Stringing together some words to slap onto your website doesn’t seem all that difficult. But when you throw the funky acronym “SEO” into the mix of things that you already have to keep in mind, it can quickly become quite complicated and time-consuming.
So what the heck is SEO?
It stands for ‘Search Engine Optimisation’. Essentially, what helps you rank higher in search engines. With the inclusion of things like keywords and meta-data, you can optimise your website content to actually assist search engines like Google in finding your site. If the keywords that people search match what your site’s content is about, Google considers it to be relevant.
Um, yes please!
Why is SEO so important?
While paid advertising is incredibly powerful, it should complement your SEO efforts rather than compensate for it. I mean, organic traffic, (in other words: free traffic, or people that are landing on your page because of any reason other than you paying for it), is always welcome!
Realistically, without SEO, even though your website is up and running, it can be invisible to search engines like Google. And while invisibility sounds like a cool superpower in the real world, it’s not the case when it comes to trying to promote your business online.
Think about it. How many times do you click through to the second search result page on Google? We very rarely make it past the first page. So, if your webpage isn’t showing up there, then chances are you aren’t leveraging the amount of organic traffic that you could be!
Here are 5 ways that you can implement SEO best practices today to help improve the amount of traffic to your website!
1. ADDING KEYWORDS
Ever wondered why some search results rank higher than others? The biggest reason has to do with a website’s keywords. Search engines crawl every single webpage on the Internet in a matter of seconds to provide you with a list of results that are most relevant to what you have searched for.
By determining a focus keyword for each page and blog post on your website, you can ensure your content is aligned with that keyword and is incorporated within the copy.
DON’T write the content first and then try to stick it in every second sentence.
Your focus keyword doesn’t have to be everywhere. However, to improve SEO, you can include variations of the keyword to make it sound natural.
For example, you may be a couple’s photographer promoting your services to newly engaged couples. That webpage may include the focus keyword:
However, throughout that page the content reads the phrase as ‘photography for couples’ and ‘couples photo shoot’ as well.
2. IMPLEMENTING METADATA
Metadata is the information that appears on search engine result pages (SERP). This data is communicated between your website and search engines.
For example, when I search ‘best restaurants Sydney’ into Google, one of the first results is the Trip Advisor page below:
By optimising your page title and your meta-description to include the keywords that your target audience are searching for, Google will determine that there is relevant content on your site.
Keywords that Google deems relevant are bolded in the meta-description, indicating to the user at a glance why that search result was ranked high.
Failing to optimise your metadata weakens your ability to validate the relevance of your content to search engines. Consequently, this lowers your rankings and therefore, the volume of traffic visiting your site.
3. IMAGE ALT-TEXT
Search engines don’t just crawl the words on your website pages. It scours your content in its entirety. Yep, that includes your images! Ever searched for something and some images pop up before the search results?
The reason why these images are shown above is due to image alt-text, also known as “alt tag”, “alt attribute” or “alt description”. It is an HTML attribute that is applied to image tags to provide a text alternative for search engines. Think of it as a hidden caption for your photos.
Including alt-text allows search engines to interpret what the images mean, as they cannot read pictures, but can read text. When the crawlers inspect a page, images that are configured correctly with appropriate alt-text contribute to how the page is indexed and where it ranks.
While you should ensure images within your website include alt-text, it shouldn’t be a copy and paste of a long-winded, descriptive caption. Describe the image well, but make sure you’re getting the point across succinctly. Check out this HubSpot blog for the perfect explanation.
HOT TIP: Alt-text is also beneficial for users that are visiting a webpage and viewing it using screen readers or Internet browsers that can’t process images
Google has standards, too. While your content’s readability doesn’t directly affect your SEO, ensuring your text is easy to understand does matter in terms of optimising your site. How many times have you clicked on a website just to leave a few seconds later because it is too difficult to read or seems way too text-heavy?
The search ranking algorithm of search engines score user behaviour on your page, rather than content readability. However, by improving the readability of your content, you can ultimately improve the user behaviour.
For example, factors such as time on page, bounce rate and exit rate all trigger certain signals to search engines as to whether users like your content. Make changes as necessary to the layout of your content to improve readability, including headings, sentence length, structure and keywords.
HOT TIP: Avoid lengthy paragraphs by keeping sentences short and only including two or three sentences per paragraph. An easy way to separate content to improve readability is by breaking up text with headings, numbering and bullet points
5. INBOUND, OUTBOUND AND INTERNAL LINKS
There are three main types of links that improve your SEO, including inbound, outbound and internal links.
Inbound links, also known as backlinks, are links from another website to your website. These are perceived to be the most valuable as they indicate that Google believes your content is relevant and reliable. Essentially, if other websites are ‘referring’ their traffic to your website, then you must be doing or saying something that is adding value.
The catch here is that search engines only favour inbound links that are coming from websites with a high domain authority. In other words, a website that is linking to your site, but displaying a poor level of trust through low-quality content and spam, isn’t going to do you any favours.
Similarly, if you are referring your traffic to other websites, search engines notice this and reward you with more visibility and higher rankings. This may initially seem counterproductive, as you are driving your traffic elsewhere. However, linking to other credible sites reflects well on your own as it increases the trustworthiness and quality of your content.
HOT TIP: When creating outbound links, ensure they are set to open in a separate tab or window so that you don’t lose any traffic by directing them elsewhere
Internal links direct users from one page of a website to a different page on the same site. Not only do they aid user navigation throughout a website, but they are also often seen within blog content to refer to related posts.
In terms of SEO, internal links assist search engines in finding and indexing your pages. As Moz puts it, “they help spread link equity (ranking power) around websites”.
That’s great, but how do I implement it all?
While there are more than just five best practices, optimising your keywords, metadata, image alt-text, readability and links are all important ways to improve your site’s overall SEO.
There are plenty of plugins that assist in the implementation of SEO. If you’re using WordPress as your content management system, my favourite plugin that makes SEO much easier is Yoast SEO. If SEO is something quite foreign to you, then the free version of the plugin is a great way to get yourself familiar with the ins and outs of SEO. If you use Squarespace, you don’t need plugins as they have SEO integrated into the platform, however have an awesome guide, which you can find here which gives you SEO best practices.
Written by: Jess from JES Solution Marketing for Jessica M Studio