Clients often ask how they can get to their website at the top of the first page for Google search results and my initial job is to quell their expectations and then go through SEO.
I have to explain that improving your position in the search results is NOT a one time activity. There is no magic button to press that enables you to be the top of page one. It takes time, patience and a bit of technical know-how to get a good search engine ranking.
That being said, you can speed up the process by optimising your website for search engines – ie Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
If you’re running a WordPress website, installing the YOAST SEO plugin can help you improve your ranking immensely.
So what can you do to improve your SEO?
Pay attention to the following
Keywords for SEO – not the be all and end all
For most people SEO is synonymous with keywords, thinking that if they have enough keywords on a page then they will rank highly if those words appears in the search term.
If a search engine has crawled your page and the only SEO indicator are a few keywords within the content you probably won’t rank highly.
Even more so if your keywords have a lot of competition or low search volume.
Make sure you have variations of your keywords within your content and consider how your prospect would search for what you’re talking baout via voice search – Alexa, Google Home etc.
Search engine crawlers (aka spiders/robots) will look for the following on your page:
Headings for SEO
Spiders that look to index your URLs will refer to the code that makes up your website. Therefore headings, denoted by h1, h2, h3 and so on are important tags.
Not only do they help with readability and signposting for your reader they also help search engine crawlers (spiders) detect what your page is about specifically.
Ensure your headings contain keywords or related terms
It goes without saying that your content should include keywords but variations of these keywords too. Long tail and short tail.
In its simplest forms SEO is just a consideration of what your potential customers are googling. Do those words/terms/phrases feature on the page you are hoping to rank for?
Consider colloquialisms and “turns of phrase” if you are a local provider. This will especially become more important in your marketing strategy with the rise of “voice search” on gadgets such as Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home.
Image Tags/File Names Help Search Engines
Search Engines can not “read” images. They are unable to “see” what they are about.
Therefore it is important to ensure when saving and subsequently uploading images and other files that their filenames refer to the content about which you are writing.
For example, if you are writing a blog post on the subject of pigeon racing and add an image of a pigeon loft in the article the filename should include the word pigeon, probably pigeon loft.
Similarly, alt tags are used extensively by search engine spiders (aka robots and/or crawlers) to determine what an image is about so ensure your keyword is featured there too.
Alt tags also help if your reader is visually impaired and using a screen reader as it will read out the alt tag in place of the image.
SEO friendly URLs
URLs – that is the link to your page – should include keywords so that it is immediately obvious to search engines and, most importantly, your reader what the page content is about.
SEO friendly Titles and descriptions for SEO purposes
Your page title does not have to be the same as the URL or Headings. BUT – and it think it probably goes without saying – it should be related.
I think by now it is obvious that most areas of your website should include your keyword and be relevant to your content but there are other, more technical, aspects to consider in order to improve your rankings.
Such as submitting your site URL manually to search engines, page speed – which you can check here – and security.
Slow websites and sites without an SSL certificate (enabling https and a green browser icon) are disliked by search engines – Google in particular – so sorting these out on your website is a great step towards improving your search engine ranking.
Ultimately you should be writing content for your reader first, search engines second. Otherwise you may end up sounding like a robot.