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What is SEO | Search engine optimization guide

Apnest blog- What is SEO | Search engine optimization guide
You have been having this revolutionary business idea that requires a website to be executed and after researching, you get one of the best web design company in Nairobi to develop you a professional website or web application but soon after you have launched the website you realize no one is visiting the website, it does not appear on Google search engine either. At this point, you realize you need some form of marketing that will help you get some traffic to the website and this is where search engine optimization ( SEO ) comes in. What is SEO? SEO or search engine optimization is the process that aims to improve the rankings of a website on search engine results. What that means is if your website is an ecommerce site or something like an online liquor store, you want it to be displayed on the first page of google search results when customers search for the phrase “alcohol delivery” or “drinks delivery”. The other question we need to answer is what is digital marketing and what is SEO in digital marketing?

What is digital marketing?

Digital marketing is a wide term that is used to refer to all the marketing activities carried out via digital platforms mainly the internet. SEO, social media marketing, search engine marketing are all form of digital marketing.
In this guide, we are going to explore SEO in depth, explain what is SEO marketing, how to get started and highlight some of the effective white hat SEO techniques. Before we go further there is another phrase I want to introduce, local SEO. What is local SEO? This is a process that involves optimizing your website to rank well in a specific location or in your local area. If you own a store and you only serve the local market it is possible to target a local audience, we will learn more about local search engine optimization later on. Throughout this article, I will be giving examples of an ecommerce website especially drinks delivery and food delivery sites. This is because they operate just like that hotel or wine shop you go to buy drinks and food daily.

How to get started with SEO

Just like any other form of marketing, SEO requires the marketer to study the market, customer behavior and collect all the relevant data in the target market. This is the most critical stage if you want to succeed in your SEO efforts. The method of collecting data from search engines is called keyword research. The process involves the collection of all the relevant keywords that customers are searching for when interested in products or services you offer.
Effective keyword research
Here are three factors that you ought to consider in order to discover the best keywords to target in your campaign
→ Search traffic
This is the number of people searching for a certain phrase/keyword. Identifying the keywords that most customers are searching for is the key to penetrating the desired market. You might do a guesswork of the keywords people are searching for but this might cost you and lead to wastage of money. A good example of this is when you assume, ( for an online liquor store ) that people are searching for the phrase “buy whisky online in Nairobi” just to realize that the largest number of your clients are searching for the phrase “ whisky delivery Nairobi”. If you make such a mistake you end up targeting a very low percentage of clients in your niche.
→ Relevancy and search intent
Having discovered which keywords are most searched by the customers we are targeting, it is important to measure how relevant those keywords are to our business. For example, the keyword “alcohol” might have a very high search volume but not relevant to our business, a user might be interested in knowing what is alcohol, how alcohol is made, alcoholism, about alcohol and religion etc. Narrowing down to keywords like “alcohol delivery Nairobi” is imperative since it helps you draw relevant traffic that is composed of buyers to your website. Targeting general phrases will leave you with a huge traffic that does not convert. Choose keywords that suggest the user is ready to purchase or will buy in the near future.
→ Competition
Having filtered the keywords and search terms that are relevant to our business and has high traffic, the next thing to do is to evaluate the difficulty or how competitive a keyword is. Keyword difficulty is the measure of how hard it is to rank for a certain keyword. Some keywords have high traffic, are relevant to our business but there are other businesses in our niche that have optimized and ranked for the same keywords. When you do a search of a certain keyword and find that the first page of SERP has high authority websites ( competitor’s websites ) then it will be difficult to rank for the same keyword. For startups and new websites, it is advisable to target long tail keywords ( long phrases keywords) e.g instead of targeting “alcohol delivery” you can target “24 hour alcohol delivery Nairobi”, long tail keywords are more specific and less competitive which means it’s easy to rank for these keywords
Above are factors to consider when doing keywords research but which tools or programs do you use to find these keywords.

SEO tools

The most commonly used tool is the Google keyword planner. This is because Google search engine is the most used search engine, and Google offers this search data via the keyword planner. Keyword planner gives you the search volume and the related keywords that you can also target. Other SEO tools that can help you do keyword research include ubersuggest, Keyword tool among others.

Optimizing your websites

After doing keywords research and choosing the ideal keywords it is time to optimize your website, make it rank better for the chosen search terms. There are two types of optimization, on page optimization an off page optimization.
On page optimization
This involves optimization done on the website it involves things
- Optimizing meta tags. Meta title and meta description are some of the sections that you should ensure that keywords are placed. Every page should have its unique meta title and meta description this will help you create effective landing pages and direct customer to the most relevant pages for example, a drinks delivery site should have a page dedicated to wine products and another page dedicated for whisky products, when a user searches for the phrase “wine delivery Nairobi” it is wise to land them on the page dedicated to wine and when user searches for the phrase “whisky delivery Nairobi” it is wise to land them in a page dedicated to whisky. This means the two pages will have a unique meta tag and meta description. The whisky page should have its meta title and description optimized for the whisky keywords and the same goes for wine.
The meta title should not go beyond 60 characters, although there are no penalties if you exceed it is recommended that you observe this length to ensure the title is readable across all the devices. The meta description, on the other hand, should be around 160 characters, although this is just a recommendation, it is important especially if you don’t want important information to be truncated. Other elements to optimize in your pages include H1s ( headings ), Alt tags on the images and content. Internal linking, adding a schema, ensuring the website is responsive, enabling SSL certificates, loading speed, ensuring all the pages are crawlable and including a sitemap. All these factors impact a site’s search engine rankings they need to be implemented to give your visitors a better experience and when the site gives users a good experience it is more likely that your site will rank better. Off-page optimization
This involves things like getting backlinks from authoritative websites in your niche, business listing, and citations.
These are the main elements that are involved in optimizing your website for the search engines. In the subsequent article, SEO beginner guide part 2 we will dive deeper into each of these ranking factors and also explore online marketing in Kenya. If you have issues in implementation or need more personalized information, feel to contact us here at Apnest, we are a web design and digital marketing agency and we been supporting small and medium business achieve their goals.
Published on Sat 18-7-2018
Article Writen By - Robert wach
Robert Wachira is a Web designer and digital marketer at Apnest. He has vast knowledge in the fields of web design and digital marketing.