SEO simply means Search Engine Optimization. This term used to really intimidate me when I first started in Marketing as it sounded too technical for me. When I understood it meant that identifying and using your keywords within your online channels so that your customer can connect your business with the word they are searching, it made a lot more sense.
Google is essentially a massive web of links. It needs your help to link a keyword to a website. If the user clicks on a website after typing in search terms, the user needs to be in the right place, or else they will exit the site quickly leading to a high bounce rate on that site which is not good. A site that has a high bounce rate signals to google the website is not about the search term so will rank it lower. Your keywords need to lead the customer to the place they will find what they are looking for.
Types of searches on Google
So what are keywords then? Keywords are the exact terms a customer will type into google to begin the search for what they are looking for. There can be three types of searches on google (or Bing or Yahoo, any search engine..even instagram):
- Navigational search – a search query entered with the intent on finding a particular website such as facebook or youtube
- Informational search – a user searches google when they are not searching for a specific website, maybe they are researching their holiday destination and making plans on what to do there.
- Transactional search – a search that indicates an intent to complete a transaction such as buying a product
Here we focus on number 2 – informational searches. The user is not biased towards any particular business but they might be looking for a certain type of activity to do in the area such as walking, hiking, water sports etc. Ask yourself – what would my customer type into google so that my business appears first, top of google? These are your keywords. Keywords cannot be generic, they need to be descriptive of your business. Try this now yourself under a ‘incognito tab’ in your browser and type in the terms you think your customer would use to find you. Is your business appearing on the first page of results? How many pages deep do you have to go to be found?
Now the difficulty in this task is asking yourself if you are using the right keywords to begin with and not assuming the customer knows these keywords. You do have to remember that they don’t know you exist (or lets assume they don’t know you exist) as these searches are for information. This is why it is so important to engage with your local tourism support networks such as your county tourism board, local tourism board, Failte Ireland and any chamber in your area and neighboring area. These are all places customer go to for research purposes so do not ignore establishing links here to your own channels.
Finding your keywords
Where to do to find your keywords? The first place is google search console, if you have it installed through your website. This will tell you the exact keywords customers are using in their search to find your business. If you don’t have this or you don’t have a website, type into google your business name. Your Facebook, Instagram or Google Business Profile should be appearing top of page. Scroll to the bottom and look at ‘Related Searches’ – what terms here are also being used to find you? These are the searches your customer is also using when searching for your business. Make sure and use them in your online content.
How to view your competitors keywords?
Sometimes looking around at how your competitors are using keywords is a good place to start if you are unsure about your own keywords. Go to ubersuggest.com and type in your competitors website. This search will show your keywords they are ranking for. You can also search your own website to see how you compare. This is a research exercise which is also good to view the back links your competitors are using to be found within google. The purpose here to to arm yourself with knowledge to make informed decisions, not to steal content.
Where to use your keywords?
The biggest place I see your keywords not being used appropriately is within your social channels. Instagram especially. Your nameplate can be a wasted opportunity to not clearly have your keywords written. This is how Instagram matches what people are searching for to your account. Add your keywords here. Also, add them on screen in your story text and in your captions and hashtags.
Add your keywords to your headings, page titles and blog articles – brownie points for writing blog posts centered around your keywords. Link within your website to other pages using keywords as the link text. Also remember your images are also great places to use keywords on your website so do not title images 12345.jpg instead use famineyearsdonegal.jpg – your location is part of your keywords.
Google Business Profile
Within your Google Business Profile, make sure your keywords are mixed in, in a user friendly, easy to ready format.
Remember SEO is an ongoing process that will require regular upkeep. You need to check monthly that your keywords are leading users to your website as google can make changes quickly leading to a drop in your ranking.
Pairing up with other similar business across the country can also help your business appear in searches and within relevant blog posts about your industry. For example if you were a business focused on educating people on the famine in Ireland, reach out to other similar businesses nationally, and co share blog articles where you are both linked on each others websites. If a user finds one, they will find the other as the information within the article is relevant to their search.