In an age where digital presence equates to visibility, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) has emerged as a critical tool in establishing and maintaining a robust brand image.
SEO is not just a trend, but a strategic investment that can future-proof your brand. It serves as the digital bedrock, helping your business to stay relevant, competitive, and in line with ever-evolving algorithms of search engines.
Whilst SEO has been around for some time, we still come across a huge number of businesses here in New Zealand and overseas that are not investing the time or budget into SEO. Instead, they often rely on paid advertising or social media to drive traffic and build brand awareness. Whilst both channels have their merits, SEO can help your business establish credibility and authority, helping you to grow your brand now and in the future.
This article aims to shed light on how SEO can be leveraged to sustain and strengthen your brand in the long run.
Understanding the basics of SEO and how it works
We get that not everyone has a good understanding of SEO – that’s why we’re here. To help guide you through the opportunities that exist within the SEO landscape and hopefully provide you with the information you need to make informed decisions about how SEO can help your business.
The power of keywords and content in SEO
The backbone of SEO is keywords and content. By identifying the right keywords that your potential customers use to search for your products or services, you can tailor your website content to attract these users. These keywords should be strategically embedded within your website’s content, tags, meta descriptions, and titles.
It’s not just about stuffing your content with keywords, though. Search engine algorithms are getting smarter, and they prioritise high-quality, relevant content. This is where content marketing comes into play. By creating useful, engaging, and relevant content, you not only provide value to your users but also increase your site’s visibility in search engines.
Regularly updating your content keeps your website fresh and relevant, which search engines like Google appreciate. This involves consistently posting blog articles, updating product descriptions, and refreshing your homepage content.
The combination of the right keywords and high-quality content is a powerful SEO strategy that can drive organic traffic to your website, build your brand reputation and trust, and ultimately, future-proof your brand in the digital space.
One important thing to remember is that SEO is not about simply appearing in the search results. It’s about appearing on the first page, and ideally in the top three results as this is where the majority of the valuable traffic online comes from.
Of course, this may change in the future. Google is already rolling out its new Search Generative Experience (SGE) which integrates AI into their search results and this is expected to be rolled out worldwide over the next 12 months. This will be a big shift in the search landscape and something that SEO professionals as well as brands will have to tackle.
But for now, the priority for SEOs is still to achieve page one rankings for keywords that are most relevant to their business and their target audience.
7 ways to future-proof your brand with SEO
At Digital Hothouse, we are primarily an SEO agency and our goal for all clients is to deliver SEO strategies that not only deliver short-term results such as increased traffic, sales, and revenue, but also set up the business to thrive in the long term.
Whilst we may support our SEO strategy with other tactics such as Google Ads or social media activity, we recognise that without a solid SEO strategy, other tactics are not going to keep delivering results in the future.
Let’s take a look at some of the steps you should be taking now to future-proof your business with SEO.
1. Identify your target market and tailor content to their needs
Identifying your target market is key to creating content that resonates with your audience and thus drives traffic and conversions. Utilising tools like GA4 (Google Analytics 4), Google Search Console, and SEMrush can greatly aid in this process.
GA4 provides valuable insights into user demographics, interests, and behaviours, enabling a deeper understanding of your audience. You can leverage this data to tailor your content, ensuring it aligns with your audience’s preferences and needs.
Google Search Console offers invaluable information about your website’s performance in Google’s search results. It can show which queries are leading users to your site and what content is most popular, helping you to identify what appeals to your target audience.
SEMrush is an SEO tool that offers comprehensive keyword research capabilities. With its assistance, you can discover what keywords your target audience is using when searching for products or services similar to yours. Additionally, it provides insights into your competitors’ strategies, helping you to identify gaps in the market that you can exploit with your content.
By integrating these tools into your SEO strategy, you can ensure your content is optimised for your target audience, enhancing the efficiency of your SEO efforts and propelling your brand’s digital success.
2. Research relevant keywords and use them strategically
Keyword research forms a crucial component of any SEO strategy, and the use of tools such as SEMrush, Moz, and Google Keyword Planner can significantly simplify and enhance this process.
SEMrush’s comprehensive keyword research tool offers insights into the search volume, competition level, and long-tail keyword variations for any given keyword. Its Keyword Magic Tool can generate thousands of keyword suggestions, helping you uncover new opportunities and refine your SEO strategy.
Moz, another highly-regarded SEO tool, offers the ‘Keyword Explorer’ feature. This tool uncovers valuable metrics such as keyword difficulty, organic click-through rates, and priority scores, which combine several keyword metrics to help you prioritise your efforts. It also provides an extensive list of related keywords, enabling you to diversify your keyword usage and avoid over-optimisation.
