Hey! You may have seen my face floating around on Hike’s social media platforms last month but for anyone who didn’t – I’m Ellie – the new Junior Digital Marketing Executive at Hike. Previous to Hike, I was working for a corporate organisation as a copywriter and previous to that was studying at Nottingham Trent University, achieving a 2.1 in my Marketing degree. Completing a Digital Marketing module, I had a basic knowledge of SEO but after a year of forgetting SEO existed, I was pretty much back to square one. So here is my SEO journey, long may it continue.
My first day
My first day consisted of a combination of nerves, excitement and anticipation. I experienced the classic ‘first day worries’ like trying not to get lost on route to the office (even if I had left 30 minutes early) and wondering what time it was acceptable to take my lunch break. But as expected, everyone made me feel so welcome and it’s amazing how quickly I felt part of the team. I remember my first zoom team meeting (Covid style) and thinking how or when I would ever start to understand what was being discussed, let alone being able to join in these conversations. But here we are, 2 months on, I’m starting to sound just like one of them (I think).
My SEO knowledge
As I mentioned, I started this role as pretty much a beginner to SEO and despite feeling slightly overwhelmed at the start with all the new language and technical bits and bobs, it’s surprising how much you can learn when you stick at it. It would be difficult to try and cover everything I have learnt over the past few months, so i’m just going to talk about the parts I have had the most experience with so far. Each element to SEO is important in it’s own right and as you probably know, the world of SEO is constantly changing so it’s important to keep your eye on Google’s movements. But don’t worry too much, we will always make sure to keep you updated too!
I now truly understand the importance of strategy. It basically determines everything you do and therefore every decision you make should be in line with your SEO strategy. Strategy encomposes multiple different factors, including keyword research.
Understanding the importance of keywords
When selecting your keywords, it is important you pick phrases that your customers will use to search for a site like yours. Take a step back and think about yourself as a customer and what type of thing you would be typing into that Google search bar – these are your keywords!
Why backlinks are important
Backlinks can add such value to your SEO and your site, as it represents a vote of confidence and Google will recognise this and reward you for it. I mean it may seem simple but having backlinks from a popular, trustworthy site with a higher domain authority are going to be much more desirable, and if done multiple times can really improve your search visibility and ranking position.
Recognising “bad” backlinks
However, (I imagine you knew this was coming) not all links are good and it is important to recognise that ‘bad’ backlinks can really affect your rankings. In order to not upset Google, it’s important to recognise these and take action to avoid slipping down the rankings. I can imagine now you are thinking, I don’t have the time to spend looking for links, I’m just going to hope they come naturally. I mean, I’m not saying no but I’m saying there are a few things you can do that will hopefully speed up the process – competitor backlink analysis (I did tell you to keep an eye on them). If you have a competitor that is ranking well for your selected keywords, using the Hike backlink analysis tool you can gain insight into their backlinks and identify which ones may (or may not) be useful for you and target these domains yourself.
Content, content, content. I’m sure you know that it is important for your SEO, and each month I’m sure on your ‘to-do’ list is to create a new blog post or update your FAQ section, but sometimes it’s difficult to know where to start. With the help of Hike’s content scrapboard, you can plan out your content topics as well as getting a little inspo from social media to help get that creativity flowing. Keep a close eye on your competitors too, it is important to be aware of their ranking positions and you never know when you may come across a good backlink opportunity to help you along the way.
Top tips for content writing
It’s definitely quality over quantity with this one. There is no use having out-of-date content on your site that isn’t valuable to your users and can actually sometimes be inaccurate – it makes your site look old and a little lazy. If you have the resources to do so, write a new, fresh piece of content, linking to trends and relevant happenings. However, when time is of the essence it may be more productive to just edit an old page with accurate info or if this would mean deleting everything and starting again, how about using a 301 redirect to an up-to-date content piece that still holds relevance. If you are struggling with content ideas, Hike’s content tool will point you in all the right directions – whether this is Google, your key competitors or social media platforms, we do it all. However, even though it’s great to get ideas from these sites, remember to put your own twist on it, ensure it is consistent with your brand tone and message – stick to your roots. Oh, and while you are at it remember to link to other content on your site and to valuable external sites – this will boost your SEO once more.
You may have come across on-site actions when completing tasks on the Hike platform and noticed actions around title tags and meta descriptions. Our “Done-For-You” service means I am also getting stuck into editing these key elements. The title tag and meta description are such simple but valuable parts of your SEO. This is sometimes someone’s first interaction with your site or brand. If there is a spelling mistake or the character count is over the limit, it doesn’t give off great vibes and it’s not the impression you want a potential customer to have. URLs are copied and pasted into group chats, typed in to the address bar and even printed on marketing materials – you want a URL to be easily read and understood by all and if we find it simple then Google will follow our lead. Remember to do this for all your different pages, not just the home page. Like I said, this little snippet is your chance to set your site apart from your competitors around you. Use this opportunity to stand out and encourage that user to click through and hopefully convert.
The next steps
Don’t get me wrong, even though I have learnt a lot along the way, there is still SO much I am still getting to grips with and maybe haven’t even come across yet. Personally, I find the technical bits of SEO a little confusing as it just seems like a completely new language to me, and foreign languages isn’t my strong point. Fortunately for me, when making technical changes to a site, Hike is available to walk me through step-by-step. It would just be great to reach a point when I don’t have to follow these instructions. Here are just a few subjects I hope I will be more confident in the next time I update you on my progress…
- Robots Meta Tags & Robots.txt files – I have the basic understanding that they are created to instruct crawlers but that’s how far it goes. I find myself often getting confused over which is which. As these files are very much working behind the scene I haven’t had to deal with them much, yet.
- No Index & No Follow – Now robots aren’t involved I can grasp this technical bit a little more but the thought of trying to implement this in coding or being confident in knowing when it is necessary, I think needs a little more work.
- HTTP Codes – HTTP Code 301 Redirect and 404 Not Found – I’ve got the hang of these but there are a few other important codes I need to get my head around and hopefully they’ll become second nature to me.
Rounding things up
Like with everything in life, learning a completely new skill requires investment of both your time and effort. But as they say, practise makes perfect and I think the more time I spend on the platform, reading Hike’s blog posts and asking a million questions to my team, the more confident and proficient I will become in SEO.
Google has a lot of power behind it. If you can get SEO right it can make a significant impact upon your conversion rates and your overall business success. Remember, Google receives over 63,000 searches per second. Stay on top of your Google game, because if you don’t someone else will.
This is my SEO journey, what does yours look like?