THE EAST SIDE MAFIA BLOG

The Advanced Guide To SEO In Singapore
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by founder, East Side Mafia

The Complete Beginner’s Guide to SEO in Singapore

Search Engine Optimization.

It sounds fancy and complicated, doesn’t it?

Most entrepreneurs know that SEO in Singapore is a marketing discipline that they need to master in order to effectively build and sustain an authoritative presence in the online space. But, while most understand its importance, few have gotten a tight grip on how SEO really works.

The truth is, this is not a concept that is tailored specifically for the tech-savvy or marketing gurus. You can have an excellent command of SEO and all that it entails.

But first things first, what is SEO?

According to Moz, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a brand of marketing which “encompasses both the technical and creative elements required to improve rankings, drive traffic, and increase awareness in search engines.” Fundamentally, the goal of SEO is to put your content on the first page of search engine results.

But why is SEO marketing necessary?

The thing is, the majority of organic web traffic is influenced by what people type into their search engines. Google alone accounts for 68 % of these organic searches. Your task as a content creator and marketer is to ensure that your content ends up right in front of the people who are looking for it.

Simply do a Google search for “SEO Singapore” and see the results appearing, and you’ll get an idea of how important it is.

So, why not just write useful content and let the search engines work their magic?

Well, 56 million blog posts are published each month on WordPress alone. With the rapid acceleration of internet marketing, it’s becoming increasingly crucial that businesses employ the relevant SEO tactics in order to forge through the sheer volume of content.

Your blog posts and visuals may be the most well-informed and valuable content out there but if you don’t help search engines find your website, you are throwing away a tremendous opportunity.

The Building Blocks of SEO in Singapore

Internet marketing strategies often evolve as the technologies which govern them advance. SEO is no exception but keywords have always been at the pivot of SEO marketing.

If you do not have a solid strategy for keyword research and targeting, your content marketing efforts will prove to be futile.

In order to select the most effective keywords for your business, the following questions are critical:

  • What industry is your business in?
  • If you were to define your business in a few keywords, what would these words be?
  • What topics are directly aligned with your customer’s interests and problems?
  • Which topics are your competitors covering?
  • What are the keywords that your competitors rank for?

When you’ve gained a thorough understanding of your industry and niche market, you can then use the relevant tools to select the words that guide search inquiries.

While a single tool will not give you the comprehensive analysis that is required for effective keyword research, Google’s Keyword Planner is a powerful and popular option. It can be used to generate forecasts for Pay Per Click (PPC) campaigns. You can also get key statistics like search volume and related keywords.

googlekeywordplanner2016

As illustrated above, when the keyword SEO is entered into the planner, the average monthly searches as well as related keywords show up. You want to choose a more specific but related keyword with a high search volume and low competition. As you can see, it would be more advantageous to write content on “Seo tools” and “What is Seo” than to simply cover the entire scope of SEO.

The Importance of Long Tail Keywords

While you may be inclined to target generic keywords due to their massive search volumes, it is a more effective strategy to target keywords that are longer and specific. Individually, long tail keywords will not send you an influx of traffic. But as a collective, they have a greater impact on your SEO strategy than shorter keywords.

Here are three noteworthy implications of long tail keywords:

Lower competition: While general keywords have a higher monthly search volume, they are also ruthlessly competitive. This makes it difficult to rank for these keywords both organically and via paid advertising. On the other hand, long tail keywords have a lower search volume and lower competition.

More targeted search: If a customer were searching for specific information online, they would not type in a generic keyword. It is more likely that they would type in a very detailed account of what they were looking for. By targeting long tail keywords, you are more likely to be of value to customers by answering their questions with specificity.

Influence the consumer’s buying process: Before customers arrive at the penultimate point of purchase, they’re seeking information and would ultimately use specific wording for searches. This is where long tail keywords provide a tremendous opportunity for businesses to get noticed by customers and influence their decision when they’re right at the stage of evaluating their buying choices.

