One of the best ways to generate leads and drive sales through your website is by Search Engine Optimization. SEO in Kenya is a less explored aspect of digital marketing. From the inquiries we get from different companies and organizations in Kenya, it is evident that social media marketing is the most popular online marketing strategy.
In this article, we shall take you through the concept of search engine optimization and its importance to every website owner. SEO continues to be a mysterious concept to many.
I do not think it SEO is as mysterious as many SEO experts in Kenya would want you to think.
There are many SEO experts in Kenya but just a few actually understand the dynamics in the concept. As a business owner, you do not need to know the technicalities around website optimization. However, you need to have a basic understanding of search engine optimization.
SEO is FUN
Why do you need SEO for your Website?
It goes without saying that every website owner needs SEO. There is so much value that you will get from optimizing your website the right way. If you target the right keywords and implement a killer SEO strategy, you will reap a lot of benefits from search engine optimization.
So, what are some of the benefits of search Engine Optimization? The main goal of optimization is to drive traffic to your website. With and optimized website, you get to:
- Get traffic to your website at minimal cost
- Improved brand credibility because people tend to trust Google
- A good return on investment compared to other online marketing strategies
- Access to informative data from your analytics to help you constantly improve your products or services
- 60% visitors through search engines just access the first page of results.
- Growth of your business online through growth of traffic
For most websites, organic search traffic is the primary source of traffic. In general, SEO will give your website or brand a better visibility online. An improved searchability for your website means better targeted traffic to your website and by extension, better quality leads.
With the low budget attributed to SEO as compared to other marketing strategies, it is highly likely that your competitors are investing in search engine optimization as well.SEO is a long-term online marketing strategy that will guarantee your website long term results. Click To Tweet
What is Search Engine Optimization?
We probably should have started with the definition of SEO but it is always cool to bend a few rules.
Search Engine Optimization can be defined as any activity on your website or elsewhere that directly works to improve your website’s ranking.
Two major factors are normally seen to influence SEO. The first will be the relevance of your content considering the search term or keyword. The second factor will be the authority of your website. The authority is measured through different factors, one of which is the quality of backlinks to your website.
Linking is easy if you create awesome content. If you create good quality content, other websites will naturally link to your content. This will show Google and other search engines that a particular page has authoritative content.
Search engines like Google will only rank pages they consider an authority for a particular search term. Your main task as a website owner it to generate high quality content that can be considered for search terms relevant to your products or services. Blogs, websites and social media feeds will then pick up your content and link with you.
Considering the quality and authority of other competitors, Google or other search engines will rank your content accordingly.
The Difference Between SEO and SEM
Now that we already know what SEO is, it is also important we understand SEM – Search Engine Marketing.
Search Engine Marketing is also known as Search Marketing. SEO and SEM both seek to improve your website’s visibility through Search Engines. However, the main difference between the two is that SEO is essentially an aspect of Search Marketing.
SEO focuses on improving visibility through organic search results. SEM on the other hand encompasses all this and other strategies such as PPC (Pay Per Click).
PPC within the context of SEM is paid advertising on Search Engines such as Google. Google’s advertising platform is known as Google Ads. From search engine results, you will mostly find paid results and organic/free results.
15 Things Search Engines Consider to Rank your Website
After getting an insight on the gold mine that SEO can be, you are probably wondering how you can sway Google to rank your website for your desired Keywords. It is pretty simple. You only have to know what search engines look for to consider your website as an authority.
Below is a list of 15 things you need to check to have your website optimized. SEO being a long-term online marketing strategy, it is important that you continually work to improve the different ranking factors to stay ahead of your competition.
While search engines rank websites differently, some factors remain common across different search engines. Let us dig into these factors:
1 The Relevance and Quality of your Website Content
As mentioned earlier, SEO starts with your content. The two most important things you need to check with your content is the quality and the relevance.
The main goal of any search engine is to provide the visitor with the best and most relevant information according to their search query. Searches vary in complexity. Some can be as simple as “When did Kenya gain its independence”. Others can be a bit complex like “The Best College near me offering digital marketing certificate”.
