The recent pandemic has drastically changed how businesses operate and how their customers behave. With online shopping becoming the go-to choice for most, websites need to adapt to the fast-paced needs of consumers and understand the broader competitive landscape they face in the digital world.

Following these changes to consumer behaviour and a 323% increase in monthly searches for ‘How does SEO work’, digital marketing specialist, Fishtank Agency, share a straightforward guide to optimising a business’ online presence using Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).

From keyword research to targeted link building, find out how to create a top-ranking website with SEO:

Choose relevant topics and keywords
Keywords are a vital part of SEO and are used by search engines to understand what a website or page is about and whether it’s relevant to what a user is searching.

Ola Tambor, head of digital at Fishtank Agency, explains: “You want to drive as much traffic as possible to your website, but you also need to make sure that visitors are going to be interested in your business and not leave your site immediately. A simple way to attract your target audience is to find relevant keywords they are searching for. An excellent way to do this is to research what competitors and other successful companies in your sector are ranking for and consider if they can apply to your business.

“Remember, put yourself in your target audience’s shoes and think how a customer would search to find you and what services or products they would be looking for. Keep in mind any alternative terms for products or common questions people could be searching for.”

Set up on-site optimisation
On-site SEO optimisation tells Google and other search engines what your website page is about and whether it provides value to what a user may be searching for. This optimisation not only affects the appearance and usability of the site to users but also helps the website appear better to search engine bots.

Ola adds: “On-page SEO elements can include page content, titles, headers, meta descriptions, image alt-text page URLs and more. These elements are referred to as ‘on-page’ as they are visible to visitors on the site whereas ‘off-page’ SEO elements aren’t always visible and may occur on the back of the website.

“To optimise your website, you need to make sure that page content is of a high quality by referencing high ranking keywords and search terms, as well as, relevant topics that users will likely be searching for. Having researched keywords and monitoring what content your competitors rank highest for, review all titles and headings to make sure they feature different keywords so that users and bots can find relevant information quickly. This also applies elements not visible to visitors, including meta titles, URLs and meta descriptions.”

Set up a blog and a consistent blogging schedule
Having a growing collection of regular and high-quality blog content will help showcase your knowledge and reliability as a business and help build trust and authority between you and Google. Optimised blog content can improve keyword rankings by utilising key search terms and answering relevant questions people will be searching for.

Ola says: “Having a consistent blog schedule sends positive signals to Google and other search engines that your website is sharing fresh and up to date information. It can also increase the time visitors spend on your website and provide opportunities for internal links to products and services and external links from other websites that find your advice of use.”

Create a link-building plan
Building links to your website is a key digital marketing method to attract new visitors and broaden your audience. Securing external links, especially from high ranking sites, will support your search engine ranking position (SERP) for target keywords and improve trust and authority with search engines.

Ola advises: “Take time regularly to brainstorm wishlist websites you’d like to receive a backlink from. Base this on the website's domain authority, the industry in which it targets, and the potential reach of audiences. You can achieve external links by sharing press releases with journalists and bloggers, monitoring broken links, partnership and sponsorship opportunities, featuring in trusted directories, offering discounts and more.”

Measure and track your content’s success
An SEO strategy combines several different elements and tactics to make positive changes, which is why it’s important to effectively measure and track your content’s success to see which changes have benefitted your business and which areas need further improvement.

Ola explains: “An SEO report should provide an overview of the changes to a website from a set period and can be done on a quarterly, monthly or weekly basis depending on changes.

“Within these reports, you should cover metrics such as traffic, keyword rankings, website health and changes in user behaviour. Tools such as Google Analytics and SEMRush can be used to monitor sources of traffic to your website and track changes in visitor behaviour, goal conversions or keyword rankings.”

Ola summarises: “The past two years have been incredibly difficult for businesses in all sectors, with many losing a huge portion of their customers almost immediately when lockdown began. Whilst operating your business online may seem like a straightforward strategy, digital marketing is vital to support changes in customers' needs and behaviour when shopping.

“Researching and monitoring your customer's experience will allow you to improve usability, create a better functioning website and provide an improved user journey for your customers, which will lead to more interest and conversions.”

Find out more about optimising your website for search engines and improving keyword rankings: