To get back to basics, SEO is the practice of improving your websites organic Google search rankings so that you can get more eyeballs on your website.
Having a website that is constantly receiving visitors due to it being found from organic Google searches is pretty much the holy-grail when it comes to online marketing. BUT, with every business in your industry trying to claim that number one spot on Google, it’s very competitive.
In this detailed article we’ll show you eight actionable tips to help you improve your website SEO today.
These are the same tips have that helped us rank our own website in first place for the key phrase “web design dorset”.
SEO Tip #1: Target the right key phrases
THE most important out of all our tips when SEO’ing your website is to make sure you target the right key phrases.
If you target the wrong key phrases you will end up with the wrong people looking at your site, or ranking in the first spot for a search term that has a tiny amount of people searching for it each month.
Essentially you need to find key phrases that are relevant to what your business is offering but that aren’t overly competitive so you have a good chance at ranking highly.
Let’s look at how you can start to research the key phrases that are right for your business.
The first step is to build out a customer persona so you can understand your audience better.
If you run a bridal flower shop, you might start building your persona by stating something like: “My customer is a bride getting ready for her upcoming wedding”
You can build out these personas in way more depth and it definitely helps to do so, but just creating a statement like this for each of your customer types (aka personas) will help you with your keyword research.
Find topics that these customers care about
Next you need to go to where your target customer hangs out online to find topics that they care about. You can do this by diving into Facebook groups, industry forums or blogs.
Keep an eye on what topics keep cropping up time and time again and note down the top 5.
Continuing with our online flower shop example, below might be examples of topics we notice come up time and time again on forums, Facebook groups and blogs:
- Artificial flowers
- Fresh flowers
- Prices / costs
- Inspiration & colour schemes
- General advice
Keyphrase idea generation
Now we’ve got our 5 topics that we know are popular, we need to drill down into each one to get more specific and find what we call our ‘long-tail’ key phrases.
Long-tail key phrases are more specific and will generally be much less competitive but still very popular.
Here are some ways to uncover popular long-tail key phrases.
Head over to Google and type your topic into the search bar. But don’t hit enter.
Instead, hold on and wait to see what Google suggests people are searching for based on this topic. These suggestions are usually long-tail keywords that are very popular searches.
Tip: If you put a few spaces before your key phrase and wait, Google will suggest slightly different key phrases too. This is always worth checking out for further ideas.
Quora.com is a big online questions and answers community. Head on over and search for your topics there. Take a look at the questions people are asking within each topic as these will give you good ideas for key phrases to go after.
Google Related Searches
Enter your topic on Google and hit enter. Scroll down to the bottom of the results and look for the “Searches related to” section. This will show you alternative key phrases people are searching for within your topic too.
Pro tip: If you actually click on one of the suggestions, note how many search results are returned. If it’s getting up into the millions, this is going to be a competitive phrase to rank for. Whilst if it’s in the hundreds of thousands you’ve got a much better chance going after it.
Wikipedia can even help with your key phrase ideas. Search for your topic and check out the table of contents that appears below the first section. This can show key phrases related to your topic to give you even more ideas. Also look at some of the sites that the Wikipedia page links off to, as these can help too.
How do I choose the best key phrases?
To make sure you are going after key phrases that are actually going to yield results, you need to find out which key phrases have high ‘commercial intent’.
That means there are people searching these key phrases willing to buy or take action.
Google’s Keyword Planner
Google’s Keyword Planner is great for this.
Just enter a key phrase into the tool and then look at the ‘suggested bid’ column. This shows how much advertisers are willing to pay to be found for that particular key phrase. The higher the suggested bid, the more commercial intent that key phrase has.
You can also search for your keyword on Google and see how many ads appear. If there are lots of ads, then businesses are eager to get their results in front of people searching for these terms as they are paying to appear.
Moz Pro is also a really good paid-for tool that allows you to look up a key phrase and see how difficult it is to rank for. It will also tell you how many people search for that key phrase each month.
KWFinder.com is also another paid tool that will help you find ‘long-tail’ key phrases from your chosen topic.
Now once you’ve done all this research you might have a situation where you have two key phrases with similar popularity and you aren’t sure which one to choose.
This is where Google Trends comes in, as it will allow you to input both key phrase and see which one is growing in popularity and which one is declining in popularity.
Now you have a list of key phrases to target, it’s a case of optimising the pages of your website, creating content around each topic and creating landing pages.
SEO Tip #2: Factor in local SEO
Let’s jump into tip number two – SEO for local searches.
Local search is more important than ever, what with people searching for key phrases like “restaurants near me” and “bridal flower shops Dorset”.
If location is important to your business, then you need to factor this into your website, by mentioning your geographical location in your copy.
But not only that, you also need to have a Google My Business listing so you can appear in the Google Map results that appear in Google’s SERPs too. This gives you another bite at the cherry when someone searches for what you offer, as ideally your site will rank in #1 spot AND you’ll also rank on the map results too.
