With the movement of more and more businesses online in 2020, search engine optimisation (or SEO) is a topic that has gained a greater awareness for a lot of business owners and website managers, compared to previous years. As shops and other businesses are forced to close and re-open due to current events, more potential customers are moving online, and as a result more business owners are trying to make better use of their websites to raise awareness of their brands within a larger audience.
What is SEO (search engine optimisation)?
Before getting to the details, it is probably worth just summarising (for anyone who doesn't know) exactly what SEO is. Anyone who works with websites a lot will understand that you need to try and cater for a wide array of different potential audiences. These audiences however will not always be humans! Some of the users trawling your website will be bots, deployed from organisations such as Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc. These bots attempt to scan your website's content and build a database of what your site might be about (so anyone searching for it will be able to find it more easily).
Put simply, search engine optimisation is the process of tweaking the structure and content of your website to make it easier for the bots deployed by search engines to scan, so they can return your site higher in any searches performed.
Am I guaranteed to improve the ranking of my site using these tips?
The answer to this question is, unfortunately, not necessarily! SEO is a complex subject and there can be hundreds of factors that effect how your site is ranked in a search result. But, these tips are designed to help people who don't know where to start with search engine optimisation and need some fundamentals to help them hone there content. That being said, if you are not following the tips below, and you then improve your own website using these tips, you should see a noticeable increase in traffic to your site.
So without any more filler, lets move onto the reason you are reading this page in the first place (and in no particular order)...
1. Consider what users are searching for
One area that catches a lot of people out, is misunderstanding what potential users might be searching for. A lot of business owners can get lost in the details of what they do and not realise what potential customers are actually searching for online. Once you have some existing phrases that you feel confident users are searching for, this will help you tweak and optimise your website's content to be more friendly for users who are searching.
NOTE: If you are having trouble working out what search phrases to target for pages on your site, Google offer a free keyword planner tool here
2. Content Is King
We get asked a lot at ilateral how search engine optimisation could be improved on range of different websites. Very often, one of the first things you see on sites that do not perform well is a lack of content! Ideally you want to have a minimum of 300 words on every page of the site. We very often recommend aiming for 500 words or more if you can.
Try to keep content on each page focused on a more specific topic or service. This makes it easier for search engines to get an idea of what that page is "about", which will help to push that page up the rankings in search results. If you have chosen some popular search phrases in step 1 above, then ensure you sprinkle these phrases around your content like chocolate sprinkles on ice cream!
Also consider that if your pages start to get too long (maybe more than 1000 words), it might be wise to break them up into several smaller pages under one parent page, each page covering a more specific topic).
3. a picture paints 1000 words
Although this analogy isn't always accurate, images do serve a very important part of SEO for a website. The presence of images on a page helps to identify "rich content" to search engines. Rich content is more likely to be raised up the search engine results.
In addition to just adding images to your pages. Try to keep them relevant to the topic of the content and then ensure you add some "alt and title tags" to your images, and if you have selected some good key phrases from point 1, then try to add some of these to your image alt and title tags as well.
4. use headings and sub headings (correctly)
A missed opportunity we see often at ilateral is the lack of, or incorrect use of page headings. Every page should have one (and only one) heading one (h1). Ideally this h1 should provide a summary of what the page is about (try to keep it to around 40 characters in length).
In addition to that, try to add heading two's (h2) and heading threes (h3) as well. Always ensure that you add a h3 after a h2 and try to add some of the key search phrases you identified in point one above.
5. work on your first (summary) paragraph
It is quite common to write a short, one line sentence for the first paragraph of pages on your site. This is not really ideal however as search engines seem to like more length content in the first paragraph of your content.
Try adding more than one sentence to your first paragraph of content on every page of your site and also try to summarise the content of the following article as best you can. Also (again) if you have chosen some keyword phrases from point one above, try to work some of them into the first paragraph of your content.