SEO Beginners Tips: Optimising Your Website For Search Engines
- 12th June 2019
- by jess
Optimising Your Website For Search Engines
So, you have a great new website that is sure to convert any visitor into a loyal paying customer. You sit back and wait…but nothing happens…what’s gone wrong?
No matter how great your website is, how well it represents your brand and answers your customer’s pain points, unless it is easy for them to find their way onto the site, nothing much is going to happen. This is why you will need to consider optimising your website for search engines. Click Fusion offer SEO Portsmouth to help you reach your targets and go above and beyond.
Some statistics reveal exactly how search engines like Google are driving the majority of online traffic. In fact, it is estimated that 3.5 billion searches are undertaken on Google every day, that equates to 1.2 trillion searches worldwide every year.
The correlation is clear. Businesses that rank well on search engines see much higher levels of relevant and quality traffic coming through to their website. Giving them more chances to turn those visitors into customers.
But knowing this is just the start, the real question is what can you be doing in order to boost your rank for relevant search terms on search engines like Google? In this article, we give you some top beginner tips for boosting your search engine rankings.
- Keywords first
- Optimise page titles and ‘meta descriptions’
- URL format
- Use smart tools
- Link building
- Internal Linking
- Reader-friendly text formatting
- Mobile first
- Make images work harder
- Speed it up
- Content. Content. Content.
Too often we see businesses jump head first into the small technicalities of search engine optimisation without really considering the fundamentals. This usually results in a lot of effort being put in to not get very far.
Before you start making any changes you need to understand exactly what it is you are trying to achieve. After all, more traffic to your website is only worthwhile if that traffic is both relevant and potentially going to bring some value to your business.
This is why keyword research is so important. The best keywords for your business will meet each of these three requirements:
- Your target audience would search it to find your product or service
- Your target audience are commonly searching it
- It is applicable to your business and what you are offering
Ideally the keywords you choose would also not be hotly competed for by others in your industry or elsewhere…. But of course, that is not that easy.
So, how is this done?
There are a host of tools available to help you undertake keyword research. These range from very expensive for free to use. We recommend starting with Google Keyword Planner as a way to find search terms related to your business offering, assess search volumes and determine their competitiveness.
One other smart tool which can be used is Google Trends. This tool provides data on search term volumes as well as offering associated keywords. The most powerful part of this tool is the fact that it will provide you with associated search terms which are rising in popularity, meaning you can jump on them before others in your industry get the chance.
Optimise page titles and ‘meta descriptions’
Once you have your list of targeted keywords you can start to optimise your website to help you receive traffic from them. One of the most important bits of SEO text on your website are your titles – these indicate to Google exactly what the page is about and therefore the keywords you use are usually seen as the most important.
Each page should have a unique title that accurately describes the content. Your homepage title should contain just the most important keywords for your business. For example, it may look like this:
[Service] | [City] | [Business Name]
Your pages will also need a descriptive ‘meta description. This small piece of text appears below the page title in search engine results and tells users and Google more about what the page covers.
When putting together the meta description it is best practice to always provide a unique description for each page, keep the length limited to 140 to 155 characters, avoid repetition with the page title and only use a few of the most relevant keywords.
The meta description should be thought of as a short page advert which should convert readers into clicking the link and visiting your website.
The URL for your web pages appear on the search results and also tell Google what the page is about. Therefore it is a good idea to capitalise on this text and use relevant keywords to drive more traffic to your site.
For example, using extensions such as numbers or words which are not relevant to the content means you are wasting an opportunity to strengthen that pages keyword ranking.
A bad example of an SEO friendly URL could be:
A good example of an SEO friendly URL could be:
You will notice in the example of a good URL that hyphens are used to improve the structure and readability. You will also notice that it is relatively short and to the point and doesn’t contain any unnecessary words.
Use smart tools
Why make your life difficult when there are a host of tools out there that you can use to make your life substantially easier. We will mention specific tools throughout this guide, however, there are two tools which are particularly helpful from a generic sense.
The first tool is Yoast (for WordPress), or similar tools for other platforms. These tools tend to plug directly into your website and give you real-time advice on boosting SEO. This saves you a vast amount of time and ensures that every page is optimised to help bring search engine traffic to your site.
Google also offers a host of useful tools. One which is great for monitoring your search success is Google Search Console. This tool gives you information on how well your website is performing in search results. It also tells you which search terms are driving the most traffic to your website and gives you information on internal and external links to your content.
