Whenever I talk to people about a website, SEO or ‘search engine optimisation’ still seems to be one of the primary concerns. When building a website, it is definitely worth consideration and I would highly recommend speaking to a web expert and experienced designer about the technical things you can do to optimise your website and help get it higher in the search engine result rankings. This includes plug-ins and load speeds.
However, what is nice about SEO is that there are lots of simple things you can do with the content that you write. It is a great place to start when trying to give your site a bit of a refresh, at the very least.
From recent experience of writing copy which is optimised, I have drawn out three quick wins for you to implement.
However before I start, as I have said before with SEO , and I will say again (and again and again), do not let the readability or quality of your content suffer for SEO reasons. If inserting keyword strings (see below) or the inclusion of certain internal links (see below) is going to hamper understanding, navigation or user experience – then DON’T DO IT! Clarity and flow win every time – better content will lead to better SEO at any rate!
1) Research your keywords
If you are unsure what I mean by your keywords or keyword strings, it basically means the words someone would type in to a search engine when they are looking for a business like yours. They include not only your profession, i.e. plumber, but also your location i.e. Hampshire.
The best recent advice I have been given is to think about not only written, but also spoken or verbal keywords, given the number of voice activated search systems now available. So for example, people are more likely to say, “Where is my local hairdressers?” Or “Find local hairdressers in Basingstoke”, whereas they simply type ‘Hairdresser Basingstoke’.
Consider the importance of using words like ‘local’ and try using the questions in headings, for example, i.e. “Looking for a local hairdresser in Basingtoke?”
There are lots of tools to help with keywords. Google offer their own ‘Keyword Planner’ which I believe is free to use if you have an AdWords account (https://adwords.google.com/home/tools/keyword-planner/).
It is important to do some research. At the very least type in your own strings of words and see what results come up. How far down (or on which page!) does your website or social media page finally appear? See what happens for different words and combinations. Take a look at those websites who you would consider competitors, particularly if they are appearing higher up in the rankings. What words do they appear to be repeating or are present in headings? Don’t steal or copy content but consider how you could improve yours.
Finally, you want people who will find your business or products relevant so concentrate on keywords that fit with your business not just popular terms.
2) Format headings properly
If you have grown up using Microsoft Word, like I have, you probably create headings and subheadings in a document by making the words bold and then increasing the point size and perhaps underlining. Many content management systems that are used for DIY websites, let you do the same thing – you can change the font, the size and make the text bold, italic or underlined. Visually, this may look great but the background HTML tags that make this happen do nothing to enhance your SEO. Therefore, it is really important that you use the proper formatting tools and make titles actual headings by selecting ‘Heading 1 (or 2 or 3)’ in the formatting options. If you were to look at the HTML coding, this then inserts a special tag, which search engine ‘bots’ look for when they are scanning webpages. In HTML, this is the difference of a bold title versus one that is properly formatted as a ‘Heading 1’:
Search engine bots search for and prioritse ‘h’ tags so it is really important that you make sure your site is full of them…where appropriate!
3) Links, links and more links
Links are really important for SEO so consider how best to include these in your copy. Internal links are a good way to start, so think about how you will hyperlink to other pages on site and where this is important.
The most obvious is in calls to actions (CTA). A CTA can be as simple as ‘Contact Us’ – this wording or a button itself is then linked to your contact page and accessed immediately once someone clicks it. Internal links often make sense on the home page if you are discussing different sections of the website, as well as in more direct CTA like ‘Buy Now’ or ‘Find Out More’. Internal links are also often needed in blog posts to refer readers to previous posts of interest or relevance. CTA and internal linking can also help reduce bounce rates (when someone visits your website, but disappears or hits the back button within seconds, not having appeared to have read anything) as users are encouraged to explore more and they find navigation easy.
The most powerful links are back links – which I have blogged about before – but essentially, they are links from external websites back to yours. SEO is driven by search engines ranking a site as popular and trustworthy. If other websites are encouraging visitors to leave their site and go to yours the bots ‘like’ this!
It is hard to get backlinks and it is something which often grows organically over time. Although, they don’t hold as much weight as a completely ‘separate’ website, do make sure your website is linked to from all of your social media platforms, email signatures and any directories or membership sites you may belong to where it is appropriate to include your address.
Keep your content refreshed and up-to-date
The best thing about SEO is that the more I read the more I see that quality of content still seems to be the most important thing. This help to grow popularity and trustworthiness naturally. Writing good content is not a ‘quick win’, unfortunately. It takes time and effort. However, if you are including the most important information for your business, you will naturally include keywords. If your website is easy to read, flows well and key information is presented clearly, then user experience is instantly improved. In turn, this means people will choose to spend longer on your site, visiting different pages and are more likely to return to your site, as well as to recommend to friends, increasing your visitors. All of these things will also increase your search engine ranking.
Therefore, whatever you do, ensure your website copy is well written. Refresh it regularly and, if you can, add to it as well, via a blog or news or including new products, or updating items.
If you want to discuss your website’s content or have someone simply visit it to let you know what a ‘first time visitor experience’ is like, do get in touch. I would be happy to help.