An image of a mobile phone showing a Google searchbar

What Are SEO Keywords & How Do You Use Them? (Introduction for Beginners in 2023)


In this blog post, we’re going to break down the basics of keywords, one of the most fundamentally important elements of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).

What Are Keywords?

Keywords are the words or phrases that people use to search for information on search engines like Google. They play a crucial role in helping search engines understand what your website or content is about and whether it’s relevant to a particular search query.

Remember, the fundamental purpose of a search engine is to connect users with the most relevant and valuable information based on their search queries.

To understand what queries your website and content might be relevant for, search engines use complex algorithms to analyse many factors on your web pages with keywords, both long-tail and short-tail, included in this analysis.

These algorithms are incredibly sophisticated and as such the first 5 organic results on a search page account for over 67% of all clicks.

What is the difference between a long-tail and short-tail keyword?

Long-tail and short-tail keywords are essential components of effective SEO strategies. Short-tail keywords consist of one or two words, while long-tail keywords are longer and more specific phrases.

Short-tail keywords are broad and generic, attracting a larger search volume but also facing stiff competition. For example, “shoes” is a short-tail keyword. A search like this reveals very little about the intent of the searcher – we don’t know why they’re searching for information on shoes.

On the other hand, long-tail keywords are more specific and target a niche audience. They typically have a lower search volume but higher conversion rates. Still, nearly 30% of keywords with over 10,000 monthly searches consist of 3 or more words.

An example of a long-tail keyword would be “black leather men’s dress shoes.”

As you can see, this reveals much more about the specific intent and interest of the searcher.

By incorporating both short-tail and long-tail keywords into SEO efforts, you can strike a balance between visibility and relevance. Short-tail keywords help to attract a wide audience, while long-tail keywords attract visitors who are more likely to convert into customers. Thus, optimising your website with a combination of these keyword types is crucial for a successful SEO strategy.

A man on a laptop using Google Search

How To Choose The Right Keywords For SEO

Selecting the right keywords for SEO is critical in optimising your content and improving your website’s visibility in search engine results. Here are 10 steps you can take to help you research, choose and continually optimise your keyword selection:

1 – Understand your Business and Target Audience

Why Does This Matter For Keyword Rankings?

By taking the time to understand your business and audience in this detail, you will give yourself the ability to align your content with the specific needs, interests and search behaviours of your potential customers.

It will also give you the chance to familiarise yourself with the language and terminology most likely to be used by your audience. Each industry has unique lingo and by identifying the specific terms, jargon and phrases commonly used, you can look to incorporate these into the rest of the keyword selection process.

You should also consider the buying journey of your target audience and how this could relate to their search intent. People looking to purchase a new family car will have completely different needs and search behaviours to people looking to find and book a local Chinese restaurant.

How Do I Get A Better Understanding of My Business & Target Audience?

Here are some steps to help you gain better insights:

  1. Define Your Business Goals: Begin by clarifying your business objectives and goals. Identify what you want to achieve through your website and online presence. This could include increasing sales, generating leads, enhancing brand visibility, or establishing thought leadership. Aligning your SEO efforts with your business goals is crucial for success.
  2. Conduct Market Research: Dive deep into market research to gain a comprehensive understanding of your industry, competitors, and target audience. Identify industry trends, customer preferences, and emerging opportunities. Analyse your competitors’ strategies to learn from their successes and shortcomings. This research will provide valuable insights into your business landscape.
  3. Develop Buyer Personas: Create detailed buyer personas that represent your ideal customers. These personas are fictional representations of your target audience, incorporating demographic information, interests, behaviours, pain points, and motivations. Use surveys, interviews, and customer data to gather relevant information and refine your personas. Understanding your audience’s needs and preferences will help you tailor your SEO efforts accordingly, and also bolster your other marketing efforts. Cintell report that 70% of businesses that exceed lead generation goals utilise buyer personas!
  4. Analyse Website Analytics: Utilise web analytics tools like Google Analytics to gather data about your website’s performance. Analyse metrics such as traffic sources, user behaviour, conversion rates, and engagement patterns. This data will provide valuable insights into your current audience, popular content, and areas for improvement. It will help you make data-driven decisions to enhance your website’s SEO performance.
  5. Leverage Keyword Research: Conduct thorough keyword research to identify the search terms and phrases that your target audience is using (more on this later!)
  6. Engage with Your Audience: Actively engage with your audience through social media, forums, comment sections, or surveys. Encourage feedback, listen to their concerns, and respond to their inquiries. This direct interaction will provide valuable insights into their preferences, pain points, and interests. Use this information to fine-tune your SEO strategy and create content that resonates with your audience.

By consistently researching and understanding your business and target audience, you can develop SEO strategies that align with their needs, effectively reach them, and drive meaningful results for your business.

So, please don’t skip this step – it can be tempting to feel, as a small business owner, that you are already well aware of all these elements. Whilst that may be true, thinking about your business and audience through the lens of SEO is a different thing altogether, and really sets the foundation for a successful keyword strategy!

An image of two people discussing a research document whilst making annotations to it

2 – Brainstorm Seed Keywords

What Are Seed Keywords In SEO?

Seed keywords, also known as primary keywords or core keywords, are the initial set of general, broad terms that represent the main topics or themes related to your business, products, or services.

What Do Seed Keywords Do?

These keywords serve as a starting point for keyword research and are used to generate a broader list of more specific and targeted keywords.

Seed keywords capture the overall essence of your business. They are the foundational terms that should encapsulate the primary concepts, products, or services offered.

For example, if you owned a bakery, bad seed keywords could be “bakery”, “bread” or “baking”, whilst good seed keywords could be “freshly baked bread”, “gluten-free donuts” or “luxury wedding cakes”.

How Do I Come Up With Seed Keywords For SEO?

Remember, the goal at this stage is to generate a list of initial seed keywords that represent the main topics or themes of your business. Don’t worry about search volume or competition just yet. You can refine and expand your keyword list in later stages of the research process.

To quickly and easily determine your first seed keywords, follow these steps:

  1. Identify Your Business: Read through the notes you made following the previous section.
  2. List Relevant Topics: Brainstorm a list of broad topics that are relevant to your business. These should be general areas that your target audience is interested in or searches for online. For example, if you have an e-commerce website selling sports shoes, relevant topics could include “running shoes,” “athletic footwear,” “sports shoes,” and so on.
  3. Use Tools: Utilise keyword research tools such as Google Keyword Planner, Ubersuggest, or AnswerThePublic. Enter your relevant topics into these tools to generate a list of related keywords.
  4. Analyse Competitors: Research your competitors in your industry or niche. Visit their websites and look for common themes or topics and note down any relevant keywords that align with your business.
  5. Leverage Customer Insights: If you have existing customers or an audience, reach out to them to gain insights into the terms they use to search for products or services like yours. Conduct surveys, and interviews, or analyse customer feedback to gather keyword ideas that resonate with your target audience.
  6. Use Google Autocomplete: Start typing your relevant topics or industry keywords into Google’s search bar and observe the suggestions that appear. These suggestions are based on popular searches, providing valuable seed keywords that can be used as a starting point.
  7. Leverage Social Media and Forums: Explore social media platforms and online forums related to your industry. Look for discussions, hashtags, or groups where people discuss topics related to your business. Pay attention to the language they use and note down any relevant keywords or phrases. Sites like Reddit can be an absolute goldmine!

A photograph showing a notebook and laptop during the seed keyword research process

3 – Expand your List of Keywords

Now we’ve got seed keywords in place, it’s time to expand upon them – they’re only seeds after all!

Luckily, there are plenty of tools out there to help with this process. We’ll break down three of the most popular tools – Google Keyword Planner, SEMrush’s Keyword Magic Tool, and Moz’s Keyword Explorer below.

Remember, keyword research tools provide valuable data and suggestions, but it’s essential to analyse and interpret the results in the context of your specific business and target audience. Here’s how to get started on each of these platforms – we’ll dive into more detail on the data you should focus on in the following sections.

A screenshot showing Google's Keyword Planner in use

How To Use Google Keyword Planner

  • Sign in to Google Ads and access the Keyword Planner tool.
  • Choose the “Discover new keywords” option.
  • Enter your seed keywords or related terms in the search bar.
  • Explore the generated list of keyword ideas along with their search volume, competition, and other metrics.
  • Identify relevant keywords with sufficient search volume and add them to your list.
  • For more help, head here.

A screenshot showing SEMRush Keyword Magic Tool

How To Use SEMrush’s Keyword Magic Tool

  • Sign in to your SEMrush account.
  • Go to the “Keyword Magic Tool” or similar keyword research tool.
  • Enter your seed keywords in the search box.
  • Explore the list of keyword suggestions along with metrics like search volume, keyword difficulty, CPC (Cost Per Click), and more.
  • Filter the results based on relevance, search volume, or other criteria.
  • Identify suitable keywords and add them to your list.
  • For more help, head here.

A screenshot showing Moz's Keyword Explorer

How to Use Moz’s Keyword Explorer

  • Access the Moz Keyword Explorer tool.
  • Enter your seed keywords or topics in the search bar.
  • Review the generated keyword suggestions with important metrics such as search volume, difficulty, organic CTR (Click-Through Rate), and more.
  • Analyze the keyword rankings, related questions, and SERP (Search Engine Results Page) analysis provided by the tool.
  • Select keywords that are relevant and aligned with your goals, and add them to your list.
  • For more help, head here.

A photograph of an iPhone showing a google search bar

4 – Analyse Search Intent For SEO

What Is Search Intent And Why Is It So Important?

Search intent refers to the underlying motivation or purpose behind a user’s search query. It is crucial to decipher what users are truly looking for when they enter specific keywords into search engines.

Remember, Google’s primary focus is satisfying the search intent of its users!

Search intent can be broadly categorised into four main types:

  1. Informational Intent: Users with informational intent are seeking knowledge or answers to their questions. They want to learn about a particular topic, find definitions, or understand how something works. For example, someone searching for “how to tie a tie” is looking for step-by-step instructions or a video tutorial. Around 14% of Google’s total search volume is composed of questions!
  2. Navigational Intent: Navigational intent occurs when users are searching for a specific website or online destination. They have a clear idea of the website they want to visit but may not remember the exact URL. For instance, a search for “Facebook login” indicates a user’s intent to access the Facebook website.
  3. Transactional Intent: Transactional intent reflects users’ desire to perform an action, such as making a purchase, subscribing to a service, or downloading a file. They are ready to engage in a transaction and often include keywords like “buy,” “discount,” or “best price.” For example, a search for “buy iPhone X online” suggests a user’s intent to purchase that specific product.
  4. Commercial Investigation Intent: Users with commercial investigation intent are in the research phase and evaluating different products or services. They might compare features, and prices, or read reviews before making a decision. Queries like “best DSLR cameras under £1000” indicate this intent, as the user wants to explore options before making a purchase.

Why Does Search Intent Matter For Increasing Traffic & Rankings?

Analysing the search intent of keywords allows you to create content that aligns with what your audience is searching for, leading to higher relevance, engagement and user satisfaction (that’s good news for your rankings, too!)

By understanding search intent, you can address users’ specific needs, whether they’re looking for information, solutions, products, or services. It’s so important, there’s even a whole section dedicated to it in Google’s ‘Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines.’

Understanding search intent allows SEO experts to optimise content, aligning it with the user’s intent and creating a better user experience. By providing relevant and valuable content that fulfills the user’s intent, websites can increase their chances of ranking higher in search engine results and attracting targeted organic traffic.

A photograph of a woman using a laptop in front of a blurred out computer screen

How Can I Analyse Search Intent?

To analyse the search intent of keywords, you can follow these steps:

  1. Examine search results: Look at the existing top-ranking pages for your target keyword and observe the type of content they provide. Are they blog posts, product pages, guides, or videos? This can give you insights into the intent behind the keyword.
  2. Review the content format: Analyse the format and structure of the top-ranking content. For example, if most results are in the form of step-by-step guides, it suggests users are seeking instructional or how-to information.
  3. Read the search snippets: Pay attention to the search engine result page (SERP) snippets for your target keyword. These brief descriptions often provide clues about the search intent. Are they informational, transactional, or navigational in nature? Whilst around 20% of featured snippets are listed, there are other forms too, such as tables and videos.
  4. Understand user queries: Study the specific queries users enter when searching for your target keyword. Are they asking questions, looking for comparisons, or seeking specific products/services? This can indicate the underlying intent behind their search.
  5. Utilise keyword research tools: Keyword research tools like Google Keyword Planner, SEMrush, or Moz’s Keyword Explorer can help you identify patterns and understand the typical intent associated with specific keywords. For example, SEMrush’s Keyword Magic Tool has a dedicated column for showing the intent of the keyword.
  6. Use tools like Answer the Public or AlsoAsked to uncover the common questions, concerns, and search queries related to your target keywords. These tools provide insights into the various user intents (e.g., informational, transactional, navigational) behind specific keywords. Aligning your content with user intent enhances keyword relevance and improves the overall user experience.
  7. Analyse historical data: If you have access to website analytics or search query data from your website, examine the historical performance of keywords and the behaviour of users who arrived through those keywords. This data can offer insights into the intent of users who interacted with your content.

By combining these approaches, you can gain a better understanding of the search intent behind keywords. This analysis helps you create content that fulfils users’ needs and matches their expectations, resulting in higher engagement, improved rankings, and increased conversions.

A photograph of a man working on a laptop surrounded by paperwork as he analyses search intent of keywords

5 – Prioritise Relevance and Search Volume

What is Keyword Relevance in SEO?

In the realm of SEO, relevance refers to how closely a keyword aligns with the content and purpose of a webpage.

It is essential to choose keywords that are highly relevant to the topic or theme of the page you want to optimise, and by incorporating relevant keywords naturally into your content, meta tags, headings, and other elements, you can signal to search engines that your page is valuable and pertinent to users’ search intents.

Relevance plays a crucial role in determining your rankings on search engine results pages (SERPs) and attracting targeted organic traffic to your website. Remember, search engines are obsessed with relevance, and they want their top results to be the most directly useful and relevant to the searcher – that’s why the top three Google results get 54.4% of all clicks!

What is Search Volume?

Search volume refers to the average number of times a particular keyword is searched for within a given timeframe, often measured monthly. It indicates the popularity or demand for a specific keyword or search term.

Search volume data provides insights into how many people are actively searching for a particular keyword, allowing SEO experts to gauge its potential traffic-driving capability. Keywords with higher search volumes generally have more competition, making it challenging to rank for them.

On the other hand, keywords with lower search volumes may have less competition but may also attract fewer visitors.

Keyword research tools, such as Google Keyword Planner, can help you explore search volume data for different keywords and make informed decisions when optimising your website.

However, take these figures with a pinch of salt – Google Keyword Planner overestimates search volume 54% of the time, and you’ll often find different tools giving you different results. No tool will ever be 100% accurate, as these are estimations!

Key things to remember when assessing search volume are:

  • Not all searches result in clicks (in fact, up to 2/3rds of Google Searches don’t!)
  • Higher search volume does not mean more traffic
  • Search volume results are based on annual averages and as such can’t be relied on too heavily for seasonal queries or rapid trends.

How Do These Factors Help My Keyword Selection?

Balancing search volume with relevance is crucial to find the sweet spot where you can target keywords that have a decent search volume and align well with your content.

Ideally, you want to balance the two factors. Look for keywords that are highly relevant to your content and align with your target audience’s intent.

At the same time, consider keywords with a reasonable search volume that indicate a decent demand for those terms. This balance will allow you to attract relevant traffic while maximising your potential visibility, capturing different segments of your target audience.

