Can’t find your website when searching online and you want to know how to rank on Google? We’ve got one acronym for you: SEO. It isn’t rocket science, but it does take a fair amount of technical website and search engine expertise to get right. If you’re planning on DIYing your website’s SEO in 2022, we’ve gathered the best SEO advice we can give you into this article. Let’s look at what SEO actually is (for non-technical people), how customer intent fits into the picture, and the 4 pillars of good SEO.
How to rank on Google
What is SEO?
SEO is an acronym that stands for Search Engine Optimisation. Put simply, SEO involves actions taken on and off your website to help it appear on Google (the world’s most popular search engine).
Without being optimised for search engines, Google has no way of knowing what your website is about. It will also struggle with positioning you against your competitors on the search results pages.
Your website could be 10X better than all of your competitors, but they will appear way above you on Google’s page 1 if their SEO is being looked after and yours isn’t.
It’s about intent
When most people want to buy something these days, they turn to Google and other online platforms for information. They search because they have intent (to buy something). There are three main types of intent when it comes to using Google:
– Investigative intent
An internet user with investigative intent is someone in the early stages of the buying cycle. They have a problem to solve and are looking online for answers. Searches in this category are usually general, like “silk flower sellers” or “vegan restaurants in Durban.”
– Comparison intent
This variety of intent is one step further than investigating products or services. Here the user is comparing brands or makes of products. Searches in this category can include things like “silk flowers vs real flowers” or “Vegan Deli Boys vs The Vegan Café.”
– Transactional intent
An internet user with transactional intent is ready to make a purchase, they’re just looking to see where they can buy from. Transactional intent would include searches like “buy school shoes online” or “order aircons online.”
Intent is very important to SEO, because intent is what drives people to search for the things they search for on Google. If your intent is to buy a second hand car, you might search for “used car dealerships near me” or “second hand cars.”
Now, if your website has been optimised well, and it features the phrases “used car dealership” and “second hand cars”, there’s a good chance your website will show up. If these phrases are not found on your website, Google can’t match your site to the user’s intent, and it will likely show your competitor instead.
4 pillars of good SEO
Starting out, your SEO strategy needs to include keywords. These are words and phrases that your customers type into Google when looking for brands like you. Using an SEO tool like SEMrush is great for identifying the best keywords to use as part of your SEO.
Begin by writing a list of words related to your business. For example, a car dealership would write words like “buy cars, new cars, used cars, vehicle finance, car dealership” and others.
Then you can write keywords that are more specific to your products and services. For example, “new Ford Focus, new Toyota Corolla, used Mahindra trucks, pre-owned Mazda cars” and others.
All of these keywords and phrases must appear on your website, but not all on the same page. We show you exactly where to include your keywords in the section below on content.
The technical side of your website’s SEO involves optimising the nitty-gritty aspects of your website that your visitors don’t see but which greatly impact their experience. Google wants its users to have great experiences on every website they browse.
Things like website loading speed are critical for good SEO. Nobody wants to wait minutes for a website to load, so slow websites can’t expect to rank well on Google.
Another side of technical SEO is your website’s internal linking structure. In other words, how do the individual parts of your website link together to form a unified whole? Your website is like a spider’s web. The more inter-connected your pages are (using internal linking) the easier it becomes for a user to access all of your information.
Now we get to the stuff that all your website visitors have come to see (and it’ll be a lot of people if your SEO is done right). Content, simply put, is everything that you can see on your website’s pages.
Page titles, headings and sub-headings, paragraphs of text, images, buttons, videos, etc. A website without content serves no purpose, as there is nothing for the user to engage with. A website with very little content is only slightly better.
Google recommends at least 300 – 500 words should appear on each of your website pages, at least one image, and at least one internal and external (linking to another relevant website) link.
Each page should have a unique keyword or key phrase, and adding the same keywords to two separate pages will likely result in neither of them ranking well on Google.
Your keywords should appear in these locations on your page:
- Page URL
- Page title
- Page H1 heading
- In the first sentence
- In the last sentence
Since SEO first came onto the scene (with the launch of the internet), backlinks have been one of – if not the most – important factor when answering the question: how to rank on Google? As the name implies, backlinks are website links appearing on other websites that link to your website.
Obtaining backlinks is arguably the hardest part of search engine optimisation, and there’s a reason for that. A backlink is like a silent endorsement. The host website believes in your brand so much that they’re willing to send their own website visitors to your site.
However, not all backlinks are good for your website’s SEO. Links to your website from spammy sites and fake business websites will hurt your chances of ranking well on Google. You want to make sure that the collection of backlinks you’re building are coming from reputable websites owned by actual businesses.
Get expert SEO services in South Africa
WSI uses industry-leading SEO tools like SEMrush to solve your marketing challenges and provide world class SEO services in South Africa. If you’re still unsure how to rank on Google, hand this important element of your online marketing over to SEO experts. Start an SEO project with us today, or browse all our digital marketing services to see how else we can launch your brand into the big leagues in 2022!