What is SEO?

Oh, the anxiety this three-letter acronym has brought to the online world!

SEO is difficult, technical, time-consuming, expensive… all the things that send shivers down our spine. Or, is it?

If you’re one of the many people who cringe at the mere thought of having to deal with SEO and constantly wonder what it actually even is, then this is for you. (Spoiler: SEO is so simple, you’re probably already doing it!)

We asked Karlie from Technobird to help us demystify common misconceptions and debunk the big myths of SEO. 
We loved chatting to Karlie and are inviting you to delve into the mysterious realm of search engines with us – but be prepared – your view on SEO will never be the same.

How would you explain SEO in simple terms?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. Simply put, SEO is the practise of sending people to your website by ranking on Google for specific keywords.
It is the practise of providing your website users with a memorable and valuable experience to make them feel good and encourage repeat-purchases, recommendations and positive reviews.

SEO is about the overall experience, not just getting to page 1 of Google. 

How important is SEO when you’re selling products online, and why?

If you have a website and you do nothing to promote it or drive traffic to it, no one’s going to know you exist. You can’t expect people to just find it. You have to drive traffic to your site, promote it and market it. This is what SEO is all about. 

Simply having a website doesn’t mean people would just magically find it and start buying your products. So I would say it’s mega important! 

A website without SEO is like having a billboard in the middle of a desert. Nobody will see it.

Why are so many people scared of SEO?

Too much technical jargon

Well, firstly, big agencies come at you with the fear factor, making SEO sound like it’s impossible and complicated, and people don’t really know otherwise. And there really haven’t been many people outside of big agencies to explain SEO in plain English and debunk myths. 

SEO is broad

It’s not a quick fix. SEO always starts with optimising your website, because there’s no point sending people to a website that they will exit the minute they land on it! I’m talking broken links, a poorly structured website, content with no real or relevant value to the audience. 

There are lots of elements to SEO that can be so overwhelming on paper, like writing blogs or running Google ads.

You need to find the ones that work for you, and start there.

The thing about SEO people often don’t realise is that you don’t have to do ‘all the things’.

SEO algorithms change often

Another reason why people are scared is because there are always changes happening with the Google algorithm, which can be really hard to understand and keep up with.

But just because there’s an algorithm update, it doesn’t mean your current SEO strategy is now void. Most of the time, algorithm changes don’t affect you too much.

Just stick to the basics. Optimise your site, make sure you have links coming in from other websites to yours, providing valuable content, and you’ll be fine!

In the last 7 years, I’ve never seen an algorithm update that made me think ‘I have to completely redo my website or any of my clients’, but it is important to update your website content to continue providing value to your website users and keep relevant. 

Google just wants to make sure that your site works, that people like to hang out there, that you’re authentic and provide valuable content.

What questions should people ask when they’re looking to get a new website?

Will the website be optimised for SEO?

If the web developer or designer says that they don’t do SEO, then I’d suggest to reconsider working with that person, because the entire point of having a website is to be found online and that will always start with an SEO-optimised website.

Can I take a look at some websites you’ve done in the past?

Another thing I would recommend is to ask web developers/designers for their previous work. I’d suggest to run some analysis to see if they have been optimised for SEO or not (you can use the free tool Ubersuggest). Don’t be afraid to ask that question!

What is the right platform for my business? Are you able to work on different platforms?

Do some research and speak to a few web developers/designers about their thoughts on the right platform for your business. You’ve got to educate yourself! Also keep in mind that there are a lot of web professionals who will only work on one platform, and that platform might not be the best option for your business.

The extra mile

The last thing is, you have to understand that just because you have an SEO-optimised website, it doesn’t mean people will then just find it. For anyone looking to build a website, I highly recommend that you should find someone who will be able to educate you on driving traffic to your website organically long-term.

Are there any website platforms that are bad for SEO?

