How to improve your search engine ranking (SEO)
Every business wants to grab a spot on Page One of Google but, according to Ahrefs, fewer than 6% of them manage it within a year. Here’s how you can increase your chances of being a part of that exclusive group.
Here's what we will cover...
- Prioritise quality content
- Manageable menus
- Meta tags and markup
- Get connected: social sharing and inbound links
- Remove duplicate content
- Make use of Google Search Console
Prioritise quality content
Content is still king when it comes to search engine optimisation (SEO). But how do you define quality content? Although there is variation between industries, age group and other factors, there is a definite trend towards content that is more visual in nature (e.g. videos, images and infographics).
Having said that, it is still important to use written content effectively to both persuade visitors to take action and to let Google and the other search engines know what your business is about.
Ideally, your landing page and blog content should include at least one image, preferably more. Your content should also be structured so as to appeal to both readers and scanners.
This is done by using headings, subheadings and bulleted lists to organise topics. Ordered (numbered) lists are also valuable for setting out step-by-step instructions while making use of white space, bold text, italics and underlining can all serve to emphasise parts of the content while creating an interesting and digestible visual layout.
If your users can easily navigate from page to page within your website, they are more likely to enjoy a positive experience. They will probably stay on your site for longer and return in the future.
This will all be recorded by the search engines and contribute to a better ranking.
Many website platforms, such as WordPress, make it easy to create and automatically adjust menus to fit your content. However, you should try to follow the ‘three deep’ rule. This advises website owners to make sure that no one page is ever more than two clicks away from your home page.
SEO experts recommend following a robust internal linking strategy (placing hyperlinks which connect pages to one another) as this helps with both user navigation and site indexing. Whenever you add a new page to your website, try to create at least one or two links to other relevant pages.
Meta tags and markup
Fiddling around with meta tags and markup code can seem an annoying chore but once you make it a habit, you will reap the rewards in terms of SEO performance.
Meta tags are used to highlight content for the search engines. Much of the content within these tags is invisible to users. Exceptions are the meta title and meta description tags which usually appear on the search engine results pages.
The meta title is often used as the clickable link at the top of your listing while the meta description covers the lines of text beneath. As these are vital in attracting visitor attention and ‘selling’ your web pages, you should always craft unique, keyword rich text for these areas.
Some plug-ins (e.g. Yoast) provide intuitive fields where you can enter this information directly. If you don’t have access to your website (or don’t know how to add meta tags), speak to your web developer.
Get connected: social sharing and inbound links
Analysing keywords and their placement is only one tool at the disposal of the search engines. While it helps them to determine the relevancy of your content, it does nothing to prove how valuable that content is to the consumer.
To assess this, search engines rely on signals of external interest. These come mainly from two sources: social media shares and inbound links (clickable links to your web pages from other people’s web pages).
To benefit from social media, always make sure that your content is easy to share. If you have a WordPress website, there are plenty of plugins that will enable you to embed social share buttons on your pages and blog articles. We have written a guide to installing plugins on WordPress websites (it’s super easy!). Vu can also help you with your social media marketing, giving you a more active stance in the world of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the rest.
When it comes to inbound links, quality is more important than quantity. Three or four links from reputable websites will be worth far more than hundreds from unknown sources. The well-known SEO tool provider Moz have created a useful scoring system for web pages and websites called Page Authority and Domain Authority respectively. While Google doesn’t use this specific metric, you can be sure that something similar exists within its secret algorithms.
Attracting high quality links is something that tends to happen organically over time. However, if you find yourself in the fortunate position of having a reputable online publication show interest in you, make sure you reach out and ask that they link to your site (and via a clickable link, not simply a text reference). They can only say no!
Remove duplicate content
Hosting duplicate content is one of the most common way website owners shoot themselves in the feet when adding web pages and blog posts.
The most blatant form of this is copying and pasting content from other websites. Google logs this as duplicate content and will penalise the copycat in search engines. Worse still, they could be sued for copyright infringement and/or, if the copyright owner reports them to Google, blacklisted.
Duplicate content can also be created unintentionally. This is one of the banes of e-commerce stores where even the act of ordering products can create clone pages. Solving these issues come under the ‘technical SEO’ umbrella and you will need customised expert advice to check your website is set up to avoid or minimise these issues.
Make use of Google Search Console
To help website owners monitor and improve their own search visibility, Google have created a powerful and intuitive free tool called Google Search Console (GSC). We’ve written a couple of blog articles on getting set up and making full use of GSC so we recommend you check those out.