your marketing.
The trick is to provide plenty of high quality content, rich in keywords and key phrases. Many marketers will usually create a lot of blog articles.
This helps them increase their content but also to compete for keywords. It’s an excellent digital marketing strategy which also helps to convert customers.
It is a good idea to do a content audit for each page and get as much data as possible before you commit to writing an article.
This data will guide you and help your rankings for each page. It’s also a good idea to do a website audit to see what need to be fixed on the website to improve rankings.
SEO Harare Ranking Suggestions
Hopefully, we’ve done a good job explaining SEO and Search Engines. Let’s turn our attention to some of the factors that affect your rankings with a search engine.
Search engine companies like Google do not give away their algorithms. They protect this information for many reasons.
No one can say with absolute certainty what contributes to your ranking on the first page. However, there are some general guidelines that seem to have a positive impact.
The most important thing to note is that you need content and keywords to rank any page. There are two things that Google cannot help you with.
The first is thin content and the second is images.
Thin content is when a page has less than 300 words on it. Can you imagine trying to pitch a sale with so few words?
Both Google and visitors to your site are not going to understand much about you if you don’t communicate.
You website is you communicating with your customers but with a difference. Your website can say exactly the same thing to thousands of people and never get tired.
Never having a bad day and always putting your best foot forward. Does it not make sense to craft the best possible message for each page?
Where images are concerned, it is very difficult for a search engine to understand an image.
Images are not worth a thousand words to a search engine and don’t explain a product to a human.
Of course images are useful on a website and can make the site look professional, but no much else.
Content is the most important part of your website. It helps a search engine and your visitor understand what your site is all about.
It helps you business connect with people and to convince people to buy your product or service.
Content will help a search engine with key words that it can use in order to rank each page and serve online users.
The more you are able to produce high quality, relevant pages, the more a search engine will help your website to rank.
The better the rankings the more visitors your website will receive and that’s good for your business.
Also, the higher the quality of your content, the longer your visitors will spend on each page.
If your visitors engage with your content, this allows you to develop relationships.
These are both ranking factors for search engines. But even more importantly, this helps convert visitors into customers.
Website Back-End Suggestions
There are a number of things that you can do on the back-end of your website to help with optimization of your SEO results.
These things may be a little complicated as we mentioned earlier but are well worth the effort to sort out.
Mobile First Indexing
As we mentioned above, google has gone onto the mobile first indexing platform. This means that their search engine looks at your site as though it is a mobile phone.
When Google indexes your site, there are two main things that the crawlers are looking for.
The first is your page speed or page loading times. The other is the responsiveness of your web pages, or how well it fits on different size mobile screens.
There are several factors involved in getting your pages to load a lot quicker.
The biggest by far is the size of your images on each page. So one of the best things you can do is to re-size your images so that they fit properly on a page.
The other is to have the images compressed without losing their quality.
There are other things you can do as well but it’s out of the scope of this article.
The other major issue with page speed is usually the hosting provider.
Unfortunately, if you’ve already got hosting then it’s a little expensive to move the site to another provider.
But they often have a hand in slow web page speeds.
As far as mobile responsiveness is concerned, you can do a couple of checks yourself to see if your site will render correctly on your phone.
Responsive sites have been around for a long time now, so chances are your site already has this function.
If it doesn’t then your site is far behind and needs to be updated.
Schema markup sounds a lot more complicated than it really is.
There are plenty of software plugins that can add schema to your site, but you have to know how to set it up.
Basically schema markup is another method that is used to help search engines understand what your site is all about.
Each web page needs to have it own markup depending on the topic and the purpose of the page.
When websites are under development, we usually add a software plugin that can automatically create a sitemap.
The purpose of the sitemap is to give a search engine a map of the structure of the site.
Although, not a major factor, it does help search crawlers find all the pages on websites.
It’s good practice to re-create them from time to time and submit them to search consoles.
Encrypted and Secure Traffic
Securing your site’s traffic is the right thing to do for your visitors.
It prevents snooping and it also gives your site a more authentic and professional feel.
