Whenever you search anything on Google, chances are you don’t click very far past the first page. That’s why SEO (search engine optimisation), the strategies applied to show high up in Google organically (without paid advertising) is so important in business.
While SEO can get complex and time-consuming, there are a few simple things you can start doing straight away to support your ranking. Even if you decide to enlist the support of an agency to optimise your website and content initially, you’ll want to take back the reigns eventually to keep the practices and strategies they implement up. So, these are the SEO basics to start putting in place.
If you have a new website, submit a sitemap to Google
A sitemap is a file that provides Google with information about the pages on your website so it can start appearing in search engine results. If you’re creating a brand new site, you can submit a sitemap through Google Search Console.
Start with the right set of keywords
Your keywords are the words or word combinations that people will search in Google when they want to find a product or service like yours. In turn, Google returns a list of pages containing those words or word combinations. Understanding what your market is searching and weaving those keywords into your website, so the copy still sounds natural, is at the core of SEO.
Arriving at your list of keywords takes keyword research, which you can do in a platform like SEMrush. Keyword research can be time consuming so if you’re brand new to SEO, you might want to outsource this. Otherwise this article explains keyword research in more depth.
Once you have your list of keywords, you will want to start creating a landing page for each one with content that’s built to fix a pain point for your customers. This is called a content strategy. It will save you a lot of time and effort to have the right set of keywords from the outset, so you can build content correctly and attract the right type of market.
Infuse keywords into your pages
You can infuse keywords into the meta title, meta description, page headers and text to optimise your page content and strengthen your SEO strategy. The meta title, and the meta description directly beneath it, is the text that appears in search engine results. They should read naturally and paint a clear picture of what the reader can expect when they click the link. To stay visible in Google, keep the meta title length from 50 to 60 characters and the meta description from 140 to 160 characters.
You can add a keyword to the slug to boost SEO too – this is part of the page URL that follows the dash and identifies the page. So for example in articlewriters.com.au/blog, the word ‘blog’ is the slug.
Adding links to relevant internal pages and quality external websites, which Google considers a value add for visitors, will support your SEO efforts too.
When linking to external pages, set it up so they open in a new window to let visitors easily return to your site. Google Search Console can let you check for broken links to create a frictionless experience for visitors and keep your site optimised.
There’s a lot of SEO value when external websites link to yours too. These are called backlinks, which basically lets Google start seeing you as a trusted source and authority. There are a few things you can do to start growing backlinks:
- Signing up to local directories and listings;
- Asking to write a guest post for another site;
- Asking to supply a positive testimonial in exchange for a link or;
- If a site already mentions you, ask them to add a link to your website (this is called link reclamation).
Create a great user experience
Google wants to always show the highest quality search results, so its crawlers are continually scanning websites to pick up if they contain quality information and are easy to use. So does your website flow? Can visitors easily find what they want? Do the layout and aesthetics look good? A mobile responsive website and quality, original content with headers and sub-headers to break page text up will support your SEO efforts too. Check each page is easy to read and not text-heavy.
Keep images web size
Large image files can slow the speed of a site and impact SEO. Resize images down to web size (less than 500 KB) using a platform like JPEGmini which retains the quality. Use keyword-rich alt text and image titles when uploading images. Alt text is the text that appears inside the image container when it can’t be displayed, while the image title is the text that appears in a pop up when a mouse is dragged over the image.
Website plugins affect the speed of a site too so if you have old plug-ins which aren’t used it’s recommended to uninstall them.
Google Analytics can check the speed of your site in addition to showing most visited pages, length of stay and where customers are dropping off so install this for your site too.
Putting the right strategies in place and creating a good website experience for visitors will strengthen your SEO efforts to show up in more searches.
Looking to strengthen your SEO?