SEO is important and here’s why

By Sharon Lapkin

SEO is more important than ever for your business.

Search engine optimisation (SEO) gets you out in front of your customers and clients and ahead of your competitors.

If you’re clever about it and optimise your content strategically, your brand will appear on page one of the search engine results pages (SERPs) when your potential clients search for goods or services.

As you’ll read below, you can even score prime Google real estate – a featured snippet at the top of page one – if you put in the work. I show you how I did it more than once.

Large corporations invest in content marketing and SEO because they know it works. They spend a lot of money getting to the top of Google’s SERPs.

But here’s the thing. You don’t need a lot of money or extra staff to get to the top of the SERPs.

All you need is a clever strategy and staying power. SEO is important. More important than most people realise.

Do we still need SEO?

We do still need SEO, but the procedures and methods have changed.

Keywords were once the major component of the SEO story, now they’re just one of the ways we can optimise content.

Over the years, Google fine-tuned the tools it uses to evaluate content. Today those tools are sophisticated and focused, and Google’s capacity to assess the quality of content is more accurate than ever.

Good SEO now requires you to focus on reading ease, image alt attributes, inbound and outbound links, text length, voice (preferably active), sentence length, paragraph length, subheading distribution and more.

The quality and consistency of your content is more important then ever.

the relationship between clients and keywords

If you publish good-quality, optimised content, your chances of ranking in the search engine results pages (SERPs) increases, and so do the chances you’ll be found by prospective clients or readers.

The relationship between keywords and clients is intrinsic to your SEO.

How? Well, to generate on-target keywords, you have to work out the words that potential clients are going to type into Google.

This is called ‘search intent’, and knowing the words they’ll use to define their needs is essential to SEO success.

These words are the basis for the long-tail keyword you’ll use to optimise your text, images, headings, alt text and meta.

People climbing a ladder asking do we still need SEO in 2021?
Old blue tile divider

Fully optimise your content

Ideally, you want to be on page one of the SERPs, but that’s a big ambition right?

It sure is, but with determination and hard work you can get there. 

Take a look at these organic search statistics that demonstrate why SEO is important.

Just over half (53%) of website traffic comes from organic research.

Almost one third of consumers in the US search for local businesses daily.

Almost 99% of people click on one of the 10 links in the first page of the SERPs.

Over 25% of people click the first Google search result.

Now, let’s look at how to optimise your content step by step.

featured snippets, and why they're seo gold

You’ve probably seen featured snippets in Google when you search for something. They’re at the top of page one often large and sometimes colourful.

Seriously, you can’t buy this prime Google real estate.

I’ve posted two of my featured snippets that Google featured at the top of page one below.

Featured snippet with Textshop's blog post Rome's oldest public library.

The blog post used by Google for my featured snippet on Bibliotheca Angelica (left) was ranking at position two on page one of the SERPs.

The other featured snippet ‘9 common errors every writer should know about’ is drawn from a blog post that was ranking in position one on page one for the longtail keyword I used.

Google places featured snippets at the top of page one, so readers can find the information they’re looking for without searching further.

Textshop featured snippet

Ranking for a featured snippet is more valuable than ranking for number one.

It actually pushes all the organic results further down the page.

A featured snippet provides your business with greater visibility and a massive boost to your credibility.

Often, but not always, you up there occupying Google real estate with world-famous companies and organisations.

To land a featured snippet you need to focus on question-type search queries that are based on your longtail keyword.

How to optimise for Google's featured snippets

Featured snippets are selected by Google to answer searchers’ queries in simple straightforward ways.

Here are five ways to to create featured snippets that work:

1

Aim to provide in-depth meaningful answers.

2

Write concisely and clearly. There’s no room for fluff words.

3

Research the questions readers have about the topic.

4

Provide the best answer – use tools like this great synonym finder to access perfect words.

5

Write at least 40 words and no more than 50.

one long-tail keyword is all you need

Long-tail keywords are groups of words or a question. They’re more specific than short-tail keywords, which are usually single words.

Short-tail keywords such as ‘laptop’ have a high search volume; whereas, long-tail keywords such as ’13-inch Apple laptop’ have a lower search volume because they’re more focused.

Long-tail keywords with less volume have less competition and are easier to rank for. They’re also more likely to convert to sales.

Think about it. Who’s closer to purchasing a laptop – the person who searched for ‘laptop’ or the one who searched for ’13-inch Apple laptop’?

Once you’ve researched and selected your long-tail keyword, insert it into the places discussed below.

Keywords in headings and subheadings

Include your long-tail keyword in the title of your story or article.

Don’t place the keyword in every subheading, but ensure it goes into a few of them.

Take care not to place the keyword where it doesn’t work. Make sure it fits into the context of the text around it.

SEO is important, but not at the expense of clarity or well-executed grammar. If your optimisation causes errors or clunky writing, then you’ll loose out in the long run. 

Use an active, not passive, voice

Use an active voice whenever possible in your writing.

In a sentence written in active voice, the subject of the sentence is performing the action.

In a passive voice, it’s the other way around. The subject receives the action.

A good tip is to always place the subject of the sentence as close as possible to the beginning of the sentence.

EXAMPLE:

Active – The man smiled as he typed the final lines of his novel.

Passive: Typing the final lines of his novel put a smile on the man’s face.

An active voice makes it clear who’s taking the action in a sentence. When the subject comes before the verb,  it places emphasis on the subject. This improves clarity and reduces repetition.

Elderly man in a straw hat on a laptop wondering if we still need SEO in 2021.

Compress all your images for Google

Publishing high-resolution (300 dpi) images on your website will dramatically slow down your page speed.

If you use low resolution (96 dpi) images, your page speed will be faster, and your readers will stick around.

To achieve the smallest files possible always compress your images.

This ensures your page speed is as fast as possible.

If you use Canva to source images, there’s a ‘compress file’ function on the download tab.

You can also open a free account with Shortpixel to compress your images.

How to write alt text and meta

Alt text is short for ‘alternative text’ and we write this as an image tag for screen readers.

Alt text is used by people who are visually impaired. So write a clear description for these readers, but also add your keyword so the alt text is optimised for SEO.

If you have images that are purely design elements, insert the empty alt attribute below. The screen reader will then skip over them.

Lastly, consider context when you add your keyword into the alt text. Adding random keywords may cause your site to be seen as spam.

Focus on easy-to-read writing and well-constructed sentences

Women holding laptop asking if we still need SEO in 2021

The free Yoast SEO plugin has a good readability check that ensures content is easy to read.

Yoast uses the Flesch reading ease formula to analyse two characteristics of good writing:

First, it analyses how the number of words relate to the number of sentences. 

Second, it analyses how the number of syllables relate to the number of words.

These checks examine sentence length and word difficulty.

Ease of reading is also achieved by keeping sentences concise and limiting difficult words. 

Keeping it simple and easy to read increases the likelihood that readers will understand the content.

SEO is important ... let me show you the ways

If you’d like to chat to me about writing or editing, including why SEO is important, please reach out to me via the button below.

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