There are four key on-page (i.e. what your visitors see) elements to get right for SEO to succeed:-
- Fresh content – search engines look for fresh, original, quality, relevant content
- Keywords – Google page ranking software uses “semantic search”, i.e. the keyword/phrase typed into the search bar will often result in web pages using close (but not exact) matches or synonyms. Google’s algorithms are trying to second-guess the intent behind your search and trying to deliver only the most relevant results
- Links – Google will find and index your website because it has been following links. You could submit your website to Google directly via a sitemap in your Google Analytics account, but they will always find you eventually providing your site is optimised.
- Social sharing – although not a direct page ranking factor, Google likes to see social plug-ins on your site plus social sharing is a way to drive traffic to your site, flagging up its popularity and authority to Google.
All of these elements work in combination and no single element works better than any other at improving your page rankings. Once you have mastered the basics of these and are managing and monitoring them on a regular basis, then you can focus on the finer technical detail such as metatags, site structure, etc.
But the key thing to remember is that SEO is a marathon, not a sprint. Even if you implemented all of my recommendations straight away, this does not mean that you will shoot to the top of organic page rankings overnight. It will take consistent, regular efforts to keep your site optimised and ranking.
Your Basic SEO Health Check List
- Site security: Is your site encrypted with an SSL certificate? If not your site is vulnerable to hackers and if you have a Contact Me form then any personal details submitted via that form may be stolen
- Mobile: Is your site optimised for mobile? Over 50% of online traffic is on mobile devices. If your site isn’t optimised for mobile that’s a lot of potential visitors who won’t bother
- Site speed: Is your site slow to load? Search engines (and people) do not like a web page that takes more than 4 seconds to download
- Site Structure: Is your key content more than 3 clicks away from the Home page? Search engines do not crawl content below the 3rd level of a site so make sure you don’t have any important content buried too deep
- Meta titles: Does your site have unique title tags for each page? Do they use your keywords? You have up to 60 characters to describe your website vis the page titles – use them
- Meta descriptions: Does your site have a unique meta description for each page? Do they use your keywords? You have up to 160 characters to create a mini advert for your business. Use them
- Does your site have: External Links (links to an external website)? Internal Links (links between the pages of your website)? Backlinks (links from an external website to yours)? Search engines follow links around to index new content. Make sure you have lots of links.
- Does your site have broken links? These are a red flag to search engines and a poor user experience. Remove or fix them.
- Does your site have social plug-ins? Search engines like to see actively promoting your business on social media.
- Local search: Are you on Google My Business? Optimise your free GMB listing with short posts and photos to keep you on the local SEO map
- Do your images have Alt-Tags? Tagging your images, logos and icons is a key SEO ranking signal as well as making your site accessible to visitors who use screen readers and keeping you compliant with the Equalities Act.
SEO is a big, hairy, grumpy animal who needs constant feeding. Work your way through the above list on a regular basis to keep it happy and on your side.
Helen Say, CBL Copywriting & SEO