Google Keyword Planner is a free tool integrated within Google Ads. It reveals historical search data, forecasts future search trends, and suggests related keywords, thereby enabling you to identify high-performing keywords relevant to your content. Additionally, it presents the competition level and average bid for AdWords advertising, providing insights into the commercial intent of users searching with those keywords.
Utilising these tools for keyword research enables you to create content that is not only relevant and engaging for your audience, but also aligned with search engine algorithms. This strategic use of keywords can significantly enhance your website’s visibility and rankings, driving increased organic traffic and conversions.
3. Implement technical optimisations to improve site performance
We have talked a lot already about the importance of keywords and content, however, if you have a poor-performing website, then targeting the right keywords with high-quality content might be a waste of time.
Technical optimisations are fundamental to improving site performance and enhancing user experience. Regular technical auditing is crucial to identify and resolve any issues that could hinder your website’s performance or visibility in search engine results. Various tools, such as Google’s Search Console or SEMrush’s Site Audit, can help you conduct comprehensive technical audits, analysing aspects like crawl errors, broken links, and AMP issues.
Core Web Vitals, introduced by Google, are a set of metrics aimed at measuring real-world user experience for loading performance, interactivity, and visual stability of a page. These include Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), which measures loading performance; First Input Delay (FID), which gauges interactivity; and Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS), which evaluates visual stability. Improving these metrics enhances the overall user experience, potentially leading to increased engagement and better search engine rankings. Therefore, regular monitoring and optimisation of Core Web Vitals should be a key part of your technical SEO strategy.
4. Make sure your website is mobile-friendly and user-friendly
As part of your technical auditing process, you should also pay close attention to how your website is accessed on all devices, not just desktop.
With the proliferation of smartphones and tablets, the importance of having a mobile-friendly website cannot be overstated. Google’s mobile-first indexing means that the mobile version of your website is considered the primary version for ranking purposes. A mobile-friendly website not only provides an optimal user experience but also contributes positively to your SEO efforts.
User experience (UX) plays a pivotal role in SEO because search engines strive to deliver the most relevant and engaging results to users. A website that offers a seamless user experience is likely to rank higher than a site that does not. Factors such as website navigation, page layout, readability and load speed all contribute to the overall user experience. For instance, a website that is intuitive to navigate and has clear, concise content will likely hold the user’s attention for a longer period, reducing bounce rates and increasing the likelihood of conversion.
Furthermore, Google’s introduction of Core Web Vitals as a ranking signal underscores the increasing emphasis on user experience in SEO. These metrics directly measure aspects of web usability such as load time, interactivity, and the stability of content as it loads. By focusing on enhancing these areas, you can provide a better user experience, which in turn can lead to improved rankings in search engine results.
GA4 further underscores the significance of user experience (UX) by placing unprecedented emphasis on engagement metrics. GA4’s user-centric approach provides more insightful data about how users interact with a website. By monitoring metrics such as scroll depth, time spent on the website, and interactions per visit, GA4 offers a comprehensive picture of user engagement, capturing the quality of user experience in a way that was previously unimaginable.
This shift highlights that not only is UX vital for your audience, but it has now become a fundamental factor in how your website is evaluated and ranked by Google. Consequently, now more than ever, businesses must prioritise UX in their SEO strategies to stay relevant and competitive in the digital landscape.
5. Monitor your ranking on SERPs & analyse competitors’ strategies
Monitoring keyword rankings is an essential aspect of an effective SEO strategy. Using tools like STAT or SEMrush can provide valuable insights into how your website is performing in search engine results pages (SERPs) for specific keywords. These tools not only let you track your own keyword rankings but also keep a tab on fluctuations in the SERP landscape, enabling you to promptly react and adapt your SEO strategy as necessary.
In addition to monitoring your own website’s performance, it’s equally crucial to conduct regular competitor audits. Analysing your competitors’ SEO strategies can provide a wealth of information about what’s working for them, which you can potentially leverage for your own website. You can glean insights into the keywords they’re targeting, the structure of their site, the kind of content that they’re producing, and much more. By understanding these aspects, you can refine your own strategies to stay competitive in the ever-evolving digital landscape.
At Digital Hothouse, we use STAT to monitor all our clients’ keywords, but the tool offers much more than this, providing invaluable insights into the overall landscape of the industries in which our clients are operating, as well as providing actionable data around SERP features, local SEO opportunities, and more.
6. Adapt to algorithm updates and industry changes
Search engines, particularly Google, are constantly refining their algorithms to enhance their ability to deliver the most relevant search results. This ongoing evolution requires businesses to stay updated and responsive to these changes to maintain or improve their rankings on SERPs. Google’s algorithm updates range from minor tweaks to major changes that can dramatically affect a website’s ranking.
