SEO: A beginners guide

Computer screen with magnifying glass looking at words seo

If you’ve had exposure to online marketing you’ve probably wondered; What is SEO? How does SEO work? Is SEO the same as Organic Search? Some digital marketing agencies may convince you it’s a dark and complex art form. Leaving you unsure about the benefits or where your budget is being spent. 

At Green Ginger, we do digital differently. We want our clients to learn and understand how digital marketing can help their business. We don’t believe in smoke and mirrors. In this article, we’ve answered some of the most common SEO questions. Focusing on what is important to you, giving you an understanding of what SEO is and how it can help your business. 

What is SEO?

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is all about increasing the visibility of your website. Appearing higher in the search results pages and growing your traffic. Search engines, such as Google match search queries to websites they deem relevant through a series of algorithms. The sites they believe are most aligned to the search query appear higher in the search results. 

Algorithms review the searcher’s query and score the website on how relevant it is. Google looks at factors such as website quality, site usability and the user’s location. Google wants to provide the best experience to every searcher, and that’s why it critiques sites closely before showing the best ones in order of relevance to the searcher. 

Getting to page 1 is tough, getting to position 1 is even tougher. As you can imagine, people are unlikely to scroll through pages and pages of results. This means that it is critical to ensure your site appears high up the search rankings. You need a combined strategy of both on-page and off-page SEO. This involves a lot of hard work and some patience. 

How does SEO work?

The objective of SEO is to show to the search engine that your site is the most relevant. Your content is engaging and matches the user’s query better than your competitors, and the visitor is going to have a great experience. The most relevant sites are rewarded with the coveted number 1 position or even position 0 on Google and Bing. 

With a market share of 92%, most marketing experts would recommend optimising your site to perform best on Google. Google reviews 200 factors when ranking your site, giving you plenty of areas to focus on to improve your site’s performance. 

Unfortunately, Google doesn’t share what those ranking factors are. They want website and search engine optimisers to focus on the quality of their sites for the end-user. We rely on industry data and our test and learn approach to understand what works and to estimate how Google determines relevancy. 

What are the most important SEO ranking factors?

Google frequently update their algorithms. But there are a few key ranking factors which continue to be important as we move through 2020. We’ve grouped these below into 3 key themes: 

Technical SEO 

Focusing on improving the technical aspects of your website, ensuring solid foundations are set on which to grow rankings. Key considerations for technical SEO in 2020:

  • A secure site with URLs which Google can easily crawl and understand
  • A fast loading site across all devices, especially mobile (ideally less than 2 – 3 seconds) 
  • A mobile-friendly site which is user friendly across all devices
  • Strong technical SEO, optimising your code to assist crawling and indexing
  • Positive user signals such as high click-through-rates, low bounce rates and strong site engagement and duration

Content

Focusing on the keywords and articles on your site. Ultimately telling Google what your site is all about and the products or services you offer. Key considerations for content in 2020: 

  • Optimise content which is useful for the end-user, but also tells Google important information about your site. For example, Page Titles and Meta descriptions, keyword-friendly URLs, relevant and optimised product descriptions
  • Editorial content which adds value to customer journeys. Either by providing education, information or simply entertainment for the user. Rather than focusing on the hard sell

Off-page 

Relates to all actions happening off your site but still impacting your rankings. Key considerations such as:

  • A strong domain authority
  • A positive link web across inbound and outbound links. Which ultimately provide ‘votes’ of relevancy for your site and indicates quality to Google
  • A good social presence with relevant social shares
  • An optimised Google My Business presence

Google also places huge value on great customer experience. Sleek website design and great functionality, will only put you in good stead for ranking well in this area. If having read the above list you are unsure how well your site is performing. We’d recommend you undertake an SEO audit, this will provide you with key areas to focus on.

Why does SEO matter?

Across the globe, there are 3.5 million searches on Google every single day. It is the first port of call for searchers looking for information, products and services. To get a slice of those customers, you have to invest your time into developing your site and refining your SEO performance. 

SEO keeps search engines fair. It allows every site an opportunity to rank highly and deliver a positive experience for the user. BackLinko recently analysed 5 million Google searches. They aimed to understand how CTR (click-through-rate) changed depending on a businesses position on Google. Their findings were fascinating:

  • On average moving up a position within Google changed CTR by 30%
  • Ranking number 1 resulted in a page being 10x more likely to be clicked on vs. being in position 10. 

Advanced Web Rankings also have a great tool available that allows you to review historical CTR’s by category and country. A really useful tool when forecasting any organic or paid activity.

That’s why SEO matters. If you don’t focus on your SEO performance, you are reducing your chances of driving ‘free’ traffic to your site. 

How long does it take for SEO to work?

