Here are 8 essential steps to optimise your website for search engines.
Before you start thinking about your content or your blog posts or your page structure or your keywords, it’s important to first of all uncover the facts.
SEO isn’t based on guesswork. A ‘lets do this and hope for the best’ approach isn’t the way to achieve optimum results. To create and implement a strategy that’s really going to grow your business, you need DATA. Solid info that helps to ascertain exactly what elements to focus on.
Optimising a website without conducting any prior analysis is like walking blindly in a snow storm trying to find your way home with no idea which direction you’re going.
A website audit gives clarity, it gives focus and it provides direction.
Do you know who your main competitors are? Do you know who is currently on page one of Google for the keywords you want to show up for?
Do a quick check and make a list of who you consider to be your main competitors. These are the websites you need to get ahead of if you want potential customers / clients to come to YOU instead of them, these are the sites that you need to rank above if you want people to find answers from your article and not theirs.
Competitor analysis simply means looking at what your competitors are doing in order to get the results they are getting. Do they have a digital marketing strategy? Are they active on social media? Are they creating a lot of content? What’s their website like?
It’s definitely a good idea to have an idea who your main competitors are and gaining an insight into the marketing strategy can certainly give you an edge.
I’m not saying you should do exactly as they are doing. Quite the opposite in fact, you do you and let them do them. But having an idea of what is working well for them can help you generate your own ideas and gain insight into their strengths and weaknesses.
Plucking a random keyword out of thin air because you want to show up for that term or because you feel it would make sense to show up for that keyword isn’t enough. Don’t get me wrong, this CAN work at times, you might get lucky. But as I’ve said before, SEO isn’t guesswork, it’s based on making strategic choices.
When identifying the best keywords to target, it’s important to focus on the following things:
Intent – Does the searcher have the right intent to be interested in your content? Is this keyword going to bring people to you that are interested in what you do? Are they looking for the services / info you provide? Does your article provide the answers they are looking for?
Search volume – Are people actually searching for your target keyword?
I see this ALL THE TIME with my clients. They come to me super confused because they have done the work to get visible in the search results, they are showing up for their desired keyword but they have no traffic increase and no business growth to show for it.
The problem here?
The keywords they are targeting have no search volume… Yup, no one is actually searching for it!
This is one of the reasons why keyword research is so important. There is no point in targeting keywords with low / no search volume because they won’t bring you any traffic.
Competition – Another thing we need to check when researching keywords is the competition. Whilst we want to target keywords that have a decent search volume, we don’t want to target keywords that are super competitive.
If huge brands (with huge budgets) are occupying the tops spots, competing with them is going to be very difficult.
Aim to target keywords that have a good combination of high search volume and low competition.
Most keywords will have some competition. That’s precisely why we need SEO in the first place! But you can still be smart about it. Target the keywords that will bring you traffic without having huge amounts of competition.
Google ranks WEB PAGES, not websites. You can (and should!) target different keywords for each page that you want to be visible in the search results.
On Page Optimisation
On Page optimisation refers to things you do to improve the performance of your website on the site itself (as opposed to off page factors such as PR, content promotion and link acquisition)
The aim of on page SEO is to make sure your site can easily be crawled and indexed by a search engine. On page SEO also helps a search engine understand exactly what your pages are about.
Some on page factors include:
- Page titles
- Meta descriptions
- Correct use of headings
- Internal links
- Broken links
- Use of keywords
- IMG alt text
The exact things you need to focus on here should have been identified by the initial site analysis.
You may be familiar with some of these if you use a WordPress plugin such as Yoast.
It’s important to note that Yoast doesn’t cover everything, it’s a guide that covers very basic on page SEO. I’ve seen a lot of people refer to plugins such as Yoast as ‘SEO’ without going into any further detail. I can confirm (from substantial experience) that in most cases you need to do a lot more than get the green lights in Yoast to see results! It’s an important part of the process, but don’t expect to see significant results by doing only the basics.
Content is crucial to the success of your website. The aim of Goole (and any search engine) is to provide the best answer to any given query.
The higher quality the content and the better the experience for the user, the higher your chances are of smashing it in the search results.
Pages that are thin on content are unlikely to rank as well as pages that are useful, informative, detailed and well written.
Always write for your audience, not for search engines. Only include keywords naturally where it makes sense. Focus on solving the problems and answering the questions that your target audience are searching for.
Content marketing involves promoting your content in order to get it seen by those that will find it of interest. Getting the right eyes on your content is crucial to growing your business.
Promoting your content increases your exposure, increases awareness of yourself, your business and your brand and enables you to ‘show up’ where your ideal audience hangs out.
Content marketing doesn’t just refer to being visible and promoting your content on social media. Being featured on other websites, getting your business mentioned on press sites, getting interviewed by other site owners all result in additional exposure for your business.
Mentions on other websites often include links back to your site. This will help bring additional traffic your way as well as give your site a boost in the search results.
Google crawls websites by following links from page to page. When another site links to your site, Google generally sees this as positive… almost like a vote of confidence for your website. This in turn not only helps to boost your search engine ranking, it also brings traffic to your site and increases your brand awareness and exposure.
Reporting and Analytics
Data is super important. Keeping an eye on your traffic, your rankings and the performance of your website will help you to tweak and improve your SEO strategy.
Luckily this is really simple using a couple of free tools.
Google Search Console provides you with info on traffic, impressions, crawl status and any errors or issues. You can also use Google Search Console to crawl any new content that you add to your site.
Google Analytics provides you with info about your visitors such as how much traffic the site is getting, traffic is real time, the user journey throughout the site, how your visitors find you, demographics of your audience and so much more.
There is often a misconception that SEO is simply about placing keywords throughout your content but this is only part of the picture, there are multiple factors involved.
Your site is unique and everyone’s audience, keywords and competition is different. Your exact strategy will be slightly different to someone elses and you may not need to do all of the above to start seeing results.