What are the SEO basics, and why is it important for every business owner to know about it in 2023? Keep reading to learn how to make your website SEO-friendly to rank higher on Google.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation and makes a website rank higher on Google (or other search engines). Higher search engine rankings will increase Organic search traffic to your website. Mastering SEO (or hiring someone to implement it for you) will result in not only more website visitors but also more relevant visitors who are more likely to engage with your website - make a purchase, fill out a contact form, sign up for a newsletter subscription, and so on. There are multiple ranking factors; let's work through the most important ones.
There are three main pillars of SEO:
1. What is On-Page SEO?
Just as the title indicates, the first pillar is all about optimising what is ON your website. This includes title tags, meta description, image optimisation, content, keywords, internal links, URLs and more.
An SEO title tag is the title or name of each page of your website. It is visible on the tab in your browser and as the page's name on the search results page in Google. There are a few basic rules to write a title tag that drives traffic and clicks. The length (amount of characters) is important; including target keywords at the beginning of the title and ending with the brand name are key points. Read our blog post about how to write successful title tags to learn more.
Example of a Title Tag:
Yoga Clothes | For Men, Women & Kids | FitnessExpert
The meta description is a short explanation of what the page is all about. The meta description is visible after the title tag and it is usually around 155 characters long.
When someone searches for one of your keywords and they see your website among a long list of similar ones, you'll want them to choose your site. How to do that? Try to write a short but descriptive text, include your most important and relevant keywords, include a call-to-action and make sure to keep it to about 155 characters. A longer description will be cut off by Google and the potential customer will not be able to read all of it.
Example of a good meta description:
Are you looking for exercise equipment, supplements & fitness wear? Enjoy high quality clothing & gym gear, quick delivery & wide range. Shop today!
Image Alt Tags
An Image Alt Tag is a description of an image on your website. Image Alt Tags are text alternatives for search engines. It makes it possible for screen readers to read information about images out loud to users who are blind or and visually impaired. By optimising your Image Alt Tags you can rank on Google with your images.
Optimising Image Alt Tags
By including your target keywords in your Image Alt Tags you are increasing the chance to rank on searches with the actual images, and not just with your website copy. There are a number of 'rules' or best practices to follow when naming images. For example it's important that we include your target keywords in the file name and image alt tags, that we stick to a brief description of the image and that we use dash (-) between the words in the file name. When it comes to the Image Alt Tags we don't use dash, but just a regular space between each word.
Content & Keywords
For your site to rank well on search engines one of the most vital parts are the use of keywords and the content quality. By doing extensive keyword research we can pinpoint which words or phrases your target audience are searching for in order to find the services or products that you offer. These words or phrases need to be included in the website copy (in a way that feels natural, of course!).
One way to find out which words or phrases people use to find your website is to ask a few friends to try to find your website on Google. Which search query is the most popular one? The answer may surprise you.
For a low bounce rate, and for a high conversion rate, it is important that you are creating content that is relevant, engaging and written in a way that will guide the potential customer through the website. The ultimate goal is for the website visitor to take action and feel satisfied by your site!
Internal Links are links that point from one page of your website to another page on the same website. These links are important as we can use them to lead the website visitors where we want them, and it can improve the user experience. It is a way of giving the customers what they want and need, where they want and need it. When they are on your home page they are likely looking for a link to a page where they can read about your services. While on the services page they may want to get in touch with you in regards to your services - this is where you add a link to your contact page.
Internal links are also important from an SEO perspective as they signal to search engines how your content is connected. They are also in indicator of which pages are most important - a page with multiple links pointing towards it is obviously more valuable than a page with fewer links.
We recommend running the site through a link check tool on a regular basis to make sure that the links are working properly.
SEO Friendly URLs
Having short and descriptive URL's that contain the target keyword for the specific page can increase the number of clicks and shares significantly. They also need to be written in a way that makes them easy to read and understand, by using lowercase letters only and by using hyphens (-) as word separators rather than underscore (_).
2. Off-Page SEO
When you have optimised what's ON your site, it's time to optimise what's going on off of your site. In fact, there are thing you can do to boost your website SEO without even logging into your website. Off-Page SEO mainly refer to backlinks, brand awareness and brand reach.
