If you're looking to increase traffic to your website, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can be one of the strongest tools to to achieve this through organic (read: unpaid) search results. There are a number of different strategies that you can put in place to improve SEO, and many of them require very little technical know-how.
In this post, we will go over 8 of the top SEO tips for your website or blog.
1. Use keywords
At the simplest level, keywords are the search terms that someone would use to find your website / article / blog post on Google (or another search engine like Yahoo or Bing). In most cases, short phrases are better than one word terms. For example, if your article is about coffee, best practice would not be to set your keyword to "coffee". Instead, something like "dark coffee roasting trends" will be much more effective. Put yourself in someone's shoes who would be using a search engine to find what they are looking for, and go from there.
Pssst: Google Adwords Keyword Planner is an awesome resource that helps you select keywords.
On the subject of keywords, it's important that you use your keywords in several places throughout your website's content or in each article / blog post:
- Meta description : This is the brief description that appears under your post's title in the search results
- Your post or page URL
- Headlines : Google will reward you for using short, easy to read paragraphs. It's recommended that you use headlines (like your H1 and H2 settings) to break up your text, and that your keywords are included in at least one of these headlines
- In the first few sentences of your website's text / article / blog post
- Repeat keywords in 1-2% of your content. This means that if your text / article is 750 words, you should use your keywords about 7-15 times. Note: be careful not to overuse your keywords! This is known as Keyword Stuffing and Google will view it as spam and penalize you for it.
2. Inbound links are essential
An inbound link is when another website links to your site. The bigger and better the site, the more SEO lovin' you'll be rewarded with. If, for example, you're lucky enough to have the New York Times linking to your site, Google will consider you much more credible. As a result, they will rank you more highly. That being said, don't worry if you aren't getting links back from the NYT just quite yet! Getting inbound links from almost any legit source is still awesome.
How can you do this?
- Create quality and useful content. If people like what you're putting out there, they're much more likely to share it or link to it on their own site.
- Write guest posts. Most guest posts will let you include a link back to your site in your author bio. They will not only help you get your site's link out there on (ideally) more highly ranked sites, but guest posts will also get you in front of a new and relevant audience.
- Contribute to other websites. You don't have to be a blogger to write an article for a quality website! Much in the same way as a guest post, contributing an article to an online publication will have the same results.
3. Narrow your focus
If Google isn't able to identify a clear focus from your website content or article / blog post, it's not going to rank you highly in search results. Google and other search engines are looking for the BEST and most relevant content for search queries, so they usually seek out the most specific and credible content available. If you're covering a ton of content on a single webpage or in an article / blog post, ask yourself if it might make more sense to split it up into targeted pieces instead.
4. Use clean permalinks that don't include numbers
If your website includes a blog (which it should!), the links to your posts / articles and their structure can play a big role in how highly they rank. Clean links, like "charlotteohara.ca/top-seo-tips" are much stronger than "charlotteohara.ca/2016/01/top-seo-tips". The biggest offender is something like "charlotteohara.ca/?p=182". - for the love of all things good, do not use this structure!
Not sure how to change your permalinks to the proper structure? We can help so get in touch today!
5. Format your images
It should go without saying that websites and online content with images perform better than those that don't. People are visual! When you include images on your site or in your articles / blog posts, be sure to include your keyword(s) in the title, description and alt attribute settings of those images. In addition, stick to image names that are relevant and descriptive. For example "dark-roast-coffee.JPG" instead of "IMG_13554.JPG".
6. Design using text instead of images
As much as possible, use text instead of images whenever it makes sense. This means that it's not encouraged to use an "about", navigation menu, etc. on your site that is saved as an image. Yes, Google is pretty darn smart, but it still can't read your images. As such, that means that very important text could be completely skipped over as a result. If you have something important to say, write it up in text instead of dumping it all into a photoshopped image / graphic.
7. Use an SEO plugin
There are tons of SEO plugins out there but the most commonly used one is Yoast. Yoast helps make sure that your keywords are being used correctly in all the right places across your site. It also offers a neat "page analysis" tab under each post (if your site has a blog, for example), and this will give you a "health rating" to let you know what you did well and what could be improved.
8. Link to previous posts / articles or pages within your own content
If your website has a blog and you routinely write about certain topics, be sure to link back to those related posts in your newer posts! Not only does this help your readers find relevant content that you've already written (a major bonus for user experience!), it also proves to the search engine that you are an "expert" in this area. Basically you're showing Google that you've built up a lot of quality content on a particular subject and grouping it together as such only strengthens the content as a whole. If your website does not have a blog section, it's still important to link to applicable pages within your website since this will have a similar effect (although on a smaller scale).
Did you find these SEO tips useful? If so, be sure to share this article with your audience! Feel free to leave a note in the comments to add your thoughts on the subject as well, I'd love to hear from you.