Now that we’ve underscored the importance of keyword research and targeting, here are some tools and resources to help with your strategy:

The Two Pillars of SEO in Singapore

  1. Off Page Optimization

  2. On Page Optimization

1) On Page Optimization

On Page optimization refers to the measures that can be adopted within the website in order to increase its search engine ranking.

Here are the key factors of on page optimization:

(i) Quality Content- The Following questions should be asked:

  • So you’ve picked the right keywords for your business?
  • Will your readers be satisfied with the content that they find?
  • Are your headlines and intros captivating enough to hook and reel them in?

All SEO techniques would be rendered useless if you consistently publish poor and substandard content. While people use search engines with different intent, it all boils down to whether you’re serving the specific needs of your target audience. The best way to do that is to produce content that speaks to their interests, answers their questions, and solves their problems.

Businesses looking to solidify themselves as a go-to resource should think about content creation in the following ways:

Targeted content – We have come into a time where sales and content marketing are inextricably linked. As an entrepreneur, you already know the importance of developing consumer personas to guide your sales process. These personas also have astronomical benefits for your content strategy as they allow you to speak to your niche audience for maximum impact. When you are aware of the pain points and desires of your target audience, you are more likely to create content that will resonate and convert them into loyal customers. The best way to get to know your audience? Simply ask them. Surveys as well as metrics that indicate user behaviour can help you gain insight into your core customer base.

Evergreen content – As the word suggests, evergreen content is that which remains relevant for long after it has been published. Informational posts and industry specific content are ideal for ensuring that your content is not deemed irrelevant a few months after publication. Important: Content needs to be constantly checked and updated if it is to stay “Evergreen”, especially if you’re writing about internet marketing, or anything related to the internet. 

Of course, articles that are news based or focused on trends can become outdated in as little as a week. They may generate a momentary spike in traffic  but will not be sustainable for the long term.

Evergreen content is also the best way to maximize your time and reap a massive Return on Investment. It is a likely scenario to produce a piece of content that brings in little traffic on publication but gains significant traction six months down the line. In essence, you want to build a content marketing engine that will gain momentum and won’t run out of fuel quickly.

This great post by Coschedule sums up evergreen content really well.

evergreen-content-ideas

Fresh content –  When search engine spiders (robots) crawl for content, they take into account the date of publication. This gives an indication as to the relevance of your content. As such, in order to increase your chances of showing up on the first page of search results, it’s important that you constantly publish new content. Another way to produce fresh content is to burrow into your archives for posts that can be updated.  For example, if you have a blog post or infographic that features numerical data that may have changed, you can update your post with the current statistics. This also applies to informational posts. If there’s an emerging practice or new information arises, there is no harm in improving an existing piece.

(ii) Outstanding User Experience

If you’re optimizing your content and site solely for search engines, you are undercutting your SEO marketing power. Usability and user experience have a crucial impact on how your site is ranked. Search engines take into account how users engage with search results. Metrics like bounce rate and number of pages users view give a solid indication of user’s interaction.

Here are some of the best ways to optimize the user experience:

Mobile optimisation (Responsive Web Design)

This ensures that mobile users have an experience that is tailored for their particular device. When you have a responsive web design, it configures your layout in accordance with variables such as resolution and screen width. Many people think design is just about aesthetics and as such, do not make it a priority. Understand that design is more about functionality than simply having a good looking website.

responsive-web-design-how-it-works

Page speed  

Having a sluggish page loading time is a sure way to throw all your SEO efforts and turn away readers. Most users will simply bounce off your site if it’s taking too long to load. There are a variety of ways to improve the speed of your site such as increasing server power, compressing images, and installing a cache plugin. Cache plugins allow you to compress files, remove unnecessary characters from source code, and integrate with content delivery networks.

page-speed-insights

Free test tools like this tool from Pingdom or Google Pagespeed Insights  allow you to determine the speed of your website from various locations. It also provides recommendations for improvement in the areas that are lacking.

(iii) Website design

We’ve already spoken about one facet of website design which is mobile optimization. But there are other elements which are just as crucial in ensuring the users have the ultimate experience.