A simple question but unfortunately not a simple answer. How long it takes can depend on the following: 

  • Age of your site
  • How quickly you can implement changes
  • Level of competition (remember everyone else is trying to get to position 1 at the same time you!)
  • Website design
  • Geographic location
  • Target market and audience

Generally speaking, you can expect to see your SEO performance start to improve in around 4 – 6 months. That certainly does not mean you will see all of your target keywords in position 1 and this is impacted by the competition. 

Competitive search terms (such as for fashion retailers) will take longer than for specialist products and services. SEO is as a long term investment. Quick fixes and results can be achieved using other digital marketing channels such as PPC. SEO is a channel which will grow and mature over time as long as you continually invest time and effort. 

At Green Ginger, we offer a synergised approach to search marketing. Ensuring both paid and organic channels are working in harmony and budget is used in the most efficient ways. 

How do I measure SEO? 

So you’ve decided to invest both time and budget into improving your SEO, and understand it will take a few months to see the fruits of your labour. How do you ensure your efforts are working?

Like all digital marketing, this comes down to tracking correctly. Our first recommendation is to make sure you have Google Analytics set up correctly. This is a free tool you can use to understand the value of all your channels, not just SEO. 

It segments the data by channel so you can review and understand performance. Use Google Analytics to drill down into landing pages, exit pages and engagement metrics to understand how users are engaging with your site. Once you have Google Analytics set up, we would recommend developing a set of core keywords you wish to rank for. Tracking these over time using a tool such as SEMrush or Moz will enable you to see how these are impacted by the SEO strategy you’re implementing. 

It’s important to use a mix of keywords with a low and high search volume. These will vary in how competitive they are and ensure you are ranking for an array of keyword variations. Visibility and keyword rankings are important. But you should also use Google Analytics data to understand how SEO has assisted conversions. This means how your SEO is contributing to the customer journey. This can be particularly useful when you have a strong bank of editorial content on site, which is driving browsing journeys, which later come back and convert. 

Summary 

Use SEO as a long term investment for your business. Focus on both on-page and off-page tactics and delivering an excellent experience for your customers and you won’t go far wrong. Our Head of Digital at Green Ginger has these parting words of advice for you: 

“Focus on the end user – make sure when entering your site their experience is as seamless and quick as possible. Think about what they would like to see when they are there. Optimised, easy to read, digestible content and a sleek design and customer experience. That is what will drive your SEO forward”.

Nick Cranwell, Head of Digital

Good SEO takes time, but that’s where Green Ginger can help. We’re experts in delivering SEO and have experience doing so for some of the UK’s biggest retailers. This means we can provide you with the right strategy. Identifying quick wins and longer-term initiatives to provide you with an SEO strategy to drive forward your performance.

If you want to know more about how we can kickstart your marketing, or if you would like a free SEO site checkup – get in touch with us today.

Searching for the Coronavirus: What can Google data tell us about the pandemic spreading across the world

Since the start of the year, one topic has dominated headlines across the world. Covid-19 or Coronavirus was declared a global pandemic in March. It has brought the world to a standstill with over 148,000 cases and 5,500 deaths (as of 14th March).

But what can a global issue tell us about search behaviour in different countries? How do people within these countries react to such news? Do people across the globe demonstrate different search intent?

We’ve taken a look using Google data to see the key insights.

The UK saw increased searches from the first reported case. Italian searches only increased following the first death.

The first death from the virus in Italy was reported on the 21st February 2020. Despite the first case being reported in the country 3 weeks earlier on the 30th January, people were seemingly unconcerned by the virus at this point.

Before the first death was recorded, searches on Google in Italy were minimal. Following the announcement of the first death searches for ‘Coronavirus’ surged over 1,800% in a single day – by far the biggest response shown online across any country at any point throughout the pandemic.

UK vs. Italy Coronavirus search demand

Interestingly, search behaviour in the UK doesn’t appear to react to this news in Europe. Rather, searches increased gradually from the 22nd February. In fact when the first death was announced in the UK on the 5th March, this appeared to have no impact on online searches – a complete contrast to behaviour in Italy.

People in the US are focused on symptoms and self-diagnosis, in the UK searches show more of an educational intent

In the UK, top Google searches over the last 90 days are focused around the virus itself. In fact, only 12% of the ‘Top 25 Search Terms’ show intent around the symptoms of the virus.

UK coronavirus searches

When comparing this to the US, the search intent differs significantly. In the US 76% – or 19 of the Top 24 Search Terms are related to specifically understanding the symptoms.

US coronavirus searches

There are many possible reasons for this difference in search intent. One potential hypothesis could be that those in the UK have been better informed of the potential symptoms through the media compared to those in the US.

UK cases are growing significantly faster than search volumes

When the first case in the UK was announced on the 31st January 2020, the rise in search volumes were minimal. Search demand actually continued at relatively low levels until the 24th February despite there being 9 confirmed cases in the UK by this point.

