So you have a website and you want to rank well with Google and other search engines so that people can find your content.
Then you need to know what you are doing in terms of SEO – Search engine optimisation. Making the most of the search engines.
Here’s a checklist of the do and don’ts the yes’s and the nos of SEO. Use it to optimise your content and your site and get and get yourself found!
But first, What is SEO?
How does it work?
The search engines send out bots which crawl your website to search your content to see if it’s interesting or worthwhile.
This is all based on a very complicated algorithm that changes all the time which allows for pages to be ranked.
At the moment Google, as the market leader is really hot a few key areas:
- Customer experience: Does the website deliver the most relevant content for that users search query?
- User Intent: How closely does that page or website deliver the answer to the user, does it meet the users intent?
- Quality Score: Is the quality of the information good enough for the user to get the answer?
- Authoritative: Is the website Google delivers an authority within that niche? How long has it been around? What is the level of content.
In addition they are looking for things like domain age, keywords, backlinks, fresh content and much more.
At the end of the day, these search engines want visitors to come back to them to do all their searches and the only way this can happen is if they deliver the best content right away.
So how do you make sure your content is the best and gets right up there at the top?
Here is where I can help. And this is what Search engine OPTIMISATION is all about. Below is a list of simple steps you can take to immediately improve your rankings.
The things you SHOULD do – The Yes’s
No 1: Include a search box
This is simply a box where people can look for content. If you use WordPress this is usually default as part of your website. Help people to find what they are looking for right away. You can add this functionality as a widget if you do not have it already installed.
No 2: Link to your other pages
When it makes sense within your text, ensure that you link to other pages in your website. This is known as anchor links. It helps the bots search and rate other content and provides a sensible structure for them to look at. Plus it will help your visitors stay on your site for longer if they can find relevant content throughout your article.
Also, search engines love this as a way to help them crawl through your site further so they see more of your site at each visit. Use them throughout your text, and not just in one place.
No 3: Include Breadcrumbs
This is a function which allows the visitor to see the page hierarchy and so to quickly move around your website. It’s a really good thing with search engines.
You can do this with a plug in, and it can also help to make your top menu look less cluttered.
No 4: Your Homepage
It’s a personal preference as to whether you have a static home page or one that exists as a blog roll, or a list of post excerpts.
There are merits to each, but it’s important to make sure that visitors get a clear picture of what they will get from the site when they arrive, where they should start from and what they will learn. Keep it as simple as possible to ensure they don’t leave right away and keep down your bounce rate.
No 5: Plan your sitemap and structure
Don’t rush into throwing in page after page. Think about your sitemap.
This is the structure of your website. Think about what you want the main content areas to be, what content will sit under these main areas, and so on. This is likely to be a moveable feast, but it at least gives a starting point and gives you a direction to go in. If it’s a logical flow the search engines will love this. It’s showing relevant and authority in your niche.
No 6 : Tag your content
This is important for keywords and this part of the search engine algorithms. If you use WordPress you will see that in the right hand column there is a tag section. Use this to highlight your keywords for each article. You can rank under just these tags alone, you’d be surprised!
Also, make sure you label your images. Each one should be correctly named in the Alt tag field as well as the image title. And use keywords when you can to make sure your pages can be found. Check out this article about using keywords the right way
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No 7: Improve your page speed
If you are using WordPress, here is a great tutorial on how to do this by using certain plug ins to improve your load time.
You can use various sites to check for your page times as well such as GT metrix
No 8: Use the above the fold correctly
Ensure that your content starts above the fold. Remove any advertising and images that take up the whole of the fold. You want your visitors to get the meat of your article right at the top. The most important points and the things that will make them read on.
You can include images above the fold just make sure that they don’t take over the whole space! Believe it or not this is something that search engines look at too.
No 9: Consider your article structure
White space is NOT dead space. Make sure you split your content into nice readable paragraphs with clear headings and sections to make it easy for people to skim read and get to what they are really looking for.
No 10: Make sure you are mobile responsive
This is key. It is getting to the point where more people use mobiles than desktops to browse the internet so make sure your website looks good on a mobile. Search engines look for this and will massively penalise your site if it isn’t mobile responsive.
No 11: Get social
Make sure you share your content on as many forms of social media as you can. And encourage people visiting your site to share the articles too. The more sharing, the more exposure you get the more Kudos you will gain from Google and other search engines. Think about it. If people are sharing and reading your content, then it MUST be worthwhile, and up the page they will push you.
No 12: Use keywords correctly
Using keywords the right way can have a huge impact on your rankings. You can actually rank on page 1 JUST by using them in the right way. Check out this article that gives you all the details on how to do this.
The things you SHOULDn’t do – The No’s
No 1: Don’t add too many links
Don’t try to link every single page you have ever written directly from your homepage. What this does is it will slow your page speed as the page loads and tries to find all of the links. A slower page load time means lower ranking.
No 2: Don’t make menus too long.
Make sure your sub-menus aren’t miles long. Not only does this annoy readers but it affects page load too. But make sure that all of your pages can be reached from the homepage either by one page or another.
No 3: Don’t link backwards and forwards between two pages
This is known as an infinite loop. You don’t want users simply clicking in and out of a circle to get to where they want. They will get frustrated and leave. Similarly, web search spiders will exit the page if they see there is nowhere else to go. Not much else to look at and therefore lower ranking.
Instead of showing the full content of your site, they are seeing a two page mini site. Not much authority there.
No 4: Don’t Duplicate content
Never copy content from other websites. Search engines will know which content came first and yours will be lost in the rankings.
No 5: Don’t use unlicensed images
Make sure that you can use the images you have selected you are allowed to use. You can do this by using free image libraries such as pixabay or resplashed. Or if you are using google images you can change your search filter to only show you images that you can use. All you need to do this is when you are on Google images, click on the ‘search tools’ sub menu and then usage rights. Select labelled for reuse. You can use these at will.
No 6: Don’t buy backlinks
It can be tempting, as backlinks still factor with Google’s ranking algorithm, but they must be done right. But buying backlinks means they tend to come from low quality website which means they will harm your SEO rather than help it. You don’t want any associations that you can’t control.
No 7: Don’t go Fake social
You can spend a fair amount of money on programs that automate your social sharing. Don’t bother with these. Once the search engines catch on, which believe me they can trace your activity, then your website will be marked down.
Getting your search engine optimisation right can take time. And if you know the right things to do to optimise your content, this can go a LONG way to making your content rank highly on search engines, this driving more traffic.
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Doing SEO correctly, is key to the success of your business. I hope this article has helped you implement a few techniques to get your content right up there!
If you have any questions at all, please let me know below.