No three letters strike fear into the hearts of newbie webmasters than the dreaded S… E… O…
Search engine optimisation is often seen as a clever, fancy-pants practice that’s off-limits to us mere mortals. And yes, some of the more in-depth, technical practices would probably make our heads spin, but there are some very basic, common sense things that can help search visibility immensely.
Let’s go over these 5 SEO basics that you can act on today…
1. Audit Your Website’s Text
Arguably the first thing to look at when you’re optimising is the textual content on your site. Search engines like to see clear website copy that talks naturally about what you do without being overstuffed with keywords.
Firstly, carry out a bit of keyword research to see what terms people are using to realistically find companies like yours; Google’s Keyword Planner and Answer the Public are a great place to start. Then take a look at your site and make sure your text refers to the keywords you find, but don’t be tempted to overuse them. According to Yoast, no key phrase should make up more than 2.5% of a page’s text.
This incidence rate is called “keyword density”, and tools like SEO Book’s Keyword Density Checker, will show you the most common phrases you are using within a given webpage and their density as a percentage. Google can now recognise synonyms and conjugations of verbs, so including all of the different ways of saying what you do is no longer required.
While you’re on the text auditing trail, check out each page’s title tag (which shows up as the blue link text in search results) and the meta description (which usually shows as the grey text in search results). These tags should accurately describe the page in question, and are a crucial place to put keywords. Also be aware of how you are currently using header tags within each page (<h1>, <h2>, <h3>, etc.); search engines read these too, so try and incorporate some keywords there as well if you can.
2. Start Blogging!
If your site has a blog function, you need to get into the habit of blogging regularly. If your site doesn’t have a blog function, speak to your web developer and get one installed asap. Google prioritises sites that it sees are regularly updated with fresh content. Additionally, the more content you have on your site, the more ammunition you give search engines to help pair your site with willing searchers.
Blogging also lets you cover topics that may be slightly outside of – yet still relevant to – your niche, resulting in a wider pool of keywords your site contains. Oh, and it also provides more variety to your actual human readers – can’t forget about them!
Sidenote: Blogging also has other online marketing benefits because it gives you collateral to share over email marketing and social media. If you’re not doing it already – go and get started!
3. Optimise Your Images
It’s important to optimise your images too. Pay attention to what image files on your site are named, and give them brief but descriptive names with words separated by dashes, such as “conservatory-roof.jpg” and “white-upvc-porch.jpg” so they’re easily readable by search engines. Also look at the “alt text” of each image where you can provide a brief description of the image including any relevant keywords.
A website’s loading speed is also one of the factors that Google uses to rank pages, and the smaller the file sizes of your images, the faster your site will load. Therefore it’s worth checking that your image files are as small as they can be without compromising appearance. If you use WordPress to manage your website, there are plugins which can help automate this essential process.
4. Don’t Forget About Mobile!
Take a look at your website on any mobile devices you have to hand. Does your site show up nicely with all text readable and menus adapted nicely for small touchscreen devices? If not, alarm bells should be ringing. Mobile browsing isn’t going away, and if you look at the Audience>Mobile>Overview report in your website’s Google Analytics, you may be surprised at how many people are using mobile devices to find you.
Having a site that is easy to view and use on mobile is now an incredibly important ranking factor. Google has a great mobile optimisation checker here which tells you whether your site is mobile responsive or not, as well as providing feedback about loading your site on mobile devices. If this tool tells you that your site is not optimised for mobile or that it has issues that affect its mobile usability, get in touch with your web developer to make your site mobile responsive as soon as you can.
5. Don’t Forget the Local Search Essentials
Local search visibility is essential to any small business, especially those that rely on foot traffic. The first thing you can do here is to complete a Google My Business listing, covered in more detail in this previous article.
If you have listings on other sites as well (such as Yell, Bing for Business, Cylex, Yelp, etc.) make sure that all contact and operating time information is consistent across all listings. Google verifies contact details with a number of reputable listing sites to make sure they’re providing searchers with correct contact information, so inconsistencies may confuse both the search engine and the searcher!
According to Moz, user reviews left for your business through reputable listing sites such as Yell.com, TripAdvisor and Facebook play a small part in ranking, and your appearance within the “local 3-pack” (the map listings that show in some search results). Gathering positive reviews through these channels isn’t just a good idea for search visibility though – 73% of consumers canvassed are more likely to choose a business that has online reviews compared to a business that has none.
Further reading: How Can Reviews Improve Your SEO?
These tips should give you a solid foundation to build further SEO work upon. They’re a great jumping off point for other, more in-depth practices such as featured snippets, domain authority, AMPs, and link building.
SEO is all about getting visibility for your site and your organisation, but it’s just as important to impress people once they reach your site. If you have everything as optimised as it can be, but your site’s design and content doesn’t engage people once they turn up; it’s unlikely that you’ll see the benefit of your hard optimisation work. Search optimisation may bring people to your site, but it’s up to you to draw them in further once they’re there.If you find SEO stressful, check out these 5 simple optimisation tips! Click To Tweet
NOTE: We’ve tried to keep this advice as relevant as possible to current best practices at the time of publication, but it’s important to note that SEO is always changing, new ranking factors are being developed all the time, and that no one thing is going to get you “to the top of Google”.
Are you facing any SEO challenges? Has this article brought up any snagging points for your own website? Are there any issues you’ve had that aren’t mentioned here? Let’s have a chat in the comments below…