As someone who is relatively new to the world of SEO, I have been reading a lot around the fundamentals of the subject, and the processes involved in successful SEO campaigns. Beginning in SEO can be quite daunting when considering all of the factors that are involved. This is why I would like to share what I have learnt with you, so without further ado, here are my top 8 SEO basics to optimise your site!
Something to keep in mind before we begin is that ultimately there is not one magic quick fix that can help your website rank higher, and it won’t happen overnight. SEO is a complex process and there are many rules and factors that need to be taken into consideration. There are also a number of myths and misconceptions (we’ve collected them in our SEO Myths piece by the way) around what is considered to be best practice, the basics I share below and are ones that I feel are fundamental.
Firstly, title tags are a short meaningful description of the content for each page on your website. They are displayed at the top of your web browser window and are often used as a preview snippet on search engine results pages (SERPs).
This has a big part to play in SEO particularly with Google, yet is also important in terms of social sharing. It is important that each page title is unique and is accurately aligned with the page content – this is critical for both SEO and user experience.
Meta descriptions are a short description of what a particular page is about and along with title tags these should be unique to each page on your website. An ideal meta description should be between 150 – 160 characters to avoid text cut off when displayed on search engines – you will want to be concise and informative sparking the reader’s interest. Meta descriptions do not directly influence rankings on search engines, however they do encourage user’s to click on your search result.
By creating a compelling description with the use of important keywords it can help to improve the click-through rate of the given webpage. In order to maximise click-through rates it is important to know that Google amongst other search engines display keywords in bold when the terms match the search query. However it is important not to overuse keywords, keep in mind that your content should flow naturally. Below you can see a SERP preview displaying title tags and Meta descriptions.
Another basic SEO factor to consider is making sure your website is mobile/user friendly and optimised for mobile browsing. This is vital as mobile marketing statistics show that more and more users are using their mobiles/smartphone devices to search online each day.
I am sure you are already aware but in April this year Google decided to roll out a mobile friendly update. Google decided to reward those with mobile friendly sites by boosting their rankings in mobile search results. Google insists that text is readable, without the need for tapping and zooming. For platforms such as WordPress, Wp-touch pro is a useful plugin offering mobile optimised themes. The plugin also has additional mini plugins useful for your site such as responsive images, which leads on to my next point.
The use of visuals and images is a great way to enhance a user’s experience.
Internal links are another factor to consider for SEO optimisation on your site. Internal links are those links that direct users to other pages within your website. Make sure the pages relate in some way; for example, if you wrote a blog post on cardio exercise, you could link this back to a previous post about warm up techniques.
Internal links can be useful for SEO however, many are still using this incorrectly.
Here are a few SEO tips for internal links:
Tip: When running a blog, every couple of weeks go back and link newer posts from older posts. It’s not an easy task to do especially if you have a lot of posts, but it can be a very good tactic for showing your readers different content on your website.
A URL is the unique address of a web page, they can be seen in the address bar of your web browser. A page URL is one of the most important parts of your website when looking to make your website user-friendly and SEO compliant. It consists of a string of words usually ending with .co.uk/.com/.org or .net. URLs should be simple and easy to understand, as well as mimic the structure of your website.
Still unsure of what your URLs should look like? I have included a couple of good examples below, these follow all the steps that I have mentioned above to optimise your URLs.
A sitemap is a list of all public facing pages and posts on your website, search engines use this as a way to understand the structure of your site. There are two types of site maps – an xml sitemap and an html sitemap.
An xml sitemap is submitted to Google, Bing and other search engines. To create and also update your sitemap it could be easier to install a plugin, however this is dependent on the platform you are using.
Here are the key steps you need to consider when creating an XML sitemap:
An html sitemap is created to enable the user to browse through your content more easily. The sitemap should include links to all posts and important pages on your site. It is also possible to group posts in terms of author and category etc.
Google’s Search Console tool is where you register and submit your website index. This is your central point of tracking valuable information about your site.
Google Analytics is also a great tool, in fact it is one of my favourites. The tool enables you to find out a number of factors about your site, helping you to identify where you can make improvements (there is always room for improvement):
There are endless benefits.
All the factors I have mentioned above are all very important. However, don’t forget about the content – content is still key. Your content should be of a high quality and original – it should always answer what the user is looking for.
There are two simple ways in which you can identify if your content is useful to others. Firstly, you can look at your analytics package – this will enable you to find out how much time is spent on a particular page. Also checking your social media shares on Facebook and Twitter etc, this is a good way to understand what type of content users are looking for and enjoy reading enough to share.
Remember that promoting and sharing your content is just as important as creating it. After-all, what’s the point in having great content if no-one can see it?
Firstly, there are no particular guidelines that need to be followed in order to write good content. Content will vary depending upon the topic you are writing about. However, there are certain things that you can consider when writing content. I have included the factors which I feel are the most important below:
What type of content should I create? – this is quite a common question. The point is that there is no set limit – the length is dependent on the type of post and the topic.
All in all this is where the quality vs quantity scenario comes in – it is much better to write a quality post without feeling that you have to meet a certain criteria with the word count. This is a key difference between print and online content; where once space for content was at a premium, when printed in a document, online content is not restricted to a pre-defined length. Content should answer what the user is looking for, it’s quite easy to start rambling but if the post is not to the point it is potentially more likely to be ignored.
Having fresh content will give search engine bots a reason to come back and crawl your site more often. Alongside this it will also encourage users to come back and browse your site. Be sure to keep your content original, avoid posting similar content on your blog or website for the sake of posting.
You should always keep SEO to the front of your mind and always remember to follow best practices. Ignoring the basics of SEO will leave your site’s groundwork messy, preventing you from maximising your full revenue opportunities.
Are there any other SEO practices that you feel are important? Please share your suggestions in the comments, I would like to hear them.