  • Having content that is “above the fold” so users do not need to scroll down
  • Easy to read fonts, line-height, and letter spacing
  • Accompanying visuals and illustrations
  • Ensuring that navigation is simple, easy and intuitive
  • Getting rid of distractions and embellishments that take away from usability
  • Making contact information easy to find
  • Including breadcrumbs for easier navigation
  • Stunning website design with great user interface

(iv) Breadcrumb Navigation

Breadcrumbs aid navigation because they allow users to find their way back to the homepage or parent category after they’ve gone deep into the site. Google automatically generates breadcrumb navigation  for sites as it improves usability.

This is particularly important for sites with extensive structures and many pages like ecommerce sites. Breadcrumbs also function as both a navigation aid and a supplement to search engines so that they get a better sense of your website’s structure

(v) Content Marketing

We’re now looking at content in its capacity as an important part of the user experience. When creating content, most businesses see it as an opportunity to give their best sales pitch. Your content should always serve to provide solutions, not sell your products. 

A fundamental characteristic of content marketing is that it eliminates the aggressiveness  of traditional advertising by influencing the buying process in a very subtle way. It would be counteractive and off-putting to inadvertently sell your customers without first establishing a track record of solving their problems.

So how do you become a problem solver to your readers?

It’s simple.

Provide them with quality content that is actionable and thorough. Google loves content that has great scope and depth. Research shows that posts above 2000 words rank better in search engines and garner more social shares.

On the other hand, it is also important to note that while longer posts are proven to rank higher in google, it is not a positive practice to write nonsense just for the sake of increasing word count. You should strive for a delicate balance of comprehensiveness and value to your readers.

 

seo-ranking-factors

(vii) Meta Tagging

Specific HTML <META> tags can be used to signify to web robots whether to index a page or crawl the links on a page.

The follow/nofollow meta tags let the meta robots know whether to crawl the links on a page. Using “nofollow” signifies to search engines that they should not follow through on the links found a page.

Index/noindex meta tags convey whether a page should be crawled and kept in the index. If “noindex” is used, the page won’t be found in the index.

(ix) Internal Linking Structure

What is an internal link?

Internal links are links that go from one page on a domain to a another on the same domain. They are mainly used to navigate within a particular website.

This link structure is useful for three reasons:

  • It allow users to navigate a website.
  • Helps to establish information hierarchy for the website.
  • It helps search engine bots to “crawl” the website more effectively, thus providing more “link juice”

internal link structure

Off Page Optimization

(i) Trust & Search Engine Authority

Trust and authority are not determined by any one metric. They are influenced by a variety of factors including:

Domain authority (DA) – This is a measure of how well your domain name ranks in Google’s search results in relation to competitor sites. The authority associated with a domain is not something that can be easily influenced directly. All the SEO tactics that we have discussed thus far have an indirect impact on DA.

Page authority – This is not unlike domain authority. It’s simply the ability of a specific page to rank in search engines. Page authority does not have a monumental impact on SEO but  can be swayed by a variety of elements including keyword usage, the crafting of valuable content, and link building.

Bounce Rate – This is the percentage of visitors who leave your site after a single-page session. If a visitor is bouncing off your site after viewing a single page, it stands to reason that they are not engaged enough to stay. The way to counteract a high bounce rate is to make your website more “sticky” with stronger call to actions, more effective landing pages, and targeted content.

Branding – Your brand is your identity. It is the rock that your entire business stands on. Building a brand is a process and it can be shaped by both the actions that you take and those that you don’t take. As such, branding should be a consistent and deliberate effort to ensure that you’re portraying the best representation of your business at all times.

(ii) BackLinking

While backlinking isn’t the be-all and end-all of SEO, it deserves a special mention in this guide. Many marketing gurus will tell you that  external links are a powerful ranking signifier.

When you have quality links to your site from trusted sites, it is indicative of popularity and trust. Search engines will then assume that your popularity translates to relevance and credibility.

Backlinks also increase your referral traffic which is ideal for capturing new unique visitors. You can engage in blogger outreach and write guest posts to get links back to your site. This is a white hat approach to increasing your ranking power and is more sustainable than black hat approaches.

