One sunny Springtime afternoon, we sat down with SEO queen, Khaleelah Jones, to reveal how to harness the power of Search Engine Optimisation and how to understand the basics. With over a decade of digital marketing expertise, Khaleelah is the owner and founder of Careful Feet Digital Agency and co-CEO at Ada’s List, a global community supporting women in tech.
A 2020 WomenInTech 100 winner, a finalist for the 2020 NatWest everywoman awards and winner of the 2018 Next Women Pitch Competition, Khaleelah has a PhD in emerging media, an MBA and has worked in the marketing industry for over a decade! So it is safe to say she knows her stuff.
What is SEO?
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) can significantly impact your website and discoverability, and far too often, it may feel too overwhelming. Instead, it’s the process of optimising your content online in a way that stands out, which makes search engines like Google show your site on top of search rankings for a particular keyword.
That said, Khaleelah reveals that SEO is far more than simply throwing in a few keywords to your posts. This idea is one major misconception about SEO today. There is a lot of data and strategy that needs to be considered and not just the classic keywords. There is also a lot to be said about the user experience and the other personal business-related aspects that happen off your website, which also have a huge role in discussing SEO.
“Think of SEO as a more holistic practice and an overall experience on and off the website… it’s about making your website the best recommendation for others to use”
A website is a two-way relationship: it’s a place for users to find answers and the content they are looking for. It is also space for the creative to offer their service efficiently to their niche audience. With this in mind, the user experience side of SEO is more important than ever. You need to understand how you guide users through your content – and not just on your website itself but how it connects with your social media channels, for example.
Is SEO still relevant?
When the user experience appears more of a persuading factor than ever, is SEO still relevant? Khaleelah affirms that it is:
“It comes down to what your strategy is, and it depends on why you have a website or create content? Why have a website if you don’t want people to find it? Or even social media?”
She also points out that while many of us understand the benefits of using Ads to drive traffic to our content, we are less likely to concern ourselves with SEO, which acts as a free traffic guide. So, while you may have to invest more time understanding SEO best practices and making them work for you, you will experience the benefits in the long term.
For example, it’s a good idea to work out where the best places to put your keywords are. A meta description is not something that Google considers, whereas keywords can be found on the page itself, in the titles, in the URL and in the HTML. Check out the MAZE blog, which helps direct you to where you should put keywords to rank for those keywords.
A new algorithm?
If you thought algorithm updates were only for Instagram (much to our dismay), think again. Khaleelah reveals that there is going to be a significant algorithm update in May for SEO. The change will shift from SEO being mainly keyword orientated (slowly being phased out) to focus on search intent and user experience.
The new update will ask the question: how can search engines match users with the best results? It will consider reviews of your website, the time people spend on your website as these pointers are signs that it’s easy to navigate, that people love it, and you’re providing quality content.
That said, keywords are never going to go away completely. The way Google scans and reads your site means that it still needs language queues to tell users what your site is about. Therefore, if you’re new to SEO, start with keywords on your website as it indicates what your site is about and makes sure to put them in the relevant places.
Three basic implementations for today:
- Make sure your page is mobile optimised! Many people assume their page is mobile optimised, but a lot of them aren’t. Download plugins or check online to see how mobile-friendly your site is, given that a large proportion of users consume content through mobile devices.
- Check your google analytics! You can see where most of your website hits come from, as in which pages are the most frequently visited and see how much traffic is coming from mobile vs desktop users.
- Think about the way Google understands what your page is about. Make sure you have relevant keywords! Be as specific as possible as Google also relies on semantically related keywords, and this will ensure users find you for precisely the right reasons.
We hope you have found these tips and tricks helpful to start thinking about your SEO practice and stay tuned for part 2 of this fantastic article! We will dive straight into the link between SEO and social media and how to maximise your user experience.