A screenshot showing the homepage of Google Trends

So, How Do I Find Out Relevance And Search Volume For SEO Keywords?

Thankfully, there are plenty of tools out there in the ether that can help us with determining each of these factors…

  1. Keyword Research Tools: Keyword research tools like Google Keyword Planner, SEMrush, or Moz Keyword Explorer are valuable resources to determine search volume and keyword relevance. These tools provide data on search volume, related keywords, and competition levels.
    • Search Volume: Enter your target keywords into the keyword research tool to retrieve search volume data. It will give you an estimate of how often those keywords are searched for within a specific timeframe, often monthly. Focus on keywords with a decent search volume to ensure they have enough potential to drive traffic.
    • Related Keywords: These tools also suggest related keywords that are semantically connected to your target keyword. Exploring related keywords can help you uncover additional keyword opportunities that may have significant search volume and relevance.
  2. Google Trends: Google Trends is a powerful tool that provides insights into the popularity and seasonality of keywords over time. It allows you to compare search volumes and interest trends for different keywords or topics. By analysing these trends, you can identify seasonal fluctuations, emerging topics, or declining interests related to your target keywords.
  3. SERP Analysis: Analysing the search engine results pages (SERPs) for your target keywords can provide valuable insights into keyword relevance. Examine the top-ranking pages and assess how well they align with the search intent behind the keyword. Look for similarities in content topics, formats, and types of websites that appear. This analysis will help you understand the relevance of your chosen keywords and guide your content creation and optimization efforts.

By leveraging these tools effectively, you can gather meaningful data on search volume, competition, and keyword relevance. This information will guide your keyword selection and optimisation strategies, enabling you to target keywords that have sufficient search volume, relevance to your business, and the potential to drive organic traffic to your website.

A photograph of a winner's podium in an athletics stadium

6 – Evaluate The Competition

What is Keyword Competition?

Keyword competition refers to the level of difficulty or challenge associated with ranking for a specific keyword in search engine results pages (SERPs). It assesses the strength and authority of competing websites targeting the same keyword and indicates the effort required to achieve a higher ranking.

Why Does Keyword Competition Matter?

Here is why it’s crucial to assess the competition level of keywords:

1 – Ranking Potential

Assessing keyword competitiveness helps you gauge your chances of ranking well in search engine results pages (SERPs).

Highly competitive keywords are often targeted by established websites with strong authority and extensive resources. Trying to rank for such competitive keywords as a new or smaller website can be challenging and time-consuming. By evaluating competitiveness, you can identify keywords that have a better ranking potential and are more realistic to target. 

2 – Resource Allocation

Keyword competitiveness analysis allows you to allocate your resources effectively, as creating content and optimising your website for keywords that are excessively competitive might require significant time, effort, and resources.

By identifying moderately competitive or long-tail keywords, you can optimise your website for terms that have a reasonable chance of ranking well while utilising your resources more efficiently. 

3 – Targeted Traffic

Assessing competition helps you focus on keywords that attract targeted traffic to your website. Highly competitive keywords may generate significant search volume, but they may also bring in a broader range of users who may not be specifically interested in your offerings.

By targeting less competitive keywords that are more relevant to your niche, you can attract visitors who are more likely to convert into customers or engage with your content. 

4 – Niche Opportunities

Analysing competition presents an opportunity to identify underserved niches or gaps in the market. By finding keywords with lower competition but still possessing decent search volume and relevance, you can capitalise on these opportunities and establish your authority within a specific niche.

This strategy allows you to build a dedicated audience and stand out from the competition.

A screenshot showing SpyFu Software

How Do I Determine The Competitiveness of a Keyword?

Determining the competitiveness of a keyword involves evaluating various factors to assess the level of competition for that particular keyword. While it can be challenging to get an exact measure of keyword competitiveness, here are some effective methods to help you determine it:

  1. Analyse the SERP: Start by conducting a manual search of the keyword on search engines like Google. Examine the search engine results page (SERP) to understand the type of content that ranks for the keyword. Look for high-ranking authority websites, industry-leading publications, and established competitors. If the top results are dominated by well-known and authoritative sites, it suggests higher competition for that keyword.
  2. Competition Analysis Tools: Leverage SEO tools and software that provide competition analysis metrics. Tools like SEMrush, Moz, Ahrefs, or SpyFu offer keyword difficulty or competition scores that indicate the level of competition for a specific keyword. These scores are based on factors such as the authority of competing domains, backlink profiles, and other SEO metrics. Higher difficulty scores imply more competitive keywords.
  3. Backlink Analysis: Backlinks are an essential aspect of SEO and can give insights into keyword competitiveness. Analyse the backlink profiles of top-ranking pages for the keyword you’re assessing. If they have a substantial number of high-quality backlinks from authoritative websites, it indicates a higher level of competition. Backlink analysis tools like Ahrefs or Majestic can assist in evaluating the strength and quantity of backlinks for specific pages.
  4. Content Quality and Relevance: Evaluate the quality and relevance of content that ranks highly for the keyword. If the top-ranking pages have comprehensive, well-optimised, and authoritative content, it signifies a higher level of competition. Assessing the quality and relevance of competing content can give you an idea of the effort required to compete in the SERPs.
  5. Social Media and Engagement: Consider the social media presence and engagement of competing websites for the keyword. Look for their social media following, and the number of shares, comments, and engagement on their content. Higher engagement levels often indicate a competitive environment where established brands or popular websites dominate the keyword.
  6. Your Website’s Authority: Evaluate the authority and strength of your own website. If you have a new or low-authority website, it may be challenging to compete for highly competitive keywords. Consider targeting less competitive or long-tail keywords that align with your content and have a better chance of ranking higher with your website’s current authority.

Remember, keyword competitiveness is not the sole determining factor. It should be considered alongside relevance, search volume, and your overall marketing goals. By striking a balance between competitive and less competitive keywords, you can optimise your website for improved rankings, and targeted traffic, and ultimately, drive the desired results for your business.

A graphic explaining how conversion rates improve as keywords get more specific

Graphic Credit – BackLinko

7 – Don’t Forget Long-Tail Keywords

What Makes Long-Tail Keywords So Important?

Strangely, long-tail keywords are often overlooked by marketers. Let’s look at why:

Firstly, many marketers and businesses tend to focus on broad, high-volume keywords because they believe that attracting a larger audience will lead to better results. However, this approach often leads to fierce competition and lower conversion rates.

There is also a misconception that long-tail keywords have low search volume and are not worth the effort. While it’s true that each long-tail keyword may have a lower individual search volume than a shorter counterpart, collectively they can make up a significant portion of organic search traffic. In fact, in a study conducted by BackLinko, 91.8% of all search queries are long-tail driven!

Moreover, long-tail keywords often have higher intent and are more likely to lead to conversions due to their specific nature.

Yes, long-tail keyword research requires more effort and time compared to targeting broad keywords and involves understanding your target audience deeply, analysing search trends, and leveraging keyword research tools effectively.

This level of dedication and investment can discourage some marketers from pursuing long-tail keywords. Unfortunately, when it comes to SEO, laziness just isn’t an option!

Overlooking long-tail keywords means missing out on valuable opportunities to attract highly targeted and qualified traffic.

Why Are Long-Tail Keywords Valuable?

ThinkWithGoogle has stated that “The long tail could provide an untapped opportunity to connect with potential customers. Invest in these areas and see volumes grow.” That’s a pretty clear indication of how Google see long-tail keywords, but why do they think they’re so powerful?

Long-tail keywords can be incredibly valuable for several reasons:

  1. Specificity: Long-tail keywords are more specific and detailed phrases that typically consist of three or more words. They provide a clearer indication of the searcher’s intent compared to broad keywords. By targeting long-tail keywords, you can better understand and meet the specific needs and preferences of your audience. This specificity leads to higher relevance, better user experience, and improved conversion rates.
  2. Lower Competition: Long-tail keywords generally have lower search volume and lower competition compared to broad keywords. This means that fewer websites or businesses are targeting these specific phrases, making it easier for your content to rank higher in search engine results. With less competition, you have a better chance of attracting organic traffic and reaching your target audience.
  3. Higher Conversion Potential: Long-tail keywords often reflect a higher level of purchase intent or specific user needs, with some studies showing up to 2.5X better performance than broad keywords. When users search with long-tail keywords, they are usually closer to the end of the sales funnel and more likely to convert. By optimising your content for these long-tail keywords, you can attract highly targeted traffic that is more likely to engage, convert, or make a purchase.
  4. Enhanced User Experience: When you align your content with long-tail keywords, you can provide users with more relevant and specific information. This improves the overall user experience, as visitors can find exactly what they’re looking for without having to sift through irrelevant or generic content. A positive user experience leads to increased engagement, longer time spent on your site, and higher chances of conversions or repeat visits.
  5. Voice Search and Natural Language Queries: With the rise of voice search and virtual assistants, people tend to use more conversational and longer search queries. Long-tail keywords often mirror these natural language patterns. By optimising your content for long-tail keywords, you can tap into the growing voice search trend and capture the attention of users who are asking questions or using voice commands to find information.
  6. Niche Targeting: Long-tail keywords allow you to target specific niches within your industry. By focusing on niche or highly specific long-tail keywords, you can reach a more targeted and relevant audience. This helps you establish authority and expertise within your niche, leading to higher engagement, increased brand loyalty, and a better chance of attracting quality leads or customers.

A screenshot of a Google Search showing long tailed keywords appearing in suggestions

How To Find The Best Long-Tail Keywords For SEO In 2023

It can feel overwhelming to try and whittle a seemingly infinite list of keywords into something useful to you and your business. Luckily, we’ve got you covered!

Here’s a step-by-step guide to finding long-tailed keywords for your research…

  1. Expand with Specific Keywords: Revisit your Seed Keywords and think of specific keywords or phrases that are related to them. These can be variations, specific features, or modifiers that add more context. For example, using the “workout clothing” topic, specific keywords could be “moisture-wicking workout shirts,” “compression leggings for running,” or “breathable sports bras.”
  2. Leverage Keyword Research Tools: Utilise keyword research tools to expand your list of long-tail keywords. Enter your broad topics and specific keywords into these tools to generate a broader list of long-tail keyword ideas.
  3. Analyse Competitor Keywords: Study your competitors’ websites and identify the long-tail keywords they are targeting. Look for keywords in their page titles, headings, and meta descriptions. This can provide you with additional ideas for long-tail keywords that are relevant to your industry and aligned with your competitors’ successful strategies.
  4. Utilise Search Suggestions: Take advantage of Google’s search suggestions and related searches. Start typing your broad topics or specific keywords into Google’s search bar and observe the suggested search queries that appear. These suggestions are based on popular searches and can help you discover long-tail keyword variations that people are actively using.
  5. Refine Your List: After you’ve compiled your initial list, evaluate the search volume, competition, and potential value of each long-tail keyword. Look for keywords with a decent search volume and relatively low competition.

Select a combination of long-tail keywords that strike a balance between relevance, search volume, and competition. Incorporate these keywords strategically into your website’s content, including page titles, headings, meta tags, and within the body of your pages. Ensure the usage feels natural and enhances the overall user experience.

Remember to blend both types of keywords to create a comprehensive content strategy. Use short-tail keywords for broader topics and to capture a wider audience, while incorporating long-tail keywords within the content to address specific queries and provide valuable information. This combination allows you to cover a range of user intents and cater to different stages of the buyer’s journey.

A photograph of a red warning sign which says

8 – Avoid Keyword Stuffing

What Is Keyword Stuffing In SEO?

Keyword stuffing refers to the practice of excessively and unnaturally repeating keywords or key phrases within a webpage’s content, meta tags, or other elements, with the intention of manipulating search engine rankings. The idea behind keyword stuffing is to make search engines believe that the webpage is highly relevant for those specific keywords and thus improve its visibility in search results.

In the early days of search engines, keyword stuffing was a common technique used by website owners to gain an advantage in search rankings. However, search engines have significantly evolved over time.

Search engines now employ complex algorithms that analyse numerous factors to determine the relevancy and quality of a webpage. These algorithms can easily detect keyword stuffing and identify it as an attempt to manipulate rankings rather than provide valuable information to users.

As a result, keyword stuffing is now considered a “black hat SEO technique”, and studies have shown Google responds best to a keyword density of around 0.5-0.7% (1 keyword every 200 or so words)

Why Shouldn’t I Use Keyword Stuffing To Improve SEO Results?

Keyword stuffing carries several risks and drawbacks that can negatively impact your website’s search engine rankings and user experience. Here are the key risks associated with keyword stuffing:

  1. Search engine penalties: Search engines, such as Google, actively discourage keyword stuffing and penalise websites that engage in this practice. It is a confirmed “negative ranking factor”. Penalties can range from lower rankings to complete removal from search results, severely impacting your website’s visibility and organic traffic.
  2. Poor user experience: Keyword stuffing often leads to unnatural, unreadable, and spammy content. When users encounter content that is stuffed with keywords, it diminishes their experience and may lead to frustration, increased bounce rates, and decreased engagement. This can result in a negative perception of your website and diminished credibility.
  3. Reduced relevance and quality: Keyword stuffing sacrifices the quality and relevance of your content. When your focus is solely on repeating keywords, it can detract from providing valuable and informative content to your audience. As a result, users may not find your content helpful, which can negatively affect your website’s reputation and authority.
  4. Decreased click-through rates: Keyword stuffing often leads to unappealing meta titles and descriptions, as well as unnatural content headlines. When users come across search results that look spammy or do not appear to address their search intent, they are less likely to click through to your website. This can result in lower click-through rates and missed opportunities to attract visitors.
  5. Competitive disadvantage: In today’s SEO landscape, where quality content and user experience are prioritised, keyword stuffing puts you at a disadvantage against competitors who focus on producing valuable content. Websites that adhere to modern SEO best practices will have an edge in search rankings and attract more organic traffic.

To achieve sustainable SEO success, it’s important to avoid keyword stuffing and instead focus on creating high-quality, user-oriented content that incorporates relevant keywords naturally and provides genuine value to your audience!

9 – Monitor and Refine

The “monitor and adapt” stage of keyword research is where the real work starts! This allows you to continuously evaluate and refine your keyword strategy based on real-time data and evolving trends.

Why Should I Monitor and Adapt my Keywords?

Continuous improvement and monitoring is at the heart of a successful SEO campaign – here are 5 reasons to take this stage seriously:

  1. Tracking performance: By monitoring the performance of your chosen keywords, you can assess their effectiveness in driving traffic, conversions, and overall website success. This involves analysing metrics such as search volume, click-through rates, conversion rates, and bounce rates associated with specific keywords. Monitoring keyword performance helps you identify which keywords are generating positive results and which ones may need adjustment.
  2. Staying updated with market shifts: Markets, industries, and consumer behaviour evolve over time. New trends, technologies, or changes in user preferences can impact the popularity and relevance of certain keywords. By monitoring and adapting your keyword strategy, you can stay up-to-date with these shifts and ensure that your website remains aligned with the current market landscape.
  3. Responding to competition: Your competitors may also be actively optimising their keyword strategies. By monitoring their keyword usage and performance, you can identify new opportunities, uncover competitive advantages, and adjust your approach accordingly. This allows you to stay ahead or keep pace with competitors and maintain or improve your search rankings.
  4. Identifying emerging keywords: Keyword research is an ongoing process that involves discovering new keywords and identifying emerging search trends. By monitoring search queries, user behaviour, and industry developments, you can uncover emerging keywords that present opportunities for targeting a niche or expanding your reach. Adapting your keyword strategy to incorporate these emerging keywords can give you a competitive edge and attract new audiences.
  5. Refining and optimising your content: Through monitoring and adaptation, you can gather valuable insights about your audience’s search intent and preferences. This information enables you to refine your content to better align with user expectations and improve its relevance. By incorporating new keywords or adjusting existing ones, you can optimize your content for improved search visibility, engagement, and conversions.