Here are some strategies for generating quality backlinks to your site:

  1. Create Infographics: This is an excellent strategy to get relevant backlinks for your site. Simply design your graphic and submit it to infographic sharing sites like Daily Infographic. In addition, you should make it easy for people to embed the infographic on their site by leaving the HTML code somewhere in sight.
  1. Link exchange: Collaborate with other bloggers in your niche and exchange links. Its old school, simple,  and effective.
  1. Influencer outreach: As the name suggests, you reach out to powerful players in your niche and simply encourage them to back to your site. It may take some time perfecting your pitch to win over an influencer but the results will instantly propel your SEO.
  1. Capitalize on document sharing sites: There are many plugins that allow for easy conversion of your blog posts into pdf documents. You can then submit to a document sharing site like Scribd.
  1. Give testimonials: Many companies feature client testimonials on their website as a way to gather social proof for their product or service. This provides a great opportunity to get backlinks from  a large company. They always provide a link back to the persons that they highlight in client testimonials.

Now that you have some key strategies, in your backlinking efforts remember that:

Relevance matters: You want backlinks from sites that are closely related to yours. Getting a link from a site that is in an entirely different niche and covers topics that off the scope of your content strategy does not carry as much significance.

Quality trumps quantity: The links that matter when it comes to SEO come from sites that have cemented themselves as authorities and trusted sources. It is more consequential to to get backlinked from a popular site than to have several links from a relatively unknown site.

Anchor text is crucial: Anchor text is the clickable text that links to another location on the web. When done right, the anchor text will give a good sense of what the linked page is about. There are several types of anchor texts including branded, naked link, generic, exact match, and image anchors. Exact match anchors are in tuned with your targeted keyword and is one of the key reasons a site can get pinpointed and penalized for spam and over-optimisation. They should be used sparingly and as a last option.

SEO Best Practices

  1. Generate & Submit a Sitemap

Search engines are impressively intelligent and have mechanisms in place to automatically discover the URL’s available on your site. However, there is no guarantee that Google will index every single one of your website pages. Sitemaps put the ball in your court by allowing you to inform search engines of the urls on your site.

By generating an XML sitemap, you are facilitating the process by which web crawlers identify your pages. If you have a large website or your site is brand new, sitemaps are particularly important to aid search engines. A simple Google sitemap plugin can be installed for this purpose. It automatically generates an XML sitemap on a regular basis and submits it to google on your behalf.

  1. Use Google Search Console 

Webmaster tools by  Google help you to analyze and understand exactly what’s going on with the everyday operations of your website. Your dashboard will have everything from website statistics, site configuration, sitemap creation, as well as diagnostics.

Other functionalities of webmaster tools include:

  • Malware identification – If there is any malware found on your site, google will inform you.
  • Crawl statistics and analysis – You will have access to data like crawl errors and crawl rate.
  • Internal and external links – Your internal links as well as backlinks to your site will be recorded
  • Keyword data and analysis –  You can also see the keywords that your site ranks
  1. Focus on readability of content

You want  your content to be as accessible as possible to those who seek the information. An SEO plugin like Yoast will give you an account of the readability of your posts.

Here are some tips:

  • Clear and simple language usually does the trick.
  • Employ the use of bullet points and subheads to make content more scannable.
  • Paragraphing should keep at approximately three sentences long. Large blocks of text are off-putting to readers.
  • Use visuals and multimedia to complement text.
  1. Amplify Your Content Marketing Strategy

You may have noticed that content has been mentioned with great frequency in this guide. This lends itself to the longstanding notion that “Content is King”.Content marketing, however, is different from content creation. In recent years, there has been an obvious shift in the way that businesses approach this type of marketing.

Truthfully, it is simply not enough to produce quality content. Businesses looking to stay ahead of the curve need to strategize and implement a robust content marketing strategy, you have to promote your content, and put it in front of the right audience.

You want to be consistentcreative, and conversion-focused in your efforts.

Consistency – This applies to both publishing schedule and brand voice. It is ideal to produce long-form content 1-2 times a week. Effective content marketing is also largely influenced by your writing voice.

