10 quick wins for search engine optimisation
It’s every website owner’s dream to rank among the top search results on Google, Yahoo and the likes. But why keep dreaming? With a few practical SEO tips, your website can score significantly better in search engines. Below you can find 10 quick wins that are easy to implement. Don’t worry, you’ll see that you don’t have to be an SEO expert to see your website perform better.Important notice in advance: these tips can help you increase your website’s ranking in search results, but they won’t help if your content isn’t valuable. With SEO, everything depends on the content. Of course, without content, Google cannot rank your pages and you have no chance of appearing in the search results. But not only the quantity of the content production is important. Also, and above all, quality is key.
Your content must offer real added value compared to competing search results. It must be a relevant follow-up to the keywords searches. Besides relevancy, credibility is also very important. One way of measuring the credibility of your information, is the amount of engagement it provokes. As you will read further on, back links are just one example to increase engagement.
1. Optimise your existing content
How’s this for a smooth start: you already have content. Have a close look at what’s already at hand and tweak it, so that search engines can easily find it.
Select relevant keywords
Keywords help readers find your content in a well-structured and logical way. But how do you pick out the keywords that make your content pop up on search result pages?
It’s always wise to do a periodical and systematic keyword check. See if you can notice any trends or changes in the search behaviour of your target group. Focus on both broad keywords (short tail keywords) and high-intent keywords (long tail keywords). The latter are particularly interesting because they clearly reflect the search intent of the user (e.g. buy a product, compare prices, ...). Broad keywords position your reader at the beginning of the funnel, long tail keywords show that your reader is at the end of the funnel.
It's important to keep in mind that each page can have only one primary keyword (or focus keyword). According to Google, each page must provide a specific answer to a unique search intent of the Google user. So, you need to create a separate page for each primary keyword you want to be found on. Be aware that optimising different pages around the same keyword is not a good idea.
Write unique meta Data
A meta description and title should always contain the primary keyword. However, it’s not a determining factor to score higher on Search Engine Result Pages. The meta data helps to attract visitors to your website, which results in a high click through rate (CTR). And a high CTR tells Google that you are a relevant source for that keyword, which they will reward with a higher ranking.
You can boost your CTR by writing meta descriptions that contain a call to action, which describes clearly what your page is about.
This example shows you how we handle it at RAAK.
Update titles and descriptions
Put the keyword(s) you want to be found by in your title and description. But don’t overdo it: excessive use of keywords sets off Google’s keyword stuffing alarm. Stay relevant at all times if you want to be credible.
Mind the length
Keep the number of characters of your meta title (between 50 and 60 characters) and description (between 150 and 160 characters) within limits. Any excess text will be cut off, making your message unclear. And be sure to put your keyword(s) at the beginning of your meta title to catch your reader’s eye.
Add image alt tags
Never underestimate the power of images. A clear page structure will help Google understand your website better. A short descriptive text (that contains the primary keyword) to accompany your key visuals, the so-called alt tag, can help with that. So make sure not only the alt tag, but also the file name of your image is as crystal clear.
Use predefined header tags
Header tags are part of the html of your website. These code snippets add structure and context to your page, for search engines and readers alike.
<H1> is the main title
<H2s> are subtitles
<H3s> to <H6> serve as subthemes
Always use your main keyword in your <H1> tags. Put additional keywords in subtitles and subthemes. Google will scan them to outline the context of your page. But again: use them moderately, as overdoing it can make your content less credible.
2. Fix your error 404 pages
Dead links are frustrating for readers, as well as for Google. If people click on a link, but the content isn’t available immediately, you’ll lose their attention. If this recurs, Google will see you as an unreliable source and will react by lowering your ranking. To avoid that, it’s best to assign a clear 404 page to every existing page. You can easily solve this by setting a 301 redirect to keep Google and your visitors happy.
3. Think local (Google My Business)
Want to become more visible for local searches? Get yourself a Google My Business account. By consistently using your company name, address and telephone number in content, you’ll better your chances of ranking high on Google’s local search result pages.
4. Accept mobile as your friend
Okay, this may not be not the quickest win of them all. But believe us, a mobile-friendly website is definitely a huge win. Since July 2019, Google started working with mobile first indexing. Where Google used to look at your desktop site to crawl and index it, it now checks the mobile version of your website first. Want to check if Google labels your site as mobile-friendly? Do the Google Mobile Friendly Test.
5. Look for high-quality back links
Back links — or inbound links — are links that refer to your website or page from external pages. A lot of Google's algorithm is based on that. Back links make sure that search engines see you as a referential source.
However, link building takes time and can’t be forced. But here’s a simple trick to help you reclaim existing site mentions. Google Alert crawls the web in search of mentions of your brand. If you spot one without a back link, why not ask the webmaster to link back to you?
6. Find low-hanging keyword fruit
Wonder which of your keywords score best? Google Search Console will help you do the job. Go to 'Performance' and at the very bottom you will find queries. This will tell you which keywords yield high visibility, without having to invest your time in them. Optimise your page for this keyword to get a higher ranking in search results.
7. Ditch duplicate content
If there’s one thing Google really can’t stand, it’s duplicate content. It will cost you a few steps on the ranking ladder. If you have multiple pages containing exactly the same content, it might be better to adapt the copy on the page duplicate(s).If you’d rather not adapt the content of your duplicate page, you can also insert a canonical tag in the <head> section of the page. This is a way of letting search engines know you’re aware that you have the same content published on multiple pages and suggesting what page you actually want indexed in search results.
8. Speed up the loading time of pages
Wonder how fast your web pages load? Just run them through Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool end get suggestions to optimise the speed of your site. Even if you can only win a second, Google will reward you for it with better results.
9. Improve internal anchor texts
Check the words you use to put links in your content. Make sure that anchor text is as clear as can be. Avoid generic ‘click here’ or ‘read more’ links. Use the keyword you want to score with as an anchor text. By being descriptive, you will help Google crawl your content.
10. Take advantage of internal linking
There’s no doubt that inbound links are very important. But did you know that internal linking — from one page of your website to another — has proven its SEO merits as well? Because it offers a bird’s eye overview of all your content, Google crawls the sitemap of your website. Next, Google looks into your homepage and follows the first link it encounters, then the second, … By following those links, Google checks how your different pages are linked together and what their internal relationship is. Want certain pages to rank high on result pages? Be sure to create internal links to them whenever it’s logical and relevant.
Every marketeer covets the top spots on search engine result pages. The race is always on, so if you want to stay ahead of the pack, it’s best to regularly check if your content is still fit to claim a high-ranking position with Google and the likes. Always try to anticipate what your audience is searching for — and how they search for it — and adapt you content accordingly.