Quickly think about the internet searches you do every day. Now try to remember the last time you looked at the second page of your Google search results. It probably doesn’t happen often and even less so when it comes to the third, fourth or fifth page of results.
That is what search-engine optimisation, better known as SEO, is all about: you want your website or blog to appear on the first search-engine results page (SERP).
This has become trickier over the past few years as Google and other search engines began upping their game to make sure that content stays king and that internet users easily find what they’re looking for.
In order to try to purify and perfect the SERPs, search engines began to make the ranking algorithm more and more complicated. In the past, you could just add keywords all over your copy, but nowadays where your website lands up in search-engine results all boils down to your content and the relevant links you’ve included.
In its SEO starter guide, Google advises you to base your decisions first and foremost on what’s best for the visitors to your site. They’re using search engines to find your work and they’re your ultimate clients or consumers. At Flow, we believe in the power of relevant, high-quality content and, to create such content, we have to consider which search terms our clients or their customers will use when looking for a service or product.
“Although short-term gains can be won by writing a clever, SEO-friendly title and first paragraph, the real gains come when people actually link to the content. And people only link to the content if they find it valuable and think that other people will find it valuable,” says Flow head of digital Richard Frank.
This means that the actual substance of the article still means more than mere keyword optimisation. “You could rank at the top of Google for a few days with a heading such as ‘Top ten tips for a flat stomach’, but if your tips don’t hold the audience captive and provide insight and credibility, your article won’t be linked to and someone else will soon enough take your perch atop the Google pile.”
The reason Google is so successful is that it does rank good content near the top, according to Richard. “When you conduct a search, you usually find what you’re looking for on the first page of results. And Google has some of the best mathematicians and engineers in the world working around the clock to ensure the best content stays at the top.”
He believes you’re wasting your money if you’re paying someone to write copy for the sake of giving the search engines something to crawl, rather than adding value to your website for your users. “Firstly, your rank won’t last forever. Secondly, the people who do click on this content will not convert into clients or supporters, because the copy will be speaking to a search engine rather than to a human,” says Richard.
Many of Flow’s services automatically benefit SEO to a large extent, according to Flow web developer Stephen Frank. We do this in three ways:
- We offer websites that have a clear and logical structure with well-structured metadata, including title tags, description tags and social media sharing tags
- We use a content strategy that is concise and aims to match what our clients’ companies offer and what consumers need
- We use content modelling that follows what consumers will be looking for. For example, it is better to use the phrase “used car parts in Johannesburg” than “previously owned vehicle parts you can find near to where you live”
We also stay on top of our game when it comes to website analytics, because Google is constantly updating and improving its algorithms, so we have to know what works and what doesn’t in order to create even better content – something we’re passionate about.