Coronavirus cases and search demand

Not until a number of cases were reported on the Diamond Princess cruise ship did searches show a step-change in volume – this was also reflected (on a smaller scale) in the US. It could be argued that people only really started to take notice and understand the potential pandemic of the virus from the 24th February following the media coverage around the Diamond Princess and the quarantine of 30 Britons in Merseyside.

The increases in the number of cases was inevitable, but it’s important people continue to stay updated with the latest news and advice either through digital or offline media channels.

Summary

Regardless of how people are searching online, one thing is clear. The world is taking notice and is united in the fight against the virus. The fact search volumes are consistently increasing across the board can only be positive, it indicates people are looking for more information and the more educated people are on the subject the better.

The latest information from the UK government can be found here.

Get in touch today to see how we can use Google trend data to help your business growth.

Sources: Google Trends, Arcgis.com both accessed 14th March 2020

TikTok: The new social media app where Gen Z flock

TikTok launched in international markets in September 2017. But it was not until 2019 that it saw its huge growth. From the beginning of 2020 interest from brands and digital marketers alike has peaked and continued to grow. 

So what is it? Who is using it and how do you advertise on it? The paid social experts at Green Ginger have taken stock and are here to tell you all you need to know about TikTok. 

So what is TikTok? 

Taking 200 days to develop in China, TikTok is a video-sharing social media platform. Owned by the Chinese company ByteDance it has recently surpassed one billion worldwide installs. Its popularity has been surprising, particularly when you compare to apps such as Vine and Musical.ly.

You’re probably thinking who? Vine and Musical.ly are the apps who started the trend of creating short videos to be shared, but they both crashed and burned. TikTok is a merger of Music.ly and has a unique proposition in that it allows anyone to become a content creator. Whilst Vine was used for high quality, unique content. TikTok can be used by anyone, supported by its easy to use editing and camera filters. This means users are both consumers and creators, which has been important for the growth of the app vs. its predecessors. 

Who is using TikTok?

At Green Ginger Digital, we believe in an audience-first approach to marketing. Targeting specific consumer groups to ensure efficient media buying. When hearing about the app our first question was ‘who is the audience within TikTok?’.

Data from Statista shows the users on TikTok are 18-24-year-olds, with the group accounting for 26% of the total audience. Whilst Instagram tends to drive more female users, the TikTok gender split is relatively equal. The audience is highly engaged, driven by its personalised content which is algorithmically curated, as soon as the app is opened. 

How can I target the TikTok audience?

TikTok lends itself to brands and businesses targeting generation Z. Passionate, creative and innovative, this generation is highly influenced by social media. Creating partnerships with key influencers and showcasing engaging content is key. Plus a natural way of building a relationship with your audience through TikTok.

Like all social apps, TikTok is not missing an opportunity to offer paid advertising through the app. Which could be an opportunity for those wanting to invest media into an app not owned by Facebook. TikTok’s goal is to “connect the brands of today with the consumers of tomorrow”. Offering a less saturated market than Twitter and Snapchat, there are opportunities to target specific audiences through the app. Advertising options range from:

  • Brand takeovers – where ads appear as soon as a user opens the app
  • In feed ads – native ads placed at the bottom of organic videos or in the TikTok feed
  •  Hashtag challenges – creating a sponsored hashtag which encourages users to share content on TikTok for your brand

Big brands such as Nike and Guess have jumped at the chance to target a younger audience for their products. It must be noted that the ads are relatively rare and as such come at a premium. With minimum investments and an average $10 CPM. Understanding the impact of TikTok and ensuring there is a tangible audience for your brand is key before investing. 

To TikTok or not?

At Green Ginger Digital we are focused on results and driving a return for our digital marketing activity. The success of implementing a campaign is reliant on the audience you target and the metrics and measurement you put in place. 

It is crucial to understand its role in the customer journey and measure this accurately, to understand the investment and associated results of every campaign.

Need help with your social media strategy? Or if you want to chat more about the opportunities within new social media channels, get in touch today!

Green Ginger’s 2020 Digital Marketing Predictions

We’re a month into 2020. The New Year’s resolutions have gone out of the window, and at Green Ginger Digital we’re busy thinking about the year ahead and how digital marketing will evolve.

What will happen with digital marketing budgets? Will Organic Search continue to be turbulent? What social media apps will become popular?

Read on to find out our top 5 predictions for digital marketing this year. 

1. Digital marketing budgets will continue to evolve

In 2019 we saw more clients than ever moving traditional offline budgets to online. Retailers are on a quest for more targeted and measurable campaigns. TV spending declined and marketers invested more in Video On DemandDisplay Programmatic and Paid Social

With the rise of new social channels such as Tiktok, the lines between social and eCommerce have become blurred. Social media will take an upward turn in 2020. Opportunities will be there for those businesses who look at niche social channels and move quickly. Gaining competitive advantage and reducing marketing costs as a result. 

