Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is hugely important for your business website. As social networks make it more difficult for companies to talk directly to users without paying for ads, bringing website views in through search is ever more critical. You might not be able to employ a full-time SEO expert, but there are a number of basic SEO techniques that anyone can use.
What is SEO?
SEO is the act of tweaking your content to improve its position in search engine results. It is essentially telling Google, Bing, Yahoo and the rest what is on the page and why people searching for certain terms should come to your site over a rival’s.
The higher up the rankings you appear, the better the chance of people finding your content. The best thing about SEO is that you can do the simple work for free and see a great upturn in traffic. Here’s what to look for:
It sounds ridiculously simple, but your site needs content to attract search. Google and the like look for authority when ranking sites, so you need to offer as much detail about your topic as possible.
Good content answers a user’s question, so make sure you put yourself in their shoes. If you found a page on your site when searching, does it tell you everything you need to know? If not, flesh it out. Google knows if people reach your site, but immediately exit because the page doesn’t live up to expectation. This is reflected in the Bounce Rate stats in Google Analytics.
Search engines frown upon “thin content”, which are pages without much useful information on them. They also penalise sites that contain multiple spelling and grammatical errors. Go through your text with a fine-tooth comb and make sure it looks professional.
Keywords and how helps your SEO rankings
Keywords are the words and phrases you use to alert search engines to what your article is about. Before you write any content, pick the keyword or keywords you want to target.
There are various keyword generators online that provide you with relevant keywords for your niche. They also show you the amount of traffic for those terms. Bear in mind that the most popular search terms are also the most competitive, and therefore most difficult to rank well for.
A simple trick is to target long-tail keywords. These are phrases that are less popular, but which you can ‘own’ with a well-optimised article. Bringing in 80% of the search for a term used by 1,000 users is a better return than snaring 0.0001% of a term that a million users type into Google.
For example, in the tourism sector, a popular search term might be “family days out”. A small attraction would struggle to make an impact on that, but if they targeted “indoor family days out in [THEIR LOCAL TOWN]”, they would stand a much better chance. In addition, as this term is more specific, they are more likely to convert that search traffic into custom.
How to Use Keywords
Your main keyword phrase should appear in a number of places. It should be in your title, ideally close to the start. Feature it in your first paragraph, and then again once or twice in the main body of the content. Try to add it into a heading in the piece too. You should also use it in the alt tags of an image on the page.
In addition, add some variations of the keyword phrase to both catch slightly different searches and to stop it sounding spammy. Once upon a time, you could stuff the phrase into the piece as much as possible and the search engines would boost it up the rankings. They have stamped this out now, rewarding articles that are easy to read instead.
If your keyword phrase was “indoor family days out in Cambridge”, you might want to also use the line “indoor places to take the family in Cambridge” for example.
Because images contain specific information, adding them to an article is a great simple SEO trick. Use the alt tag to input your focus keyword and the description to explain what the picture is. The latter helps partially sighted users with screen readers understand what is on the page. It also helps your picture appear in Google image searches, which gives users another opportunity to find your site.
You can add this information using your website’s content management system.
Search engines like to know that your site is easy to navigate and love it when people spend a long time on there. Internal linking is the way to satisfy both of these desires.
If you have a page that contains no inbound links, Google can’t find it and won’t rank it. Once the search engine’s bots are on your site, they follow your navigation. Put in links between pages, use menus and add breadcrumbs to make it as easy as possible for them to find all your great content. Breadcrumbs are the links at the top of the page that show where it stands in the site structure. It might look something like this:
Home > Services > Carpet Cleaning
Links also keep people on your site, as they find additional pages that capture their attention. The longer people spend with you, the more favourable it is to your site ranking. Internal links are perfect for this.
Search engines can’t tell the content of a video, other than any meta tags that are attached to it, so make sure you don’t miss out on search. Add text to explain what the video is about, or simply include a transcript below to help you rank.