Links are very important to boost your search engine rankings. Google register sites with lots of quality inbound and outbound links as quality themselves and boost their ranking accordingly.
To put this in basic terms, each website that links to your website acts as a vote of confidence. That website is saying ‘we think your website is good enough to suggest that our visitors visit you’.
This seems simple and in times gone by it was. However, more recent Google algorithms have made this a bit more complex.
Previously, ‘clever’ marketers would simply pay or exchange links with any and every site they could to boost their rankings. This concluded in search results being poor at best. Google now offers weight to higher quality websites that link to your site and could even penalise your site if poor quality websites are linking to it.
So, how do you get high-quality links to your website?
By far the best way to get high quality links is to publish content so great that people can’t help but link to it when they are writing about similar subjects.
Equally, you can take a proactive approach, using channels like social media to spread your content amongst interested audiences and target other businesses who you know to have a high-quality website and would find your content useful.
You can also guest post on other websites and use the opportunity to naturally link back to your own content or link to other sites (let them know) in the hope that they return the favour.
For other tips, you can read Google’s guideline to link building.
Internal linking does not involve another website at all. Internal links refer specifically to links within a website which point to other areas in that website.
Doing this builds strength in your keywords. For example, if you build an internal web of links within your site, all referencing content in a similar area, it will build your rankings for keywords within that area.
When internal linking make sure that they are useful both for the reader and for search engines. Never use linking text like ‘click here’ but instead anchor the internal in relevant text.
Reader-friendly text formatting
Formatting your text correctly makes it easier for readers to navigate your content and easier for Google to understand the structure. This makes it simple for them to rank you for the keywords most beneficial to you.
Most website CMSs make it easy to do this. Simply use H1 just for the title of your post, use H2 for the main subheadings and then H3 and beyond for less important headings. You should also use bold and italics in order to draw reader attention to the most important aspects of your content.
To make your content even more user-friendly, you should also write in short sentences (around 20 words) and form those sentences into short, easy to read paragraphs.
Take a quick look at your Google analytics and over the last few years you will likely have seen one obvious trend; visitors are moving from desktop to mobile viewing. It is clear that mobile phones are taking over as the main device we use to surf the internet.
Google has recognised this trend and has adjusted their algorithm to favour websites which are optimised for viewing and usability on mobile devices. To take advantage of this change you should ensure that your website is ‘responsive’. This means that the site responds and adapts to whichever platform it is being viewed on.
Some web build platforms will automatically optimise your site for mobile viewing, others will need to talk to their developer in order to ensure a responsive design such as the reason why Click Fusion offers web design Hampshire services.
Make images work harder
You will be surprised how much of an impact images you have on your website can have on text-based searches. In fact, images can have a positive or negative impact on your search engine rankings based on two factors.
- High-resolution images can slow down the loading of a website, creating a poor user experience, which in turn can damage your search engine rankings
- Correctly using keywords in the alt text and image file name gives you another opportunity to highlight exactly what the content is about
Optimising your images with smaller file sizes will allow you to increase load speed. However, you must be careful not to use images which look poor quality, as this can turn off readers.
Speed it up
We have already highlighted that page speed can make a big difference when it comes to search engine rankings. This is because Google wants to offer the most seamless user experience. So, that means sites which allow Google to quickly direct searchers to the right place take preference.
47% of consumers expect your website to load in 2 seconds or less. By ensuring that this is the case, you will not only increase rankings but will create a better user journey, which will ultimately result in more conversions.
- Minimise file sizes such as images
- Reducing broken links
- Reduce the number of plugins being used on your site (delete those you are not using)
- Cache your pages
Content. Content. Content.
You may have heard a marketer say ‘content is king’ and this is for good reason. Content is the lifeblood of your search engine optimisation strategy. Google loves fresh content as it shows them that your website is active and up to date, it also encourages them to consistently visit your site.
When optimising your website for search engines you should post fresh, search engine optimised content as often as possible. However, quality is also key, so you should only commit to posting content which you know is useful and clear.
Here are some quick tips for creating search engine optimised content:
- Use your keyword in the title and always ensure your title relates directly to your content
- Proofread all your content to ensure it is grammatical and spelling errors
- Review your text and seek to increase readability
- Include outbound links to high-quality sources
In this guide, we have covered the basics of optimising your website for search engines to help you boost the search engine rankings for your website. By following these simple steps you will increase the chances of your site and content ranking highly and therefore driving more traffic to your website.