There is a lot of talk about Wix not being the best platform for SEO and in my experience, that’s completely untrue. I’ve built many websites on Wix that are ranking well on Google.

I think the argument is that WordPress is better because you own it, you have access to the code, and you can move from one platform to another if you wanted to. 

If we’re comparing different platforms, I think my least favourite in terms of SEO functionality would be Squarespace because it’s a little limited.

How do you check that the SEO on a website has been done properly?

A great tool that I use for my audits to check the SEO on a website is a Chrome extension called SEO Analysis & Website Review by WooRank. 
After you install it, go to your website and click the extension, it will give you a full SEO report in really easy-to-understand language. 

Another easy-to-use tool to ensure your SEO has been done properly is Ubersuggest. It’s great because it gives a simple overview and suggestions, plus it’s free and there’s no sign-up required.

If you want to get a bit more technical, use Screaming Frog. It’s also free but goes into a lot more depth than UberSuggest.

A few other favourite Chrome extensions I use for SEO include:

  • Alt Text Viewer: this tool shows your image alternative text, or if it’s missing
  • Broken Link Checker: use it to check if your site has any broken links
  • Ubersuggest: use the extension to analyse keywords, keyword popularity, backlinks and social sharing stats on any website you like within Google search result pages

Here are Karlie’s top tips to maintaining your own SEO

Ensure your technical SEO is up-to-date

Sounds scary – but it’s really simple. You can use free tools like Ubersuggest, Screaming Frog or the Chrome extensions mentioned previously to regularly check that your technical SEO is sound (e.g. your page titles, meta descriptions, heading tags, image alt titles, etc.)

If you use Wix, they have their own built-in SEO analyser and reporting, which offer a lot of insight and value.

Or if you use WordPress, then Yoast would be your main SEO plugin that tells you what to do. Always make sure that you regularly check how your site is performing SEO-wise and update as you need.

Drive traffic

Outside of your website, look at where your ideal customers are hanging out. For example, if they’re big Facebook users and you’ve got a good following on Facebook, continue to use that as a driving source for traffic.

Other than social media, I highly recommend building an email list and creating valuable links to your website through collaborations and guest blogging for example. 

Check Google Analytics

At least once a month, go into Google Analytics and check how your website is performing. This includes what pages people are visiting, how much time they are spending on your website, how long they’re staying on particular pages, and checking your bounce rates (how long it takes for somebody to land and exit your website without exploring any other pages). These analytics can indicate that maybe your homepage needs a bit more content or you need to look at restructuring your site.

Look at your website from your customers’ perspective

A good habit is to look at your website through the eyes of your potential customer. Ask yourself questions like:
Is my website easy to use?
Do I have the right calls-to-action?
Am I pointing people in the right direction on my website?

Talk to people

Ask your followers or people in Facebook business groups questions like:
Do you find it easy to use my website?
Do you think it’s confusing?

Don’t be afraid to ask for advice – you don’t know what you don’t know.

You might think your site is really well structured and easy to use, but that feedback has to come from your potential customers.

Beware of the blog myth

There’s a bit of a myth around blogs. People think just having a blog on your website is good for SEO. It’s not. If people aren’t reading your blog posts, if you’re not driving traffic to your blog posts, if people aren’t commenting and sharing your blog posts, it’s not good for SEO. Blogs are only great if they add value to your site, traffic, views or shares.

Check out our post on how to build a successful blog here.

Final thoughts

SEO is a long-term game, not a quick fix. Just because you update your site today doesn’t mean you’ll be on page one of Google tomorrow. It takes time and trial-and-error, and you need to be patient and consistently check your website for fresh content, errors and technical SEO. Lastly, be open-minded and patient!

Karlie started Technobird back in 2013.
She has since grown her business into a successful one-stop-shop for building websites, providing comprehensive website/SEO audits and recommendations to help improve your website from a design/UX, SEO and content perspective to help you get found on Google and convert website users into happy customers. 

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