Without processes in place to continually evolve your SEO efforts, you risk letting otherwise great content become outdated and lessen the impact and performance of your SEO campaign.

So, How Do I Monitor And Refine My Keywords For The Best Performance?

The monitoring and continuous improvement stage is often overwhelming to business owners who don’t know where to start, or how much time/energy they should invest here.

Luckily, like most SEO related tasks, there are some fantastic tools out there to help you do this in an efficient manner!

Here’s some key insight on how you can get started…

1 – Monitor Keyword Performance

Once you have implemented your target keywords on your website, it’s important to monitor their performance using website analytics tools like Google Analytics. Keep an eye on key metrics such as organic search traffic, click-through rates, conversion rates, and bounce rates associated with specific keywords. This data will provide insights into how well your keywords are driving traffic and engagement on your website.

Pay attention to any significant changes or trends in keyword performance. Identify keywords that are performing exceptionally well and driving positive results, as well as keywords that may not be delivering the desired outcomes. This information will help you make informed decisions about your keyword strategy.

2 – Adapt & Refine

Based on the insights gathered from monitoring keyword performance, it’s time to adapt and refine your keyword strategy. Here are a few actions you can take:

  • Adjust keyword targeting: If certain keywords are consistently underperforming or not generating the desired results, consider refining your keyword targeting. Look for alternative keywords that better align with user intent or have higher potential for driving relevant traffic.
  • Optimise existing content: Analyse the performance of individual pages or articles targeting specific keywords. If a page is not ranking well or receiving much traffic, consider optimising its content by improving keyword usage, enhancing the page’s relevance, and ensuring it provides valuable information to users.
  • Create new content: Identify gaps in your existing content where relevant keywords are not adequately addressed. Develop new content pieces or articles that specifically target these keywords. This will help expand your website’s visibility and capture additional organic traffic.
  • Identify emerging keywords: Stay updated with industry trends, changes in user behaviour, and emerging search queries. Use keyword research tools to identify new keywords or topics that are gaining popularity. By incorporating these emerging keywords into your strategy, you can tap into evolving search trends and attract new audiences.

3 – Repeat the Process

Monitoring and refining keywords should be an ongoing and iterative process. Keyword performance and search trends can change over time, so it’s essential to regularly revisit your keyword strategy. Continuously monitor keyword performance, track changes in user behaviour, and adapt your strategy accordingly.

The frequency of monitoring and refining your keywords can vary depending on factors such as the size of your website, the competitiveness of your industry, and the resources available to you. While there is no strict rule, here are some guidelines to consider:

  1. Initial monitoring: When you first implement your target keywords and optimise your website, it’s a good practice to closely monitor their performance in the early stages. This initial monitoring period can range from a few weeks to a couple of months, allowing you to gather sufficient data to evaluate keyword performance.
  2. Ongoing monitoring: Once you have established a baseline understanding of how your keywords are performing, you can shift to a regular monitoring schedule. This can range from monthly to quarterly check-ins to assess keyword performance and identify any significant changes or trends.
  3. Industry and market shifts: Keep an eye on your industry and market trends. If there are rapid shifts, emerging topics, or changes in user behaviour, it may be necessary to increase the frequency of your keyword monitoring. This will help you stay responsive to the evolving landscape and capture new opportunities.
  4. Seasonal or campaign-specific monitoring: If you run seasonal campaigns or have specific marketing initiatives, it’s advisable to monitor and refine your keywords more frequently during those periods. This allows you to optimise your keyword strategy to align with campaign goals and capitalise on seasonal trends.

Remember that keyword monitoring and refinement are ongoing tasks. While there is no fixed interval that suits every situation, aim to strike a balance between frequent enough monitoring to capture changes and infrequent enough monitoring to allow sufficient time for meaningful data collection.

Ultimately, it’s important to find a monitoring frequency that aligns with your resources and the dynamics of your industry.

A photograph of five people around a desk using laptops and discussing work

10 – Know There’s SEO Support Out There

The world of SEO can seem incredible over-facing to those without much experience in the field. Through our work, we’ve met a wide variety of small business owners and discovered that there are some common pain-points often shared between them all…

Challenges Small Business Owners Face with SEO

  1. Complexity and technical nature: SEO involves a wide range of technical aspects, including website optimization, keyword research, content creation, link building, and performance monitoring. For small business owners who are not familiar with these intricacies, the technical nature of SEO can be overwhelming and challenging to navigate.
  2. Constant changes and updates: SEO is a dynamic field that continuously evolves. Search engine algorithms, ranking factors, and best practices are constantly changing. Keeping up with these updates and staying current with the latest trends can be time-consuming and overwhelming for small business owners who already have numerous responsibilities to handle.
  3. Lack of knowledge and expertise: SEO requires a solid understanding of search engine optimization principles, keyword targeting, content optimization, and other strategies. Small business owners may lack the necessary knowledge and expertise to effectively implement SEO techniques. Without proper guidance, they may feel overwhelmed by the learning curve and unsure about the best practices to follow.
  4. Time constraints: Small business owners often have limited time available to dedicate to SEO. Running a business involves managing various tasks, including operations, customer service, financial management, and marketing. Allocating time for learning and implementing SEO strategies may not be feasible, leaving them feeling overwhelmed and unsure about where to start.
  5. Competitive landscape: Many industries have fierce competition, and ranking well in search results can be challenging. Small business owners may feel overwhelmed by the competitive landscape, especially if they lack the resources and expertise to effectively compete with established players or larger companies.
  6. Ever-increasing online presence demands: In today’s digital age, having a strong online presence is crucial for small businesses. However, the demands of managing a website, social media accounts, online reviews, and other digital marketing efforts can be overwhelming. SEO is just one aspect of this broader online presence, adding to the overall complexity and overwhelm.

Given these challenges, small business owners may find it overwhelming to tackle SEO on their own. Engaging an SEO professional or agency can alleviate the burden, provide guidance, and help small business owners navigate the complexities of SEO, allowing them to focus on their core business operations.

How Can Hiring an SEO Partner Help Me?

Hiring an SEO partner, whether it’s a freelancer or agency, can provide you with time-saving and cost-efficient benefits. Here’s a closer look at those advantages:

  1. Time-saving: SEO requires consistent effort and ongoing optimization. By hiring an SEO partner, small business owners can delegate the time-consuming tasks of keyword research, content creation, technical optimisations, and performance monitoring. This allows them to focus on running their business and attending to other important responsibilities, while the SEO partner handles the intricacies of optimising the website for search engines.
  2. Expertise and efficiency: SEO partners bring expertise and specialised knowledge to the table. They understand the complexities of search engine algorithms, best practices, and the ever-evolving SEO landscape. With their experience, they can efficiently implement strategies that yield results, saving time that would otherwise be spent on trial-and-error or learning SEO from scratch.
  3. Cost efficiency: While hiring an SEO partner involves an investment, it can be a cost-effective approach in the long run. Building an in-house SEO team or dedicating internal resources to SEO can be more expensive, requiring hiring and training expenses, software costs, and ongoing management. In contrast, outsourcing SEO to a freelancer or agency provides access to a team of professionals at a fraction of the cost, without the overhead expenses associated with maintaining an internal team.
  4. Scalability and flexibility: Small businesses often have fluctuating needs based on seasonal demands or business growth. SEO freelancers and agencies offer flexibility, allowing small business owners to scale their SEO efforts up or down as needed. Whether it’s adjusting the level of service, increasing keyword targeting, or expanding the scope of SEO activities, an SEO partner can adapt to meet the evolving needs of the business.
  5. Access to tools and resources: SEO partners typically have access to a wide range of SEO tools and resources that can be costly for small businesses to invest in independently. These tools aid in keyword research, competitor analysis, website auditing, performance tracking, and more. By hiring an SEO partner, small business owners can leverage these tools without additional expenses.

By relying on the expertise and resources of an SEO partner, you can focus on your core operations while ensuring their online presence is effectively optimised for search engines.

So, How Do I Find An SEO Partner?

Finding a reputable SEO partner for a small business requires careful consideration and research. Here are some steps to help a small business owner in the process:

  1. Define your SEO goals: Before searching for an SEO partner, clearly identify your SEO goals and what you aim to achieve. Determine whether you need help with website optimization, content creation, link building, or a comprehensive SEO strategy. Having a clear understanding of your objectives will guide you in finding a suitable partner.
  2. Seek recommendations and referrals: Reach out to fellow small business owners, industry peers, or professionals in your network who have experience with SEO. Ask for recommendations and referrals to reputable SEO partners they have worked with. Hearing about their firsthand experiences can help you make more informed decisions.
  3. Research and evaluate potential partners: Conduct online research to find SEO freelancers or agencies that align with your business requirements. Visit their websites, review their portfolios, and assess their experience, expertise, and client testimonials. Look for partners who specialise in working with small businesses or have a proven track record in your industry.
  4. Request case studies and references: Request case studies or examples of their previous work to assess the quality of their SEO efforts and results. Additionally, ask for references or client testimonials to gain insights into their professionalism, communication, and ability to deliver on their promises.
  5. Schedule consultations: Narrow down your list of potential SEO partners and schedule consultations with them. During these consultations, discuss your business goals, challenges, and expectations. Pay attention to their communication style, responsiveness, and the strategies they propose. A reputable SEO partner will listen to your needs, provide customised solutions, and offer transparency in their approach.
  6. Consider the service offerings: Evaluate the expertise and services offered by each SEO partner. Consider factors such as keyword research, on-page and off-page optimization, content creation, technical SEO, and reporting. Choose a partner who can provide a comprehensive range of services aligned with your specific needs (some will be web designers and graphic designers too, giving you access to wider marketing services and support!)
  7. Discuss pricing and contracts: Understand the pricing structure and payment terms of potential SEO partners. Discuss whether they charge fixed fees, hourly rates, or operate on a retainer basis. Ensure that the costs fit within your budget and that the contract terms are fair and reasonable.
  8. Assess ongoing communication and reporting: Effective communication and regular reporting are crucial for a successful SEO partnership. Inquire about the frequency and format of progress reports, as well as the channels of communication they utilise. A reputable SEO partner will keep you informed, provide transparent reporting, and be accessible for any questions or concerns.
  9. Trust your instincts: Finally, trust your instincts and choose an SEO partner with whom you feel comfortable and confident. Building a strong working relationship is essential for long-term success.

By following these steps and conducting thorough research, you can find a reputable SEO partner who can help improve their online visibility, attract organic traffic, and achieve their SEO goals.

So, To Conclude…

We hope you can now find the world of keywords and keyword research a little clearer now! Successful keyword selection and research empowers you to understand your target audience, optimise your website content, and drive relevant organic traffic.

Taking the time to conduct thorough keyword research is essential for identifying valuable keywords that align with your business goals. This will form the bedrock of future SEO efforts and, if rushed, you risk wasting precious time and resources in the long-run.

If you think you’ll find the process daunting or time-consuming, and want to explore partnering with an experienced SEO agency can provide valuable expertise and support, we can help.

Our dedicated team is ready to help you develop and implement a comprehensive SEO strategy tailored bespoke to your business needs.

Get in touch with us today and let us help you grow.

A man on a laptop using Google Search

Exploring the Messy Middle

Pick up a business book or listen to a lecture on “the funnel” and you might walk away thinking that the buying journey follows a somewhat linear structure, moving nicely from one stage to the other in an orderly fashion.

Awareness -> Consideration -> Purchase.

It’s a nice, structured, and predictable sequence.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t really reflect how people navigate the digital world. 

Yes, people do move through phases, but the way in which they do so is becoming increasingly, well, messy. 

That’s why we’re talking about ‘The Messy Middle” – a great piece of research from Google that can help us further understand consumer behaviour.

In this blog post, we’ll break down what the messy middle is, how you can use elements of behavioural science to succeed in that space, and how we can help you do so.

What Is The Messy Middle?

In Google’s own words, the messy middle explores the “complex space between triggers and purchase, where customers are won and lost.”

Let’s break this down a little.

A graphic showing the relationship between the messy middle and google search interest

Graphic credit: Search Engine Journal

A trigger refers to the prompt that moves a consumer from a passive state to an active one. This usually takes the form of a problem that requires solving, and an online search (or many online searches) is used to investigate the most appropriate solutions.

Hopefully, this is where the consumer would gain awareness of your brand as you appear in their searches.

In the traditional concept of the funnel, the consumer would politely work their way through linear stages, starting with this initial awareness.

They would then move into consideration, where they weigh up a decision to purchase and familiarise themselves with your offering and brand to see if you could adequately resolve their problem.

Next, of course, is action – A.K.A. purchase.

However, research conducted when investigating the messy middle uncovered that users go into long and complex cycles of exploration and evaluation of the many options that could be considered potential problem solvers.

A woman purchasing with contactless card in a shop

These two mental modes comprise the messy middle: exploration mode is an “expansive activity” where consumers are looking for more options and more information, and evaluation mode is a “reductive activity” where the consumer drops options that are deemed unsuitable and narrow their choices down.

These two modes encompass any consumer action across a vast number of online modalities, such as search engines, social media platforms, review sites, brand websites, comparison sites, aggregators, and more.

This cycle of expansion and reduction is repeated over and over again as the consumer is influenced by different information until they eventually make, or choose not to make, a purchase decision.

Take a look at this graphic from Think With Google.  

A graphic depicting the messy middle

How Can Businesses Win In The Messy Middle?

Google conducted an experiment to prove that there are tools at your disposal to succeed in the messy middle.

The experiment monitored over 300,000 simulated purchase scenarios across a number of different sectors. 

Shoppers had to select their top two favourite brands from within a category. After this was done, a range of biases, which we’ll explore shortly, were applied to see if they could be encouraged to switch from one brand to the other.

They even included completely fictional brands to see if they could convince shoppers to switch to a brand they had zero exposure to.

Take a look at this graphic from Think With Google.

A graphic showing 6 biases that influence purchase decisions

For this experiment, Google used 6 biases that can influence the purchasing decision:

  1. Category Heuristics: These are digestible, short descriptions that list out key product/service information to simplify the purchase decision.
  2. Power of Now: Ensuring that delivery of product/service was as swift as possible, noting that the “longer you have to wait for a product, the weaker the proposition becomes.”
  3. Social Proof: Utilisation of online reviews and testimonials in strategically positioned locations.
  4. Scarcity Bias: Adding to the desirability of a product or service through indicators that communicate to the consumer that stock/availability is decreasing.
  5. Authority Bias: Utilising industry experts or trusted and authoritative sources to back a brand’s product or service offering.
  6. Power of Free: Offering some sort of complimentary gift with a purchase, even if the gift is not directly related to the purchase itself.

The results are quite dramatic…

The “least effective challenger” – a fictional cereal brand, managed to win over nearly 30% of shoppers from their already established favourite brand when it was boosted by some of the biases mentioned above, namely the inclusion of five-star reviews and an offer to receive 20% extra cereal for free with your order.

The most extreme result revealed a completely fictional car insurer won nearly 90% of consumers when it utilised all six cognitive biases!

Google also revealed some key insights into how brands of all shapes and sizes, from established giants to brand-new challengers, can optimise their presence in the messy middle.

A key point to remember is that, from the perspective of the consumer, the messy middle isn’t messy at all, it is just how they like to shop. 

