The old saying of “build it and they will come” definitely does not apply to websites. The World Wide Web has grown to become a digital behemoth, so it can be easy to get lost in the noise. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) therefore needs to be a fundamental part of your strategy for getting your business found online. After all, if you’re going to go to all the trouble (and expense) of building a shiny new website, you want people to actually visit it!
The good news is that there are several steps that you can implement to get you started with optimising your website for search engines; or you can always hire a professional to do it for you.
Step 1: Metadata
Metadata may sound like it’s something only developers use, but it simply means data that is used to describe other data. Metadata helps search engines understand the content of your website more thoroughly and what types of content you website contains. The most common types of metadata include meta titles, meta descriptions, image alt-tags, sitemaps, and permalinks; all of which you should include within your website.
Meta Titles refers to the title that you give every page and post on your website and is what search engines use to display your site or pages on search engine results pages (SERPs). They also provide visitors with a preview of what that page or post is about and what content they can expect to find there. Consider your meta title your first impression – so make it a good one!
There are a few best practices for Meta Titles to ensure that they are optimised for SEO. They should be relevant to the page content and feature suitable key words – preferably closer to the start of the title.
They should also be interesting though – interesting enough to make people actually want to click on them. So the trick lies in finding the balance between these two metrics.
Meta Descriptions refers to the text that SERPs display directly below your meta title that provides an excerpt of text from or about the page that it refers to. This excerpt should be just as relevant and interesting as your meta title, and should provide potential visitors with a little bit more information about what content they can expect to find on that page or website.
Your meta description should also contain your keywords and should be the correct length for it to display nicely in SERPs.
A permalink is the permanent link that refers to the location of a specific page on your website. It is how search engines link to and locate that page and where it is stored within your website. Making your permalinks friendly simply means making them easier to read for search engines and humans by using key words and descriptive text. Typically, this information is pulled from the page or post title and will contain dashes instead of spaces between the words. Check the settings on your website to make sure you have your permalinks set to “pretty/friendly/post-name” depending on what your CMS calls them.
Step 2: UX
User Experience (UX) is as important for search engines as it is for people – if your visitors can’t use your website or find what they’re looking for they will just leave and find another website to look at. When this happens, search engines take note and negatively impact your SEO rankings.
But how can you improve your UX without being a computer wizard? There are some simple things to keep in mind when creating and publishing anything for your website.
Keep the information clear, concise and easy to locate on your website. Make sure your menu is clear and easy to read and points people to the content they may be looking for. There’s no point in publishing great content if people can’t navigate to it on your website.
Make sure your site loads quickly. Don’t stuff your website with huge files and unnecessary add-ons that will slow it down and make loading times unbearable for your visitors. Slow site speeds will also knock down your SEO rankings.
Step 3: Mobile Compatibility
Mobile compatibility has become one of the most important factors for SEO and will continue to be so with more than half of global website traffic coming from mobile phone users. That number is also expected to increase sevenfold by 2021! Search engines are placing more and more important and priority on mobile-ready sites so it goes without saying that mobile compatibility should be at the top of your to-do list.
We’ve already talked about some aspects of mobile compatibility in our blog post 4 Simple Things That Make a Website Great, but here are some more tips.
Check your current ranking with Google’s mobile friendly test and implement the suggested changes. Simple – right? Some things may be harder than others to implement, and that’s a great time to talk to a professional.
Step 4: Content
Content is king! We are firm believers in that phrase, and once you’ve lain the ground work for an SEO friendly website, it’s time to get cracking on some cracking good content!
Blog posts, vlogs or video content, images and social media connectivity are all great options for content creation and a combination of all of these is even better. Posting fresh content regularly lets search engines know that you’re still active and relevant. The content of your website is ultimately what people are looking for, so too are search engines. So keep it consistent, current and keep at it!
Step 5: Link building
Link building is a strategy that involves finding ways to get other websites to link back to yours, and the more reliable that website is the more valuable that backlink will be. This process is just like when a colleague or your boss writes you a reference – in this way other websites are serving as your references to show search engines that you are trustworthy and vouched for by others. And the more back links you can get, the more trustworthy your site will appear.
But how do you go about getting some of these coveted authoritative backlinks? Well some of the suggested strategies include the following:
- Write an original study or case study that other sites will organically want to share and link to.
- Write reciprocal content for other sites and create a link sharing relationship.
- Share your content across your channels so that others can find it, share it and link to it.
Dedicating attention to SEO will ensure that you’re giving yourself and your business the best chance to be found by prospective customers online. SEO can be a complicated beast and with search engines constantly updating their algorithms it can daunting to try to keep up with them. But by implementing these core strategies, you will have laid the foundation of a great SEO strategy.