Welcome to the second part in our series on SEO basics for small businesses! In our previous post we talked about the importance of keyword research and choice, in this post we want to talk about what specifically you need to do on your website to help Google improve your rankings and get you in front of more qualified leads.
There are many factors to bear in mind when thinking about on-page optimisation, so it can be a bit overwhelming to think about when figuring out the basics of your SEO, however, there is a simple way to break it down into bite-size chunks of information.
- Site structure
- Titles, headers and descriptions
You want to make your site as easy to navigate as possible for people visiting your site. Luckily doing this has the added effect of becoming easy for search engine crawlers to navigate, figure out and display! Firstly, it’s important that pages link between each other, so users are never stuck on a page where their only option is to press the back button on their browser (very bad!).
Another thing to bear in mind is the way your site’s URLs look. It’s much better to have them read as www.YourWebsite.com/Page-Name, than www.YourWebsite.com/index.php?id=1, or something equally non-sensical. Not only does this read better for users, but also search engine bots, as they can then match the URL: with the content and the titles on the page.
Another very important thing to bear in mind is to set up something called auto-redirects, so that if a user accidentally accesses a page that you’ve taken down, or a mis-typed URL, they will automatically get redirected to your homepage or another part of your site.
Titles and Meta Descriptions are the parts of a web site that show up in search engines when people are using them.
The blue link is the title that you set on your page – this can be changed very easily in most site builders such as WordPress or Weebly, otherwise it can be done directly in the site’s code. The green text is your URL, notice how the checkatrade link has a URL structure that’s easy to understand for a reader, so search engine bots see it the same way. The black text is the ‘meta description’ that the page has, this is something you can also set on each page in most website builders.
These are very important to write effectively and efficiently. You only have around 67 characters for your title tag, and 155 characters for your description. In those short bursts of text, you not only have to inform users of what is on your site, but also tell Google what is on it so that it can reference it with the content on your page.
If your title and description say the site is about underwater basket weaving, yet the content talks about landscaping in Surrey, this will confuse anyone clicking your link, and Google looks at it the same way, and will lower your sites rankings in search. At the same time, you want your title and description to entice and sell people to click on your site. It’s a very delicate balancing act, so some time should be put aside to devote to this. There’s not much use being at the top of Google if your sites tags don’t convince people to click on it!
While people can see your images, remember that search engine bots can’t understand what images show. The most important thing to do with images is make sure all of them are titled with what the image is, and each of them have an alt-text, which describes what the image is of. That way search engines can be told what the image is of and understand it within the context of the page.
Of course last, but by no means least is the content on your page! Thsi is the actual writing you’ve put on your page which is used to describe, inform, sell or discuss with people visiting your site. As said above, if your content is about a completely different subject to your title and description tags, as well as the image alt texts, this will confuse users and by extension Google.
Another thing to bear in mind with your content is the keywords you’ve chosen for your site. The more you talk about your keywords in your content, the better. However, over-optimising your content by adding the keywords into every sentence will get you slapped by Google. Their bot is clever enough to understand when you’re sacrificing the quality of your writing for the sake of fitting your keywords in unnaturally. It is also clever enough to know what your keywords are if you’re using related keywords, plural or non-plural, and similar subjects.
The best advice we can give for your content is to make it as natural for people to read as possible, filled with value and preferably longer than 600 words. Do this, and not only will your users engage with it, but Google will reward you greatly!
Other posts in this series: