5 ways to improve your website SEO
5 ways to improve your website SEO
By Nancy Smallwood
SEO - or search engine optimisation - can be something of a mystery. What does it mean in practice, should your organisation be doing it, and how important are keywords?
If you have a website, you need people to find it. This means doing at least some basic SEO.
Search is a marketing channel and it's one of the most powerful because people search with an intention of buying or doing something. In fact, 81% of all internet journeys start with a search engine and Google and YouTube lead the charge.
There's a lot you can do with organic SEO (the type you don't have to pay-per-click for).
Our web content writer Nancy Smallwood attended a General Assembly SEO course on behalf of Poached Creative. She’s distilled her knowledge into five things you should know about improving your site’s Google ranking.
1. Content is important
Around 80% of optimising your site for Google simply means having great content. If your content is useful, the reader will be more engaged.
Whether that’s creating really interesting blog posts, having well-described products or a concise ‘about us’ page is up to you. Aim to use straightforward language, one to two sentence paragraphs, and short, snappy sentences.
The main thing is to think like a potential customer. Would they find your site helpful and easy to use?
Update your content - often! The Google crawling bot regularly searches through the web for any changes to websites.
The longer a page goes without an update, the more likely it is that the bot will skip over it. By putting up new blog posts, or updating pages, you’ll get noticed by Google more often.
2. Learn how to use keywords
Choosing keywords for your site and individual pages can help guide the rest of your SEO process. This includes which words to use in your title, headers and more. It’s best if this is based on evidence. Try the following:
- sign up for Google Adwords. You can use their keyword research tool for free, just make sure you select the advanced setup when you register, otherwise you won’t get access to the tools.
- Moz.com has useful tools and loads of advice on keywords
- LSI.com will give you related keywords if you need inspiration
- think like your users - if you were looking for social enterprise bakeries in East London, what would you search for?
Try to use your keywords really early on: in the title and the first sentence of the first paragraph.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to try to shoehorn in lots of keywords. It’s not worth sacrificing good, well-written content.
Try to pick a couple of keywords and bear them in mind for title tags, meta-descriptions, header tags, URLs and alt tags.
3. Title tags, meta-descriptions and more
The technical side of search engine optimisation accounts for a smaller percentage of optimisation than content but, with a little effort, it’s very easy to get right. To start, focus on the following five main elements on your site.
Title tags - 50-60 words
This is the phrase that appears in the tab preview, or as a bold Google result. It’s crucial to get this right.
Each page should have a unique title that tells a completely new user what you’re about. So ‘Salt and Pepper: Dining, Wine, Chefs, Cocktails, Eating Out’ could become ‘Restaurant News, Restaurant Reviews, Recipes and Events | Salt and Pepper ‘
Try to put the keywords near the front. So, in the above example, ‘Restaurant News’ would be our keyword.
Header tags are the headers on your page which are marked with <h1> tags, the biggest, all the way down to <h6>.
Don’t neglect these! For one thing, they make the page easier to read, boosting your potential customers’ enjoyment of the copy. Google will also notice <h> tags the same way it does with Title tags, so use keywords in them.
Meta-description - 150-160 words
Along with the title tag, meta-description is one of the most important and easiest ways to instantly improve your SEO. This is the preview of the document that Google brings up in the search window. Be concise, descriptive, and aim for 150-160 words, with that all important call to action - CTA - at the end.
“The best of food and drink culture. Salt and Pepper provides London restaurant reviews, chef’s recipes and foodie events to adventurous eaters across the country. Join free now.”
Each page should have a unique one, and feel free to update them often - Google notices changes, and therefore, your site.
Adding alt-tags to your pictures is important. The words all go towards forming the library of phrases Google associates with your site.
The clearer your URLs are the better. They should match the titles of the page. Rather than /sales/product2143542.htm, in an ideal world it would say sales/product/marketing-course-september-2016.htm. Don’t forget your keywords!
4. Google loves Google
At the end of the day, Google is a business just like any other, so it’s in their interest to get people like you to sign up their Adwords service. (There’s some evidence that shows even running a small campaign even once will make Google favour your site more in the future, bringing it up in organic results too.)
Don’t neglect Google+. As the saying goes, the only people who use Google+ are employees, and ex-employees, of Google. But the benefits in rankings that you’ll get from having a beefy, active page on Google+ far outstrips that of a Facebook page, or Twitter. It’s somewhat laborious and can feel frustrating, but if you’re serious about SEO, get a page up on Google+.
5. Create links
Links to your site show that your content is trusted. Creating compelling content that attracts links from other sources is the best way to boost your trust and rise up the Google rankings. Social media plays a big part in this, so if you're sharing content on social media that links back to your site, and that content is being shared, your search rankings will improve. You could also consider writing guest blogs on other trusted sites, making sure you're linked to from relevant directories and linking to other sites, where appropriate, to encourage them to do the same for you.
Need help putting this into practice? Find out about Poached Creative's website services.