93% of all online experiences start with search engines. If you haven’t optimised your website, you will struggle to rank in search results. So, the big question is, how do you improve your positions and click-through rate from search results pages?
1. Choose Relevant Keyphrases
Before you can begin to optimise your website you first need to consider what search phrases you want to be found for. This may sound easy enough, after all, you want to be found for your services and/or products. But, there are so many different keywords which are relevant and you can’t optimise them all, so it’s important you choose relevant keywords which has a high search volume and low competition.
To do this you need to undertake keyphrase research, and while this may seem like a laborious job which doesn’t get results, it’s very important as it lays the foundations for your entire campaign. For advice on how to perform keyphrase research, be sure to check out our little guide on how to do keyphrase research here.
Top Tip: a good place to start with your keyword research is Google’s keyword planner tool.
2. Optimise Title Tags
Once you have carefully selected the keywords, you then need to optimise the appropriate page. This involves (among other things) adding the keyword into the title tag. The title tag is the name of the page and it is this which will appear if you place your mouse over the tab. Like the image below illustrates.
A good way to tell the search engines what a page is about is to give them as many indications and signs as possible, which is why once you’ve chosen your keywords it’s important to place them in the title tag of each page you are optimising.
3. Make Your URLs User-Friendly
It’s surprising how many websites neglect the finer details and while the URL structure might not be at the top of your to-do list, it’s still important. Here at Anicca, we believe that the URL should tell a person what a page is about without them having to click on the link to find out. This not only makes it user-friendly it’s also SEO friendly. All too often, you come across poor URL structures on ecommerce sites and it doesn’t look good.
Here’s an example of a bad URL structure:
And here is an example of a good URL structure:
The trick here is to keep these simple, and always avoid using coding, symbols and numbers.
4. Utilise Heading Tags
When it comes to optimising a page, it’s vital that you include the chosen keyword/s in the header. After all, if that’s what the page is about it makes sense to have a heading – right? If you’ve chosen an irrelevant keyword you’ll suddenly find that the bounce rate will increase and the average time spent on a particular landing page will drop. This is why it’s so important to spend time on your keyword research.
You should try and include the keyword in the H1, however, if it’s relevant and natural you can also include it in (or variations of a specific keyword) in H2’s and H3’s. But remember, keep it natural and don’t stuff your landing pages full of keywords, it doesn’t look good and you’ll end up getting penalised for it.
5. Optimise Those Images
This tip sounds like an order doesn’t it! Oh well. The important thing to remember when optimising your images is to save the image as an SEO friendly file name and then when you come to upload it to your website you need to include an alt description. These are little things and initially, it might seem time-consuming if you have to do the whole of your website, but once you’ve done it and you start to do it as you go along it will take next to no time!
6. Have You Mentioned the Keywords in Your Content?
This might seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how often we see this simple on-page SEO element be completely forgotten about. Take a second (or a few minutes) to have a read over your optimised pages and check to see if the keyword is actually mentioned in the body of the content. You might be surprised at what you discover. So double check and make sure you include the keyword. This is just guideline, not a rule of thumb.
7. Check for Duplicate Content
Remove any duplicate content from your website. Search engines don’t like this and can penalise websites that do this. Similarly, don’t lift content from other websites. Duplicate content taken from elsewhere may also result in search engines downgrading your web pages. Typically, duplicate content can be found when there are two versions of a page. You may not know that you have two version of the page but if you have any of the following which don’t 301 redirect to one version then your site could be suffering as a result.
Product pages are also another area where duplicate content is rife. Therefore, make sure you create unique product descriptions for each of your products and include other information which will provide valuable information to your visitors. This includes adding reviews from your customers and supporting content which will add value to the consumer’s journey throughout your website.
8. 301 Redirects
This is one of the most efficient and search engine friendly way to indicate that a page has been “permanently” moved and that new content has replaced it. All too often, people place a temporary 302 redirect which doesn’t pass the authority of one page onto the page it is redirecting to. This is because it is a temporary redirect as opposed to a permanent redirect. Therefore, make sure you use 301 redirects where necessary.
9. Create and Maintain an XML Sitemap
An XML sitemap is very important from a technical SEO perspective as it allows the search engines to see every page of your website and crawl it. It’s one of the easiest ways for you to provide information about your website to the search engines, so it should definitely be on your list of priorities.
A robots.txt file allows you to notify the search engines of any pages which you don’t want them to crawl. This is perfect for the check-out area of a website, as you want to keep sensitive information private.
11. Meta Descriptions
Okay, so you’ve added the title tags, the H1’s and you’ve double checked that the keywords are included throughout the body of the content. But what about the meta description? This is the description which the search engines will show in their search results so it’s important that you clearly describe what is on that page and include a clear call to action. This is the one place where you can speak directly to your target audience, and while it’s good from an SEO perspective, it can make a huge difference.
So when it comes to writing a meta description, try and think about what your target audience will want to know and how you can try and entice them into clicking on your link as opposed to a competitors.
12. Stand Out From Your Competitors with Schema
Schema and rich snippets are a type of microdata which is fantastic for making your website stand out from the crowd, and believe me, it’s started to get very crowded out there. If you’re not too sure how you could benefit from microdata, check out our guide which explains what rich snippet’s are and why you should include it on your website.
To check out the different types of Schema, click here to visit the Schema.org website.
13. Clear Navigation
Navigation is an important aspect of a website and while it’s important that you develop a clear hierarchy structure which will help search engines crawl your website, you should keep your customers journey at the forefront of your mind. SEO is always changing, however it’s becoming clearer that the consumer should be at the forefront of every strategy if you want to succeed and prevent your website from being penalised.
14. Produce Great Content
No doubt you will have heard the phrase ‘content is king’ and while it’s being bandied around left right and centre, there is a very good reason for this, and that’s because it’s true! So, if you haven’t already, make sure you set up a blog on your website and start thinking about creating an effective content marketing strategy. Still not convinced, check out our guide to why content marketing should be at the centre of your marketing strategy.
Top Tip: Adding fresh content to your website will naturally draw in more visitors and help to support your SEO campaign. So come on!
15. Spread the Love and Get Social
If it’s not already, you need to start thinking about how you can include social media into your marketing strategy. However, from an SEO perspective, you need to place social icons on your website. This will make it easy for people to share the content on your website which will raise its awareness and drive further visits to your website.
16. Ensure Your Site is Mobile Friendly
Today, 6 billion people have a mobile phone which makes it very important for any business who is keen to maintain their online presence to invest in a mobile responsive site. Think about it, how many of your consumers use a mobile device? You could be missing out on a lot of business.
17. Check Your Site Speed
Site speed is very important and if your website is slow to load this could put perspective customers off. A good way to check the speed of your website is here; http://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/
18. Be Prepared to Wait…
Search Engine Optimisation won’t provide overnight improvements to your website. Don’t expect the SEO work the day you start. It can take months for your hard work to reach the audience you are seeking. And… if you have invested in a new website with SEO implemented as part of the new build, you may need to be more patient still. It takes time to build the authority and trust.