April 7, 2021
Search engine optimisation (SEO) is an ever-evolving beast. And while the easiest ways to improve your website’s ranking on Google have changed over time, the essential principles have not. Web Developer Kate Vanderhorst shares nine ways to improve your SEO so your brand is more visible online.
1. Speed up your site
If your potential customers are waiting too long for your site to load, they will give up and leave. 40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load according to eConsultancy. Additionally, Google incorporates site speed as a ranking factor so it will penalise your website, and rank it lower, if it takes too long to load. An experienced web developer is often needed to improve a website’s loading speed but there are some basic steps you can take that require little technical know-how like:
Use fast web hosting
There are many cheap hosting options out there in the market and, while we are all for making savings, make sure that these providers don’t compromise on speed to help you save a few dollars. Paying a little more for your hosting can translate to more profit in the long run; especially for e-commerce websites. It is important to do your research before choosing a web host. And if you find your current provider’s web hosting is slow, many competitors offer a free migration service so moving is relatively easy.
Make sure to compress your images before uploading them to your website. If you are working with a graphic designer, they can do this for you. If you aren’t, you can use online tools like tinyjpg.com. As a rule of thumb, full-width images should not exceed 500kb and smaller images should only be as large as they need to be to fit the space on your website. If you are using aContent management system (CMS), such as WordPress, there are multiple ‘plugins’ you can utilise to further compress your images.
Many CMSs natively, or through a plugin, offer the ability to ‘lazy-load’ images. Lazy load means that images are only loaded as needed and content appears more quickly. Remember; your customers will leave your site if you make them wait. If you are noticing that your website is not working like it should, you may need assistance from a web developer to optimise your lazy-load settings.
2. Create content for your customers and potential customers
It may seem like a no brainer, but this is an often-overlooked aspect area of SEO. Long gone are the days of writing articles that just contained multiple synonyms of keywords. You should be thinking about your customers when you are writing content for your website – not search engines.
The aim of your content is to help someone. By creating content that is of value, you engage and build trust with your consumers – and consumers do business with brands they trust. The added benefit of creating valuable, quality content is that search engines will reward you by ranking your website higher because you have helped people find what they are searching for.
3. Use long-tail keywords
Trying to manipulate search engines with multiple keywords no longer works and anyone who isn’t using long-tail keywords is missing out. A long-tail keyword is a more specific version of a keyword. For example:
‘Japanese Food’ is a short-tail keyword.
‘Japanese Food Homemade in Adelaide’ is a long-tail keyword.
The benefit of long-tail keywords is that there is less competition for them so it is easier to rank for them. Long-tail keywords are also more focused so people entering these words are more likely to be further along the sales pipeline and more ready to purchase your product or service.
4. Share your content on social media
Social media is not a direct ranking factor in SEO but sharing your content on your social platforms, and creating shareable content, can help you overall. Social media can increase and enhance your online brand recognition and reputation which improves your visibility.
By publishing quality and useful articles on your website and then sharing this content on social media, you can engage your target audience. These people can become ‘advocates’ for your brand by talking about your business online and sharing your content. Never underestimate the power of word of mouth – it’s just as powerful online as it is in person.
‘Social searching’ is also becoming more common. This is where people are using social media platforms for search for products, services and brands instead of a search engine. Sharing content on your social pages creates more opportunities for people to find your brand.
Interestingly, search engine Bing includes social signals in its ranking algorithm. Bing accounts for around 33% of search traffic so it is good sense to share your content on social media.
5. Work on a link strategy by encouraging other (trustworthy) sites to link to you
Link building is one of the more time consuming and long game SEO strategies but can bring rewards in the long run. It has been long established that buying links will only get you penalised by Google so how do you get other sites to link to you?
The answer is simple: publish quality content to your website.
Create content pieces that other websites want to link to. You can start the process by linking to other quality and relevant sites to begin with. You can improve your authority in your industry over time and more people will begin to link to you naturally.
There are multiple ways to improve your chances of other websites linking to yours and HubSpot has written a fantastic article about building inbound links.
6. Use readable URLs (that reflect the content)
Google does not read underscores so do not include them in your URLs. Make sure your URL is a logical name for what your article is about. And keep your URL short to make it more memorable and search engine friendly.
7. Use keywords in your images
Google not only reads the text in your article but also the text you have used to title your images so we recommend including additional keywords. Google takes titles into account when working out the priority in which images rank in search results.
Be sure to correctly label images using alt text and descriptions when necessary by correctly describing what the image is showing not an action. For example:
‘Homemade salmon sashimi’ is a correct label.
‘Click here to buy salmon sashimi’ is not.
8. Check all links still work
Websites are constantly updated. Pages get moved or deleted or have their URL changed. A resource that you have linked to in an article may have since been deleted by its original creator. We know it is not your fault if a resource you linked to in a previous blog post has been deleted, or broken, but it is your responsibility to check that your links do work. Broken links can impact impact your SEO because the the user experience has been negatively impacted. Google cares a lot about user experience so it is not going to rank your website well if it sees users being prompted to visit broken, or dead links.
Additionally, if you have spent time encouraging other websites to link to your site you should ensure that none of the links they are linking to are broken. We do not recommend changing page URLs once they have been created but if you absolutely must, make sure you get your web developer to put a redirect in place so people who visit the original link end up in the right place. You can also use a redirect plugin if you have a CMS so you hard work isn’t undone. A great tool you can use to check your website for broken links is brokenlinkcheck.com.
9. Get reviews
Reviews are powerful. Firstly, they improve customer confidence in your business and secondly, they can help improve your SEO. When Google’s algorithm is assessing your website, one of the things it looks at is ‘EAT’. This stands for: Expertise, Authority and Trust. In measuring ‘Trust’, positive Google reviews tell Google that your business is trustworthy.
A smart way to approach this is by reaching out to other businesses you have worked with recently to thank them for their business and ask if they would like you to write a Google review for them. If they don’t offer one in return, politely ask for one.
Testimonials can also be used as part of your link building strategy. You can contact businesses you have worked with to offer testimonials for their website. Theoretically, when they display your testimonial on their website, they will link back to yours.
BONUS: Freshen up existing content!
Already have content on your website? Every once in a while, you should refresh it. We recommend reviewing your copy regularly so that it is up to date. By reviewing your copy, Google also updates your ‘freshness’ score when ranking pages: the fresher your content is, the higher it will rank.
Freshening up your content also gives you a chance to review if the content is as effective as it could be. Have people been leaving a page as soon as they land on it? Are you call-to-actions strong enough for consumers to take the next step? Are there any broken links or spelling mistakes? Is there an image or video that you could use to strengthen the content? Now is the time to get reviewing!
Like to know more about SEO? Contact us for more information about how our SEO plans can boost your brand online.