Creativity – Standing out amongst the massive volume of content out there is a tall order and generic text just doesn’t cut it. You need to select the content format that is best suited to the needs of your audience. It also important to take into account the social media platforms and forums that your audience spends the most time on. Let’s say that your readers and target audience frequent social channels like Instagram and Youtube. Your time will be better spent creating visuals and multimedia.

Conversion focused – So you’ve mastered the art of creating captivating content and you’ve established a consistent publishing schedule. Now, what? What are you doing to capture and convert your readers into paying customers? Strong call to actions, attention grabbing headlines, social proof, and an enticing bribe-to-subscribe, are all great ways to generate leads and influence high conversion rates.

  1. HTML Matters

HTML includes title tags, subheadings, meta descriptions and URL structure. These should all be optimized for your target keywords. The title tag or H1 tag of a page is what users will see first so every effort should be made to keep it compelling enough to entice readers to engage with your content. Meta descriptions also carry huge weight when it comes to SEO for users. It gives you the ability to influence how a page is described in search results.

  1. Leverage Social Media

It is no secret that social media provides tremendous opportunity to drive traffic, generate leads, and influence SEO marketing results. Data indicates that 72.6 % of businesses who align their social media efforts with their sales process outperform their peers who don’t.

Facebook, twitter, and linkedIn are the big players in terms of social media marketing. Facebook alone has more than 1.71 billion monthly active users. So, how do you tap into the massive power of social media?

Here’s what we recommend:

  1. Build your authority by positioning yourself as an industry leader and go-to resource. It’s also a good practice to pick up as much social proof as possible. This could come in the form of social shares, testimonials, and recommendations.
  1. Have key tools and metrics in place to determine the success of your social media outreach. Particularly if you’re going to invest capital into strengthening your campaigns, analytics are crucial to pinpointing what works for your business and what doesn’t.
  1. Build community and be proactive in nurturing that network. One of the biggest advantages of social media is its ability to bring persons with common interests together. This fosters a spirit of community which can be leveraged to generate customer and brand loyalty.
  1. Optimize your social media profiles with relevant keywords. Yes, keyword usage is also applicable to social media outreach. Your bio and title are ideal places to weave in the keywords that will allow your target audience to find you. Optimization also includes ensuring that you make it easy for persons to contact you. This is a matter of being approachable and inviting by filling in your profiles with warm, professional photos. Your customers want to know that there is an actual human being behind the screen.

Debunking SEO Myths

SEO marketing has gained significant momentum over the years as businesses in the digital space begin to realize the weight that their efforts carry with search engines. Like most popular concepts, there are many misconceptions and malpractices surrounding SEO and the tactics that are most effective.

We’ve talked about all the best practices but as a beginner, it is equally important to know what doesn’t work. You do not want to waste your valuable time and effort into practices that are guaranteed to fail.

Here are the 10 biggest culprits and the real truths behind them:

Myth #1- Keyword density is essential for pagerank

I’m sure you’ve read somewhere that it is a good practice to place targeted keywords multiple times in your content. As with everything, balance is what’s important. There is such a thing as over optimising your site and Google can penalize you for this. Keywords should be used sparingly and fit seamlessly into your content so that it doesn’t overshadow your message. We have seen the cruciality of user experience for SEO and keyword stuffing only serves to take away from that experience.

Myth #2 – Search engine submission is important

There was a time when it was necessary to submit your site to search engines. Search engines have evolved in both a technological and intelligence capacity. You are unlikely to see any results from this practice. In fact, there are many scam artists that will offer to submit your site to all the search engines for a “small” price. This is a natural and automatic process which does not require any action on your part so don’t fall for it. Note that sitemap submission is different from submitting your URL to search engines.

Myth #3 – SEO is a one-time thing

This is perhaps one of the most absurd myths out there. Search engines are constantly evolving, your SEO strategy should always be evolving to keep up with the latest algorithm updates.

