Google is the world’s most popular search engine online, and marketers all over the world have realized its’ power in making their companies’ websites more visible and popular.
Google uses a text and link based search machine that has a unique algorithm, so if you are a beginner in search engine optimization like us, you can find out how your business is doing by simply googling it. Because of this algorithm everything you do to increase your google ranking, will work and you’ll see the results.
So, what is SEO?
Search engine optimization is in its’ simplicity, optimizing your company’s website’s content by using keywords and links in order to get a better ranking on google when people search for things through their search engine. Ranking, in turn, means your position in the search results for that keyword. In practice then, does your website show up on google search for example with the keyword “startup accelerator Finland” on the 23rd page or on the first page.
Keywords are words that you might use to look up your company if you were to search it online. At the beginning you want to use keywords that are a bit more complicated than for example startup accelerator, because it’s a really popular search word for your niche if you are a startup accelerator.
You can also use Google AdWords, which is Google’s service for sponsored ads. You can pay google to boost your ranking for certain keywords that you can choose yourself. Google will then boost your website locally for the people that are using similar keywords that you have chosen to be found for.
Google is different from other search engines because you can’t buy positions in their search results. Instead, it’s you website’s content’s relevance and links that count. Google uses the data in their database to find connections between different websites through links. A link from one website to another is considered a vote for that site and thus will make your page more reliable and relevant in Google’s eyes. The more links a website has the more relevant it is for a keyword and the higher it appears in the search results. For startups it should be fairly easy to increase power by using content that for example news produce about startups.
Currently the most important things for Google SEO are
Relevance – Your website should have a lot of meaningful content and a lot of domain linkings and key phrases
Trust / “Power” – You gain more power, and your website seems more trustworthy, the more domain linkings you have to it
Brand – If your company is a brand, shows signals of being a brand, or has links to brands, Google thinks your website is more trustworthy and this will help you enhance your page ranking
Personal – Your personal user behavior and history can affect your website’s classification in Google’ s eyes
Other factors – Factors like CTR (clique through rate = how many people choose to clique on your page), time on site, conversion rate, interaction, user relations and social media
How to start working on your website’s SEO then?
Start by picking out relevant keywords for your business. Google AdWords has a tool that can help you decide on keywords that you have to best chances to increase your ranking. AdWords will come up with a list of keywords for you based on keywords that you have suggested, from this list you can choose the ones most relative for your business. Simple, popular keywords are unlikely to increase your ranking because there are a lot more competition within your niche with those words. Picking out more complicated words that aren’t necessarily searched for 100 000 times per day, but a 100 000 times per week will have a better chance to improve your ranking. You want your main keyword to be in the title and in the main heading, so your main keyword shows in the URL. Use a spreadsheet to map your keywords to an existing site structure (if your keyword is for example platform startups, categorize weather that word is going to be on you front page, product page or another landing page on your site), or to make a new site structure based on your keywords.
Have at least four types of keywords:
Commercially evergreen keywords used on your product category or a comparison page
Commercially evergreen keywords for your products/sales page
Keywords from wider topics that are non-commercial used on posts or pages, for example a blog
Longer keywords that are non-commercial, that is at least somehow relevant for the content on your page. These words can be keywords that you might not have thought about, but you end up being the only one with content about these words.
If you go for keywords that have a higher search volume that are the broadest and the best converting keywords for your webpage, you get higher value per visitor but it is harder to improve your rankings
If you go for longer and harder keywords, the search volume is lower but your webpage has a better chance to improve its’ ranking
Combining these two strategies often gives the best results
Build a site structure for ranking and converting. For Search Engine Optimization, analytics and segmentation all your keywords should be mirrored in your pages’ URLs. All pages that Google stores in their database (index) need to have a unique title and have unique content, even product and post categories. Also your most importantand competitive keywords should appear higher in the structure of your webpage and they should also naturally get more internal links. Don’t make unnecessary pages.
You should also make sure that:
You have the right country domain (.fi) or a generic domain language (.com or .com/fi)
If you have more than one key phrase, make sure you don’t use one-page websites
Your URLs are clean, so there’s only one piece of content per URL
Allow Google-indexing in your webpage settings
Tag all your webpages, give all of them an unique name
Get fast hosting for your webpage
Use No index filter-parameter-URLs or a #
Consider Canonical if you need the same content published in several places
Generate rich snippets where possible
An example webpage setup:
Your main keyword should be included in your URL, title and heading. If you have a picture on site, you should include the main keyword in the alt-tag, which is a phrase or a word that describes the picture’s content when it’s not visible or shows when you take your cursor on top of the photo. You main keyword should also naturally appear in the content and sub headings. It’s important that your content is long enough and it’s rich. A good way to think about it is, is your content the best content available online for this keyword? This applies not only for your main page, but also for your products, categories, auto-generated pages and other content as well. Your content should be in the language you want to be searched for.
Off-page SEO – The importance of links
How to get links then?
You need to have the best site for a keyword. After you have accomplished this, find websites that could benefit from your webpage and offer it to them as a service. This way you get good websites to link to your webpage and Google will see your webpage as a more trustworthy source. As a startup you can also try blog co-operation, link exchange, guest blogging or advertorials as a way of getting more links.
10 tips on how to easily check that your SEO is on point!
Make sure your keyword is on the title of your webpage and it’s within the first few words of the title.
Have your keyword on your website’s URL clearly, so Google gets easy tips on what is on your webpage.
Check that your page has an h1-title. Make sure that your most important headline/title is within your h1-tags and that there is only on h1-title on your website.
Include your keyword in the beginning of your title. Google values a keyword that is structurally in the top part of your content.
Create content that’s long enough! Content longer than 1500 words, gets a higher ranking on Google.
Use inner keyword links in your content. It’s smart to add 2-3 inner keyword links on older sites when you are creating new content.
Get off-page links. You can try to get off-page links i.e. by creating content of value and offering it to another page as a free service, or try link exchanging, blog co-operation,advertorials or guest blogging.
Try to include a keyword in your h2 and h3-titles as well. It helps make your content more reliable.
Make sure your photo content has alt-tags. This might bring traffic to your website through google
Check that you have fast hosting on you website. The slower your site is, the more it will negatively affect your page ranking. You can check your websites downloading time easily from http://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/
All this information was gathered at Startup Catapult’s workshop for its’ portfolio startups. This workshop was powered by Genero, which is a digital advertising company in Finland. We want to thank you for your insightful guidance and giving us the tools to start improving our search engine optimization.