Search engine optimisation (SEO) is basically a way of optimising your online content so that it can be found by more easily by search engines and subsequently the people who are searching for the type of information you provide.
As with any business, Google (and other search engines) have a vested interest in giving good customer service. For them, that means the links they put at the top of their search rankings need to genuinely be offering useful content, relevant to what the customer is searching for.
There are a whole host of ways to help Google understand what your site is about and who it is relevant to. Some of the items listed here are a bit on the techie side, but not all of them. There are things you can do easily yourself so keep reading and the rest you can check that your web developer has covered.
- Keywords are the words or phrases people search for in Google.
- Use keywords naturally throughout the copy and don’t overuse them for the sake of getting them on the page.
- Read this article for more information on keywords
- These tell search engines and web users what your site’s about and they should be placed within the header tags of each page.
- They should be 50 – 60 characters long and take this format: Primary Keyword – Secondary Keyword | Your Brand
- This is a summary that tells web users and Google what each page is about. It should be unique for each page and a max of 155 characters.
- Using headings on your page not only helps break up your page content making it easier for your visitors to read, it also provides another way for search engines to understand the content.
- Having an XML site map is useful for letting the bots know which pages are on your site and will lead them to new pages that might have been missed.
Reduce load times
- Check how long your site takes to load. Lots of large photos or videos can slow down loading time.
- People are impatient so will not hang around on your site waiting for it to load so it needs to be as quick as possible.
Fix broken links
- Similarly people will give up if they come across broken links. You need to make things easy for people so check through from time to time that links within your site are all working correctly.
Link to in internal pages
- Linking to internal pages of your website also makes it easier for the bots to crawl your site fully.
- It’s helpful to make your hyperlinks descriptive (rather than just hyperlinking the words “click here”).
- This not only helps search engines understand what’s important about your site it also helps create logical navigation round your site by actual humans!
- However as before make sure this is natural and you’re not just linking keywords for the sake of it. Only link to older content if it’s relevant to do so.
Update content regularly
- Regular, useful and unique content is key to being read and shared.
- If you publish helpful content on a regular basis people will start seeing you as a source of information. They are likely to check your site regularly for new content and share it via social links (if you make it easy to do so!).
- The easiest way to share regular, new content on your website is via a blog.
- By publishing new pages Google bots crawl your site more regularly giving up to date information in search results.
- Each blog post is essentially a new page on your website.
- The more pages you have on your site that talk about your main topic and other related, relevant information there more it is seen as an authority.
- Going back to Google customer service at the start of the article, that means the site with more content (likely via a blog) is more likely to be ranked higher than a static site with just a few pages because Google thinks their customers are more likely to find all the information they are looking for.
Limit the use of Flash or use of keywords within images
- Any content/keywords within images or flash are generally not readable by the bots so it doesn’t count towards SEO.
- Adding pictures helps with the readability of your page for visitors but they can also be a great SEO tool (if the sizes are optimised – see above).
- Use the alt text for descriptive keywords which search engines recognise.
- Captions and file names are also recognised.
- Google now owns YouTube and puts emphasis on video results in search.
- As above use the descriptions for keywords.
Call to Action
- Make sure you have relevant calls to action in your content so that users know what you want them to do next. That will help SEO by keeping people on your site longer but is also just an important point for effect use of your website.
Easy social share
- Make it easy to share your content on social media and for people to follow you too.
- Google takes into account how popular you are socially so if you have authority on social media it is more likely to give you authority in their rankings.
- Have share buttons on your site but along with the social media icon put a call to action like “share on Facebook”.
- Backlinks are links from other websites into yours.
- The important thing here is to make sure they are relevant and good quality.
- Having a large quantity of low quality links into your site could actually harm your SEO.
- However if you are linked to by a high authority website (eg BBC etc) Google will see your site as relevant because otherwise such an authoritative site would not have linked to you.
- Other sites that are relevant to your site (complementing services that offer other things that your customers would be interested in, and with keywords that would be logical for people interested in your site) can also be beneficial.
- The number of backlinks required to see a difference in SEO varies depending on your industry.
- If you are a local business where there is not huge competition then a handful of backlinks can have an impact.
- However if you are selling mortgages, for example, it could take a lot more links from higher ranking sites to influence your ranking.
- If you have a strong network of relevant businesses that your readers are interested in, asking to do a reciprocal link swap can be one of the easiest ways to get back link.
- Ideally write the copy for them so that your hyperlink is in the name of your company/brand or better still your descriptive keywords.
- Listing my website and business on free local directories as well as national ones like Yell.com helped me.
- Creating great content is an easy way to get backlinks if people share your content and link back to the source (your site).
- Similarly writing guest posts on other sites will do the same.