The simple truth is, if you’re not doing the work, you will reap no rewards. Technology is ever changing and search engines constantly reconfigure their algorithms. All your SEO practices should be ongoing and continuous. You should always have your finger on the what’s no longer relevant and what’s up and coming.This is a long game and if you don’t demonstrate a willingness to be consistent, you are wasting your time.

Myth #4 – Search engine popularity can be manufactured by link schemes

This is known as black hat SEO and this is the side of the internet that you want to avoid when building a credible business. The number of links back to your site are not as important as the quality of these links. Search engines are highly adept at picking up manipulative practices and you can be flagged as a spammer. Suspicious links that are either purchased or derived from link schemes significantly devalue your authority as well as your ranking. There is an organic way to go about link building that can yield great results for your business.

Myth #5 – Pay Per Click Campaigns Help Organic Results

It is a common belief that paid advertising in the form of Adwords will boost your search engine ranking. We have seen that SEO is a long term and unceasing process that cannot be significantly swayed by any seasonal effort. When you pay for an Adwords campaign, search engines do not guarantee any improvement in organic search engine optimization.

Myth #6 – Search engine ranking is the end-all and be all

It is true that if your site shows up on the first page of search results, it will have a higher click through rate. However, SEO is not just about search engines. Without exceptional content and the mechanisms to convert readers, what use is the high traffic? In fact, you can rank #1 for a particular keyword but if your meta description is not effective enough, users just might click on the second best result.

Myth #7 – User experience is an option, not a priority

Every other aspect of your SEO can be top notch and compliant with all the best practices but it your usability sucks, users will bounce off without hesitation. So if you’re prioritizing other SEO tactics over user experience, you need to reevaluate your perspective. Yes, search engines matter but people matter more.

Get a Top Rated Website Design Company to re-design your Website if you’re really serious about converting your users.

Website Design in Singapore, is a very competitive industry, so be careful to choose the right company.

Myth #8 – Google will detect my website eventually

Most people seem to forget that Google isn’t human intelligence. While it is astounding how intuitive and adept search engines are, your SEO marketing efforts should not neglect the need for your own due diligence. While it is largely technical and some of it is out of your hands, leaving SEO entirely to search engines is like waiting for your fairy Godmother to fulfill all your burning desires. It doesn’t work that way.

Myth #9 – Image optimization isn’t a big deal

Of course, search engines have no mechanism to view images as you would. So if your alt text and descriptions aren’t optimized, they have no clue what the image is depicting and why it’s relevant. Images that are properly optimized for the right keywords can also be a huge source of traffic from image search engines.

Myth #10 – SEO is dead

If you’re a frequent readers of many internet marketing blogs, you will constantly hear these seemingly prophetic declarations.

Blogging is dead. Content Marketing is dead. Link building is dead. SEO is dead.

This cannot be further from the truth. The internet is evolving more into content marketing as users get more exposed and immune to traditional direct advertisements. Buyer’s need to be nurtured slowly, trust has to be build, and then they will buy from you. 

Conclusion

Having a robust SEO marketing strategy is an indispensable part of operating a business in the digital space.

Employing the proper white hat SEO strategies and avoiding the malpractices can be the difference between a booming business and one that fails to gain any traction. It’s worth committing yourself to finding an appropriate  strategy that is optimal for your business and website needs.

Whatever your goal is in terms of  moving forward with an effective SEO strategy, it is fundamental that you:

  1. Correct any SEO mistakes that you’ve made in the past. If you’ve gathered any penalties from search engines, ensure that you give your site a clean slate by working to have these penalties removed.
  2. Be attuned to your audience by creating reader and consumer personas. The information that you gather will help you create a holistic site that adds value and serves their needs.
  3. Put effort into the twenty minutes that you spend optimizing new posts and pages. Optimization is just as important as crafting quality posts.
  4. Remember that SEO is always evolving and that your strategies should always be in keeping with what’s relevant at the given time.

If you’re serious about maximizing your online space by strengthening your authority, following the advice here will give you a competitive edge.

Are you looking for some professional guidance to amplify your SEO efforts?Contact us for a complimentary SEO audit of your current website and let us show you how to increase your sales through SEO.

What have you taken away from this guide? Let us know in the comments!