Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine’s “natural” or un-paid “organic” search results. In general, the higher a website ranks in the search engine results, the more visitors it will receive from the search engine’s users.
To truly optimize your website for search engine results takes a lot of time and effort. Employing a specialist agency like Quadrant2Design is the most effective route to good SEO. But there are steps you can take to do it yourself. Here we have some tips to help your website rank higher on Google.
Any good SEO program starts with keyword research. You need to work out the words and phrases people are typing into a search engine when they look for products or services like yours.
Don’t assume that you know what consumers want and how they search — do your research. The best keyword tools offer a demand score for each theme. Google Keyword Planner, Wordstream and Ubersuggest are all good keyword tools to help you.
You may find it easier to rank for long-tail keywords rather than the highly competitive main keywords. Long-tail keywords are the queries people type into a search engine when they are looking for something specific – for instance “smart brown women’s shoes” rather than just “shoes”. Long-tail keywords make up the majority of search engine traffic.
Create Optimized Content
Once you’ve identified valuable keywords, you can start crafting high-quality content. The main pages of your website won’t change very often so the best way to create fresh content is through a blog page. To make sure your content is optimized follow these basic rules:
- Include a primary long-tail keyword naturally in the text. Don’t practice “keyword stuffing.” Search engine algorithms don’t react positively to the overuse of keywords.
- Include at least one piece of “rich” content, like an image, infographic, or video. Search engines recognize that this adds value to the content and will rank the page higher accordingly.
- Update your content regularly, fresh content will always rank higher than content that is several years old.
Understand Your Competition
Identify your competitors, not necessarily the sites that sell identical products and services to yours, but also those that compete for the same phrases and appear above you in search results. Wikipedia, YouTube and Amazon are your competitors if they’re higher up than you on the search results page. Ask yourself:
- What are they doing well in organic search?
- What content themes do they include that you don’t?
- How do they structure their site to target valuable keywords?
- How do they engage shoppers?
Understanding the measures, they take to improve their rankings will help you to do the same.
Consider User Experience
Make sure your site has a site map and clear navigation to help users find what they want quickly. Google increasingly ranks user experience and has algorithms in place to reward sites that offer it. Clear navigation will help users and search engines to index your site, helping them to rank it. It’s the quality of traffic and not always the quantity of traffic that is going to grow your customer base. When you build your website around the user and focus on adding value for the user, visitors will stay on your site longer, digest more content, subscribe to your lists, and connect with you to learn more. Bounce rates will decline and conversions will climb.
Use Internal Links
Internal links connect one page of a website to another page of the same site. With the focus on content and user experience, internal links help users find more information and help search engines index your site.
Develop External Links
External links are one of the cornerstones of a good SEO strategy. Search engines prioritize content that is valuable to the end-user. Google has even established loose criteria to assess value, the EAT principle: expertise, authority, and trustworthiness. Backlinks (links from other websites to your own) help establish your EAT. Links from high-authority, high-traffic domains are the most valuable and worth pursuing as part of your digital marketing strategy. You can create backlinks by getting articles published, guest blogging on other websites, ensuring your site is listed in directory websites and coming to a reciprocal arrangement with partners or competitors.
Look at the Technical Side
There are a number of technical requirements for good SEO:
- Websites should load quickly as slow loading sites frustrate users and cause them to leave, which can hurt your website rankings. Best tool: Google page speed insight.
- Websites should also be mobile responsive so that they can be viewed and accessed easily on multiple devices and different browsers.
- Ensure all URLs are clearly labeled with short titles.
- Avoid having too many advertisements on your site or having an excessive number of pop-ups.
- Include clear, keyword-rich titles of less than 160 characters for each page, these help Google to index your website. Best tool: Yoast
- Meta descriptions tell search engines a little bit more information about what each page is. They are the text that appears on the search results page underneath the page title. Best tool: Yoast
- Use sub-headings to help users and search engines navigate your site.
- Label images with the image name and alt tag.
- Make sure there are no technical errors that stop a search engine from indexing your website. Best tool: Google Search Console.
- Use a ‘robot.txt’ file to label pages that you don’t want to be crawled for search engine results – for instance, checkout pages or contact pages.
Track your progress
Once you have set all this up you can’t just sit back and relax. Achieving good SEO requires constant monitoring. You can track your progress with specific keywords, and your broader SEO profile by using tools such as Ubersuggests, SEMrush, Google Analytics, and Google Search Console. If a page is not ranking as high as you would like try re-writing the content. Make sure the content is clear and easy to understand, have short paragraphs, and use lists and bullet points. Make sure you feature your keyword in the introduction, the conclusion, and a couple of times in the main text.
Keep up to Date
The whole process is time-consuming, therefore you may want to think about employing a specialist agency to do it for you. Exhibition stand designer Quadrant2Design did just that, Alan Jenkins said “We were very happy with the results, our website began to rank much higher for keywords and we are getting a lot more organic traffic”.
Search engine optimization is a constantly evolving field. That’s why specialists dedicate their entire careers to it! Search engines like Google are always updating their algorithms and changing the factors that influence search engine results pages. Following bloggers in the industry and staying up to date on SEO news will help you stay abreast of the latest. The Google Search Central blog is a great starting point.