It is not clear to what degree this will help your site where rankings are concerned.
But, keep in mind that your visitors expect to see the security lock on the web pages.
More likely than not, your visitors will move on if they see that their browsing habits are not secure.
On-Page SEO Suggestions
Again there are several tasks that you can perform on each of the web pages that you create that will help them with rankings.
Even if you have existing pages, applying these principles will help.
The page title, also known as the title tag indicates the topic of the web page to search engines.
It’s important that the title contain your main keyword. Also note that the keyword should be as close to the beginning of the title as possible.
Your title tags have to be up to 70 characters in length, anything above that won’t show up in search results.
Headings and Sub-headings
Your title is going to be your main header or the H1 Title. Think how you would structure a business letter, the same applies to Web pages.
You have a single Main Topic, that’s your H1 Title. All the main topics under the overall title on your page should be H2 Headers.
Further subtopics should be H3 Headers and so on.
Many people get a little confused about this issue throwing the different header titles as they see fit. This is not proper use of the English Language.
This can damage your digital marketing and SEO efforts as Google considers each H1 a topic on it’s own.
In other words, two H1 Titles indicates two separate topics altogether.
Two H2 Titles are two separate sub-topics of the same overall topic.
You may have noticed that the main heading of this article is SEO Harare, that’s our H1 Header and overall topic.
We have then built sub-topics using H2 Headers and so on with H3 and H4 Headers.
The web page title, together with your meta description are what Google shows up in the search results when someone types in a query.
So these two are particularly important for two reasons.
The first is that they need to be optimized for search engines.
But secondly, perhaps more importantly, the two together has to attract visitors to your web page.
We suggested having the keyword in the title. The meta description should also contain the same keyword.
Although Google has made it clear that the meta description is not a ranking factor, it may still help search engines understand the topic.
Images don’t contribute alot to your overall web ranking. But if you consider that the contribution is roughly about 2%, every bit helps.
You never know when someone will click on an image they looked at and get taken to your web page.
Each image on your web page has to have a name. Where many go wrong is that they fail to include Image Alt tags.
Can you imagine if you had say 10 images on a page, that’s 10 more opportunities you have to attract a new visitor to your web page.
The reason behind this is that each image alt tag will contribute a keyword to your web page.
It also helps those that are visually impaired to understand what the image is all about.
All websites need page navigation, so links are crucial as they guide a visitor to pages they may be interested in.
Well, they also guide search engines from one page to another also, so that it can build up a clear idea of what your site is about.
There are no limits to the number of internal links on websites. Of course, linking should make sense as you don’t want to frustrate your visitors.
Also try to create the most links to the most important pages.
Off Page SEO Suggestions
There are also several things you can do off page in order to help your SEO digital marketing.
As mentioned before SEO is a long term game, but since it’s free, we want to take advantage where ever we can.
New Websites and Trust
There are so many websites being built everyday. Not all websites are built with good intentions.
This causes trust issues with search engines and so authority needs to be built over time.
A good way to build up authority is with backlinks. In order to do this you need to have relevant high quality content on your pages.
Backlinks are better earned than paid for. If you produce quality content, then you’ll find that other websites will mention your page and provide a link.
This is the best way to build up a backlink profile.
Citations and Social Media
Citations are created on Online Business Directories. There more citations you have, the better it is for your business.
Social sites like facebook and linkedin also contribute to citation building.
Social media websites are great for driving traffic back to your web pages.
You need to produce quality articles and share them on as many social sites as possible.
Whenever people click or share your articles, it’s a signal to search engines that your content is well received and good quality.
Signals like these help you with better search rankings.
As you can see there are many things that you can do to improve your business visibility with search engines.
SEO can really help you achieve this, but again this is a long term game.
Every page that you build is another chance for you to convince someone that you’re an expert in your field.
Helpful content is always well received and a great marketing strategy.
We hope that this article has been helpful to you. If you like what you see and you think you’d like us to do this stuff for you, please feel free to contact us.
We’re always happy to help in which ever way we can.
Thank you for reading this article, we hope you have a great week up ahead and please stay safe.