You should not concern yourself with trying to artificially force consumers to exit the loop, but instead focus on providing the information needed for them to come to their decision.

Here are Google’s top tips for brands navigating the messy middle:

  1. Ensure brand presence so you are thought of and discoverable during the exploration phase.
  2. Utilise behavioural science principles, such as the 6 cognitive biases discussed above, to make your offering seem as attractive and compelling as possible during the evaluation stage.
  3. Ensure that the gap between trigger and purchase is as small as possible (make purchasing EASY) so that you minimise the chances your customer will be exposed to a competitor.
  4. Build teams that can work and communicate effectively across functions to ensure you do not fall into creating branding silos that leave gaps in the messy middle.

A photograph of an iPhone showing a google search bar

How Do I Implement These Tips?

Let’s dig a little deeper into some of these points and reveal how we can help you succeed in the messy middle…

Brand Presence

Ensuring your brand is present during the exploration phase is something we can help with. We can work with you to optimise your website for search engines, giving you the best chance of appearing for highly relevant search queries.

This means you are present when consumers are looking for solutions to their problems, and your website has a much greater chance of getting organic qualified traffic.

This could mean we optimise your existing website, design and develop a new one from scratch or work with you on your ongoing SEO content and maintenance needs to keep your site in tip-top shape.

We can also use our graphic design services to help create a consistent, impactful visual identity across your website, social media profiles, and digital presence.

Utilising Behavioural Science Principles

If you sell online, we can help you develop a fully optimised online shopping experience for your customers that take advantage of cognitive bias implementation.

We can introduce these elements sitewide, create conversion-optimised copy, and ensure that your product pages are giving you the best chance of winning on the battleground that is the messy middle.

Even if you do not sell online directly, we can help, as all of these principles still apply and can have a tremendous impact on your conversion rate.

That means more qualified leads for you to work with! 

In regards to online reviews and testimonials, we can help fully optimise your Google business profile and work with you to create strategies that encourage your clients/customers to positively review your business, as well as introduce design elements on-site to promote client testimonials and reviews.

A photograph of a woman using a laptop in front of a blurred out computer screen

Closing The Gap

We want to help make the buying experience as intuitive and easy as possible for your customers.

When designing a new site or optimising an existing one, we look to establish and promote UX design principles to ensure just that, as well as ensuring that your landing pages are optimised toward conversions.

We can work with you to remove any barriers to purchase or lead generation and use the experience and technical knowledge of our e-commerce team to ensure that site visitors are pushed toward conversion in a strategic and effective manner.

What Next?

If you’re interested in reading more about the messy middle, you can access the entire 100-page report here.

If you’re looking for further advice or you want to optimise your digital presence to boost your chances of success in the messy middle, get in touch with us today for an obligation-free chat.

Do Google Reviews Help SEO?

Your Google reviews create a strong foundation for the rest of your business’ Google profile to build upon and are a majorly contributing factor to your local SEO.

Whilst they’re important for most businesses, if you’re looking to sell to local customers then you simply can’t afford to ignore them. 

Customers rely on online reviews to determine how reputable/trustworthy your business really is. A whopping 81% of consumers use reviews to evaluate local businesses, and 93% of consumers agree that reviews impact their buying decisions.

But, it’s not just customers who like the look of reviews. Search engines care too, which is what we’re going to explore in this blog post.

What Are Google Reviews?

Pretend you’re interested in getting a new website.

Whilst talking to a friend of yours, you happen to mention your interest, and during the following discussion, it turns out that your friend has just had a website created with Company X.

They tell you that their experience with Company X was nothing short of spectacular and that they’d recommend them wholeheartedly.

The chances are, you’ll probably get in touch with that company – such is the power of word-of-mouth marketing. 

Nearly 70% of marketers agree that word-of-mouth is the most effective form of marketing, and that’s where Google Reviews come into play.

Obviously, word-of-mouth is at its most powerful when coming from a close family member or friend, but that doesn’t mean the opinions of strangers aren’t taken seriously. 

90% of people are much more likely to trust a brand that is recommended, even if that recommendation comes from strangers. 

You can think of Google reviews as digital word-of-mouth marketing. Google knows that a business with a good quantity of good quality reviews is more likely to meet your needs than one without…

How Do Google Reviews Impact SEO?

Google reviews matter when it comes to local search terms. 

Local search terms are searches that aim to discover something, or someone, within a constrained geographic area – a common example would be searching for restaurants or cafes near to you.

When such a search is conducted, Google determines the rank of the sites it chooses to display based on a few key factors:

  1. Relevance
  2. Distance
  3. Prominence

The combination of these factors helps determine the best matches for the search at hand, and has been written about and confirmed by Google themselves.

So, let’s break each of these points down:


This refers to how well your listing matches the exact search query; you can help your business seem more relevant by optimising your business profile to give more information for Google to work with.


This doesn’t require too much explanation… Google uses the location information (either a specified location within the search, such as “Restaurants near Abbeydale Road Sheffield” or the location of the search user themselves) to ensure results are local to them.


This is where your Google reviews come into the picture. 

Google works out prominence based on information and data drawn from across the web – taking into account backlinks and mentions in blogs/press/articles, as well as online directories. 

Google also takes into account…Google reviews!

How many reviews you have, and the quality of these reviews, factors into this local search ranking and can help boost you in local results/map packs on Google.

More reviews and greater quality ratings will lead to improved performance, but only if other holistic SEO practices are followed. 

Be warned – having great reviews doesn’t mean you can get away with poor SEO and avoiding best UX/SEO practices on your website…

How Much Do Reviews Influence SEO?

A 2017 study conducted by SEO industry experts Moz revealed that reviews were the 5th most significant factor determining your search rankings!

A man on a laptop using Google Search

The importance of reviews is also trending upwards in a serious way – the significance of Google reviews on search engine performance has increased by 20% or more year-on-year since Moz’s study was released, with over 80% of consumers using them to evaluate local businesses.

To see this in action, SterlingSky recently conducted a test to determine how much reviews can boost rankings. 

They used a client’s listing that had very few reviews and tracked performance as they encouraged clients to leave reviews.

The results speak for themselves.

A screenshot showing the results of an experiment that proved the effectiveness of Google Reviews

Interestingly enough, these results also highlight that although there was a great impact going from 3-16 reviews, the percentage ranking increase was not replicated at all when the listing jumped from 16-31.

This shows that there are significant diminishing returns above a baseline level of reviews gained.

What Sort Of Reviews Help Rankings?

In 2021, Whitespark produced an industry report on local ranking factors. They found that there were 3 review factors that contributed to performance:

  1. Ratings 4.5 and above
  2. Prominence of keywords in the review
  3. Quantity of Google reviews

Achieving a higher rating indicates that there is consumer trust in that business, something which Google can recognise and value. 

In regards to keywords, this helps with relevancy. If reviews frequently mention keywords that are related to the search query itself, then this establishes a more significant relationship between that keyword and your business.

A shop window showing an open sign

For example, some of our reviews feature keywords that we would want associated with our agency:

“Their work on our website has been innovative, clear and of excellent quality.”

“Wilkes Wood built my new website and I couldn’t be more pleased. They were excellent to work with. We had 3-5 meetings to talk about every aspect of the website and a very thorough design plan. I was very informed throughout the entire process and they helped me learn the website so now if I want to make any changes I can do it myself.”

As discussed earlier, the quantity of Google reviews matters – but the difference in impact between larger amounts of reviews slowly diminishes. 

Having said that, frequent reviews also indicate that you are an active business regularly dealing with customers and clients and there’s no downside to having more reviews, so keep pushing for them even if you think you’re over the threshold!

Can You Help Optimise My Google Business Profile & Get More Reviews?

Yes. We can help you set up your Google business profile from scratch or optimise an existing profile to help boost performance across prominence and relevancy. 

We can also help establish processes to encourage more customers/clients to leave reviews for your business. Get in touch today for an obligation-free chat and we’ll see how we can add value to your business.

An image of a man pointing a finger at a laptop screen whilst another person uses the touchpad.

Website Maintenance - Why It Matters And What You Can Do

What Is Website Maintenance?

Contrary to popular belief, a website is never “done”. 

Sure, there are very set stages in a website build process, resulting in the delivery of a “final” product, but that’s only the start of the journey.

Once a website has been launched, it requires frequent maintenance in order to get the most out of your investment – without this, you’re likely leaving some significant results on the table and potentially allowing your website to become something that damages your brand instead of benefiting it.

An image of various tools used for DIY

A common metaphor for website maintenance is that of a vehicle’s MOT. 

Pretend you’ve gone and purchased the fanciest, most expensive, top-of-the-range car off the forecourt. It looks, drives, and sounds amazing.

Then, for the next few years, ignore any warning lights, services, oil changes, or tyre changes and never get it cleaned.

Chances are you’re going to have some faulty features and, at worst, something that’s potentially now dangerous.

It’s the same for your website.

Why Does Website Maintenance Matter?

There are a number of reasons why website maintenance matters, but none of them are more important than this: if you invest in a website, you want a return on this investment in some way, shape, or form.

A picture of an engine in a car

If that’s an e-commerce website, then you want sales. If you’re chasing lead generation, it might be phone calls or form submissions. 

To put it simply: your website is there to serve a purpose. 

Regular maintenance ensures that you’re getting the most out of your investment, avoiding potential downtime (which costs you money) and making sure your content is fresh, up-to-date and doing its job.

Let’s take a look at what this means for a few key areas…


I’ve grouped SEO and UX as there are many similarities between the two disciplines, and what matters to search engines is increasingly what matters to people too. 

Regular maintenance ensures that your site is responding to changes in algorithms, which can be pretty vital to the organic reach of your website

By keeping up to date with industry developments, you can ensure that you are not only maintaining previous progress but retrospectively bringing your entire site and content up to speed at regular intervals.

Your website is there to provide value to site visitors. It can’t do this if they’re not visiting, and they won’t visit if you’re not being shown to them on search engine results pages.

When they’re actually on your site, you want to leave a positive impression – that’s why keeping on top of your page speed, fixing broken links and page elements, ensuring your site is fully responsive and making sure content is up to date are all vital to long term success.

A man on a laptop using Google Search


You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but you probably do. People are picky – so picky, in fact, that the average person takes just 0.05 seconds to form an initial impression of your website.

If your content is riddled with spelling mistakes, images that won’t load, slow pages and out-of-date blogs, people will judge your website negatively and by extension consider your business to be amateur.

Regular maintenance ensures that you are giving yourself the best chance of generating a favorable response and engaging your audience to consider your brand authoritative and trustworthy!

Site Security

Finally, we have site security. Keeping your website secure is of paramount importance, and it’s often something that business owners overlook, sometimes to their peril!

Keeping admin permissions up-to-date, changing passwords, updating plugins, SSL certificates, hosting and regularly backing up your website can all contribute to securing your site and protecting your content.

How Do I Maintain A Website?

Good site maintenance is performed regularly, with different tasks requiring attention at different intervals. Whilst this list is not exhaustive, here’s some tasks split into weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly maintenance to get you started!

Weekly Maintenance Checklist

  • Check your web pages for obvious errors in loading or content.
  • Ensure your site is backed up and that previous versions of your site have backed up successfully.
  • Check for broken external and internal links.
  • Check for errors or redirects.
  • Check that your contact/submission forms are functioning properly.
  • Post keyword driven content to your blog.
  • Reply to blog comments and clear spammy entries.
  • Check Social Media feeds work & sharing functions are operating correctly.

Monthly Maintenance Checklist

  • Conduct a site speed test and ensure you follow any recommended actions.
  • Review your website analytics and identify any opportunities for optimisation.
  • Review SEO audits and follow recommended actions.
  • Review security scans & update plugins.
  • Test site across different browsers.

An image of a man pointing a finger at a laptop screen whilst another person uses the touchpad.

Quarterly Maintenance Checklist

  • Conduct a full SEO review and analyse organic traffic compared to last quarter.
  • Conduct a full site performance audit, analysing performance compared to last quarter and tracking your progress towards key objectives.
  • Check all graphics and images are loading, optimised and accurate.
  • Test your site across all devices to ensure responsiveness.
  • Optimise your forms, buttons and calls to action.
  • Review admin accounts, alter/remove permissions and update passwords if necessary.
  • Check for any algorithm updates/industry news that could affect your performance.

Yearly Maintenance Checklist

  • Renew your domain and SSL certificates.
  • Compare hosting packages and renew, update or change hosting provider.
  • Conduct a full website audit and consider major updates or redesign.
  • Update statistics, links, copyright symbols, and anything related to the current year (such as your footer copyright claim).
  • Conduct a full and comprehensive audit of your copy to ensure it is still reflective of your business practice, prices, and update your portfolio, testimonials, etc.
  • Review your blog – identify your top performing content and see if it can be further optimised.
  • Remove outdated content or features that no longer serve your site.

Can We Help You Maintain Your Website?


To continue my metaphor of maintaining a vehicle…

Sometimes you might want to invest time and effort into fixing your car yourself.

Other times, you might think it’s more appropriate to leave it to the experts and book it into the garage.

We can help maintain your website, regardless of whether we built it or not. 

We have a variety of support packages available, as well as SEO packages for content production too.

Get in touch with us today for an obligation-free chat and we’ll see where we can add value and help you get the most out of your website!

An Icon Showing SEO in the style of the Google Logo

SEO VS PPC - What’s The Difference & Which One Is Right For My Business?

When looking to invest in marketing strategies for your business, it’s inevitable that you will end up comparing two or more channels together to decide what is best for your business, audience and objectives.

More often than not, this conversation features two of the most popular marketing activities in 2022: Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Pay-Per-Click Advertising (PPC)

Optimising your website for search engines can help improve your rankings on organic searches, whilst PPC efforts (like Google Ads) are paid for methods of advertisement allowing marketers to compete for coveted paid placements on the search engine results page.

A close up of Google Ads Click Through Rate analytics screen

What’s The Difference?

Put simply, the main difference between the two lies in SEO efforts being “Organic” and PPC being “Paid”. 

An infographic showing various reporting pages for website analytics

So, What is SEO & Organic Traffic?

Think back to the last time you purchased something online or wanted to find out more about a product, service or company. There’s a pretty good chance that your journey started with one thing: a Google search.

There’s also a pretty good chance that you clicked on a website shown on the first page of your results – in fact, over 95% of clicks come from the first page of search results, with the first 3 results alone getting a combined click through rate of over 60%.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is all about directing the right web searchers to your website from search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo, all without the use of paid advertising (PPC ads).

SEO still requires investment. If you’re doing SEO work yourself, that could be an investment of time, or if you’re using an SEO agency like Wilkes Wood, it could be a financial investment. But, you can’t pay directly for performance – i.e you cannot pay Google to guarantee you a certain organic ranking for a keyword.

We’ve written a whole introductory guide to SEO if you want to learn more about SEO works and the benefits it can bring to your business.

The truth of the matter is that SEO is a slower burning long term strategy. 

An Icon Showing SEO in the style of the Google Logo

Let’s look at some of the phases that an SEO professional may go through when working on your website:

  1. Research into your business, audience, keywords, competitors.
  2. A full audit of your website from a technical point of view.
  3. Website optimisation and development.
  4. Content planning, research and creation.
  5. Internal linking & Backlink strategies.

This isn’t a swift process in itself, and then you have to be patient to reap the results of your hard work. There’s no set time frame for SEO work to pay off, but most industry experts agree that even with a healthy SEO budget, you’re looking at a 3 month period before your ranking starts to see serious improvements.

But, those improvements are worth it. Your rankings will improve, your organic traffic will grow, your authority will improve and, whilst you’re waiting for more results, you can continue to optimise your website and put out keyword driven content.

