It does matter if you have a perfectly coded website or a really outstanding portfolio, you’ll find that you don’t get very far if you’re not investing time into your SEO (Search Engine Optimisation).
The thing is, each of the big search engines like Google and Bing are keen to list websites based on their hidden content such as sitemaps, alt tags, and keywords – just to name a few. It doesn’t matter if you understand the terminology, but understanding how making a few changes to your website can improve your SEO is extremely important.
So what is Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)?
Search Engine Optimisation is the process in which the traffic to your website is improved from search engines such as Google via organic or algorithmic search results in search engines. The higher a website appears in search results, the higher the number of visitors the page will receive from the search engine. There are several methods to improve your pages ranking without submitting to the paid schemes offered by search engines. Listed below, and in no particular order, are 10 that I believe are absolutely vital!
1. Page Titles
The title tag is used by search engines to display a page in search results, as well as appearing at top of the browser. These tags tell search spiders and users what your page is about. Google only displays between 50 – 60 characters in their title tags, therefore its important to keep descriptions short, compelling and relevant. Keywords and page topics should feature towards the front.
The placement of keywords throughout your site is perhaps one of the most important SEO tactics. It’s useful to take into account how someone would search for information on the specific service or product you are offering, as the keywords they use are likely to be the keywords you want to be using. BUT make sure you don’t add ridiculous amounts of keywords, especially if they are unrelated as this can lead to your site being flagged as spam. Search engine spiders are programmed to ignore ‘keyword-stuffing’.
3. ALT Tags
Each image and video that you have on your site can have descriptive words added to its imprint. These are known as alternative text descriptions. These descriptions allow for search engines to locate your page using the keywords found in your image and video descriptions, as well as the usual text throughout the site. Therefore increasing the opportunities your site is found, which consequently raises its page ranking.
4. Mobile Site
‘With nearly 40% of organic traffic coming from mobile devices in 2015’, its hardly surprising that websites with a mobile friendly interface will rank higher in Google searches. Ultimately Google is trying to provide the best user experience – so really the better the user experience on your site, the better you will rank with Google.
A sitemap – a page specifically listing and creating links to all the other major pages on your site – allows for search spiders to locate pages quickly, and with more relevance to the search in question. Therefore every page is easier to find for both the spiders and users alike, and can be reached with significantly less clicks.
6. Update Content Regularly
I’m sure this is something you would be doing regularly anyway – but even so, it’s an absolute must! Regularly updated content is viewed as one of the best indicators of a site’s relevancy. Make sure to keep it fresh.
7. Don’t Use Flash
Many small businesses like to run their sites using Flash as it is easy to launch and is fairly cheap. However, Google always ranks Flash sites lower then sites running on alternative platforms , partially because you cannot link to an individual page. Changing a Flash-based site to WordPress will hugely increase your search engine rankings.
8. URL Structure
A URL is up there in the first things that a search engine uses in order to determine a page rank, hence why it’s vital to make them easy for spiders to search. This can be done by keeping the URLs short (which also enhances the user experience), keeping them relevant to the page’s topic and keywords, and by ensuring the URLs help categorise the site pages.
9. Grow Natural Links
Another key ranking factor in Google’s algorithm is the number of organic and quality inbound links to your site. This works because Google ranks the reliability and relevance of your site partially as a result of how many times it has been recommended by third parties. Therefore it is important to monitor how these links are growing.
10. Monitor your Progress
You won’t know if all your hard SEO work is paying off unless you keep track of your search standings. Keep an eye on your page ranking via tools like Alexa and the Google toolbar. On top of this its important to check your referrer log so that you can see how your visitors arrive to your site, and the search terms they are using to get there.