SEO or Search Engine Optimisation is something that many businesses don’t bother with because they either don’t understand it or think it is just too hard to implement. Well, I’m here to give you some inside secrets on how to grow your search engine ranking and implement a few easy techniques from now on that will help your business in the long run.
First things first, what the hell is SEO? The long and the skinny of it is this; Google uses bots to crawl website pages on the web. These bots go from website to website, collating and collecting information and putting them in an index. This massive index is what google pulls results from when you search for something. Your website is one of over 1 billion websites in the world. Only 17% of these websites are active at the time of writing, but without focusing on the following techniques, you will probably not be ranking very high in results.
Step One: A Good Layout
Building a good website page structure is essential for SEO
Like everything I’m going to discuss today, there is a delicate balancing act between pleasing the Google Bots and ensuring your website is relevant to people (You know, actual human beings). If you focus on one and not the other, you are doomed to have poor rankings. Keyword stuffing, massive lists, and other old techniques may have gotten great results ten years ago, but the Google algorithms are very advanced now.
Just how advanced? Well, they are advanced enough that we can’t even figure out how they work. No, seriously, this is a significant issue with machine learning and is something that can be explained by the fantastic Youtube educator Cp-Grey. So don’t bother using black hat techniques, as Google will eventually see it for what it is and de-rank your website.
Your website’s structure should be easy to read by both the Google bots and readers and follow a hierarchical layout. Think of it as a book; a book has a title, chapters and text is broken up into neat paragraphs. Your website pages need to be structured in a similar fashion. Each page should have the main title or H1 heading; this is usually the same as the URL of the page. H1 is the largest heading and tells the Google bot that this is the page’s main topic. It should also be the most significant text on the top of the page, so users also know.
From here, your page should be laid out into sections with headings and text. There are many ways you can do this, and you don’t have to look any further than this article that you’re currently reading to see the layout. There is no particular way to do it, but I use the following method for my website and clients. H1 heading, followed by some H2 subheading, opening paragraph(s), H2 heading, Paragraph(s), H2 heading, Paragraph(s), H2 heading, Paragraph(s). Sometimes I will also use H3 headings under H2 headings to drive a point home. I will also ensure there is some other content like pictures to make it appealing to my potential clients, which brings us to the next point.
Step two: Pictures and Graphics make content appealing
But don’t forget the title and descriptions to help your SEO
Making sure your page is appealing to your readers is super important, and there is nothing worse than trying to read a page of only text. Dropping a few pictures of graphics in the mix will give your readers some additional context but also makes your page look better. However, there is one crucial SEO trick here that most people either don’t know about or forget to do; image alt text, title and description.
When you upload an image to your website, and before you set it either as the main image or one embedded within the page or article, you must ensure these fields are filled in. But not just filled in with generic information but relevant information to your page. This is a simple way to get an extra tick in the SEO box for the Google bots. Ensuring this information is filled out allows your images to come up in Google image search and help your ranking overall.
Step Three: Getting Meta with your website
Your SEO Page Title and Meta Description are what people see first.
This next step is essential for two reasons. The first is that if you don’t actively edit your SEO title and Page Meta Description, your website will just put up whatever comes up as default. The second reason is that this is what people will see displayed in the Google search results, so you want to be putting your best foot forward.
Let’s start with the SEO title, but this will be whatever the page’s title is by default. This is fine when you’re talking about pages like Home, about us, and contact us, but it counts for blog posts too. If your title is over 60 characters long, it won’t be displayed on the Google search results and will be cut off with trailing…..
This doesn’t include default title setting too that may be present from your website’s main settings, so it pays to look at each page’s SEO title and edit it to the point that looks good and gets your point across. You won’t be penalised for having an SEO title that is longer than this. It just isn’t displayed. The meta description is the exact same thing; if you don’t edit it, your website will use the opening paragraph as what will be displayed.
An accurate description that gets your more profound point across without going over it is essential for excellent search engine optimisation. The limit here is 155 characters but really think hard about what you want to communicate to your customer. It might seem like only a tiny amount, but the more relevant it is to your potential clients, the better for both bots and humans.
Step Four: Your Site Map
Finding things is always easier with a map.
I don’t know your age, but I’m a child of the eighties, and when I first started driving, we couldn’t find anything without a 200-page street map book. Your website is no different, and having a map available for the Google bots will help you rank faster. “I’m not a website developer; how do I make a map” I hear you say. Well, don’t fret, most website developers will take care of this for you when they build your website, but there is a super-easy way to achieve this if you did it yourself.
Yoast is an excellent plugin for SEO on WordPress and Shopify platforms, and not only will it help remind you of the above factors, but it will also automatically create your site map for you. No coding, no hassle and this is even in the free version too! And before you ask, no, I don’t get a kickback if you install or pay for the Pro version; it is just a great plugin.
Step Five: Links in and Links Out
Your website needs links to rank better on Google.
When you make a page, you need at least one internal link (Pointing to a relevant page on your website) and one external link (Pointing to another website). This is the bare minimum, and I would advise thinking harder about what relevant content you can link to help your customers. For every 500 words, it is industry standard to have one or two links.
If you’re selling another brand’s products, then external links should be really easy for you as you can link to the manufacturer’s website or product pages. If you don’t resell a product, try adding value with your links to help your customer better understand your topics or points of view.
The last part of linking a good SEO strategy is having other websites linking to yours, or link building as the industry refers to it. This can be done by reaching out to website owners that have similar interests to yours but are not your competitors, or you can buy links. Be careful, though, as purchasing backlinks is fraught with danger, and Google’s algorithm is getting smarter every year.
Step Six: Content is always important
You need a constant flow of relevant information
You’ve probably heard that content is king, and from an SEO perspective, it’s 100% true. In order for Google’s bots to know that your website is relevant, you need to be adding new content and revamping old content consistently. How often? As much as you can, as a rule of thumb, twice a month is a good start.
As a busy business owner, I know this sounds like a massive task but running a blog (Like this one) is the easiest way to achieve it. Adding one or two articles a month around your business knowledge and interests will go a long way to helping your SEO.
Updating current content doesn’t have to mean a complete re-write either. Adding a new paragraph or changing a few headings is actually all you need to do. Just make sure you space things out, don’t update your entire website, and do a page a month. To put it simpler, the Google bots want current and relevant content, so adding things regularly will signal that your website is active.
Step Seven: Technical Search Engine Optimisation
The most complex and most crucial part of the SEO for your business
The last point I need to talk to you about is often the hardest as most business owners are not website developers. Technical SEO revolves around website speed and HTML functionality. If your website was built poorly, loads slowly, or doesn’t meet current development standards, this will work against you.
I would recommend getting an SEO report done for your website and looking at how your website can be improved. Most SEO professionals around Perth, Melbourne, Sydney or Brisbane will do this for free. In fact, I offer this service too, so if you want your free report, reach out.
Don’t be scared of SEO
Like everything in business, small tasks add up to actual results.
Search Engine Optimisation might seem like a monumental task and one that doesn’t come with any upfront rewards, but if you stay the course and keep at it, your business will reap the benefits in the long run. It doesn’t matter if your website has five pages or five hundred pages; making the small changes I have recommended above will help you rank better.
So like always, Live Large and Take Charge – Cam.
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