For instance, the Penguin update targeted websites with unnatural backlink profiles, and the Panda update penalised websites with poor-quality content. More recently, Google’s Core Web Vitals has placed increased focus on user experience aspects like loading speed, interactivity, and visual stability of pages. As detailed in a Digital Hothouse article, understanding these algorithm updates and proactively adapting your SEO strategy can be pivotal in maintaining a strong digital presence.
At Digital Hothouse, we stay abreast of all algorithm updates and industry changes, ensuring that our client’s websites are optimised according to the latest standards and best practices. This enables us to help our clients stay ahead of the game in search engine rankings, irrespective of the industry they operate in.
The advent of Artificial Intelligence (AI) has further revolutionised the SEO landscape, becoming an indispensable tool in content marketing strategies. For instance, Google’s RankBrain, an AI-based component of their overall search algorithm, utilises machine learning to better interpret complex queries and improve search result relevancy. As explained in a Search Engine Journal article, RankBrain has effectively transformed the way search queries are understood, bringing a new level of sophistication to search engine rankings.
Furthermore, AI provides powerful tools for content creation and optimisation. Tools like Grammarly, JasperAI, ChatGPT, and Articoolo use AI to enhance content quality, aid in error detection, and even generate new content. In addition, chatbots have become a popular AI application for improving user experience on websites, offering immediate customer service and generating leads 24/7.
Recognising these industry transformations, at Digital Hothouse we proactively integrate AI-driven strategies into our SEO and content marketing services. This ensures we remain at the forefront of industry changes, delivering the most effective and innovative solutions for our clients’ digital success.
7. Build a strong backlink profile
We are nearly in 2024 and we are still talking about the importance of backlinks in SEO. Who would have thought it? Backlinks and SEO have a bit of a chequered history. The Penguin algorithm update scared a lot of businesses off backlinking as an SEO tactic, however, when done well, backlink acquisition should be a key part of any successful SEO strategy.
Backlinks or inbound links are a critical factor in establishing your website’s domain authority and credibility online. These are essentially votes of confidence from other websites, signalling to search engines that your content is valuable and worthy of citation. When a high-quality website links to your site, it’s like receiving an endorsement from a respected authority. This not only builds trust in your brand among human users but also enhances your standing in the eyes of search engine algorithms.
One of the most significant impacts of backlinks is their role in defining your site’s domain authority (DA). DA is a metric developed by Moz to predict how well a website will rank on search engine result pages. It’s calculated based on the quantity and quality of backlinks, among other factors, and operates on a scale of 1 to 100 – the higher the score, the greater the domain authority.
On the other hand, not all backlinks are created equal. Quality matters more than quantity. Links from reputable, high-DA websites carry more weight than those from lower-quality sites. Additionally, ‘spammy’ or purchased backlinks can actually harm your rankings, reinforcing the importance of acquiring links organically through quality content and genuine relationships with other websites.
As part of the process of future-proofing your brand using SEO, the acquisition of high-quality backlinks should be a key tactic in your strategy. Here are some of the ways you can acquire backlinks for your brand:
- Create High-Quality Content: Producing informative, engaging, and unique content will naturally attract other websites to link to yours. Whether it’s blog posts, infographics, or how-to guides, high-quality content is a valuable asset that others will want to share.
- Guest Posting: Contribute articles to reputable websites within your industry. This not only positions you as an authority in your field but also gives you the opportunity to link back to your own site.
- Build Relationships: Networking with influencers, bloggers, and other industry professionals can help you gain exposure and increase the chances of them linking back to your website.
- Use Social Media: Promote your content on social media platforms. If your content is shared widely, it’s more likely to get noticed and linked to by other websites.
- Broken Link Building: Find broken links on other websites and suggest your content as a substitute. Site owners will often be grateful for the heads-up and may link back to your site in return.
- Business Directories: List your website on reputable business directories. These directories often allow you to include a link back to your site.
- Resource Link Building: If your website hosts a valuable resource (like a popular blog or a unique tool), reach out to websites that have resource pages relevant to your content and suggest they include your link.
It is important to monitor your backlink profile and you can use tools like Moz Link Explorer or SEMrush to monitor the links pointing to your website. You can also pull links out of Google Search Console which can be uploaded into other tools to assess the quality.
Hopefully, these tips will help you to take the next steps towards future-proofing your brand with SEO. Whilst there is nothing ground-breaking in terms of the recommended tactics, it is amazing how many brands, large and small, are not investing in SEO.
If you want to learn more, talk to one of the team at Digital Hothouse today and see how we can help to future-proof your business using our experience and expertise in the field of SEO.