Search engine optimisation has historically been the job that’s given to a techie pro to sort out. But with the increase of self-service website design software like Wix, SquareSpace and Wordpress, optimising your website for search engines is more accessible than ever before.
Yeast SEO is a great plugin available for Wordpress sites and other services offer SEO wizards and assistance to walk you through the basics. But here are my top tips to break down the jargon and get you on the right track.
1. Write titles that are juuuuust right
The page title is what you call your page e.g. About Us. But this isn’t what search engines read or show on search results. Make sure your titles are clear and communicate what the page is about. Length is also important and the optimum character count is around 60 (SEO Pressor, 2020). You can use the vertical pipe symbol on your keyboard to separate the elements of your service.
My example: About | Digital Marketing and Strategy | What Elephant
2. Add meta tags to your pages
Each of your pages will have a section to describe what the page is about for SEO. This will appear on search engines underneath the page title and this is your opportunity to hook people in. The optimum length for meta tags is 160 characters so use them wisely!
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3. Optimise your photos
You may have personalised photographs that are very specific to your website, or you may be using stock imagery. Depending on your website builder, you may need to reduce the file size to avoid a slow loading page. Some web builders automatically optimise your images for you, so it’s worth checking before you start! You can easily optimise for web with free online tools including Facebook, or Photoshop if you’ve got the software.
4. Research keywords and incorporate them in your copy
Before putting your heart and soul into what you want to say online, do a bit of research into what keywords you want to rank for. E.g. if you are setting up an online yoga business, you might want to rank for 'online yoga courses belfast', or 'wellbeing workshop near me'. You can use online tool Ubersuggest to learn more about keywords and making them work for you.
5. Link to reputable websites and get them to link to you
Search engines love credible, genuine sources and if websites that already rank highly on search engines are linking to your website, that earns you SEO points. Blogging is a great way to cross-promote your content as other sites can link to it, and you can share it across social media to increase brand exposure.
6. Make your content clear and relevant
No-one likes to wade through paragraphs of text before understanding what you’re all about. Be direct and to the point, using keywords in the first 100 words of your web page. Above-the-fold (what the viewer sees on screen when they first land on your page) content should tell your audience what service you deliver and what problem you solve for them. If you don’t catch their eye in the first few seconds, they’re unlikely to scroll down.
7. Get your text to image ratio right
Search engines like a certain text to image ratio, and if you don’t have enough of either you’ll rank lower. Best practise is to place a photo on your page every 75-100 words to keep your ranking high!
8. Make your URLs short and specific
Ever paid attention to the string of words and forward slashes in the URL bar? You will now! Keep it relevant to the page, short and with hyphens if necessary. Underscores and dates are not your friend!
9. Use headings and subheadings
Pay close attention when placing copy on each of your web pages. Every page and section should have a heading and subheading, and these can be applied by selecting your text and choosing which one you want from the formatting panel. Header 1 is for your main topic and heading 2/3/4 and so on are to guide the user and the search engine through your web pages.
10. Add alt text to images
Adding alt text to photographs allows people to know what the image is if they have sight loss. It also tells search engines what the image is and boosts your SEO score. For example, an image of you working with colleagues, or your site logo.
I couldn’t sign off without highlighting the need to make your site secure. Most web building platforms will offer an SSl certificated which changes your URL prefix from http:// to https://. The ’s’ means the site is secure and trustworthy, and with cyber security a top priority in the online space, don’t get left behind because of a firewall!
SEO is something that needs worked on and maintained throughout the life of your website, and changes can take a long time to bear fruit. These are just a handful out of dozens of steps you can take to make your website rank highly. But if you put the work in, you’ll see the results and get to the glory of Google’s page 1!
Drop me a message if you'd like to chat more about how to make your website rank higher on search engines, pain-free!