There is an abundance of small businesses in South Africa and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) could be the key to getting them off the ground. SEO isn’t easy, but it’s crucial for company growth. When done right, it can help businesses beat out their competitors (both on a national and global scale) and secure quality leads. As a B2B SEO agency, we spend a lot of time working with clients on their company’s SEO strategy (both in South Africa and the UK) and have seen them reap the benefits.
Launching a new website provides the perfect excuse to create an SEO strategy. As tempting as it is to get writing straight away, there are many elements to SEO that you need to consider before you put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard). We’ve managed plenty of site launches from an SEO perspective (including our own website, TopLine Film, earlier this year) which means that we have a blueprint to work from.Here’s what we’ve learned over the years.
Get ready to launch
There’s a lot of planning that goes into launching a websiteand you need to have a good understanding of SEO before itgoes live. Google’s resources on how search works and its SEO Starter Guide are good places to start.
Next is your keyword research. Keywords are what your audience are actively searching for and the terms that you want to rank for. The research itself will help you get a better understanding of your target market and might even get you thinking differently about your business. Moz has a good beginners guide to keywords and is also a great tool for carrying out keyword searches.
Once you’ve identified your keywords, you’ll want to sort them by bottom, middle and top of funnel. Those at the bottom are the closest to checking out (i.e. they already want your product). Those in the middle are looking for further information and those at the top are just browsing, generally looking for answers to a problem they’re having (their keywords tend to be questions). From there, you can plan your parent and child pages, as these should be based on bottom funnel keywords.
Then you can plan your site directory. You need to organise your website in a way that Google deems logical. It’s worth checking out Google’s own resources on site hierarchy to make sure you get it right.
After you’ve completed all these steps, you can think about drafting your website content.
Now that you’ve done all the preparation and have all your keywords to hand, you can get writing. The main things to consider are:
- Your key messages. Make sure relevant key messages are included throughout.
- Top, middle and bottom funnels. Remember those in the top, middle and bottom funnel, and consider whether your content is catering to them.
- Consider your target audience and their intent. Try to consider what the searchers are looking for, rather than just giving the information you want them to have. Focus on their pain – if they’re asking a question, answer it before moving on to your key message. You want your audience to feel satisfied with the information they’ve been given, not hoodwinked into purchasing your product.
- Content length. It’s worth looking at the current page one results for your target keyword to see what the content looks like so that you can write something better.
- Keywords. Make sure your target and secondary keywords are mentioned throughout (without being too forced – Google will punish you for that).
- Relevant details. There are certain details that you need for an SEO friendly page, including a title tag, header tagand meta description. All should include the target keyword.
- Your URL. Ideally, the URL will include the target keyword and be under 60 characters.
- Images and video. If you’re including images and video, help Google out by giving them descriptive captions, file names and surrounding text.
- Internal links. Make sure you’re linking to other pages on your website as often as possible. Also make sure to give those links a proper description (i.e. don’t say ‘if you want to see more, click here.’ Instead, say ‘click if you want to learn more about XYZ’.).
- A content calendar. Google will reward you for quality over quantity, so it’s worth spending time creating a content calendar of about two interesting blog posts a month.
Once you’ve got your content down, you can find a web agency and produce a brief or get ready to do it yourself. Either way, you’ll need to start tracking your keywords and doing technical spot checks with Search Console. SEO doesn’t stop the moment your website launches – it’s a long-term game that needs constant attention. But it’s all worth it when you start getting some quality leads. Keep at it and it could make a significant difference to your business.