With PPC, your ads disappear when your budget ends. SEO lasts way, way “beyond the spend” and this is why so many marketers see SEO as such a great investment – in fact  49% of marketers report that organic search has the best ROI of any other channel.

It’s also worth noting that organic search drives 53% of website traffic, whilst paid search only accounts for 15%!

You can read more information from Google on organic search or head to our blog on SEO to uncover more of the basics.

To summarise: SEO is powerful, but slow. It wins over the long-term.

A man on a laptop using Google Search

What Is PPC & Paid Advertising?

Pay-per-click advertising (or PPC) is a form of paid advertising on search engines, such as Google Ads. The aim of PPC on Google Ads is to bring immediate traffic to your website by strategically “bidding” on search terms against competitors, with winning bids ensuring your advert is placed somewhere on screen.

PPC is also used across all social media platforms, but we’re not going to cover those here.

One of the most appealing elements of PPC is that it gives marketers the opportunity to target specific audiences that they want their deal, product, event or content to appeal to. 

You can target audiences on Google Ads using demographic data such as location, age, profession, annual income and even interests – this is incredibly powerful, as you can imagine, and is why Google Ads is so popular (accounting for over 80% of Google’s entire revenue).

It is called pay-per-click because you pay a fee every time someone clicks on your advertisement. If you’ve used Google, you’ll have seen ads before at the top and bottom of the search engine results page. The average cost of a “click” is, at the time of writing, around $2.69 (£2.35). 

Average click through rates (CTR) differ wildly between industries, with an average of only 1.9%. To uncover the average CTR for your industry, head over to this article by Search Engine Land.

PPC is popular because it offers immediate results, unlike the long term strategy that SEO aligns itself with. However, as soon as your spend stops, so do the benefits, and depending on the budget you have, your ad might be limited in how long it could run or what size audience it could reach.

There are some downsides to PPC, such as spam clicks/traffic, and over 40% of internet users now use some form of ad blocker.

Just like with SEO, Google will be ranking your efforts, and optimising Google Ads is no easy task. It’s a discipline all of its own and successful campaigns require constant monitoring, testing and tweaking to avoid precious ad spend being wasted.

To summarise: PPC costs per click, and is immediate. It wins in the short term.

A screenshot of a Google search showing how PPC ads appear

So, Which One Is Right For My Business?

As with most things in marketing, the answer is: it depends.

Do you need immediate results? Are you happy to wait for long-term rewards? Do you have a set budget? How much work would your website need? What are your competitors doing?

These are just some of the questions that could help narrow down your options and leave you with the right choice.

A lot of small businesses and start-ups lean more towards SEO as they lack the sort of budget required to fully set-up, test, optimise and implement a PPC campaign. If you’re prepared to think and plan for the long-term, SEO is budget friendly and, once results start showing, you should see steady improvements to your organic traffic.

If you have established your business within a niche market, you may even be able to find keywords that have the “Big 3” – high relevancy, low competition and decent monthly search volume. This would be a golden opportunity for SEO.

If you’re in a highly competitive market, such as an e-commerce store selling products that are in competition with industry behemoths like Amazon, it’s unlikely that you are going to find massive success in ranking for organic positions, especially early on in your efforts. PPC could be great here to help boost your brand awareness.

The truth is, both SEO and PPC are great ways to grow your business, whether they’re used on their own or in conjunction with one another. 

There are, however, a few instances where one would be much more appropriate than another.

There are, however, a few instances where one would be much more appropriate than another – for example, if you’re looking to sell out an event in a short period of time, PPC is your best friend!

a screenshot of Squarespace website analytics

In Conclusion…

If you wanted to maximise the potential of your business, and had the budget to accommodate, we’d always recommend that you invest in both SEO and PPC. With a combined effort, you’re likely to be able to achieve results that would not be possible if each were implemented in isolation.

However, we’re aware that not everyone lives in this “ideal world” and you may have to prioritise one over the other, at least for an initial stretch of time, so let’s break it down:

PPC will require initial and ongoing investment, and will not leave you with any lasting or enduring results when your spending stops. You should look into PPC if you need immediate results, you have a higher budget, or if your product, offer or event is time sensitive.

SEO will require an investment of time or money, but will still be cheaper than PPC over the long term. You should look into SEO if you have a smaller budget, want to prioritise a long term ROI and want to create impactful, powerful content that’s relevant to your audience at all stages of the buying journey.

A black and white photograph showing two men in an office on laptops discussing business

What Can We Do To Help?

We’ve been helping our clients with their SEO needs for over 4 years, and have a dedicated, in-house team to do just that.

Head over to our dedicated SEO page to see our packages across content and maintenance.

For a free SEO audit of your website, get in touch!

A group of people planning UX for a website

How Can SEO and UX Work Together For Your Website?

Whilst it’s true that User Experience (UX) and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) are two distinct practices, now more than ever they should be looked upon as a necessary partnership with a common goal: to give your website users the best possible experience.

Long gone are the days of relying purely on keywords to boost your SEO; Google’s algorithm has evolved to such an extent that your website must provide a rich, tailored user experience to your website visitors in order to be in with a chance of boosting your organic search rankings.

With Google’s own UX guidelines suggesting that a seamless UX is a critical ranking factor for organic search, and with recent studies showing development of your website’s user experience can boost customer conversion rates up to 400%, it’s clear to see why so many businesses are investing in UX as part of their SEO strategy.

To put it simply: investment in SEO makes your website optimised for search engines, and investment in UX makes your website optimised for site visitors. However, investment in both can successfully leverage each discipline to maximise their performance and boost results across the board.

A group of people working on a table with laptops

What is SEO?  

Search Engine Optimisation, or SEO, aims to improve the performance of your website on search engine results pages (SERPs). It aims to boost your organic rankings and drive targeted traffic to your website. We’ve written a beginners guide to SEO here if you want to discover more about SEO and how it can help small businesses.

Two website icons linked together

What is UX?  

User Experience (UX) is a pretty self descriptive term, and simply serves to describe the experience a site visitor has whilst interacting/using your website.

If your website provides a seamless, intuitive and targeted experience to your users then congratulations, you’re delivering a positive UX – however, if your website is slow, hard to navigate and provides little value through its content, you’re delivering a negative UX (and making 88% of your online customers leave with no intention of returning…)

Core elements of User Experience include:

  • Your website’s internal structure/architecture (43% of site visitors want websites to remain simple & nearly all negative user feedback relates to this) 
  • The journey, content & touchpoints of your site visitors (over half of all site visitors prefer content that is personalised to them & their needs). 
  • The responsiveness of your website across mobile/desktop (50% of site visitors will use a website less if it doesn’t work on mobile, even if they love your business…)

Stripped down to its basics, UX is about ensuring that a site visitor finds it easy to navigate through your website, its content and interactive elements, and feels like the experience has been tailored to them at every stage. 

A group of people planning UX for a website

So, How Does UX Impact SEO?

As Google’s algorithms have evolved, the weighting and prioritisation of ranking factors has differed wildly. You may have heard about the early days of SEO, where insane amounts of keyword stuffing could guarantee some degree of success in achieving rankings…

It’s safe to say we’ve come a long, long way from Google relying on signals that can be easily manipulated, like keyword stuffing, link spamming and other outdated practices.

Google is now “user-centric” and has developed its algorithms accordingly, wielding complex technology across the AI and machine learning space to deliver search users exactly what they need to feel satisfied with their search results.

The myriad ranking factors that Google “judges” your website with are now substantially aligned with providing a rich, positive user experience for your website visitors. 

This ranges from technical elements like site speed (slow site speeds lose site owners billions of £s across the e-commerce world each year) to measuring site visitor behaviour like bounce rate, whether or not your site is bookmarked by users, if users came across you through search or direct, and the list goes on and in (with over 200 more factors!)

If you are providing a positive UX through your website’s development and design, you will undoubtedly be supporting site visitors in behaving in ways Google deems to be positive – they’ll stay longer, interact more with your content, perhaps return more often, and are more likely to bookmark, share and promote your website across social media/word of mouth. 

All of these, inevitably, contribute to bettering your search position and send positive signals to Google’s algorithm.In order to better your SEO through UX, you need to ditch the SEO goggles and take the time to understand your audience, website and content from a user’s perspective. It’s time to step back, reposition yourself, and work through your website from the perspective of your target audience.

SEO and UX Icons

Image source: Ash Shah

What Web & Content Factors Influence SEO and UX?

As mentioned above, there are over 200 ranking factors that Google takes into consideration when ranking your website for search results. Here are a handful of critical factors that link UX and SEO together to boost your website’s performance across both areas…

1 – A Thorough Understanding of Your Audience

Both SEO and UX require you to thoroughly understand your audience as the first step in any strategy.

SEO requires you to know your audience so you know exactly who you’re targeting with keywords and content.

UX requires you to know your audience so you know exactly what they want to see, do and consume whilst on your website, and enable you to make your website perfectly tailored to these needs.

To discover your target audience, you need to be able to answer questions beyond demographic information of age, gender and occupation. Here are some example questions you might want to use to frame your research:

  • What is a site visitor wanting from your website?
  • What would a site visitor search for online?
  • How would a site visitor seek out/look for the information or content they desire?
  • What would they expect from tone/content?
  • How would they want to interact with your website? What forms, buttons, purchases, links, or downloads are they expecting to be able to engage with?

You might also want to look into current data if you have analytics at your disposal. 

This can provide vital information on how users journey through your website, how they behave, how long they stay for, and how often they interact with buttons, forms, purchases or any other conversion you’re monitoring.

You want to build up a clear picture of your audience – without this, you will have nothing to guide your UX and SEO strategies as they will not be directed toward a targeted group of users with shared interests, wants and needs.

I could sit here and tell you that 70% of users prefer to use companies that share their sense of humour or that over 70% of users judge how credible a website is based on its aesthetics…

But if you don’t know what humour your target audience would appreciate or what your target audience deem to be appropriate aesthetically, you are making it nearly impossible to meet their expectations, thus compromising any SEO or UX efforts before they’ve even begun!

The word

2 – Have You Done Your Keyword Research?

Furthering on from the above point, successful keyword research will enable you to increase your understanding of your target audience.

This works for both SEO and UX. 

Keyword research is a fundamental building block of SEO – knowing what keywords to target and what content to produce is absolutely critical to any successful SEO strategy – without it, you will not achieve any significant results. 

For more information on how SEO works, click here.

In relation to UX, keyword research helps by providing further information on site visitors, for example their search intent.

Look at these two searches:

  1. “Good first cars” 
  2. “Used Ford Fiesta 1.5L 2005 blue for sale now Sheffield”

The first search is on the lookout for content/information that could help them answer their question and determine what cars to look into further. 

This is a broader search that indicates someone is in the exploratory/information seeking stage of the buying process.

The second search seems to have much more of a purchasing intent – they are seeking a specific product in a specific area with a somewhat defined specification. 

The presence of “now” indicates they are looking for the ability to complete a purchase immediately if they like what they see.

Both are searching in relation to cars, but at different stages of the buying process and with differing degrees of intent. 

What makes great content and UX for one may be a bad UX with poor content for the other…

A screenshot showing Google's Keyword Planner

3 – What Are You Pushing Your Audience Towards?

A well designed website will successfully push site visitors toward a particular action, event or conversion through elements like buttons, prominent calls to action (CTAs), chat-bots and more.

To facilitate a positive user experience, you need to balance your desire for site visitors to perform an action with their desire to navigate your site and content in an intuitive manner. 

Lean too far either way and you’ll be losing out on conversions or annoying site visitors by preventing them exploring your site in the way they want to.

If your SEO efforts are successful in bringing in more organic traffic, it can be tempting to try and capitalise immediately on this boosted audience.

However, you should be wary of compromising UX on purpose…

Sacrificing good UX with pop-ups, intrusive ads, or flooding every paragraph with “buy now” buttons may seem appealing for short term profits, but long-term you could be dissuading site visitors from ever returning and moving from “User Experience” into “User Exploitation”.

Here are two ways you can help improve the performance of clickable/interactive elements:

  • Place them in locations that users will be familiar with/expect – don’t try and be too tricky or “cool” with how you present interactive elements. 
  • Design interactive elements to be as visible as possible and ensure that site visitors will know immediately that they can engage with the element – that’s why hyperlinks are different colours! 
  • Ensure your content can be easily shared on popular social media channels. 
  • Make sure you’re using CTAs throughout your page content to encourage visitors to further explore other pages, content or convert.

You might be asking yourself how these UX elements contribute towards your website SEO? 

By optimising your webpages for site visitors and making it easier for them to spend more time on your website/explore different content on your website.

This means you’re reducing bounce rates and showing Google that your website is highly relevant and of a high enough quality for visitors to interact with it for longer. Optimal bounce rates are strongly correlated with achieving first page spots with. Google rankings

By encouraging social sharing and conversions, you’re further proving this point.

A woman planning a website wireframe

4 – Focus on Your Site’s Foundation & Navigation

How your website is structured has a tremendous impact on both SEO and UX. If you’re building a website, you have to take the time to consider the foundation of your website and ensure it is following best practices.

This is referred to as your website architecture. A website constructed with an optimised site architecture allows search engines to more easily discover your website, index its content and follow internal links to be able to journey through the entirety of your site. 

From a technical point of view, there are plenty of things to consider – ranging from optimising your URL structure to using H1 and H2 tags in your site content to ensure that the content hierarchy is being established.

However, a fundamental element of site architecture that is critically important to both SEO and User Experience is that of website navigation…

How to Optimise Website Navigation:

It’s important to remember that there’s a very high chance your site visitors will be landing on a different webpage to your homepage. 

In order to allow site visitors to easily explore and journey through the rest of your content, you need to ensure that your navigation is optimised:

  • Your top menu should be clear and prominent, with no silly page names that may confuse your visitors. 
  • Your pages need to be organised into appropriate and manageable sections/groups to ensure you’re not flooding your menus with too many options. 
  • Content needs to follow SEO best practices & prioritise clear formats with headers, lists, and appropriate imagery/site media. 
  • Internally link to relevant content and utilise CTAs to help your site visitors explore your web content further. 
  • Utilise categories and menus for your blog to keep posts organised and accessible. 
  • Consider using breadcrumbs to easily allow users to return to previous pages or menus.
  • Minimise the amount of clicks needed to get to any given webpage. 
  • Avoid any pop ups, ads or features that may hide important information or menus – this is a common criticism with poorly designed chatbot features. 
  • Don’t leave users with a dead end.

Cleaning up your navigation makes it easier for both users and search engines to explore your site – that means it’s equally as important for SEO and UX. 

Through optimising your website navigation and architecture, there’s a chance that Google will display other pages within your main result on a search page – these are called sitelinks and are fantastic as they enable you to take up more of the screen/results and attract more clicks and visitors. 

Take a look at Wilkes Wood when you search for us on Google:

A Screenshot of a Google Search Result showing Site Links that Boost SEO

5 – Make Your Website Optimised for Mobile

Here are 4 statistics that you need to know:

  1. 85% of your site visitors expect your mobile site to match or outperform the quality of your desktop site.
  2. Nearly 50% of users are actively annoyed by sites that aren’t optimised for mobile.
  3. Nearly 70% of users will choose to reward your website with a purchase if it’s optimised for mobile and your competitor’s websites aren’t.
  4. More than 50% of traffic is now from mobile search.

Mobile optimisation is no longer a cool thing for your website to do, it’s an absolute necessity. Those that do not invest in responsive websites are absolutely going to suffer – your site visitors are expecting content to display correctly no matter what device they’re using.

