Search engine optimisation (SEO) is an important part of running a website. It’s essential to ensure your site is visible in search engines and helps to bring new customers to your website. Without SEO you will be buried beneath pages and pages of other results in Google, making it difficult for people to find you.
SEO might seem like a mystic art that nobody really understands and the truth is…it sort of is. Google are frequently changing the way search engine ranking works and it can be tricky to keep on top of current SEO trends. However, there are a few things you can easily build into your content that will really make a difference, and that’s what we’re going to be talking about today.
A great starting point for anybody looking to improve their SEO would be to install Yoast’s SEO plugin. It’s easy to use, takes the mystery out of meta tags and keywords and is really effective.
So, let’s take a look at five things you can do to easily improve your website’s SEO.
- Optimise meta titles, descriptions and keywords
First, let’s talk about meta titles. Simply put, this is the title of your page and the most important SEO factor. It is the first thing users will see when your site is listed in search engine results and it should tell visitors briefly what the content of the page is. It’s important to make sure that your meta title clearly lays out what the theme of the page is and contains your focus keyword(s).
It’s best to keep your meta title short and sweet, as only the first 35 characters will be displayed in search engine results. For a more detailed page description, let’s move onto meta descriptions.
Your meta description will be displayed underneath your title and is a great way to let users know a little bit more about the content on your page. Though they do not directly impact your search engine ranking, it’s a chance to use a single sentence to hook people in and leave them wanting to know more – keep it short and snappy and and contain a strong call to action and it will help encourage relevant users to view your site. Bear in mind that your meta description cannot exceed 156 characters, so utilise your focus keyword and sum up your page’s content within this character count.
2. XML sitemap for better indexing
An XML sitemap might sound like a term that’s only used by web experts but it’s something every website owner can utilise to improve their search engine ranking. A sitemap is a document that helps search engines understand your website’s content and provides them with all the URLs that are available for crawling, ensuring that no pages are missed during indexing.
The Yoast SEO plugin has the functionality to create sitemaps, so no additional plugin will be required. Your site’s admin will need to ensure they remove any unwanted pages before the sitemap is added to robots.txt and Google Webmaster Tools.
3. Internal linking within articles
This one is really helpful and, luckily, easy to do. An internal link is a link that points to an existing page on the same website. For example, if you linked to your ‘Contact Us’ page within your ‘Meet the Team’ page, that would be an internal link. It’s important to use strong keywords as the link text, rather than ‘click here’ or ‘read more’. Keep the link text keywords varied across your site for a better result.
It’s helpful for SEO because it ensures search engine spiders can find all of the pages on your website and makes sure every page you create gets listed. If you make the mistake of burying an important page of your site somewhere where search engine spiders can’t find it, you’ll miss out on all that great content getting listed on Google. However, if you regularly use internal links within your pages (particularly links to pages that contain your strongest content), you stand a much better chance of getting all of your pages ranked highly on search engines.
4. Improve page speed
We’ve spoken about this topic before but it’s essential to remember that page speed matters. New users won’t wait around for your site to load – if it takes too long they’ll hop down to the next result on Google and forget your site even exists.
Google has confirmed that its algorithm does take page speed into account when pages are being ranked, so it’s imperative that you do what you can to make sure each page on your website loads as quickly as possible.
You can check out our previous blog post to find plenty of tips to help improve your speeds but compressing your images, installing a cache plugin and going with a high quality hosting company are all great places to start.
5. Addressing all 404 pages and 301 redirects
Each page on your site has an HTTP status code, which is seen by search engine spiders when they crawl your site. Some status codes can negatively impact SEO, whereas some can ensure your SEO ranking power stays intact.
Using 301 redirects instead of 302 redirects is a must – 301 redirects ensure your link juice is passed between the redirected pages, rather than being lost in translation. Likewise, any long term 404 pages should be redirected to additional internal pages with a 301 redirect to make sure no ranking power is lost.