Backlinks are links on other websites that are pointing to your website. Having lots of websites linking to your website will signal to search engines that your website is valuable and relevant. Ideally you'll want links from websites with a high authority score, rather than spammy ones.
Ask your clients to link to your page, if you have friends or family with a business or website you can ask them as well. In return you can link back to them, as long as it is in a natural context of your website. Another great way of earning more backlinks is to write and submit guest blog posts to sites within your industry.
Google Business Profile (GBP)
These days every business should have a Google Business Profile account (previously known as Google My Business). To make the most of this free business listing, you should upload posts to it regularly, where you always include a link to your website. Your posts are only visible for about seven days, so we recommend adding new posts every week. Not sure what to post? We have put together a list of Google Business Post ideas. Learn more by reading our article about how to post on Google Business Profile. You should also make sure to add or edit your services on GBP.
Social Media and SEO
To gain more website traffic and brand awareness it is also recommended to be active and frequently post on social media. Links to your website from social media platforms does not impact on your SEO per se but it does increase your content reach. When more people see your content (increase your Online visibility) you are more likely to get more website traffic.
3. Technical SEO
Alright so if you are not computer savvy, you might want to leave this part for the pro's. Technical SEO is all about removing error pages, site architecture, increasing the load speed, uploading your sitemap, adding structured markup, and more. Basically everything and anything that optimises the technical parts of your website to create a seamless user journey.
Errors & Redirects
For the sake of your SEO you don't want any faulty pages on your site. Let's be honest - if someone clicks on a link to one of your pages and ends up on a dead end they won't be very impressed. When performing a site Audit we are able to find these errors and save you from losing potential customers.
Your content and navigation should be set up in a way that makes clear to search engines (and customers) what the site is about. Keep your content organised, try to structure it in a way that makes each page just one or two clicks away. Service-based businesses and Ecommerce sites benefit from slightly different site hierarchies.
You are probably aware of how impatient internet users are these days - if they need to wait for a page to load for more than 3 seconds they are out! And it is totally understandable, who's got time to wait when you can easily go back and click on the next link, right? So in order to have a low bounce rate (which is very important for your SEO) you need to have your page speed on point. You can easily test how quickly your site loads at www.gtmetrix.com.
If you really want to beat your competitors there is no getting around the importance of structured data markup. By adding a piece of coding to your site we can help search engines understand how to interpret and display your content. After all, search engines are not human beings and there are things they simply can't understand - context, meaning and intent. We therefore need to markup our data and tell Google (and other search engines) what the specific text is - a question, an answer, our logo, a blog article, etc.
Have you searched for your site on Google and nothing shows up? If your site is brand new the answer is very simple - it's probably not indexed yet by Google. This means that Google does not even know that your site exists yet. The solution? Upload your sitemap to Google, keep updating your pages and show Google that your site is regularly changing and added to, and they'll 'crawl' it more frequently. There may also be other reasons that your site is not indexed so a website audit may be needed to pinpoint the issue.
Organic Vs. Paid Results
When you make a search on Google, the first thing you will see are the ads - you can tell that these are paid ads since they always start with the word AD. When users click on these ads you will get paid search traffic to your site.
If you scroll down you will get to the organic search results. If you don’t want to pay for Google ads, this is where you want to get through SEO, on the first page of Google. Preferably at the absolute top, as this is where your potential customers are more likely to click! To be honest, us humans are VERY impatient and we do not want to search for long. If your business is not on the top of the first page of Google you are likely missing out on a ton of leads, sales and website visitors.
Give It Time - And Effort!
Note that SEO takes time, you'll have to give it at least 6 months until you start seeing results. This is mainly due to the process of 'crawling' - we'll talk more about that another time. Make sure to add a new piece of content to your site on a regular basis to make Google crawl your site more often and speed up the process.
Don't give up because SEO works! Keep at it and you will be thrilled to see your website performance increasing month by month.
Need a Helping Hand?
You have now learnt about the basic SEO elements. If you feel unsure about your own SEO skills, or if you simply don’t have the time or patience to work through your whole website, we are always here to help. We will do an extensive audit, covering your whole website. We'll then work through a number of steps to make sure that each and every page of your site is optimised. Read more about our SEO services and feel free to contact us today to discuss further.
Let’s create your SEO strategy, boost your website and increase your Online visibility!