2. Organic search maintains its battlefield status

Core updates affected Google rankings throughout 2019. The BERT update came into play during October 2019, shaking up the rankings. We experienced three core updates in total and many smaller algorithm changes. All leading to ranking volatility on Google, and some big players noting drops in performance.

When we weren’t riding the waves of the algorithm updates, we were optimising content for the coveted position 0. Trying to maintain share across featured snippets within a search engines results page. This has become more difficult as Google continues to take up more real estate with its own features. Google is surfacing pieces of content within the search engine and reducing the need to visit the website.

It shows no signs of slowing and to win at SEO during 2020, a strategy which continues to focus on the end-user is essential. A customer-first strategy for SEO which focuses on; who your audience is, the content they consume and how they navigate around your site is essential. Offering them the best content and user experience will continue to put you in good stead for Google’s algorithm updates with more ranking volatility expected throughout 2020. 

3. Google will continue to favour paid advertising

Adding to the organic search battle is Google’s continuous introduction of different formats within search. Have you ever noticed how often Google changes? 

We will also continue to see Google offering more diversity to search results pages. Meaning more opportunities for Google to drive clicks. A 2019 Merkle study found Google was delivering less organic clicks vs. 2018, down by 8% in total, with the biggest drop seen through mobile devices. 

Maintaining position 1 isn’t enough for YOY growth in natural search. Optimise for all features and think about the spread of keywords, rather than focusing on 5 – 10 core terms only. 

4. In-housing continues to challenge the digital status quo

In-housing happens for several reasons; financial or to gain increased visibility and greater control. Whilst some businesses in-housed their digital activity in 2019 opting to use agencies for technical functionality only. Others have in-housed small areas where they have current expertise that can support delivery to a high standard.

Recruitment for in-housing continues to be a challenge, but using an agency isn’t always the answer. Digital agencies are changing their propositions to ensure they remain relevant. Offering technology software as a service (SAAS) or training to up-skill and empower in-house teams. 

To in-house successfully during 2020, brands and business must assess their skills and analyse any gaps in expertise. Undertaking an honest appraisal of the knowledge within your business will help you to identify which areas can be in-housed. Don’t be afraid to use agency support on an ad-hoc or project basis. Using the right people with the right skills and expertise at the right time. Whether that be outsourced or within your business, is the key to successful in-housing during 2020. 

5. Efficiencies will be gained through improved personalisation

It’s no surprise, with increased competition and higher demand, digital marketing can be expensive. However, it remains essential. With average conversion rates for a transactional or lead-based site sitting around 2% – 3%, depending on the industry. If you’re responsible for driving online performance you need to focus on how to use audience data to make every penny of the budget count. 

Ensuring advertising is personalised, and using unique messaging for each audience is important. It also allows you to reduce wasted media spend. Following this through to your website, with unique content or product recommendations for individual users will help to drive the conversion rate. 

Wherever you are in your digital journey, Green Ginger can help you navigate 2020. Let’s grab a coffee and chat about your free digital health check.

Clients Testimonials

Our clients are a diverse mix of eCommerce and service-based businesses.
From well-known UK fashion and furniture retailers to small independent companies - we love the variety!

Made
Habitat
Which
Joules
Wren Kitchens
Homebase
Harrisons of Hull
Pitchy
Riverford Orgnanic Farmers
Rapture Surf Camps
Mark Hill

Kate Harrison
Harrisons of Hull Ltd

Green Ginger Digital have been an absolute pleasure to work with from start to finish. They have listened to our business goals and marketing objectives and really delivered in terms of service, content and results. We would highly recommend the team to other businesses looking to build a digital marketing campaign and will continue to work closely with them going forward.

Nathan Green
Pitchy

Pitchy were one of Green Ginger Digitals first clients and we were really impressed with how they took onboard what we wanted to achieve and put together an impressive plan of how they could help us get there. Results were impressive and the team were always professional and approachable.

Andy Orvis
Fountain

Green Ginger Digital came to us with a clear brief and set of requirements. Their communication and ability to make key decisions quickly and effectively made the design and build of their website an easy process. Clearly knowledgable in their field, I'd recommend them for any digital advertising type campaign and certainly hope to work with them in the future.

Nicola Mooney
Adult Planet

We needed serious help with our PPC campaigns as we were wasting a lot of money on ads. The team at Green Ginger restructured everything, advising and adjusting as necessary along the way to really focus the campaign. We were really pleased with the revenue growth we achieved in such a short amount of time, and although early days still, we are seeing promising results! Very happy and would highly recommend the team at Green Ginger Digital.

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