Search engines have a particular algorithm that determines how they rank websites for different keywords. These algorithms change from one search engine to another. That is why if you search for the same term on Google and Bing, they will rank the different websites, relevant for the search, differently.
Search engines normally love a website that is dynamic. How often do you generate content for your visitors online? There are different types of content that you can generate. However, rather than focusing on quantity, you should always put a focus on quality. Whether it is articles, videos or infographics, make sure you deliver the quality that will wow your website users and impress the search engines.
Most SEOs focus too much on keywords and not the experience they give their users. To win at SEO in Kenya, focus on the user experience when generating content. Everything else will fall into place.
2 The Website UX
Apart from simply ranking your website on search engines, the goal is to convert your website visitors into buying customers. A special focus needs to be put into the user experience of your website. Interestingly, search engines are also interested in your website’s user experience.
Your website should have a good navigation and a good architecture to ensure users do not bounce.
3 Website Loading Speed/Time
There are different factors that determine how fast your website will load. The website loading speed varies from one user to another, depending on devices used, internet speed and browser used.
However, your website needs to load fast enough to capture the interest of the visitor. The loading time is also part of the user experience. Many experts will tell you that it just takes 3 seconds for users to make the decision to bounce.
There are many technical reasons why a website will be heavy and load slower, especially on mobile devices. Many website designers in Kenya overlook this important aspect of user experience. You must always demand from your website developer/designer to improve the loading speed of your website if you want to get better results with SEO and conversions.
4 Website Responsiveness
From your analytics, you will probably find out that most of your users access your website through mobile devices. In the wake of smartphones and other smart devices, more people access website through mobile phones or tablets.
Having more mobile users, Google rolled out its mobile first indexing. This essentially meant that there will be special focus on mobile content of webpages of your website.
While there has been a craze over the years, responsiveness, you will still find many websites in Kenya in 2018 that still non-responsive. There are many tools you can use online to check whether your website is responsive. If your website is not responsive, you need to consider a redesign to ensure you are in line with the latest website design trends.
5 The Website Meta Data
Your meta description and title tags are very important. While these might not directly impact your website’s SEO, they are still very important aspects, especially to the user. Providing well thought out Meta Data will improve the chances of users click on your website on SERPs compared to other results displayed.
Meta Data that you need to consider is the meta description and the title tags. A good title tag for your web pages of articles should be between 55 characters to 60 characters while your meta description should range between 150 to 170 characters.
Google earlier in 2018 ran a test to have longer meta descriptions of about 320 characters. However, they changed to the original lengths. It is still not clear what informed the decision to restore the original meta descriptions lengths.
When writing titles and meta descriptions, it is important that you understand that you are writing these for humans. As much as you want to include your keywords in the meta data, make sure that your copy makes sense and it can elicit a click from someone looking for the particular information that you provide.
6 Website Pages Internal Linking
Internal linking in your website is very important. This helps your visitors swiftly navigate through your website to further access more information. This is a very good signal for search engines.
If you provide content like articles, make sure you properly link the article to help the users further access more information. This will help greatly reduce the bounce rate of your website, which is one of the most important ranking signals for a website.
Internal linking further helps improve the ranking of other individual pages for particular keywords that you link the pages with. When you use other related keywords to link to a page, it improves its authority and ranks better with search engines.
Internal linking also improves your indexing of your website. It makes it easier for bots from Google or other search engines to easily crawl through your website and index the various web pages.
7 Domain Authority
When it comes to authority, trust is the name of the game. How do you think your users trust your website? Are you a source of information in the niche that you are operating in? Do other websites point/link to you as a source of invaluable information? What about search engines?
All these factors need to be considered when it comes to authority. Your users, other websites, your industry and search engines are all key players when it comes to building an authority. Getting a link from an authority site will greatly help build your website authority.
Link building becomes a very essential aspect of building authority. However, we have always insisted that it is never about the quantity of links that you have but the quality of the links.
