SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) can be seen as this scary thing that no one wants to do, but to ensure you’re visible on search engines like Google, it’s a must for any website. It’s not always a small task, nor one that can be done as a one off, but we hope that this post will at least get you on the right course with your website.
So what do I need to know with SEO?
1. Look at your Title Tags and Meta Descriptions
This may seem obvious to most but it can easily be overlooked. This metadata can be used by search engines to describe your content, so they’re worth looking at. But how can you use these to improve your ranking?
These tags have no bearing on ranking but they can indirectly help with optimisation. For instance, both tags may be used by Google when displaying your site in their results, so anyone who sees your site in their search results may or may not visit your site based on what you put there.
So, what do you put? Here are some tips which you can help you make the most of your title tag and description:
Use numbers - numbers tend to stand out against text and can help improve your click-through rates. There are many things you could add here, including dates, percentages or even prices. Don't shy away from using the numbers, if you have a special offer or an on-going promotion then grab this opportunity and put those numbers into your metadata.
Include a strong call-to-action - What do you want your users to do when they visit your site? Using a call to action helps guide them down the ideal path on your website. Starting with your titles and descriptions helps set them off on the right foot, and even a simple "call today to see how we could help" or "buy now for free next day delivery" and help.
Create a sense of urgency - prompt users to take action now by creating a sense of urgency in your titles. If one of your pages is a popular product, then include something in the title to show off that it's in high demand. You can really use these to your advantage to try and entice users to visit your site and ultimately place an order.
A good way to check out what’s working or not is to check out your Search Analytics on your Google Console. You can access this by going to this section of the webmaster tools. Make sure you have the correct permissions in order to view this (you may need to show you own the domain, or ask your administrator first). At the top of the page there are four tick boxes, make sure you have Impressions and CTR selected. This will help you to see which pages are retaining visitors and which are just being clicked through. You can then improve the data held on the low ranking pages.
2. Compress Your Images
Another thing you will want to do is compress your images. Large bulky images slow websites down, it’s not good. Any pages that take too long to load will affect your user experience, as not everyone is willing to wait for pages to load. A recent survey that was completed suggests that most users expect a website to load within two seconds and will abandon the site after three seconds. Yes I wrote that right, you have three seconds in which to load…
One of the bulkiest things on your website which will affect loading speeds are the images. In order to combat this, one method you can use is compressing them. It’s simple enough that with some research you’ll be able to do it yourself. However, if you do run into trouble then don’t hesitate to contact us.
3. Speaking of Images - Have you Named Yours?
Google, or more importantly, Google Image Search, can drive a vast amount of traffic to your site. Take advantage of it. Google can’t actually see the images you’re posting, but it can read them if they have an alt tag. You will need to have this on every image on your site so that Google knows what they are and where they can be found. You can also add a description of the image in which you can place your keywords, which will also boost the chances of you being found. Although be careful not to add too many.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that artificial intelligence is growing to a level where some images can be understood. But having an alt tag is still good practice - don’t leave it out.
4. Add Rich Data to your Search Results
If you want to grab users’ attention in the search results, one of the things you can do is to add schema markup to your pages, sometimes known as rich data.
This increases your website’s visibility because Google better understands the contents of the page. This can improve your ranking among the local search terms. Remember, you're trying to teach a machine to read your page; technology may be good, but it still needs a helping hand.
You can add various pieces of information, but the basics that we would recommend, are your name, address and phone number, to begin with. If you still find your results aren’t what you expected then play around with it. Another good one to have is testimonials, reviews or product descriptions.
There are a number of different schemas you can take advantage of. For example, you can even list your products using rich data, events, articles, profiles - and more.
5. Fix your 404’s
404 not found pages are where your users end up when they land on a page that has been deleted, moved or doesn't exist. While letting old pages go to 404 is not going to hurt your SEO, having too many 404’s can be an indication that something might be broken so you should investigate it if you’re losing out on potential backlinks or offering a bad user experience. This could in turn lead to a drop in rankings, loss of visitors and even loss of money as a result.
An example of a 404 page (lego.com)
You’ve been on a website and seen something like this before right? Did you stay and look around or navigate away? If your user sees something like this it’s highly likely that they will leave the site and possibly never return. If it gives them a bad experience, it can be annoying, and even prevent them clicking on more links for your site in case they receive the same answer.
In order to find out which links are displaying 404 go to your Google Search Console account, then go to Crawl > Crawl Errors > Not Found . This will bring up all of your pages which are displaying a 404. You might be surprised by what you find. Don’t worry if you think you need to keep them as 404, this can be the case when you’ve stopped selling a product and have nothing similar which you can re-direct to.
One way combat these errors, is by using a permanent redirect (known as a 301 - because that’s the code the server tells your browser). A good way to think is about the user experience. If you redirected the user automatically, would they still be able to do what they aimed to achieve?
If you need more help with 404’s then don’t hesitate to contact us.
See SEO isn’t all bad, once you get your head around it. But we appreciate sometimes you need a helping hand. So, if you have any further questions then please contact us. That’s why we’re here.