6 Steps to better search results for your business
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is managing your relationship with Google, Bing and other search engines through optimising your site to what those search engines consider the “best” or most appropriate content. You can use tools like Google Adwords, Search Console and Analytics, and some useful plugins to help you. However, the prime source of good SEO is a combination of optimising your sites content, ensuring the technical fundamentals are correct, and improving the overall user experience when they visit your site.
Here are the fundamental elements you need to consider so that your website performs better in the eyes of the search engines:
- KEYWORDS – This isn’t about adding random words into your pages to get better ranking, but about ensuring the right users come to your site, and find the content, or product they are looking for. The focus keyword or phrase is the keyword that you want your page to rank for. They are the keywords and phrases in your web content that make it possible for people to find your site via search engines. A website that is well optimized for search engines “speaks the same language” as its potential visitor base. So if you are offering a “three pronged widget”, ensure that the page with the product, and any cornerstone pages (we’ll talk about those in another article soon) include that phrase in a prominent place – eg, the title and/or the first paragraph of content.
- RESPONSIVE design – Almost every website built now is responsive, meaning that the design and experience respond to the size of the user’s device. This provides an optimal layout for websites on mobile and tablet devices that may have otherwise shown up as the desktop version of a site.
In 2015, Google announced that it would use mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal in search results, making it “easier to get relevant, high-quality search results that are optimized for [users’] devices.”
Responsive design is the preferred way to develop a mobile website compared to a separate mobile site, as responsive design keeps your content at one URL, as opposed to mobile site URLs like “m.site.com.” If you’re building a new website, it needs to be responsive. If your current site is not mobile-friendly, you can modify responsiveness or install a mobile-friendly plugin. And If you’re not sure your site is mobile-friendly, you can use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to find out. If your site is a bit old, or doesn’t score well, drop us a line.
- SECURITY – Google announced that they would begin using SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate as a ranking signal when displaying search results websites that have. This allows secure connections from a web server to a browser.
If two sites are otherwise similar and one of them is secure, it’s more likely to come out on top in search results than the non-secure site. It’s definitely a bonus in addition to all of the other benefits the security provides.
- ACCESSIBILITY – Accessibility not only makes your site more inviting to users with disabilities, but it also improves the entire user experience. At the end of the day, that’s what Google cares about. Google wants your site to be useful and user-friendly, and making your site accessible does just that. The most basic accessibility optimisation you can do is to ensure you have ALT (alternative) text on all images. That text will get crawled and is more likely to be displayed in search results. Proper use of header tags (H1 for main headers, H2 for sub-headers, etc.) not only helps users with screen readers understand the importance of content, it also helps search engines prioritize the order of the content by boosting SEO for the header tags.
- NAVIGATION – Ease of navigation about your site helps users find your content, and also helps Search Engines understand the structure of your site, and allows them to point users to the most appropriate page on your site. Breadcrumbs are a navigational aid in user interfaces that help disabled users understand where they are in the hierarchy of your website, and at the same time breadcrumbs help search engines find and promote “buried” pages. A sitemap that lays out all of the pages on your site makes it easier for all users and search engines to get a complete view of your site. If you have a complex structure to your site, both of these are crucial.
These are just a few of the important fundamentals you need to consider when maintaining your site to improve your search engine optimization, but don’t assume that once you implement these tips you’ll suddenly start ranking #1 for your desired search phrases. SEO is a combination of your technical fundamentals, the content you produce, your relationship with Google, your site marketing strategies and your user experience.
There’s no silver bullet with SEO, but start by making your website fundamentally sound and you’ll be on your way to improved search results.