From various algorithm changes, it has been seen that links have reduced in value over time and more focus is now on the quality of content. This however should never be taken to mean that links are totally worthless. The shift is entirely on the quality.
8 Optimized Images
Search engines cannot simply ‘see’ and image and know what it is all about. It is the extra information that we provide that make search engines understand what an image is all about.
Therefore, there are different important aspects that you need to take into account while uploading your image on your website. Therefore, always name your image appropriately. Ensure that it has a definitive title, ALT attribute and a description.
It will improve the overall SEO of the webpage and the image will also rank within the Google Image Search.
9 Choosing the Right Domain Name
Choosing domain names is also an important aspect of SEO. However, the common misconception about domain names is choosing your domain name according to your keywords. This adds no value to your SEO. This used to be significant a while ago. If you are selling smart watches in Kenya, all you needed to do is get a domain name ‘smart-waches-kenya.co.ke’. This never works anymore.
Always choose your domain name according to your brand name which should be unique. Avoid using hyphens within your domain name. So instead of smart-watches-kenya.co.ke, you can go for smartwatcheskenya.co.ke.
As much as you can, try to buy .com .org .co.ke .or.ke and avoid as much as you can, alternative TLDs like .net .biz .ninja and so on. These domain names will come out as spammy in most cases.
If your website has subdirectories, use them directly as opposed to having subdomains. Meaning, if your website has a category for kids watches, you should use the subdirectory smartwacheskenya.co.ke/category/kids-watches. Avoid having the subdomain kidswatches.category.smartwacheskenya.co.ke.
Most people use this, especially for their blogs. Instead of having your blog as a subdomain, always insist to try to have it as a subdirectory. Having it separately can be seen as a completely different web property that is indexed separately.
10 SEO Friendly URLs and Headlines
Headlines are very important when it comes to SEO. You need to make sure that you do not exceed 55 characters when writing your headlines. However, you also need to make sure that the heading is catchy enough to capture the interest of your audience.
The headline should be catchy and the content should offer to the audience whatever the headline promises. Avoid clickbaits that will have users click on your article, but leave unsatisfied.
Make sure that you have an SEO friendly URL. Most websites use CMSs that allow users to alter the permalink/URL. It is not a must that the URL matches the headline, but strive to make it relevant to the headline and the article.
11 Social Media Marketing
Social Media is one of the best signals that will directly impact your SEO. The best thing about social media marketing is that it is not very technical. All you need to ensure is your brand’s presence across all popular social media networks. You need to have a basic understanding about how the social networks work.
You can take part in the short social media training in Kenya so that you can get a basic understanding of using social media. Social media can also be used as a customer service channel which you can get feedback from your audience and customers.
12 Schema Markup
Did you know that with a little bit of effort, you can spice up how your website appears in the SERPs? You can add schema markup to improve your appearance. You can add to your results rich media such as star ratings, images and other information that can be useful to your audience.
Schema markup helps you stand out from the other results in the SERPs. Google prefers schema markup and so do other search engines.
13 Website Security
In the era of information technology, security has become an integral part of websites. Many websites in Kenya have suffered various security breaches and cyber attacks. These are not problems unique to the Kenyan cyber space. Website across the world are under a constant threat of attack.
Users therefore need the assurance of the safety of information they provide when visiting your website. Search Engines on the other hand also take security of websites very seriously. Therefore, there is need for you to have added security in your website so that both users and search engines take your website seriously.
You should therefore consider getting an SSL certificate for your website so that communication between the user and the website takes place over a secure environment.
14 Relevant and Authoritative Back Links
Link Building is one of the popular aspects of offpage optimization. It has been used by Kenya SEO experts and other SEO experts around the world. A few years back, this was the most important signal that almost guaranteed your website improve ranking.
Over time, links have been seen to be less important. There has been a shift from the quantity of links to the quality of links. Links basically build an authority for your website. So, by extension, it really depends on the source of your link. If your link is coming from an authority site, it contributes positively to the authority of your website.