We’ve gone into much more detail about how to set up and optimise a Google My Business listing in our “5 easy SEO tips for small business owners” so check that out.
How you ensure you rank on the map is all about having great reviews, so make sure you have a system in place in your business to ask customers to review you on Google so you can increase your reviews and keep your star rating as high as possible.
SEO Tip #3: Website speed
The speed of your website is a really important factor when it comes to SEO for many reasons.
Probably the biggest of which is that the Google algorithm considers speed to be an actual ranking factor. That means if your site is slow, you’re going to get penalised for it and not rank as well as your competition.
Think of your own browsing habits for a moment. How long do you typically wait for a website to load? Perhaps 2 seconds and then you leave if the content hasn’t fully loaded?
If you look at your Google Analytics it’s a safe bet for us to assume you’ll likely see that the majority of your visitors are browsing your site on their mobile phone, and this may mean they’re loading your website over a 3G connection without WiFi – so again speed is essential.
How can you evaluate the speed of your website for SEO?
Thankfully the best tools to evaluate the speed of your website for SEO are free.
Pingdom allows you to input various pages of your website and get a report back showing you all the resources that were loaded and which ones took the most time.
It’ll also give you an overall ‘grade’ so you’ve got something to improve upon.
The great thing with Google PageSpeed is that you can evaluate how your site loads on mobile as well as desktop and get a score for both.
Pro tip: Invest in premium web hosting as you get what you pay for. Going for cheap £10 a month hosting for your website is likely to mean that even if your site is super light-weight, it won’t load quickly as cheap web hosts cluster a bunch of sites together which means you have to share resources, and as a result your load time will suffer.
SEO Tip #4: Improve your mobile user-experience
The term ‘user experience’ (or UX) gets banded around a fair bit in the world of web design, but what exactly does it mean? And does it impact SEO?
Think of UX as being: how easy or pleasing the overall experience of browsing your website is.
If you can make browsing your website a really enjoyable experience for your visitors – and by that we mean fast load times, beautiful design, and great content that’s focused on their needs – then it will impact your SEO and Google will reward you for it.
Well signals that indicate a website has a great user experience will be a low bounce rate and high dwell times (the amount of time people spend on individual pages and the site as a whole).
We know that Google now ranks websites based on how they display and load on mobile above and beyond desktop, so ensuring your website’s mobile experience is spot on will drastically help your SEO efforts.
How can you get mobile insights?
There are a few great ways to get mobile user experience insights for your website.
HotJar lets you record visitors as they navigate a website on mobile AND you can also set up heatmaps to see what elements of a page visitors tap.
This kind of data can help you uncover UX issues with your site on mobile.
Just ask to watch someone navigate your website on their phone and explain out load their thoughts as they move around the site. Do this with 10 people and you’ll start to notice repeat issues which you can get to work fixing to make the user experience better and boost your SEO.
SEO Tip #5: Improve your domain authority with backlinks
Your domain (e.g www.yourwebsite.com) has an ‘authority’ associated with it. This is built up over time and a number of factors go into it.
One important factor is the number of ‘backlinks’ your domain has. That is the number of other websites linking to it.
Google will in most cases deem a website with more quality backlinks of better quality, and therefore rank it higher than a website with fewer or lower quality backlinks.
Having said that obtaining quality backlinks is a tricky process as you need to ensure that the links are coming from high-quality sources, so how do you do it?
Our number one piece of advice is to create high-quality content on your own website? Why?
Because if the quality is good enough other people will link to it from their own content, tweet it, share it on Facebook etc.
You can also try to build backlinks in other more creative ways like publishing content on other industry websites and including a link back to your site. Or perhaps contacting another business in a complementary industry and teaming up to exchange content.
How do you check how many backlinks you have?
This is another premium tool but well worth the investment as you can track all the backlinks your website has, see the quality of them, remove bad backlinks and even track 2 competitors to see where they might have backlinks that you could go after also.
Ahrefs offer a great free backlink checker tool, although it will limit all the data (but a 7 day trial only costs $7).
Neil Patel also offers a great free backlink checker that does provide a decent amount of information for free.
SEO Tip #6: Write great content and promote it
One of THE best long-term SEO strategies we can recommend is writing and publishing high-quality content on your website.
Google loves websites that publish quality content because it shows the website as being helpful and active.
Creating content also means that other websites are more likely to reference your page or post (if the content is good enough) and so it’s a great way to build up more backlinks (as mentioned above).
Writing content takes time and effort, but the rewards are worth it and it will help establish your business as an authority in your industry, drive more traffic to your site and as a result lead to more enquiries and sales if you’re an ecommerce business.
Check out our post “The Ultimate Guide To Blogging For Business Owners” for more tips.
SEO Tip #7: Utilise the best ‘On-Site’ SEO techniques
If your website’s SEO is going to be top-notch there are some ‘on-site’ techniques you need to make sure it utilises.
