SEO: what it is and why it matters for your business

Smart practice

Tuesday 27 June 2017

Why understanding SEO will make your business more productive

If you want people to find you online, having good SEO - or search engine optimisation - is vital.

After all, these days when people are looking for any new product or service, chances are the first place they’ll turn to is a search engine. And SEO is simply the process of making your website visible to search engines.

It does this by linking the words on your website to the words people plug into Google, Bing, Yahoo! or other search engines (known as search terms). By ranking higher on the page of search results and more frequently than your competitors, you’ll drive more traffic to your site and give yourself the potential of converting more leads.

Because SEO sounds technical, you may think that’s it’s something you have no chance of cracking. But that’s not the case at all. Even if your technical knowledge is limited, you can still master the basics of SEO and drive more business your way. Here’s how.

How do you improve your SEO?

Essentially, your SEO will improve if the words you use on your website mimic those that people search for. So it’s important to anticipate the kinds of search terms (known as keywords), that people may be using and reflect these back in your website content, especially in the page title and headlines. For instance, people may be more likely to search for “What are the penalties for not complying with SMSF rules” rather than simply “SMSF non-compliance”.
But there is a little more to SEO than that.

Search engines will also take into account how authoritative your site is, so having other quality websites link to yours is important too. One of the most effective ways to do this is to produce articles in your own name that you can get published elsewhere — particularly in relevant, industry-based online publications and other sites.

Address your clients’ pain points by showing how you can solve their problems.

The only technical part (and it’s not really that technical)

There are two other ingredients that matter a lot when it comes to SEO:

  1. your page URLs and
  2. your metadata.

The URL (Uniform Resource Locator) is simply the page name, e.g.

Search engines pay particular attention to URLs when choosing where your page ranks, so make sure you use URLs that accurately describe the content of the page. For instance, if you have a webpage on planning for retirement, spelling that out with a URL as is better than 

Metadata is the description you use for your webpage. It’s what Google will display in its search result when it lists your site. On the Macquarie Advisers page, the metadata looks like this:

Financial Adviser Solutions | Advisers | Macquarie - Macquarie Group 
Macquarie Advisers offer insights, solutions and tools for you to grow your business, and to help your clients grow their wealth.

If your website is built using Wordpress or another common platform, you can easily alter metadata through plugins such as Yoast and SEO Ultimate. If you use Squarespace, this guide will show you how to change metadata.

Why quality content is key for SEO

Now that you know a little more about SEO, you may be tempted to go to your website copy and replace it with content that endlessly repeats keywords. But don’t. While this practice, known as ‘keyword stuffing’ once used to work, Google is now onto it. Repeating phrases ad nauseam is likely to end up penalising your website, not helping it. (It’s also unlikely to convert browsers on your website into buyers of your services.)

A better approach is to provide useful content that actually helps your clients and shows how you add value.

Search engines also tend to favour sites that are regularly updated and refreshed - and the easiest way to do this is through your blog. So make sure your website is updated regularly and start writing articles that demonstrate the range of your expertise. Address your clients’ pain points by showing how you can solve their problems.

The final piece of SEO jigsaw - thinking outside the box

It’s also worth remembering that not all SEO keywords were created equal. Achieving the top ranking for, say ‘Financial Adviser’ or ‘Financial planning for SMSFs’ usually takes a serious investment in time and website content - and you’re unlikely to knock off the entrenched players anytime soon.

While it still could be worth pursuing some of the hotly contested and general search terms, a more effective approach may be to target SEO terms that are less black and white. Again, think back to what problems people may have or what solutions people are likely to be searching for and write content that addresses these.  

Finally, it often also pays to go local or niche. After all, potential clients often search for specific phrases such as ‘Financial planner specialising in doctors’ or ‘Financial adviser Wetherill Park’ rather than something more general, such as ‘financial advice’.

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