The keys to SEO – What every business owner needs to know about how to be found on Google.
SEO or (search engine optimisation) is a pretty complex topic. There are over 200 “ranking signals” that Google uses to decide what to show when people search for something. It can be overwhelming. BUT here are 5 key things that even the most Google phobic business owners need to know that will unlock the power of Google.
1. Meta Title tags and Meta descriptions – Vital for SEO
Honestly if you just make sure that every page you have on your site has “meta” titles and descriptions you will be ahead of a LOT of other business owners out there. We do free web audits at Oracle Tree (get yours below if you want one) and by far the biggest thing we find are missing or duplicate descriptions.
But what does that even mean?
Meta titles show up in search as the blue links and descriptions as the few lines of text afterward.
If you don’t write them yourself, Google will decide what to use (in the case of a description it will be the 1st few lines of text from your page (even if that text is code or doesn’t make sense).
This is THE most important thing you can do for rankings. It tells Google you care and tells people who see you in search what the page is about.
Most website content management systems will have a way to add this info when they write a new page or blog post. If you use WordPress a great free plugin to use is SEO by Yoast. But any site that lets you add content will have the ability to add titles and descriptions.
TIPS: Write for people first, not search engines. Use keywords in the title but don’t go overboard or it will do more harm than good.
What about “meta keywords”? Some systems have the ability to add meta keyword tags as well as title and description. Don’t use them. They do more harm than good – Google pays no attention to them and they don’t show up anywhere. The only way Google looks at them is as a signal of “keyword stuffing”. It reads the actual content on your page to decide what is relevant to show in the results.
2. Optimise your images for easier search
The second most common thing I see that is really easy for businesses to fix (especially if you do it as you go rather than try and go back and fix it later) is to optimise your images.
3 ways to optimise images
- Name the file something useful – IMG-5612 does not help Google know what the image is of. Just renaming the image files to what the image is of (and bonus points if you can throw in a term you want to rank for) will make a big difference.
- ALT tags – Alt tags for images are used for people who have visibility difficulties and use a screen reader. Using ALT tags that explain what the image is and potentially use keywords “Woman looking at laptop excited about her SEO ranking” is a way to make your page more accessible and rank higher.
TIP: Don’t forget what this feature is designed for. If the image is of a woman looking at her laptop say that – you can add in the “seo” part as well but actually describe the image.
- Resize images. One of the ranking factors is how fast a page loads. A raw full-sized high-resolution image like you would find straight off your phone is usually much bigger than is needed on a website and slows down your site. Systems like WordPress will reduce the look of the image but still download the big version. This makes your site run slower than it needs to. Resize your images before you upload them to the size they need to be.
TIP: PicMonkey is a free image editing software that will allow you to resize, crop and edit images and then also download them at a lower “resolution” so they are the same visual size but a smaller file size.
3. SEO key 3: Use Headings
Make sure you use headings in your pages and posts.
Again, assuming you have a content management systems like WordPress, the main title of the page will usually default to H1. The content on the actual body of the page should use Headings 2 – 6 as appropriate.
You can be a little bit repetitive with headings without it being an issue (eg SEO tip 1 : …. SEO tip 2 …. etc.).
Put yourself in your reader’s shoes and use headings in a way that makes sense to them and makes your content easy to read.
Use a logical hierarchy where the page title is the most important, H2 content is the second most important than H3 and so on.
TIP: You can also use bold and italics to indicate that certain words are important.
4. Actual Content: readability and regularity, etc.
How often should you write to rank? What sort of content?
Regular content on a similar subject is a huge signal to Google and overtime what will make your site an “authority site”. Depending on your resources a post a week is a good target to aim at to start with.
Break it down into easy to read paragraphs and speak to the reader as if you were talking to your favourite client.
It’s one person reading, so write as if you were talking to one person.
People tend to scan web pages. That’s another reason to use lots of headings, other things and to use bullet points, short sentences and break it down. The plugin I mentioned before “Yoast SEO” will tell you how complex your writing is. Any media should be written on the “simple side”. Even really smart people don’t want to work that hard to read a website.
Readability is another important ranking signal as well.
Linking out to other related content on your site and to other authority sites is also a really powerful tool.
Internal linking keeps people on your site longer (another ranking signal in itself). It also joins the dots for Google to know that you are the authority on a body of work.
Linking out to authority sites (open in a new tab) borrows a bit of their authority. It provides a better experience to the reader which is what Google is all about.
Wikipedia ranks as high as it does in large part because of its internal link structure.
While ranking your website on Google can be intimidating, we guarantee that these five tips are great and most importantly, doable places to start. For more help on Google rankings, see our list of marketing programs here and contact us!