‘On-site’ SEO refers to factors that exist on your actual website (like headings, content, page titles etc) and ‘Off-site” SEO refers to external ranking factors like backlinks.
Here are what we deem to be the most important ‘On-site’ SEO techniques that you need to make sure you’ve implemented well;
SEO Friendly Short URLs
Every web page within your website has a URL. For example, the URL of this blog post is “authenticstyle.co.uk/blog-post”.
You need to make sure that your URL’s are as short and succinct as possible as we now know that Google does prefer sites with shorter URL’s.
Include your target key phrase in your URL
The other consideration when it comes to the URL’s for your website pages is to make sure you include the key phrase you want that page to rank for. It’s really simple and easy, but so many people forget to do this in their haste to publish content.
Include LSI keywords
To help Google understand the topic you are writing about it helps to sprinkle LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) key phrases in your article too.
As we mentioned in tip number 1 above, the best way to do this is to look at Google’s “Searches related to” at the bottom of the results, as the terms in bold usually make great LSI keywords to sprinkle into your content.
Publish long-form content
Longer content out ranks shorter content. In fact research has shown that on average the highest ranking content on Google has on average 1,890 words, so unfortunately 400 word blog posts won’t cut it any more!
Why does longer content rank higher?
- It tends to contain more of those LSI keywords
- Google wants to show users the best content, and longer articles tend to include more information and go into more depth.
Optimising your title tag
In order for a page on your website to rank well the ‘title’ needs to include that key phrase within it.
It gets slightly more complicated though as you also want to make your title appealing to click on, as click-through rate (CTR) is now confirmed as a Google ranking factor.
This means that if search results for your page are getting more clicks that a competitors, eventually it will outrank your competitor’s page.
How do you optimise the title tag for click-throughs?
- Use numbers in content that you publish as studies have shown that titles like this get 36% more clicks. An example of this in use is in list-based blog posts like; “21 Insights Into SEO Ranking Factors” or this article you’re reading now.
- Brackets and parentheses also help click-through rates because they get more attention. For example, changing the title of our example article “21 Insights Into SEO Ranking Factors” to “21 Insights Into SEO Ranking Factors [Free Checklist]” would very likely lead to a higher click-through rate.
Use external links
Google uses external links as a ranking factor, so in every piece of long-form content you publish on your website, make sure you link out to 2-5 external sources that are relevant and useful to your audience.
Use internal links
This one’s insanely easy, but important.
When you publish content on your website be sure to link to other pages of your website that are relevant and that you want to benefit from a ranking boost. Interlinking like this will help Google spider your website.
Use heading tags correctly
In HTML code we have the ability to specify to Google a series of ‘headings’ from 1 through to 6. In code they are really simple and look like this.
Heading tags are important because the tell Google that this is the most important piece of text content on the page (or the third most important piece of content, depending on the number used).
If you include your key phrases within your heading tags this will give your page a solid SEO boost.
The only caveat is that you don’t want to ‘stuff’ your key phrases into heading tags without considering readability, and Google will catch on to you if you do this.
So, make sure you include your key phrases in headings from 1 through to 6, but ensure the content makes semantic sense.
This one is tough to do, but if you really want to smash it with your Google SEO then include multimedia within the content you create.
Videos and downloadable resources relevant to the content will keep people on your page for longer and increase that all-important ‘dwell time’, signalling to Google that your page must have high-value content.
SEO Tip #8: Track and measure your SEO
By now you can hopefully see that SEO’ing your website is a long-term strategy. It’s not something you can do once. You need to be constantly evaluating, learning and making changes to improve your rankings.
Even when you hit that number one spot you need to keep up your efforts to stay there, so measuring your rankings is essential.
Here are our favourite tools to help you do just that.
Google Analytics (free)
Every website should have GA installed to let you track how your site is being used and found. You can learn so much from looking at what content is most popular, least popular and it’ll give you so many metrics you can benchmark your efforts against.
Google Search Console (free)
Google Search Console is a separate tool that lets you monitor the health of your website rankings. It’s important to have this set up as if Google spots an issue when it crawls your site, it will be flagged here so you can fix it.
GSC also lets you see what key phrases your site is getting found for, how many times its getting clicked on versus how many times it’s getting seen.
This info allows you to make subtle adjustments to your site’s meta title and descriptions to try and encourage more people to click through to your site from Google’s search results.
Moz Pro (Premium)
If you want to automate the process of monitoring how you are ranking for your chosen key phrases than a paid Moz Pro account is the way to go. It’ll also pick up technical issues with your site so you can fix them and let you evaluate how difficult it is to rank for certain key phrases and a whole lot more!
Much the same as Moz Pro above – just an alternative really. We don’t use this tool ourselves, but it’s worth checking out.
Are you looking for help with your SEO?
We hope all the actionable advice in this SEO tips article has given you a good steer when it comes to optimising your website.
If managing your SEO is something you would like us to look at for you, then please do get in touch with us to discuss how we can help.
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