SEO marketing in South Africa is on the rise and it is an important aspect of internet marketing. If you are in business, you have to know at least the basics of SEO if you are to improve ability to get visitors to your website. If you are starting an online business then SEO is one of the first things you have to learn as it is the sources of many an online business’ revenue.
What Is SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It means laying out your content in such a way that makes it easy for search engines to classify your content and to determine how well it will meet user’s needs.
So why would you want to know about SEO? SEO marketing is all about knowing how to reach the first page in search engines.
Search engines are the primary way of navigating though the internet and finding information. Search engines search their indexes for results that are most likely to satisfy the user’s query, and then present them in the order of which they determine to be most relevant.
Google is the world’s most popular engine and accounts for 65% of searches in the US. This number is up to more than 90% in other countries. So when doing SEO, the best standard is usually to focus on Google first as that is the source of most publishers’ traffic. The different search engines use data from each other’s database and resources so If you focus on Google, the other search engines will follow.
SEO Marketing In South Africa
The online economy is still very new in South Africa. For a long time, use of the internet was restricted to most people because of high data prices. That has changed in recent years, owing in large part to the reduction of mobile data prices by Telkom Mobile.
The fact that our local online economy is very young, presents a lot of opportunities. For one, there is very little competition for a lot of keywords compared to other places where a large part of the population has access to internet. The result of this in South Africa is that you can rank for many local keywords easily. If you have a local domain name, then it is not unusual for you to reach the first page of search engine result in half the time you would with a .com domain.
A negative effect of this is on readers is that there will be a lot of fly-by-night publishers offering services that they do not have the capacity to deliver. But as a business owner, this means that if your offering is of a high quality and you employ the right SEO practices, you will win out in the end as search engines learn from user interactions that your website satisfies users.
The most important thing you will need in SEO is a good keyword planner. The point of this is to help you determine which words you can rank for and how much traffic you will gain if you rank for that word.
For example, if you target the word apply, it is a highly competitive keyword and there are numerous sites ranked for the keyword. The chances of you ranking for this keyword are slim to none unless you are a huge company with a long history and a marketing budget to back it up. Beyond 400, Google starts to omit results from their search engine and most sites won’t show up. You want to target keywords with low to medium competition so that you have a better chance of ranking for the keyword.
For a keyword research, I use Jaaxy which is a great keyword tool. Using Jaaxy I can find out the average of how many times a keyword is searched in a month. Jaaxy also tells you the exact number of other websites are ranked for the keyword that you are targeting, and has an internal score out of 100 that tells you good of a keyword it is in terms of how many searches it receives and how much competition there is for the keyword.
To try Jaaxy out, sign up for the free trial here.
On Page SEO
On page SEO is all the SEO that you do directly on your website. This involves things like keyword research, making sure that you have your keywords in the right places and at the right density, the structuring of your content, and improving streamlining of your content to give your readers the best experience to make them stay longer on your website.
Off Page SEO
Off page SEO is refers to SEO marketing efforts that you do outside of your website. Examples include things like creating and maintaining social media profiles that are part of your brand and can lead people to your site. One of the most valuable components of SEO is link building. Backlinks are when other websites and content platforms link to your website. This informs search engines that your website is a trustworthy source of valuable content.
Why are Keywords important?
When you type something into Google’s search box, you are typing keywords. Based on what Google has in their index, they will try give you results that best match the keywords that you have chosen. Looking at it conversely, if someone is looking to buy something that you sell and they are searching in Google for it, you want your site to show up in the search results so that they buy from you. The point of SEO is to make sure that when somebody is searching for something you offer, you come up in the results. To do this, you create content that targets a specific keyword or keyphrase, then optimize your content to best satisfy the needs of the search queries for your offering.
Copywriting is an integral part of SEO. What is copywriting? Copywriting it the writing of text in a compelling manner for the purpose of advertising or creating brand awareness. You need good copy writing for your website because good copy will keep readers in engaged and encourage them to take a specific action, whether it is to buy your product or to sign up for your fitness program. How long people stay on your website, and how many pages they visit are some of the determining factors that search engines use to rank your website. So it is critical that you have good copy on your website.
Back links are links from other websites outside of your own that link back to your website. This tells the search engine algorithms that your website is a valuable source of information and that giving you rankings has a higher probability of satisfying the user’s needs.
There are companies out there that sell backlinks. What those do is give the impression that your website is being linked to by other websites. The problem with this is that this will only work for a short while. In a study done by Moz, they found that a year later, the backlinks that were bought were no longer in place. The biggest risk is that if google determines that you have purchased backlinks, they will penalize your website and this can lead to a major loss in revenue. Search engines favour organic backlinks and once you have those they will usually last for as long as that the article where you are linked to remains on the website.
Who Does Your SEO?
There are two options you can choose when you need SEO on your website. You can either do SEO yourself or you can hire an SEO consultant to do it for you. Each have their own benefits and drawbacks and it ultimately becomes a question of time and whether you prefer a hands-on or hands-off approach.
Doing SEO Yourself
For me, this is the best way that I can recommend that you do SEO. There are a lot of sources throughout the web and on YouTube that you can use to gather information on how to do SEO properly. If you are doing it yourself, there is a lot of information to take in and you have to learn about all the different aspects of SEO. The reason that I prefer recommending this approach is that it is very easy to get lost in jargon and buy services from people without knowing what exactly you are paying for. Do It Yourself SEO is especially suitable for entrepreneurs who are on a budget
The benefit of learning SEO is that you only have to learn the concepts once and you can use that knowledge indefinitely. You just have to keep brushing up on new practices and changes in the search engines algorithms. And even if you use an SEO professional later on, you will know whether what you are paying for is worth how much you are being charged.
Hiring Professional SEO Services
Some people do not have the time to do SEO themselves and in this case you can delegate the task and get a professional SEO consultant. I do advise that you be very wary of this option. There are many claimed SEO specialists who do not really know much about SEO and prey on people who know a bit less than them. If you are using a professional, you must know what exactly it is you want from the service and communicate your expectation.
When choosing a consultant, you must also ask for a record of SEO projects that they have done and proof of websites that they have done SEO for that are ranking in search engines. Even some established marketing companies offer SEO services but do not have the expertise and simply offer SEO as a service due to their reputability, but do not produce results. Some SEO packages I have seen read something like X number of posts, social media management, but they do not present a measurable way of determining the probability of making money. Make sure that you pay for a measurable
As with many worthwhile things in life, good SEO and reaching high rankings in search engines take time. It is important that you have a realistic expectation of when your website will start to rank. The rule of thumb is that it takes around 6 months for your content to start ranking
Unexpected expectations might give you the wrong impression and demotivate you from following the process to completion. If you are doing it yourself in particular, you have to be conscious of the initial input that will not yield immediate results but will yield a lot of leads and ultimately sales over the long term if done right.
Do you have any questions or SEO tips of your own? Share them with us in the comments below.