Search engine optimisation (SEO) is essential for any business, large or small. In New Zealand it’s especially important. New Zealand is relatively behind in the SEO game compared to other major markets. That presents a unique opportunity for New Zealand businesses who understand the value of quality SEO.
In a small market like New Zealand, you might be able to list your major business competition on one hand. Clever implementation of local SEO specifically could see you out performing all of them across every corner of the internet. With only around 10 organic spots available on the front page of Google, what can you do to secure your place?
SEO is all about getting your business ranking as high as possible in search engine results, but how does this actually drive results in your business?
SEO improves your primary source of traffic
Unless your PPC budget is through the roof, I’d be willing to bet that your main source of website traffic comes from organic sources. Organic sources include things like direct email marketing (EDMs) with links to your site, word of mouth, referral traffic from other website’s backlinks, and of course – search engines.
If your main source of organic traffic isn’t from search engines I’d be both surprised and delighted.
- Surprised because most businesses that have heard about SEO, have at least implemented the basics (and are benefitting from them already).
- Delighted because it means there’s plenty I can do right away to boost your website traffic.
A successful website should get the majority of its traffic from organic search. In fact, you could even take it one step further by saying that the success of a business’ website can be wholly determined by its organic search volumes.
Strategic SEO isn’t just the answer to more organic traffic to your website. It’s the formula for a successful business.
So who, or what, are these search engines that we’re trying to optimise for?
It’s difficult to talk about SEO without mentioning Google. It’s the most popular search engine in the world, with YouTube coming in at number two. YouTube of course is owned by Google so that gives the parent company Alphabet Inc the top two spots. According to this blog post Google owns about 80% of the search engine market!
It makes sense that you should expect to see an analytics table showing ‘google/organic’ as your number one source of traffic.
Google’s popularity and ubiquitousness in modern society is clear. It’s the reason you’re reading this in the first place. That’s not to say that other search engines should be discounted of course.
Bing is a worthwhile pursuit. In fact, there’s a whole audience that may otherwise be unreachable. Bing comes pre-installed as the default search engine on many windows devices. Those among us that aren’t so tech-savvy may not know how to install Google Chrome, or bother to navigate to Google before submitting a search. If the audience you are trying to target falls into this category, Bing may have the power to bring you unprecedented results.
Google and Bing provide plenty of opportunities for SEO, but depending on your target market you may have interest in appearing in more region-specific search engines as well.
China’s most popular search engine is not Google. If you’re looking at the Chinese market specifically, you’ll have to optimise for Baidu. The main differences between Baidu and other search engines are as follows.
- Simplified Chinese is the only supported language. You’ll need a translator for this one, as no other languages are available.
- Images rule the landscape. Most search results have a thumbnail image, and as a result it’s important to optimise accordingly.
- Get familiar with Baidu Open & Baidu Webmaster Tools in order to optimise for this search engine.
- Baidu uses a separate domain for mobile users: http://m.baidu.com/.
- If your website is not mobile-friendly, Baidu will host a transcoded copy on it’s own servers without needing your permission.
- Baidu gives you a credibility ranking next to your search results. You can pay a fee to get an ‘authorised’ badge, which is generally only available for PPC customers. This one is pay to play!
A company attempting to penetrate the Russian market will need SEO optimisation for Yandex. More than half of Russian internet users submit their queries to Yandex, and its popularity spills over into the neighbouring countries of Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Turkey. The main differences between Yandex and other search engines are as follows.
- Yandex puts much more emphasis on location, showing entirely different SERPs between cities.
- Yandex takes longer to crawl your website than Google, making SEO progress slower as a result.
- User engagement is the most critical on Yandex and is suspected to be the primary ranking factor.
- Domain age is considered more important by Yandex than other search engines.
- Yandex is more heavy handed than most with penalties for SEO crimes like duplicate content.
- Yandex webmaster tools may not be able to compete with Google or Microsoft, but they do have a highly responsive support team.
There are other search engines out there too. DuckDuckGo, Naver, and 360 are a few popular examples. In my experience however, the same principles apply to all search engines. A solid foundation of technical SEO with high quality, user-focussed content laid on top, is going to generate the best SEO results.
For businesses operating solely in an English-speaking market it’s best to consider Google as your primary source of traffic. Good SEO is going to keep all the search engines happy regardless. Remember, what’s good for the Googs, is good for the gander.
SEO is good for the user experience
A lot of ‘best practice’ SEO focuses on making a website as friendly as possible for search engines – and for good reason. The problem with this is that the ‘ideal’ web page for search engines probably doesn’t look that great to the user.
SEO is a balancing act between optimising for search engines and optimising for the user. The reason for this is that the way that a user behaves while visiting your website is considered to be a huge, and potentially increasing, factor in search engine algorithms.
Conversion rate optimisation, or CRO, has become an important aspect of SEO by default for this very reason. CRO is the optimisation of your website based on user engagement data. Does a red ‘Buy Now!’ button get me more sales, or a blue one? A simple explanation for sure, but it’s easy to imagine how granular these experiments can get.
CRO, when implemented correctly, is a boon to SEO. CRO will increase the number of positive engagements with the website and in turn boost organic rankings. In most cases CRO should be implemented at the same time as, or even before SEO. What’s the point of bringing more traffic to your website, if the website isn’t converting visitors into customers?
Depending on the current state of your site, a few immediate SEO fixes could bring a flood of new traffic to the website. Maximise the chances of those visitors converting by implementing CRO, and you’ll find your optimisation efforts just doubled in effectiveness.
SEO is a long-term investment in your business
You’ve read it before I’m sure, but you’ll read it again here. SEO is a long game. You can’t throw money at it like PPC, and you can’t take any shortcuts that aren’t likely to bite you in the arse down the line. It’s an investment that takes time to mature but will also pay multiple dividends along the way.
You should expect to see real results from SEO within the first six months to a year of implementation. If your website is in a dire state to begin with, you may see a spike after the initial error-fixing. That jump in organic traffic should spur confidence in the process – SEO works. The bigger your budget and the more people you have focussing on it, the faster you’ll see results, but it’s still best tracked over multiple quarters, rather than months.
The future of SEO in New Zealand
The reality of SEO is that it’s always evolving. Google (and other search engines) release updates to their algorithm with no warning, and the SERPs can change in the blink of an eye. As well as optimising your website, an SEO expert is keeping track of the tide. Ranking factor trends change constantly, and opportunities for your business could spring up because of it.
The more time, effort, and budget is assigned to website optimisation, the better it will perform in all regards. The most valuable SEO however, comes from knowing where that resource should be spent in order to get the best results. There’s an infinite amount of optimisations that a New Zealand business could make to their website to start generating better results. The best time to start is now.