From a UX standpoint, it’s non-negotiable.

Unfortunately for those with clunky mobile sites, it’s also vital for SEO.

Google has repeatedly stressed how mobile-friendly websites are favoured in search results, and if that wasn’t enough to convince you, Google’s crawler now conducts mobile-first indexing – there’s no two ways about it, responsive design is an expectation of search engines and users alike.

Make sure that your website has accessible and clear fonts, has a seamless mobile navigation menu, loads fast on mobile devices and has functional CTAs – you can even make the latter mobile specific, with “Call Now” functionality!

A man uses his mobile phone to look at a website

6 – Is Your Website Speedy?

Page speed is another example of something that is equally important to real world site users and search engines alike.

The verdict is unanimous: if your site is slow, your visitors will leave.

In fact, if your website takes longer than 3 seconds to load, you’ll have already lost more than half of your traffic and on the opposite side of things, even a 0.1 second site speed improvement has been shown to improve online sales.

If your site is loading too slowly and causing visitors to abandon ship, you’ll see a negative impact within your bounce rate and time on page analytics – this is why Google uses page speed as an important factor in deciding your rankings. 

Luckily, you can use Google’s free tool to determine how your site is performing and receive feedback on how you can take steps to improve your site speed. This should give you a pretty good idea of how much work you need to do and where you need to turn your attention to.

A common mistake that has a massive impact on site speed is to upload site media without optimisation/compression – here’s a quick guide if you need to revisit your photos/videos on your site.

A car speedometer showing 0kmph

Can You Help Me With Improving My Website SEO or UX?

Yes. If you think you need some help optimising your website for search engines and users, get in touch with us today and our experienced in-house team will take care of the rest.

A photograph of a woman using a laptop in front of a blurred out computer screen

Want To Write Better Web Copy? Here's A Short Guide To Website Media & Optimised Page Copy

Website Content Guidance.

This short guide aims to help you create and curate the best content possible for your new website. If you want any further clarification or guidance, please don’t hesitate to get in touch and we’ll be happy to help.

Site Media

Site media refers to any images, videos, animations, and PDFs/downloads on your website. These elements are incredibly important when building a site that conveys quality and trust to your website visitors. 

Here Are Some Golden Rules for Website Media:

1 – Quality Over Quantity

A website is only as good as its media. It is better to avoid cluttering your website with low quality images/videos and instead focus efforts towards fewer, high quality elements. Poor quality site media can completely diminish the effectiveness of your website, no matter how well it’s been designed.

2 – Compression is King 

Website speed is a huge determining factor in providing a good user experience, and uploading huge image or video files can immediately bog down your site speed. Optimising these elements for your website requires compression to a more manageable size.

Check out our blog post on file compression here.

A photograph showing a photography studio with three lights read for a content shoot

3 – No Content > Bad Content

Your website gives you a chance to make an impactful first impression on site visitors. If you don’t have good photo/video of a service, your team, or office, we’d always recommend utilising stock libraries or designing around a lack of site media for the first iteration of your site, then switching out to high quality elements when you’ve got them at your disposal.

4 – Version Control & Accuracy

If you’re offering downloadable elements like pricing packs, service specs, PDFs or certificates, it’s imperative that you keep these up-to-date so they reflect accurate and reliable information to site visitors.

An infographic showing a phone uploading files to a cloud

How Do I Optimise Website Copy?

Site copy is the lifeblood of your website. It is how you will tell your story, drive conversions and showcase what makes your products/services so special.

So what makes effective and compelling copy? 

Develop Your Brand’s Tone & Voice 

The tone of your copy needs to match your brand. If you’re a legal firm targeting FTSE 100 companies you’re going to communicate differently to an e-commerce store selling pick & mix sweets to teenagers. 

Making sure your tone is appropriate and directly speaks to your target audience can be hard, and it all starts with knowing exactly who you are and exactly who you’re trying to reach.

Let’s break those points down…

1 – What’s Your Mission?

Starting with your brand’s mission statement can help you to really drill down into the key elements and ideas you’d like to weave into your content & help form the basis of your brand’s tone/voice.

It’s a good chance to familiarise yourself with what your ambition, purpose and values are before trying to represent these on the page.

A photograph of a women holding a pen and making an entry into a journal

2 – Who is Your Target Audience?

In order to successfully develop the right tone (and the right content) for your audience, you need to know who that audience is.

It might sound obvious, but taking the time to develop and understand your target niche is often overlooked. It’s time to take a step back and really think about your audience…

  • What gender are they? 
  • What age are they? 
  • What do they like in content? 
  • Do they want content to be funny and lighthearted or straight talking & informative?
  • When are they consuming content?
  • How are they consuming content?
  • What level of education do they have?

If you’re answering these questions (and more!) then you’re on the way to creating a buyer persona – these are detailed descriptions of individuals who represent your target audience.

Once you’ve crafted your own buyer persona, you can write for them, giving you a great reference point to build the voice, tone and content of your brand around.

3 – What Content is Popular & Why?

If you’re already creating content for your website or social media, this is the chance for you to sit down and dig through the data. 

What have been your most popular posts? What hasn’t gotten any engagement at all? 

Putting aside outliers like competitions or polls, pay special attention to the tone and content of these posts and make notes for both what you think you want to focus on and avoid in future copy.

A photograph of a laptop on a sofa showing google analytics on its screen

After you’ve done this, it’s time to look into your competition. What is working for them? What would you do differently? Why would/wouldn’t their tone work for your target audience?

This doesn’t mean you have to try and emulate this – it simply gives you a better understanding of what the competitive landscape looks like and how your brand tone/voice will fit into this arena.

4 – Create Your Guidelines

After all this research, you should be in a position to establish what your tone is and isn’t. This is often the step that feels the hardest, as you’re boiling down all of your notes into set parameters. 

Whilst there’s no set formula to do this, we think it’s usually easier for you to start by contrasting what you’re not with what you are. For example:

“We are fun but not silly. 

We are informative but not dry.

We are casual but not sloppy.”

However you do it, you should end up with some guidelines that you can rely on to ensure every bit of copy associated with your brand carries the same voice and tone to your target audience.

A sign that says please stay on the path

Great Copy Has Great Clarity

Copy that lacks clarity is not going to drive conversions on your website. It’s as simple as that.

Your copy needs to be focused and clear; if it isn’t, site visitors may miss what you are trying to communicate and you won’t be able to generate leads, sales or interest in your brand, product or service.

Here’s what to avoid:

  • Unnecessary phrases
  • Long paragraphs
  • Pretentious language
  • Filler words
  • Repetition (unless used for a purpose)
  • Overcomplicating phrasing
  • Spelling & grammatical mistakes

Website copy is typically brief, only giving site visitors the amount of information required to move them onto the next section, page or action.

A photograph showing an optician's test through the lens of a pair of glasses

Attention spans are short and only getting shorter – if you don’t keep things clear and focused you will struggle to keep traffic from bouncing off your site.

This doesn’t mean you should exclude more detailed content entirely from your site, but you should be hesitant about flooding landing pages with dense copy. A blog page is ideally positioned to house more lengthy and in-depth content, so keep that in mind when building out your site.

Speak To Your Audience From The Page

When you’re writing about your own business or brand it can be tempting to focus on yourself rather than the audience. This is where personalisation comes in.

Take a look at your copy and notice how many times you’re focusing on the following: 

  • We
  • Our
  • I
  • Us
  • Me

It’s so easy to slip into this way of writing as it’s what comes most naturally when trying to express something about yourself.

A close up of a poster that says we want you with a giant finger pointing at the viewer

Unfortunately this present us with a problem:

People don’t care about you. 

They care about what you can do for them.

By switching the focus of your copy to “you” and “your”, you can craft copy that feels like it’s personalised entirely to your audience and appeal to them on that deeper, more personal level. 

This means you’re speaking to them directly from the page and, if you’ve got your target audience and tone truly dialled in, you’ll be able to persuade, impress and convert site visitors with much greater success.

There are times where speaking about yourself really is necessary (an “About Us” page would be pretty tricky without it…) but always try and personalise where you can.

Two women talking at a table in an office

Provide Value Through Research & Detail

Your copy needs to deliver something of value to your audience. That could be anything from answering a question they didn’t even know they had to presenting them with original content that’s unique and interesting to someone in their position.

To achieve this, you need to put some effort in. There’s no other way to do it.

Shallow copy with no real meat to it is very easy to see through by site visitors and search engines alike. If you’re not delivering value, your site visitors won’t be encouraged to engage or convert whilst on your site.

It’s the same story with stolen or cloned copy from competitor’s websites. There’s a fine line between taking inspiration and being too close for comfort and it’s imperative that you don’t slip into the latter.

You don’t want to be perceived as a knock-off version of another brand, you want to be seen as an authority all of your own.

That’s where research, detail and informative copy come into play.

A photograph of two people looking through website analytics on a table

When I say research, I don’t mean you should be donning a lab coat or breaking out the coffee machine in the early hours of the morning…

I just mean you should be providing yourself with enough information on your subject, product, service or industry to be able to speak with expertise and detail.

Positioning yourself as an authority in your industry means site visitors will be much more likely to listen, trust, and convert.

Optimised Copy Is Always Keyword Driven 

Aside from communicating effectively with your audience and driving conversions, your website copy is the foundation of your SEO efforts and can have a huge impact on your visibility in search results and how organic traffic is driven to your site.

Want to know more about SEO, here’s our guide to the basics.

Keyword driven copy ensures that you’re targeting the right niche with your content and enables you to compete for organic positioning on relevant search queries on Google, Bing and other search engines.

It also enables you to generate the most effective titles for pages and posts and optimise URLs.

A photograph of an iPhone showing a google search bar

To successfully target keywords, you will need to use some tools and services.

Here are some great free ones:

As these are free, there may be some limitations to how much data is provided or how often you can use them. 

If you’re really serious about SEO, you’re going to need some paid for tools like Ahrefs and SEMrush.

When it comes to keyword research, it’s safe to say that the most frequently searched terms are going to be the most competitive and therefore the hardest for you to improve your rankings on.

It’s better to start out with keywords that have lower search volume and competition and get ranking for these before working your way up to keywords with higher competition and volume. 

If you stumble across any relevant keywords with high search volume and low competition, you’re in luck!

Make sure to utilise Google Analytics and Search Console so you can see what is working to drive traffic to your site.

A screenshot of a google search

Page Specific Copy Guidelines:

So what makes good copy on your website’s pages? Let’s look at a few popular page types and look at how copy might vary between them.

How Do I Write Copy For My Home Page?

Your home page is your digital shopfront and will likely be the landing page for many of your site visitors – overlooking its importance can be a costly mistake!

Your first 5-25 words on your header banner or first block have a huge impact on conversions, bounce rate and click through rate. This is your chance to immediately show visitors they’re in the right place, demonstrate what you do and what benefits you can offer.

A good home page has a single focus, like summarising your services, products or blog categories. You want to encourage site visitors to go somewhere or do something, whether that be clicking through to your services or products or heading to a contact form.

Use call to actions to direct your site visitor’s behaviour.

We usually recommend writing homepage copy last, as content from other pages can inform the approach & content here.

A photograph of two men at a desk discussing a document next to two laptops

How Do I Write A Great About Page?

It might sound counterintuitive, but a good about page shouldn’t just focus on yourself. Take your story, experience and unique offering and explain to customers how you can benefit them.

A good about page covers the following areas:

  • Communicate the journey/story of your business – why it was started and what it hopes to achieve

  • Outline your values and ethos
  • Identify and describe the customers, clients or causes that you serve – cite examples of key clients
  • Further explore your services and products – Why are they different? How are they made?
  • Showcase what your customers or clients will get from your business

What About My Team Page?

Getting to know the faces behind your business can help customers trust your brand. A good team page demonstrates experience, role and hierarchy within your company, but also conveys personality in line with your brand’s tone.

Here’s what a good team page:

  • Introduces your employees/key stakeholders
  • Gives a human face to your company

  • Showcases experience and strengths

The approach may differ between companies. For example, if you’re a smaller company you may want to feature your whole team and have more of a flat hierarchy. If you’re a larger organisation, it’s most likely that you only want to feature key decision makers/executive level management.

For each, a standard format would be a professional headshot with a short biography detailing your team member’s name, role/job title, experience, and a bit more about them. This is where you can inject some personality!

A photograph of five people around a desk using laptops and discussing work

How Do I Write High Converting Copy Product Pages?

This is your chance to showcase your product offering, and can be instrumental in driving more conversions on your product pages. 

To start, you need to clearly define your audience – the more you narrow this down, the more you can tailor your copy to these individuals. 

Do you know what problem your product is solving for this niche? Do you know the main features (factual elements) and benefits (emotional elements) of your product?

This is where you want to let benefit-oriented copy shine by emphasising key selling points and weaving in key customer testimonials to further validate your claims.

People don’t care about your company, they care about how your company solves their problem.

Put yourself in the shoes of a new customer – you need to answer every single question they may have: 

  • What does it do?
  • Who is it for?
  • How much is it?
  • How reliable is it?
  • How long does it take to ship?
  • What if I want to return it?
  • How easy is it to use?

Between product page copy, technical specs and FAQs, every product page should give site visitor easy access to all the information they’d need to make a purchase decision.

Mobile purchasing on an E-commerce Store

What Makes Great Copy For Service Pages?

Service pages can get messy if you’re not careful, with confusing layouts and unclear pricing. 

We recommend thinking of service pages as clear sections:

  1. Define your service & who it’s for
  2. Explain your deliverables
  3. Show off client testimonials
  4. Deep dive into features/benefits
  5. Pricing
  6. Contact/booking form

Each section gives you the opportunity to push page visitors down toward the next step of the funnel, all with the aim of producing valuable leads.

How Do I Write A Contact Page?

Contact pages follow a relatively standard format site-to-site. 

You may want to consider a contact form and the questions contained within it, as well as providing contact details, addresses of your business offices or stores, and maybe even some FAQs. 

There’s no need for extra waffle here. If a site visitor is on your contact page, make it easy for them to get in touch!

A photograph of a retro style telephone in black

Help! Can You Write Our Website Copy?

You may have got to the end of this guide and thought “ That sounds like a lot of work…” Good news – if you don’t fancy writing copy for your entire website, we do!

We’ve been writing effective results driven copy for websites and ecommerce stores for over 4 years. If you’d prefer us to take the wheel, our in-house copywriting services are here to help drive organic traffic and maximise your conversions through professional, keyword driven copy.

Get in touch today for more information.

An infographic showing various reporting pages for website analytics

What Is SEO And How Can It Help Your Business?

What is SEO?

SEO, or “Search Engine Optimisation”, is a discipline focused on improving the performance of web pages in relation to organic search results. In layman’s terms, SEO aims to improve the visibility of your website when people use search engines, such as Google, to search for relevant queries.

If I search Google for “Painters in Sheffield”, I’m presented with the web pages it has determined will be most suited to your query. Now, good news if you’re featured in the first 3 organic results!

A screenshot of the google search painters in sheffield

There’s a 75% chance that I will visit a painter who has their website featured on page one of search results, and the first search result alone has an average click through rate of nearly 35%.

These are not paid for ads, these are organic results, and that’s why SEO is so powerful. In fact, 86% of searchers will skip past the paid ads completely and rely on purely organic results! 

Organic search is the most vital way for customers, both existing and prospective, to find your online content and for you to drive traffic to your website.

Let’s look at an overview of some distinct elements of SEO to give more context to this definition:

Organic Search Results

“Organic” is the important part of this label. If we return to the search used as an example earlier, “Painters in Sheffield” returns 10+ paid for advertisements (PPC Ads) before I get to any organic results.

