If the mysteries and minutia of SEO have so far alluded you, or you know a little but the latest Google update fills you with a sense of dread; worry not. SEO aficionado Judith Lewis has put together the PR best practices for SEO guide to share what you need to know about Search Engine Optimisation in PR and comms.
Here are five starter tips from the guide to get you on your way to fully-optimised and high-ranking content:
1) Know your SEO vernacular
SEO has three main disciplines. ‘Technical SEO’ is what optimises the code of a website to enable search engines to assess and rank. ‘On-Page SEO’ is your content – what you can see, but also occasionally what you can’t, such as the title tag. ‘Off-Page SEO’ relates to links and citations – the parts that affect webpage ranking, but aren’t on the webpage itself.
2) Learn your SEO-related acronyms, too
One commonly-used acronym you’ll hear when delving into all-things SEO is ‘E-A-T’: Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness. Google uses each of these elements to determine the right ranking for content. Things that can help the ‘E-A-T’-able-ness of your content – an Expert author, Authority when it comes to links and relevance, and indications of Trust, such as contact information and an About page.
3) Google needs speed
Working with a slow website? Page speed is a known factor among those 200 or so used by Google to decide ranking in searches, so if your agency, company or client website is slow, that will impact its search visibility. May’s updates to Google included the addition of a factor called Page Experience, meaning slow sites will have more difficulty with ranking now than ever. Speed things up – chase up your contacts on your dev/IT team, or start out with Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool yourself to find out what will make your website faster.
4) Remember that your words are still very important (alongside the links)
Just as each social media platform has a unique – and complicated – algorithm, so too do search engines. Google, for example, has more than 200 factors making up its own algorithm, which can be intimidating to think about when starting to put together content you want as many relevant people to find, and engage with, as possible. Reassuringly, the words you use, as well as links, are most important in those factors. According to available data, each account for around 40% of the ranking factors.
5) Those words you write need to be as natural-sounding as possible – no SEO-robo-speak
It’s tempting when you first get started with optimising online content to stuff your copy with keywords in the hope it will place higher in search results, but that’s very passé, very early-2000s, and very much not liked by Google in 2021. Yes, keywords are part of what attracts visitors to a certain webpage and at least one mention of a keyword will help content to be discovered. But writing naturally is how to woo the complicated but sophisticated language and grammar algorithms Google utilises these days – good writers will automatically use words that are semantically-related and create content that search engines, and readers, will rank highly.