15 Local SEO
Nowadays, when you search for something on Google, you are mostly served local results. This has increasingly become important, especially for local business.
For instance, if you are in Nairobi town and you are looking for a good restaurant to get Swahili dishes. A result of a restaurant in Zanzibar will be of no use to you.
For local SEO, make sure you register your business with Google My Business. Ensure that you provide the platform with accurate information about your business. Information may include your phone details, location, your opening and closing times etc.
5 SEO Mistakes that might your Ranking Negatively
What you do to optimize your website can improve or destroy your ranking. You will get a lot of information online on how to optimize your website. However, if you are not careful about the source of information, you might implement some strategies that are outdated and impact your SEO negatively.
Here are some of the common SEO mistakes you should avoid if you want to improve your ranking.
1 Keyword Stuffing
With the rise of search engines, SEO increasingly became important. There was a rise in SEO experts who wanted to find ways of ranking number one on Google by forcing rankings through different manipulations. One of these was Keyword stuffing.
If you wanted to rank for “Swahili dishes in Nairobi”, all you had to do is make sure that the keyword appears as many times as it can on your webpage. Others even went to the extent of hiding text for the normal users, but bots could access this information.
If you want to succeed in SEO in 2018 and beyond, do not attempt to stuff keywords or hide keywords within your text. This will have a very negative impact.
2 Duplicate Content from other Sources Online
Duplicate content is one of the worst things you can do for your website. We all know that SEO is all about content and we popularly refer to content as King. However, you content above all needs to be unique.
Lazy website owners will simply find great content from other websites and paste them as their own. This is a red flag across all search engines.
3 Excessive Link Buying and Link Exchanging
With the importance of link building, website owners in Kenya have turned to link buying and link exchanging. While these strategies can work, they might work negatively for you if you are not careful with the sources. If you have to buy or exchange links, do it moderately. Or simply, never do it.
4 Use of Intrusive Ads
Using ads can be a way of monetizing your website. Most bloggers and content creators have ads to help support their businesses. Websites have limited space. If you crowd your website with ads, users will have a difficult time navigating and hence a poor user experience.
An important point to note is also the fact that most of your users will be accessing your website via mobile devices. Constant pop ups and numerous ads will affect the user experience.
5 Low Quality Guest Blogging
Guest blogging is also one way that website owners can get information from other users in a bid to build relationships and authority. This is one way that link exchanges happen.
As a website owner, you need to interrogate the quality of content that you are putting on your website. If you are sending a link out to the author, you need to interrogate the website you are linking to. Cheap could in the end be expensive for you. Most website owners would generate their own content just so they are sure about the quality of information they are putting out to their audience.
Popular Search Engines you should know about
When we talk about search engines and SEO in Kenya, Google comes out as the default source of reference. It is very understandable because Google has the largest market share in Kenya and indeed across the world.
As an SEO expert, it is important that you are aware of all other search engines. Below is a list of the popular search engines across the world with their market share:
- Google 91.33%
- Bing 2.88%
- Yahoo Search 2.08%
- Baidu 1.61%
- Yandex RU 0.57%
- Others 1.54%
Interestingly, Google commands an even larger percentage of the search engines market share in Kenya at 95.88% in the past year.
What the Future Holds for SEO in Kenya
Search Engine Optimization in Kenya continues to become an integral part of online marketing. With competition shifting online for businesses in Kenya, SEO becomes more important. The government of Kenya has invested heavily in ICT and internet penetration in Kenya is at 89.4% by June 2017. This is one of the highest across Africa.With more people going online in Kenya, there is greater potential online. Online marketing in Kenya will become the prime avenue of generating leads and doing business. Click To Tweet
At the moment, social media seems to be the trending online marketing strategy. In the next couple of years, companies and organizations will start to see the real benefits of SEO in Kenya and competition will be stiff.
Therefore, this is the perfect time to start investing in SEO to grow your business in the near future.