A screenshot of the google search painters in sheffield

These organic results are much preferred by search engine users and are displayed because the search engine’s complex algorithm has decided all of these results are highly relevant to my query. To put it simply: they will give me what I want, and Google knows that!

It’s important to note that it is impossible to pay for your page to rank in any given place in organic search results – you can’t pay to come first here.

Quality & Quantity of Organic Traffic

The job of SEO is not to drive traffic to your website, it’s job is to drive targeted traffic to your website. This distinction is what makes SEO so valuable – if Google drives traffic towards your website when it is not relevant, it is likely that a vast majority of these visitors will bounce off your site without completing any conversions whatsoever. This is because this traffic is low quality.

SEO, implemented properly, drives high quality traffic to your website. This means visitors have found you through highly relevant searches, and arrive with genuine interest in your website, content and offering. These visitors are much, much more likely to turn into conversions, and by extension, revenue – nearly 40% of online purchases are influenced by a relevant search.

To maximise exposure to high quality traffic, you want to have your website displaying as a result at the top of the search results page – in a recent study, researchers found that 75% of search engine users will click an organic listing from the first two results.

A photograph of a man at a desk using Google on a MacBook Pro with a coffee cup next to him

What are the main types of SEO?

As a discipline, SEO centres around two main umbrellas of activity. These are called “on-page” and “off-page” SEO and all SEO work falls into these categories. Whilst we will be creating guides for each of these categories in the near future, this blog post aims to provide you with an overview of SEO, so here’s a little more information on both.

What is On-Page SEO?

On-page SEO is, at its heart, all about content. The more you look into SEO, the more you will realise that much of its success rests on the shoulders of good quality content. Content that effectively drives targeted traffic should be:

  • Valuable & actionable/useful
  • Genuinely interesting to read
  • Well researched, in-depth and written well
  • Written with a particular audience in mind
  • Easily shareable and referenceable
  • Optimised around keywords

After you’ve finished writing this masterpiece of quality keyword driven content, you need to consider the other elements of on-page SEO too. These include site speed, tags/metadata, the responsiveness of your website and its crawlability, and the list goes on.

All of these factors are important and contribute massively to the success of SEO, but it’s important to remember that even if you get every piece of the puzzle perfected if your content is terrible and doesn’t provide value to a site visitor, none of that will matter.

A photograph of a woman using a MacBook Pro to edit a Squarespace site on a black desk next to a cup of coffee

What is Off-Page SEO?

Off-page optimisation is an umbrella term relating to anything happening beyond your website itself, and is usually used in reference to “backlinks” or “link building”. 

Backlinks are simply links between one website and another. If someone has written a blog post and linked to your website, they’ve given you a backlink, and if you link to them in your blog post, you’ve returned the favour. Blogging, and therefore the quality content mentioned in the “on-page” section, is integral to building backlinks: Companies who engage in blogging receive 97% more backlinks to their site.

So why do backlinks matter? Because these links are essentially treated as votes by Google and other search engines – every time your content or web page is linked to, especially by other websites that Google already see as trustworthy and high ranking, it’s as if each link tells Google that your content is of value to them and they’ve found it useful/trustworthy too.

Links, in general, are what enable Google and other search engines to determine the value of your content – if there’s no links to your web page, you’ve made it incredibly difficult, if not impossible, for Google to do this job. Make no mistake about it, backlinks are vital to successful SEO campaigns, with one recent study proving that the number of domains linking to a page was the factor that had the highest correlation to rankings in Google.

However, off-page SEO extends beyond backlinks and encompasses a whole heap of other important activities that help build relationships, encourage brand searches and improve the following and engagement of your social media.

Two website icons linked together

So How Does SEO Work?

Before we start looking into how SEO works, here’s a brief glossary of terms that might help you understand the mechanics of SEO as you read on:

  • Index – Google, and other search engines, store all web pages that it is aware of in its index. These index entries contain information about the content and URL of any given webpage. 
  • Indexing  – This is when a search engine actually fetches your webpage, reads it, and then adds the entry to its index. 
  • Crawl/Crawling – Crawling refers to the process of seeking out new webpages or updates to already indexed webpages. Google and other search engines mainly discover URLs by following links (think of the backlinks we discussed earlier) and by reading sitemaps, but they can identify new URLs to crawl through other means too. 
  • (a) Crawler – As the name suggests, a crawler is an automated piece of software designed to crawl/fetch web pages and then complete the action of indexing these web pages. Google’s crawler is called “Googlebot” and crawls the web constantly.

An infographic showing Google crawling websites and putting it into Google's database

Now we’ve got that out of the way, here’s a quick explanation of how SEO works:

Google, Bing and other search engines work in the same way – they use crawlers to go from webpage to webpage, website to website, following links and gathering information, indexing their findings as they progress. 

These indexes are not static places – they are always evolving and updating as the bots continue to crawl across the web. 

You may have heard people mention “the algorithm”, especially in reference to Google. These algorithms are responsible for complicated analysis of the indexed web pages – each page is ranked across many, many different factors in order to determine how suitable a web page would be for any given query. 

Whilst Google keeps the exact formula and mix of ranking factors to themselves, studies have shown there are more than 200 ranking factors that the algorithm takes into consideration.

This result not only dictates whether a web page ranks for a search, but also its position in the results page.

By optimising your website and content in line with these ranking factors, you can better your chances of ranking well for related search queries and improve your search engine results page position – this is SEO!

These factors span different categories (like “content”, “website architecture”, “reputation” and “links”) and vary dramatically in weighting/importance, with something like content quality affecting website ranking more than adding alt-text to images.

So when you make a search query in Google, they prioritise presenting results that they have determined to be of high relevance, high quality, and from trusted, non-spammy websites. 

Google has gotten so good at this that the first 5 organic search results now account for nearly 70% of all clicks.

It’s our job as SEO professionals to help your website and content surface as highly as possible for the right search queries. This is achieved by optimising your content and technical elements of your website to provide users with the best possible experience.

An infographic showing various reporting pages for website analytics

What are the Benefits of SEO for Small Businesses?

If I asked you what you did the last time you needed to learn something new or make an online purchase, there’s an 80% chance that you started both interactions with a Google search query. 

Here’s a few ways investing in SEO benefits smaller businesses:

1 – SEO Boosts Customers Through Organic Searches

There are trillions of searches on Google every year. In fact, by the time you finish reading this sentence there will have been around 1.2 million new searches. As a small business owner, you might be interested to know that plenty of these searches have some sort of purchasing intent; in a recent survey, nearly 95% of respondents revealed they searched Google for information about a product/business within a week of purchasing. 

By appearing in the search results of related queries, prospective buyers can discover information about your business, your expertise, products and services. This gives you the chance to outrank your competitors, give yourself greater brand visibility and, ultimately, turn these site visitors into conversions!

This is so powerful that 60% of marketing professionals have revealed their highest quality leads stem from SEO activity; think about it, you’re finding potential customers at a point where they are actively seeking out information – it’s the perfect time to deliver value, create a seamless user experience, and reap the financial reward.

a screenshot of Squarespace website analytics

2 – SEO Benefits Other Marketing & Business Activities

A great SEO campaign rests on digging deep to develop a thorough understanding of what your website visitors will want to see and how they’d want to see it. 

As you’d expect, this thorough understanding can greatly benefit your other marketing efforts, and as so much of SEO rests on creating a wonderful user experience online, any advertising efforts directing traffic to your website will inadvertently benefit from this optimisation.

With a treasure trove of data and real world usage reports, SEO can even demonstrate what trends may emerge in your competitive landscape as well as provide you with interesting insights into popular services/products, where your competitors are outranking you and more.

As well as this, SEO is a digital discipline, meaning that by exposing yourself to SEO as an industry, investing in SEO yourself, and keeping up to date with the ever evolving landscape, your understanding of digital experiences, websites, consumer trends and competitors will be much, much deeper.

A photograph of six people around a wooden desk listening to a presentation at work

3 – SEO Forces You To Provide A Great User Experience

In case we hadn’t mentioned it enough, user experience is a fundamental element of any SEO strategy. Since 2021, Google has revealed that UX is a priority ranking factor and it’s not going to become anything but more necessary and relevant as time goes on. 

This means that SEO will force you to really get to know your target audience. You will need to be aware of exactly what they’re looking for, how they want to consume content, what they want to do after engaging with your initial webpage, and what value you can provide them.

Aside from content, your website will need to perform well enough to meet, or even exceed, expectations – this means loading speeds, responsiveness, design/aesthetics, and just about every other element you can think of needs to be considered, optimised, and continually refined.

If it sounds like hard work, that’s because it is! But remember that by prioritising your site visitor’s needs, you’re providing an incredible user experience that will not only improve their impression of your business, product or service, but will also be instrumental in ranking better, generating more leads, and improving your site authority.

A photograph of an app designer planning out user experience on a whiteboard

4 – SEO Builds Trust and Brand Awareness

Customers trust brands that appear on the front page of search results. They also like websites that perform well, are responsive and secure, and maintained regularly. The good news is that search engines love the very same things, so by optimising your website for Google, you’re building an online presence that generates trust in your brand and gives authority to your voice.

Another benefit of SEO is the effect it can have on your brand awareness. By featuring on the front page for related queries, you’ll be exposing your brand to so many more people than if you were to be stuck behind the invisible wall of pages 2 and beyond.

The great thing about this is that you don’t even need to get clicks through to your webpage in order for your brand awareness to improve – you can do this just by occupying a front page space and commanding that authority. Search users will start to associate your brand with that query. 

A good strategy to build brand awareness and increase traffic to your site is to optimise content for more specific and longer tail keywords – rather than something like “pet supplies online”, think more like “best online pet supplies for labradors in south yorkshire”. These will have lower search volume, but they will be much easier for you to start ranking for in the short term and will likely be much less competitive than shorter, broader keywords. All your efforts here will make it much easier to rank for less specific keywords too!

A cartoon showing 5 star reviews and an iPhone

5 – SEO Campaigns Are Long Lasting and Budget Friendly

As far as marketing is concerned, SEO is a relatively low cost investment that will outlast, and potentially outperform, other activities like pay-per-click advertising or social media advertising.

This is because investment in SEO is longstanding and aims to deliver organic results. To put it simply, when you stop paying for pay-per-click channels Google Ads, the benefits stop. There’s no residual traffic from these ads when your budget runs try or you pause a campaign – this is the opposite of SEO.

SEO is a long term strategy and aims to deliver return on investment far, far beyond the scope of the initial work completed. To put this into perspective, here are two facts:

The first is that industry leaders Ahrefs found that nearly 60% of pages ranking in the top 10 for Google search results are 3 or more years old.

The second is that 50% of marketeers stand by SEO as having the best ROI of any marketing channel. 

With SEO, it’s imperative to think big picture and long-term. Whilst rankings and site traffic may improve in a matter of weeks and months, optimised SEO content is there to perform for years!

Whilst SEO is an ever evolving practice, the core fundamentals of quality content, site health and user experience are timeless and, with minor tweaks, should stand the test of time for years to come. That’s what makes SEO such a powerful investment for small businesses seeking future growth.

a photograph of a man counting pennies on a table

6 – SEO Is Trackable

Whilst we concede that paid ads or shopping campaigns are more obvious choices for trackable data, SEO is still very much an easily trackable marketing investment. 

Utilising analytics software like Google Analytics, you can establish different trackable events/conversions that can paint a quantifiable picture of how your SEO efforts are performing and how they could be further optimised and improved.

This data allows you to establish key equations, like Return on Investment (ROI). This can be figured out with the following equation:

Keyword Search Volume X Click Through Rate (CTR) X Conversion Rate X Conversaion Value = Return on Investment.

Another piece of Google software, Search Console, enables you to dig out more data on visitor acquisition, what keywords you’re currently ranking for and what your competitive position is, as well as offering a suite of tools to further audit how healthy your website is and where improvements can be made.

A photograph of a MacBook Air screen showing google analytics with a woman typing on it

How Can Wilkes Wood Help With SEO?

We know how overwhelming the world of SEO can seem from an outside perspective and we’re here to help decipher the process and work with you to boost traffic to your website and improve your rankings.

We have in-house specialists ready to partner with you on sustainable, ethical SEO strategies. Everything we do is driven by cutting edge tools, in-depth research and compelling, keyword driven content that is designed to appeal specifically to your target audience.

We have packages for SEO site maintenance and content creation suitable for businesses of all shapes and sizes. If you want to optimise your website and content and reap the benefits of SEO, check out our SEO services page or get in touch today for a chat with one of our team.


What about PPC and Social Media Advertising?

Social media advertising and PPC can be fantastic avenues to utilise as part of your marketing strategy, yet we always recommend starting with SEO before diversifying. The reason for this is that the results of successful SEO should provide you with long-lasting and consistent visibility, with advertising that “extends beyond spend.” By contrast, if you run a successful PPC campaign through Google Ads, as soon as you stop spending, the benefits cease.


Can you get me to rank #1 on Google?

Any agency or freelancer promising to get you to #1 is at best misunderstanding how SEO works, and at worst trying to rip you off. We will always consult with you prior to taking on SEO work to understand your objectives and conduct a thorough audit of your current position. We can then present you with areas to improve upon and talk to you about where we might have the most successful impact on the rankings of your site, as well as what results we can realistically expect to achieve for the budget and time-frame.


How long does SEO take to see results?

SEO is not a quick fix, it is an investment designed to produce long-lasting results. Whilst some changes and optimisation may take days or weeks to update, serious SEO campaigns can take anywhere from 2 to 12 months to start to see measurable increases in traffic and, by extension, associated leads and conversions. This can depend on many factors, such as how competitive the targeted keywords are and how much content you are generating. 


How do I know what keywords to target?

Identifying the best keywords for your website is essential to ranking in Google for searches relevant to your business and industry. Our advanced SEO research tools means we can efficiently identify and target dozens of underused yet high traffic terms. It is also important to analyse competitor rankings and identify areas where they are securing top page positions for competitive keywords despite having lacklustre on-page content.


What are backlinks and why do they matter?

Backlinks (sometimes referred to as ‘inbound links’) are hyperlinks from one website to another. They are the foundation of ‘off-page SEO’ and demonstrate to Google the trustworthiness of your website. A website which receives a large volume of backlinks from authoritative websites (such as news organisations) has higher ‘domain authority’ – this makes it easier to rank for competitive and broad search terms. Backlinks are also a valuable source of traffic.


What is local SEO?

Local SEO refers to those strategies that are designed to increase visibility in search results aimed at locality, such as “Physiotherapists in Sheffield” or “Hairdressers Ecclesall Road”. Any business that has a brick and mortar store or a physical location, or a business that serves a particular and defined geographic area can reap the benefits of local SEO.


Does Social Media help SEO?

Whilst social media isn’t a ranking factor and won’t help your search position directly, social media can be used to bolster your content strategy. Featuring your content on social media may lead to new backlinks, improved social profile search results and increased social traffic.

Does SEO change over time?

The short answer is yes. SEO is a constantly evolving practice and relies on reacting to changes and developments introduced by the world’s largest search engines, like Google. As these companies are continually trying to improve the quality of their service, they are always tweaking their algorithms to try and optimise the search experience, and thus these changes have an impact on SEO practitioners. We are always following industry trends and ensuring that our SEO work is in line with the most recent best practices, and are committed to evolving our service to ensure we can consistently deliver results.

A photograph of browsing an e-commerce store

Building Your Own Website? Here are 5 Things You Need To Know.

