4 tips to improve your website’s SEO
What is SEO?
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a staple for businesses in today’s digital world. If you have a blog or website, SEO is your ticket to visibility on search engines, such as the beloved Google which holds 91.8% of all searches online in Australia.
It is easy to become overwhelmed in tangled information, recommendations and jargon when seeking the best SEO methods for your website. So we’ve narrowed down 4 key tips to improve your website’s SEO and ultimately help your search engine rankings.
What does SEO actually mean?
When you place a search term in Google, or another search engine, it will crawl and index countless websites against a whole bunch of criteria to suggest content which is most relevant to your search. SEO is a process by which a website is optimised to ensure your website is identified as relevant by Google or other search engines, improving the ranking of organic listings.
SEO is not to be mistaken for Search Engine Marketing (SEM), which refers to a paid advertisement, placed in priority spots on a search results page. In essence, SEM means you’ve paid to be featured, whereas SEO means you’ve earned it. It’s important to understand the difference because this is strongly reflected in the way customers use Google and other search engines.
A huge 33% of people searching online will click on the first organic link on a Google search, with another 18% clicking on the second organic link. So already we have accounted for more than 50% of all traffic within the first two organic links of a results page. And further to that, 92% of people won’t even bother clicking to the second page on Google.
So, how can you improve your website’s SEO?
A sitemap is essentially a visual representation of the pages your website contains and the relationship between these pages. A sitemap is powerful because it quickly communicates with search engines on new content, which pages to crawl, the hierarchy of pages (and therefore messaging and content), and the relevancy and currency of content within the site.
The benefits of adding a sitemap to your website, include:
Search engines are quickly informed about the changes on your site
Pages are indexed faster with a sitemap in place
Less reliance on external links to strengthen your relevancy
It’s easier to advise which pages you wouldn’t like the search engine to crawl or index
A sitemap is easily implemented through your content management system (CMS). Once you have implemented your sitemap, you should add it to Google webmaster tools. This ultimately allows Google to better navigate, index and (hopefully) cache your site.
Redirects and broken links
In order to avoid penalisation from Google, it’s important to ensure internal and external links:
Point to where they say they do – ie. The content is relevant and description correct
Lead to the correct location or website
There are plugins you can install on your CMS to help locate broken links, however the most effective way (but not the most timely) is to visit your live site and test each link, one by one.
Should you find broken links, a 301 redirect is the most SEO-friendly way to redirect these links. Adding in 301 redirects is also reversible, unlike 401 redirects, so should you need to use this URL in the future, it is easy enough to do.
If you’ve signed up to social media accounts for your business, you’ve signed up to an ongoing commitment. Google (and most likely your customers) dislike seeing tumbleweeds drifting across your social media sites. As per content on your website, if Google sees a social media page with old or irrelevant content it’s likely the page will be penalised.
Gaining followers is a timely process but earning them, over purchasing them, has a far greater outcome for SEO. When you purchase followers they have a much lower engagement rate than a person or customer who has sought out your organisation or organically started following you. Although the number of followers plays a part in your SEO relevance score, it’s always better to have an engaged audience than a large uninterested pool of people.
Another way to use social media to benefit SEO is to optimise your posts for searches. An example of this could be including the trading hours of a store or a news article specific to your services. Another example is posting localised information – Google loves local marketing as it knows the value this has for a customer.
Although alt text isn’t a major factor in your overall website strategy, don’t underestimate its power for your SEO rankings. Alt text (also known as an ‘alt tag’) is a simple HTML code that helps people identify an image should they not be able to load the picture correctly.
A major benefit for keeping your images labelled correctly is that it provides a description of images for search engines. This can attract additional traffic through Google images, ultimately having a positive impact on SEO. It’s obvious that alt text is not going to suddenly help a site climb to the top of Google rankings, but you should consider it good housekeeping.
Think of SEO as an ongoing relationship
SEO is like a long-term relationship between Google and your website. Initially, you spend time getting to know each other – what you’re looking for, what you value and where you hope to be in 12 months. This is followed by building trust, with consistency being key to achieve this. Make sure Google doesn’t uncover any broken links directing to the wilderness or dead ends.
And like any great relationship, it’s important to keep things fresh and current. Updating content that’s relevant and topical will only earn you extra brownie points with Google. But remember, this relationship won’t prosper overnight – keep your eye on the future and what it holds.
Need help with your SEO strategy? Contact us.