Search engine optimisation (SEO) is a pretty complex subject. Gone are the days when all you had to do was pick a keyword and stuff it into your page copy as many times as possible - if you want to conquer the Google results in 2018, there are all sorts of different factors you need to think about. And of course, since the algorithms are always changing, you'll need to keep your eyes open and stay abreast of all the latest updates if you don't want to be left behind.
Still, perhaps you're not looking to become an all-powerful SEO guru. Maybe you're just looking for a few quick tips that will help you boost your traffic without paying for ads. If that's the case, we hope that these 10 tips (brought to you by the Designer Websites SEO team) will serve you well:
1. Check your site's health on Google Search Console.
Google Search Console (google.com/webmasters/tools/home) is an indispensable tool that all website owners should use. Once you've added and verified your website, check out our beginner's guide to make sure you know what to look out for.
Oh, and while you're logged in...
2. Submit your sitemap to Google.
Go to the Crawl section in Google Search Console and select Sitemaps. This is where you can submit your website's XML sitemap file to Google - this makes it easier for the big G to index your content, and the Sitemaps tool will also inform you of any problems that are affecting pages you submit.
3. Take a good look at your title tags.
There are many different factors that decide whether a web page makes it into the top 10 Google results, but the page's title tag may be the most important of all. A page's title tag should ideally be no more than 60 characters in length, and it should be a clear, concise, and keyword-rich description of what that page is for.
Use Moz's title tag preview tool to see what your title tag will look like on Google (this is a good way to identify whether your title tag is too long).
4. Make sure your meta descriptions are snappy and engaging.
Unlike the title tag (see above), your page's meta description probably won't have a huge impact on rankings. However, it can make the difference between a Google user clicking on your result and scrolling straight past it.
You know the short paragraph of text that appears under most Google results? Very often, that blurb is pulled directly from the page's meta description.
So be sure to make all of your meta descriptions concise, engaging and punchy. Sell your product/service and explain why people should choose you over your competitors...but try to do it in as few words as possible! (Google recently extended the maximum length for meta descriptions, but we still recommend keeping them short and snappy where possible.)
5. Check for keyword cannibalisation.
Keyword cannibalisation occurs when a website has two (or more) pages competing against each other for a specific keyphrase. It should be avoided, since Google may not be able to discern which page you actually want to rank for the keyphrase in question.
For more information on keyword cannibalisation and how it can scupper your SEO efforts, read our blog on the subject here.
6. Claim your Google My Business listing.
Google My Business listings are crucial for local businesses with bricks-and-mortar locations that are open to the public, but even if your business is online-only, you should still think about claiming your listing. Go to google.co.uk/business and enter your company details so that Google can show more information about your business - don't worry, you can keep your address hidden if you don't want people turning up on your doorstep.
7. Link to high-authority websites.
Some people will tell you that you should never link out to other websites, but the evidence seems to suggest that outgoing links can have a positive effect on your rankings when done carefully. Just make sure that you're linking to authoritative sites that are relevant to the topic you're focusing on.
8. Share your knowledge in blog posts.
If your company's website doesn't have a blog, you're missing out on a huge opportunity to share your expertise and get your brand seen by a wider audience. Google loves in-depth, well-written articles from people who know what they're talking about, and nobody knows your business better than you do, so what are you waiting for? Get writing!
To make sure you're writing blog posts that will actually drive traffic to your website, we recommend using tools like Google Keyword Planner and AnswerThePublic.com to find out what people search for when they're looking for information on your specialist subject.
9. Add alt tags to your images.
Google's bots are very clever when it comes to understanding and indexing text-based content, but they're not so good with images. In order to help them index your images properly (and potentially show them as results on Google Images), you should make sure that every image on your website has an alt tag that gives an accurate description of what the image depicts.
Not only will this help you to capture traffic from image searches, it may also boost the perceived relevance of your pages if the alt tag is relevant to the keywords you're targeting. For example, if you're trying to rank for the term 'how to fix a dripping tap', your page may rank better if it features some pictures of taps, pipes, plumbers, and other related things/concepts.
10. Above all, focus on search intent and user experience.
Search engine optimisation shouldn't be an attempt to game the system or 'trick' Google into ranking your website. Ultimately, your goal should be the same as Google's goal: to give each user the best possible answer to their query.
So, when targeting a specific search term, make sure your page meets the needs expressed by that term and gives people the perfect online experience. This can mean any number of different things, such as:
- Making key information stand out more
- Improving your website design
- Reducing your prices
- Giving more details about your products
- Being more transparent about who you are and what you do with the information you collect from users
These are just a few examples. Put yourself in the shoes of an average website user and go through your website from their point of view - is there anything that could be improved, or any parts of the buying journey that are needlessly complicated or fiddly?
For more help with this, read our blog about search intent.
Do you need someone to take a proper look at your website's SEO? Get in touch with the Designer Websites team today - we're great at boosting organic traffic and creating smooth user journeys!