As a web design agency, we are often approached by clients with existing websites that they’d like us to re-develop. This means that we come across an array of websites set-up by clients themselves – a common and understandable move for start-ups and small businesses at the very start of their journey. Often created with site-builders like Wix or Squarespace, we’ve noticed that there are 5 common elements that are overlooked during development.

Let’s take a look.

Compression of Images & Videos

This is one of the easiest changes you can make to your website that can yield incredibly powerful results. On average, images comprise over 20% of a total webpage’s “weight”, and aside from any video content that you have on your site, should be the first thing on your list of improvements.

A photograph showing a photography studio with three lights read for a content shoot

How Do I Deal With Videos on my Website?

We often come across websites that have not really planned to deal with site media/content that ends up on their pages – whether it’s images taking far, far too long to load (or just not loading in at all) or video content sprawled across every page without any compression, it doesn’t make for a great user experience.

As a general rule, we’d always start from the position of asking why you want to host videos directly on your website. For most, it makes much more sense to host your videos on YouTube or Vimeo – this allows you to directly embed these videos onto your website/webpage and avoids having to concern yourself with bandwidth/storage.

An additional advantage of this approach is that whilst your videos are on YouTube or Vimeo, users may come across your video organically, thus potentially driving additional traffic to your site/content.

If this is something you don’t want, for whatever reason, you can always have your video as unlisted so it cannot be found through search, but can still be embedded.

Can I Host Directly On My Site?

Obviously, this won’t be an option that works for all cases, so if you do have to host directly on your site, then ensure that your video is as compressed as possible without compromising the watchability of the content itself. There are plenty of free tools out there that can help with this, like Free Convert. 

It’s also worth remembering that although video can be incredibly effective, with 72% of customers declaring they’d rather learn about your product or service through this medium, you should be careful with how much video you are using on your website and also honestly assess the quality of the content.

Shaky Iphone footage with terrible audio isn’t going to represent your brand well, and forcing a mobile user to waste their precious data watching a 5 minute rambling video that could have been succinctly communicated in a small paragraph of text isn’t a good move either.

A man sat using an iPad to view YouTube in front of television screen

What About Image Compression?

Like video compression/external hosting, much of the benefit you can bring to your web presence through image compression lies in the fact it can greatly aid your site speed.

Site speed matters for many reasons – with 1 in 4 site visitors abandoning a website if it takes longer than 4 seconds to load, and nearly 50% of site visitors reluctant to ever revisit a poorly performing site, it can be make or break for your conversions.

However, it also can’t be overstated how important site speed is to your rankings/performance generally on Search Engines. Google hates slow sites just as much as people do – and with image compression being such a low hanging fruit for so many websites, it’s worth looking into as your first port of call.

Again, it’s about balancing compression with the user experience – compressing an image so much it looks like it’s made of lego isn’t going to reap much reward – the best thing to do is experiment with tools like Free Convert and see if you can take your images down to a manageable size.

A screenshot of free convert website

Mobile Optimisation

All too often we’re confronted with a website that looks pretty decent and functional on a desktop, yet take one look on a mobile device and the very same site becomes unusable.

It seems to us that most people aren’t aware of the importance of mobile optimisation and how much of an impact it can have on your business. According to Statista, mobiles now generate around 58% of web traffic. That’s nearly 60% of users that you just cannot afford to ignore.

How Do I Optimise for Mobile?

We will be soon publishing a more comprehensive guide on Mobile Optimisation, yet for now we can focus on a few key points that will hopefully make it easier for you to offer a better user experience on mobile.

Firstly, you should look at the content on your website with mobile in mind. Have you packed walls of sprawling text on top of one another? Is there something on the page, like a form or pop-up, that doesn’t work for mobile? Making content work across all devices and screens is your number one priority.

This might require some serious rewriting & reworking of content, but after this initial workload you should see some real improvement and know how to optimise any future content/pages.

Another element that is key for mobile is a simple and considered navigation/menu. It’s bad enough having to click through 5 pages to access content on a desktop, but forcing mobile visitors to do so will annoy a large number of users. 

A photograph of a person using a mobile phone with a blurred background of an office behind them

Will Responsive Design Work Every Time?

It is worth noting that many site builders, like Squarespace, will allow you to utilise “responsive design”, where blocks/site content will automatically rearrange to display on mobile devices. A vast majority of web developers believe that responsive design is the key to successfully keeping visitors on your site. 

This automated stacking is not always perfect, however, and may require you to adjust layouts until it works just right – don’t rely on the “view mobile” button when building and always check the version on a real mobile device before publishing to your site.

What Tools Can Help Me Optimise for Mobile?

Finally, go through your website on your mobile device and see what problem areas you have, noting them down as you go. Google has a fantastic tool that enables you to determine how mobile friendly your webpage is and provides some great insight on what you may need to work on.

This will produce a list that you can work through and attempt to resolve. Some might be easy fixes and others may require you to reach out to more technical developers/designers to resolve – prioritise the low hanging fruit and then you can determine whether more technical issues are worth investing in.

As mentioned earlier, we’ll be making a full guide to this in the near future, but please get in touch if you have any questions about mobile optimisation on your website.

A screenshot of Google's page speed insights tool in use

Choose an Appropriate Domain Name

This is something we have to contend with quite often in our initial meetings with clients. It is not uncommon for clients to look to purchase their business name as a or .com domain only to find that someone else already owns it – a fair few of our clients have then gone on to purchase a domain that has unusual suffixes, like “” or have gone for odd variations of their actual business name.

Like mobile optimisation, we are writing a comprehensive guide to domain/URL selection to be published soon, but for now there are a few key things to keep in mind.

So What Makes A Good Domain Name?

A good domain name is one that is concise, memorable and easy to type out or reference verbally. If you have a domain name that requires unusual spelling, hyphenation or is just far too long (over 15 characters), you could be accidentally scuppering word-of-mouth driven visits. 

Why Should My Domain Avoid Hyphens?

Whilst there are some cases where it may be appropriate to use a hyphen in your domain name, the vast majority of the time it is wise to avoid using one if you can (and avoid using more than one entirely!).

Hyphenated domains are strongly associated with spammy websites and it is unwise to put yourself in this same boat in the eyes of site visitors and Search Engines alike. As mentioned above, you always want to avoid needlessly complicating your domain name so that it is easily memorable – if our website was “” rather than “” we would have added another thing for a site visitor to remember and have to communicate should they want to recommend our services to a friend or colleague.

An infographic showing cartoon a website domain registration

What About Getting Keywords In My Domain?

There is nothing to say that adding in a keyword in your domain name is a bad thing to do, and it can actually help make it very clear what your services relate to, your geographic region, or create a more memorable or branded domain.

If you had a dentistry business called “Smile” based in Sheffield, “” and “” would both be very valid domain names that have added keywords, and offer more information to search engines and consumers than just “”.

What you should absolutely avoid is creating domains like “” or “”. This sort of search query matching may have once worked as a ranking factor yet nowadays Google and other search engines would likely be associating you with spammy or poor quality content and it could negatively impact your SEO.

What Suffix is Best For SEO?

It goes without saying that a “.com” or “” would be the most popular top level domain choice; these suffixes are the most memorable and trusted (by consumers) of all available and therefore we’d usually advise getting these if you can. That being said, there is no evidence to suggest that Google or other search engines rank these higher than other domain suffixes, so if you’re forced into a different domain there’s no reason your SEO should suffer.

Utilise Analytics

Analytics seems to be an area of website ownership that most clients recoil at, often assuming that you need vast technical expertise to extract any sort of valuable data from. The truth is, whether you’ve built your site on site builders like Squarespace and Wix, or even if you’ve opted for a Wordpress site, it really isn’t difficult to get analytics configured and start reading into valuable data.

A photograph of a laptop on a sofa showing google analytics on its screen

What Can Website Analytics Do For Me?

Whilst analytics can be used to track and provide data on more complicated site usage, even at the simplest level you could be getting incredibly useful insights into who is actually using your website and how. The data available might seem overwhelming, but once you familiarise yourself with some basics you can uncover the following with ease:

  • Gender, Age and Location of site visitors
  • Amount of site visitors
  • Popular site content
  • Unpopular site content
  • How site visitors find you (Acquisition)
  • How site visitors are interacting with each page
  • How many button or form interactions you’ve had
  • Compare site performance over time

Why Is This Data Important?

Simply put, if you’re not tracking some metrics on your website, you have literally no indication of site performance and don’t know if your investment of time/money to create your website has actually been worth it. Knowing your website’s audience and how these visitors have actually found you can give you great insight into whether you’re reaching the right people and how effective your marketing efforts have been.

Quite often, we find that clients think they are targeting a completely different audience to who they are actually reaching – knowing this can help them adapt content and marketing campaigns to capitalise on this different audience or take steps to ensure they are actually reaching their target demographics. 

Data is knowledge and knowledge is power. There is no disadvantage to knowing more about how consumers are interacting with you, and analytics can provide a wealth of information for you and your business to use to your advantage. 

A photograph of a laptop screen showing various website analytics

So How Do I See This Data?

If you are on Squarespace or Wix, you will have access to an in-built analytics suite that will show you some of the data we’ve discussed. These are typically very user friendly and are a great starting point if you’re unfamiliar with analytics.

If you want more powerful insight, Google Analytics is an absolute necessity and remains the most popular tool worldwide. It is free and relatively easy to set-up; there are plenty of great introductory guides (like this one from Hubspot) to assist with setting up your account, but take a look around YouTube for video guides as these often visualise the process in a more digestible way.

Drive Traffic To Your Website

There is a misconception that a website will easily and immediately start to produce organic traffic and leads without any consistent effort across other marketing channels. Unfortunately, this just isn’t the case – you might have built yourself the best website in the world, but if you’ve not told anyone about it then you can’t expect traffic to find you.

Should I Use Social Media?

Social media is the most commonly used channel in marketing and is a vital component of marketing strategy for businesses of all industries and sizes. Social media marketing is a vast discipline with varying degrees of complexity, but these fundamentals will get you started on the right track: 

1 – Know Your Audience and Where to Find Them. 

Different social media platforms attract different audiences and some might be much more tailored toward your target market than others. For example, nearly half of Facebook users are over the age of 45 whereas Instagram appeals much more to younger audiences (84% of US teens use the app at least twice a month); for B2B marketing efforts, LinkedIn would be the top social media platform by far, with 89% of college graduates and 50% of US adults that earn over $75,000 having a profile.

An infographic of backlinks, social media, email marketing, banner ads, direct traffic, search engines all leading to your website

2 – Prioritise Good Quality Content

It can be tempting to pump out content on social media just for the sake of it, prioritising output over quality. This approach is not recommended – for followers to grow and, most importantly, engage with your social media posts, you need to be providing relevant content that is of high value to really reap the rewards. Treat every post like it is representing your business because it is – that means no blurry, poorly lit photos, no rants at rude customers and no lazy duplicates of competitor’s content. 

A good strategy for content doesn’t have to be labour intensive – you can combine original posts/photos with sharing content made/posted by customers/followers and also share useful content made by third parties – this could be an interesting TED talk, a handy guide or anything you think your audience would enjoy or find valuable.

3 – Be Consistent

Consistency makes it easier for you to plan, but also ensures your audience knows when to expect content and that you’re regularly in their feeds. What you actually pick as a schedule will vary wildly depending on how much time you have in the week, what your business does, if you need to take photos/film videos, etc, etc. Don’t overpromise and underdeliver, and if you can pre-plan and generate content ahead of time then you’ll take the pressure off yourself.

How Can I Drive Traffic Without Using Social Media?

You don’t have to use social media to get traffic to your site – we should know, as we spent 4 years growing the business without it. There are loads of options available to you, and the best marketing strategy would be to try and combine a few of them together. PPC (Pay-Per-Click) Advertising, SEO/content marketing, email marketing (if you’re interested in this then you should buy this book), networking/word of mouth, Google my Business optimization, magazine advertisement, competitions, the list goes on and on.

The important thing is you start – pick a marketing channel, get it up and running, get familiar with it, and once it’s running smoothly you can look to add some more strings to the bow.

This All Sounds Too Complicated, Can You Do It For Me?

Yes. We’re web design specialists with over 4 years of experience building sites for businesses of all shapes and sizes. If you want a hand with anything we’ve mentioned in this list, just get in touch and we can have a chat.

To make sure you don’t miss out, make sure to sign up to our newsletter for curated blog posts, videos, and tools sent directly to your inbox – fill in the form below.

A screenshot of a Google Business profile showing 27 5 star reviews for a business

Why your Google Business Profile Matters

Formerly known as “Google My Business”, your Google Business account gives you the ability to appear on Google Search, Maps and Shopping with a personalised profile, boosting your visibility across a range of Google services.

Creating a profile is free and allows you to add vital information to help turn casual searchers into new customers, like your business hours, photos and videos of your goods/services, and latest offers. Here’s a little more about why we think Google Business profiles are so important:

Get Discovered across Google

A photograph of a hand holding an iPhone showing a Google maps search for a butcher

If my car broke down and I needed the number of a local mechanic, there’s a high chance that I’d pull out my phone, head to Google, and search “Mechanic near me”. I could then see what businesses were operating nearby, how well they’re reviewed, their opening hours and perhaps even their fees. But only if they had a Google Business account.

This is why your profile is so important. As a space to represent your business, potential customers can access information that tells them where and how they can use your services and is a really vital step in improving your local SEO.

Testimonials Build Trust

Google reviews are an incredibly important part of building trust and reputation online, and over 60% of customers say they use Google reviews as part of their decision making when looking to buy. 

Google Business allows you to showcase your credibility by pushing customers to review your services, allowing future profile visitors to see how real people have experienced your business and get a good first impression. As a business, you can reply to all reviews (whether favourable or unfavourable) and provide more context or just say thanks, and you can also flag any false reviews or spam reviews with Google through your account.

Google also now give you the ability to share a direct link with customers and clients, taking them directly to your page to ensure it’s as easy as possible for them to leave their feedback.

A sticker on a shop window of the Google logo encouraging visitors to leave a Google review

Google Business Provides Insight

Google Business is also a powerful tool in understanding how people find you, and offers insight into keywords used to find you, as well as data on reviews and other elements that give you more knowledge on how you’re connecting with your customers and clients. 

Your account gives you the ability to track performance over an adjustable time period, and further allows you to break down insight across:

  • Views on your listing
  • How your listing has been found
  • Where your listing has been found
  • Actions taken on your listing (website visits, phone calls, etc)

How to Optimise Your Google Business Profile

A screenshot of a Google Business profile showing 27 5 star reviews for a business

Like all business profiles, whether they be on social media or search engines, Google Business accounts need to be optimised to work in the most effective way. 

Here are just a few of the ways a profile can be optimised:

  • Completing all parts of the profile – fully complete profiles are more than twice as likely to be visited than incomplete ones.
  • Successfully verify your location – verifying your location ensures Google knows you are not a spam account and increases your chances of appearing for local searches on maps.
  • Great quality images and videos – this is a space for customers to get a feel for your business, so avoid using stock photography. Investing the time into getting real photo/video content of your business that is high quality ensures the best chance of a good first impression.
  • Keyword optimise – your Google Business profile gives plenty of space to write about your business and its services, so make sure they’re optimised for the keywords people are likely to search for!
  • Get reviews – promoting and encouraging reviews ensures that your business looks like it is getting a steady stream of customers and also signifies to searchers that your service is high quality and trusted.

There are also ways to further optimise your profile depending on industry and requirements, such as adding menus and stunning photos of food for restaurants and cafes or check-in/out times for hotels or BnBs.

For those that want to fully optimise their profile, but are unsure how to proceed, get in touch to talk about how we can help.