Why SEO is like a jar of peanut M&Ms

Whether you’re launching a brand, running online campaigns or looking at a site migration you need to make sure your website – the digital face of your business – is the very best it can be.

Your site needs to be optimised so it’s viewed positively by search engines, which is where Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) or Organic Search comes in.

SEO is all about making sure your website is built properly and functions so that potential customers can find you when they’re searching online. SEO is a multi-layered discipline, that comes with its own terminologies and jargon that can seem complicated and confusing to a novice.

But here at Red Hot Penny, we don’t like anyone to feel confused by anything in search marketing. So, we’ve created this easy to understand guide to SEO so you can get to grips with the key principles and talk about them with confidence.

We’ve always found the best way to explain something is with an analogy, and if there’s one thing we love more than an analogy here at Red Hot Penny, it’s peanut M&Ms.

So here we go; Why SEO is like a jar of peanut M&Ms.

The Peanut is your readable text

The core of your site, or the peanut of your M&Ms is the readable text that the user sees.

To have the best core, you need to make sure you have the most optimised peanuts possible.

You need to carry out regular peanut audits to make sure they are the right size (big for blogs, small for titles), in the right place, home grown (not copied from anywhere else) and organic (not filled with artificial phrases or hidden additives).

You also need to make sure that you’re providing the right kind of nut too, not a hazelnut or macadamia nut. You don’t want someone searching for a swimming pool getting results for football pools, pool tables, Deadpool, Liverpool and so on. This means matching-up your offering with the right phrases and purposes.

You need to match the types of pages on your site with the stage people are at in the purchase funnel and make sure they’re signposted correctly with on-page elements like headings and H tags.

Any content you write involves keyword research which you should do for product descriptions, ongoing campaigns and special places like Amazon. Just like with sweets, you’re trying to appeal to humans rather than machines so selecting keywords and optimising content should be for people’s experience first and foremost, rather than bots.

But it doesn’t end there.

A peanut on its own doesn’t need anything else to function, but a lone peanut in a bag full of peanut M&Ms will sink to the bottom of the bag and look a bit out of place if anyone were to find it.

That’s why you need the chocolate.

The Chocolate is imagery and video

The chocolate coating to your peanut is the rich and luxurious stuff. These are the images, videos, user experience and calls to action which make the difference between a memorable and moreish experience, or disappointment.

It’s not just the written content that you need to optimise though, but people’s whole experience.

Images, videos, CTAs and all the other snazzy bits that draw your users in to the peanutty centre need to be optimised.

The emphasis should be on getting people’s attention and making them stay until they’ve accomplished what they, and you, want them to do, whether that’s learn something, go somewhere or buy something.

There’s a fine balance to strike to make sure your experience is satisfying not sickening. As with every delicious treat, you don’t want too much of a good thing as it makes you feel sluggish and it’s the same with images and videos.

As great as they may be, if a file is too big it’ll slow the site right down and put a bit of a dampener on your experience, so you need to make sure the right amount of chocolate goes into each M&M – not too little that it’s dull and boring, and not too much that you have to spend forever trying to chew through it.

You also want to make sure it’s your own imagery you’re using. Imagine biting into an M&M expecting that satisfying not too milky, not too bitter chocolate experience and finding out that it had been replaced with entirely unoriginal, not unique chocolate stolen from an advent calendar.

This means you need to put some effort into your own imagery to make sure it’s memorable and stands out amongst a whole bag of chocolates.

So, your site is looking good, it’s got a chocolate coating that satisfies the reader. But it’s still not finished. Once you’ve coated your peanut in chocolate you need to protect it, and that’s where the shell comes in.

The Shell is the technical framework

Your peanut M&Ms wouldn’t be complete without their practical and underrated outer shell, which in SEO terms, we can liken to a technical framework of security, speed and substance.

All your content would melt away without a solid technical underpinning.

Technical SEO is all about making sure the content can be crawled by search spiders, is indexed into a coherent format, is usable for users and is served up correctly – whether that be on a PC, tablet, mobile or voice assistant.

Having a properly formed and intact shell makes sure your website is fast, secure, reliable, free from spam and that layers of code like JavaScript and CSS are working properly.

It also makes sure that the version of the website you see is in the correct language and currency.

There are plenty of ways SEO experts can get hands-on in the data and code to smooth over any cracks and make site changes without needing to get a developer involved.

Just like a shell, you can use Technical SEO to indicate what’s underneath. By marking up the content with technical additions like Structured Data for Rich Results – Product Reviews or Pricing for example – as well as Page Titles and Meta Descriptions. These will entice people to click on your result from the search pages.

And it’s these search pages that are the bag your peanut M&Ms belong in.

The jar is the SERPS

You (hopefully) wouldn’t eat an M&M if you just found it on the floor which is why the jar is also key.

The jar is the search engine results pages where your peanut M&Ms will hopefully be found when someone searches. If they’re not in the jar, they’re really nowhere that anyone is going to want to find them.

However, if you’re in the jar you’ll be there with a range of similar yet subtly different chocolate treats. SEO then is all about ensuring your particular peanut M&M stands out as the choicest nut in the jar by being at the top, being the most tantalising and remaining intact.

There are a variety of techniques you can use to make sure your peanut M&Ms appear near the top of the jar – such as building links, outreaching to friendly sites, using google my business listings, or harnessing other channels such as social media and biddable media to make sure people are looking for and saying good things about your peanut M&Ms.

You will also need to satisfy the chocolate inspectors – Google and the other search engines.

In peanut terms these inspectors will take a sample of your peanut M&M / website periodically by crawling your pages so they can make sure it’s as it should be. You don’t know when it’ll happen and what they are looking for, but you have to be ready in any eventuality to satisfy their search algorithms.

Mama always said life is like a box of chocolates, well SEO is a peanut M&M. And by taking the care to consider each layer, people are more likely to pick your M&M.

Is your website up to scratch or lacking a crunch? Let our Organic Search team take a look for you.

SEO Basics 101

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