We all know that SEO is constantly evolving, which is why it’s such a fertile (if confusing) industry – it’s pretty hard for small business owners to keep track of the changes on top of *everything* else you’re juggling. So, you outsource, writes Crystal Wong, founder of SEO consultancy Skyblue Search.
Given that 90 per cent of websites get no organic search traffic from Google, getting up to speed even at the most basic level is definitely worth your time. Because, if you’re on top of your SEO game, you’re ahead of the curve!
So, to get you off the starting blocks, here are my top five tips to get your site ranking and your products or services selling.
Get your analytics set up
Before you do anything, you need to understand your baseline. Get Google Analytics and Google Search Console up and running. There are plenty of free tutorials about understanding the data. It can look intimidating but just having top-level data about the number of visitors and conversions is good information. That’s the best way to equip yourself to understand what’s working and what’s not.
Strip out anything that slows down your site
We all know instinctively that a speedy website is critical for user experience. The slow-load is the devil’s work – in a world of instant gratification, no one is hanging around while your website grinds into action.
FACT: The all-in time of the average Google search session (from initial query to search results page, user selection and any back button clicks to trigger new results) is a teeny tiny .60 seconds.
Searchers will not wait. So, before you get mired in the nitty-gritty of SEO, tackle the obvious opportunities to deliver an uptick in traffic and/or conversions with minimal work.
And it’s also not just a problem for people – slow page speed means that search engines can crawl fewer pages in the allocated time. A double-whammy for your indexation.
So how do you speed up your site?
1.Check your site speed to benchmark just how slooooooow it is – use a tool like Page Speed Insights, GT Metrix and/or Pingdom
2. Get rid of anything you truly don’t need – like unused plugins and non-essential widgets. Do you really need that Instagram feed to distract your customers?
3. Optimise your images by making sure file sizes are reduced
4. Delete your slider – it’s nice, but much evidence has shown that users don’t interact with it. Replace it with a stunning, optimised static image and a call to action button above the fold.
5. And if all of that sounds terrifying, hand it over to an expert (but remember that usually isn’t your web designer – because that’s a whole different discipline).
Build high-quality backlinks
This means links from other websites. From Google’s perspective, it’s all about authority building. Google really rates authority. Building links from high-quality sites, will make Google understand that your site is trustworthy and therefore worthy of ranking well. It’s most certainly not just a numbers game.
Think quality and high value content.
Write for people not Google
Which brings us to how we write. Gone are the days (thank goodness) of keyword stuffing. That is a sure-fire way to turn your customers (and Google) off. The minute you land on a website and try to read through a keyword-fest, all trust is gone.
Your objective has to be to create content that people actually want to read and share – high quality, valuable information that positions you as a trusted expert in your field. When you do that, the keywords your target audience are searching with will usually fall into place.
AND, suddenly you’re a more attractive proposition for link-building with other websites. Winning all over the place!
Cover these SEO fundamentals
There are a few very specific SEO-y boxes to be ticked. If you’re not sure what they mean, or need further explanation, Google them and you’ll probably find the most valuable results right there at the top of the page!!
Your SEO basics
1.Include the keyword you want to rank for in the title tag of the page
By including the main keyword in your title tag, you’re telling Google that this is what you would like to rank for.
2. Get your URL structure right
The URL tells the reader – and Google – what your page contains. It should only contain words and dashes, and should be a snappy reflection of what you talk about. Avoid connecting words like an, the, in, but and other messy symbols that make your URL unreadable for users and search engines.
3. Use the right keywords in images
Images are actually pretty important in SEO, so make sure you label the filename of your images to reflect the content they’re paired with. That also applies to the caption and alt text. But make them clear rather than clever – as ever, function is Google’s #1 love.
4. Keyword research
Keyword research is the basis of a good SEO campaign. It’s all about understanding the keywords users are searching for online. With this information, you’ll have a good idea of what keywords you need to target to drive qualified traffic from search engines to your website. In other words, what terms are your ideal customers putting into Google to find and buy products or services just like yours. Then, you need to optimise the pages on your site to target these keywords, including making sure all page and blog post titles contain your primary keyword.
Starting out with SEO
Of course, this is only the tip of the iceberg, but it’s a solid checklist to get you moving.
SEO is critical to any comprehensive digital marketing strategy, but it’s not just the ‘doing’ that you need to understand, it’s also how you interpret the data.
Ultimately, SEO, like any other marketing strategy should be focused on results – that is, the sales and leads it’s bringing in to your business. Keyword rankings are only a measuring tool. When it comes down to it, the only number that counts is your ROI.
Once you’ve got a better ranking, more leads AND more sales, then you can truly celebrate.