What is SEO?
In the simplest of terms, SEO (or search engine optimisation) is an on-going process that helps make your website visible in Google. There are a few components that impact how well your website performs, which we will delve into in this best practice guide.
On page / off page
On-page SEO generally includes factors like:
- Page titles and headings
- Meta descriptions and tags
- Fast-loading pages
- High-quality and regularly updated content
- Internal linking
Off-page SEO really comes down to one major factor, which is high-quality backlinks to your site. The more of these you can get, the better, but, at the end of the day, it’s really more about quality than quantity because you want backlinks from sites with higher domain-authority ratings.
And of course, there’s technical – which is often best to get an expert of developer in to help with.
How to develop your strategy
First and foremost, we recommend consulting your customer personas to analyse if the “right” people are visiting your website. Following that, we look at what your website is currently ranking for.
Once you know this, it’s time to create your SEO strategy, which could look like this:
#1 Define your focus keywords for every single page on your website. Once you’ve done this, optimise the content on that page to include those keywords.
#2 Make sure all your pages have a word count of at least 500 words.
#3 Improve meta data for your pages and make sure all images have alt tags.
#1 If your keyword research shows users are looking for answers to questions, use this in your content plan. Write articles, create infographics and videos. Generally creating a good mix of content that helps answer the common questions.
#2 Similarly, if there are other keywords you want your site to rank for but they don’t fit into your core pages, content like this is an excellent way to start attracting users to your site.
SEO and blogging
According to Hubspot, B2B companies with an active blog generate 67% more leads every month than those without! That said, not all blog content is created equally. You need to align your topics with research. Look at the keywords and phrases that your website visitors are using to land on your website.
Using something like Google’s keyword planner is a great tool to help here. It can help elaborate on the keywords used, but also suggest similar and related searches, as well as ‘people also ask’.
As well as this, planning a user journey for your website will help. A mix of internal and credible external links will help bolster your SEO efforts.
What’s a blog (or website, for that matter) without imagery? Boring! But what’s an image without an alt tag? Not good. Make sure all images you upload to your website have an alt tag that’s descriptive, and better yet, optimised for the content it compliments. Think about the blog title or exactly what it’s showing if it’s a diagram.
What about backlinks?
Backlinks are links from a page on one website to another. If someone links to your site, then you have a backlink from them. If you link to another website, then they have a backlink from you.
So, because the definition of a backlink we’ve used links back to ahrefs website, they now have a backlink from us.
Ok, why are these little links so important? Three key reasons:
#1 They boost your rankings in search.
#2 They make you more ‘discoverable’ as search engines constantly scan for new content, so if you’re mentioned in someone else’s new blog, you’re up there with them.
#3 They create referral traffic if clicked.
How do I get backlinks??
Create. Earn. Build. Ok, that’s not very helpful.
These are organic backlinks, so that could be someone sharing your blog on social media or similar, without any prompts from you. They’ve simply discovered your content and want to share it.
This could be like a business directory, replying to a forum or commenting on a blog and leaving your website details in your signature.
Backlink building is when you get in touch with other website owners and ask for them to link to your page. This could be a guest blog, a replacement link for one that’s broken, finding mentions of your company that aren’t linked etc.
It’s key to clarify the value proposition though, as there’s no such thing as a free lunch.
If you’d like to know more about backlinks, the gang at SEMrush have created this awesome guide.
9 Best Practice Tips
Here are nine solid tips to help:
#1 Align your content with search
When you look at the search queries that have driven traffic to your website, factor this into new content. Look to solve the queries that are coming in (e.g. how to improve your SEO > write a blog on SEO improvements).
#2 Optimise your title tags and meta description
Here’s something we always bang on about when we audit websites. Every page of your website has a title and a description. It’s all well and good having something reasonably generic there, but if you optimise it with keywords that visitors actually use, it’s so much better!
Titles are critical to giving users a quick insight into the content of a result and why it’s relevant to their query. It’s often the primary piece of information used to decide which result to click on, so it’s important to use high-quality titles on your web pages.
A meta description tag should generally inform and interest users with a short, relevant summary of what a particular page is about. They are like a pitch that convince the user that the page is exactly what they’re looking for.
#3 Optimise images
There are a few steps at play here:
- Choosing the best file type for your image to maximise page load times and website speed Remember: JPGs are better for photos and PNGs are better if it’s a diagram, contains text or is a vector.
- Compressing your images before you upload.
- Making sure you have alt text for all images! (And think about describing what the purpose is, so perhaps the blog title)
#4 Maximise your page load speed
The good folks at Google have a PageSpeed Insights web app that analyses your website load speed for free, and gives some recommendations. Though, unless you’re an expert, this is best handed over to your website developer.
#5 Your internal linking structure
By creating an internal linking structure, you’re influencing the journey your website visitors take. If done well, it can improve session time and pages per session, which combined boosts your rankings.
#6 Review user experience
Imagine walking into a store and not being able to find what you’re looking for. Let’s think about supermarket structures. You’d expect to find fruit and vegetables together, chilled in one section etc. You’d be totally confused if you found ice cream with cleaning products… that’s if you found it at all. Your website is the same. Think. It. Through.
#7 URL structure and keywords
A site’s URL structure should be as simple as possible. Consider organising your content so that URLs are constructed logically and in a manner that is most intelligible to humans (when possible, readable words rather than long ID numbers).
#8 Building authoritative backlinks
In short, Google see’s backlinks as guarantors of the internet. The more, quality backlinks you have, the more confidence.
#9 Create long-form content
According to research conducted by SEMrush:
Long-form articles (posts with 3000+ words) get 3x more traffic, 4x more shares, and 3.5x more backlinks than articles of average length (901-1200 words).
For that reason, you should aim at publishing 1-2 thoroughly researched, long-form articles that include helpful information to Google users.
SEO is a never-ending work of art. There’s always a tweak here, something to optimise there, and of course, well informed content to publish somewhere. If the thought of it all makes your head spin, or you simply don’t have the time, let us help you! Read out to us, and one of the UP Digital gang will be in touch.