In the modern-day, the majority of online traffic is driven by search engines, making Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) one of the most important tools in a business’ kit.
In a nutshell, SEO is the practice of optimising the quality of your website to boost its ranking in search engine results and in turn the quantity of web traffic it attracts, and this is achieved through content such as text, layout, images, etc. as well as factors like loading speed and backlinks.
If you’re totally new to the world of SEO, head to our guide on ‘what is SEO and how can it help your business?’ to scrub up on the basics.
One of the most important factors in nailing SEO is regular maintenance. In the same way you wouldn’t plant a seed and then leave it to fend for itself, you can’t implement SEO techniques as a one-off and expect the traffic to roll in.
That said, we totally understand small business owners are run off their feet so SEO mightn’t always be at the top of your priority list. So to help, we’ve put together 10 SEO tips to help you keep your website healthy and traffic growing in 2020.
Loading speed is a ranking factor for search engines because if a website takes an age to load it’s super frustrating to users, in fact, over 50% of people would give up on a site if it took more than three seconds to load.
Google, and other search engines, take the user experience very seriously, so a healthy website needs to have quick loading times, but how do you check your site’s performing? One option is to use Google’s PageSpeed Insights.
It’s really quite simple, just pop your website’s URL into the tool and it’ll let you know how fast it loads, plus it’ll give you some pointers on how to improve - including things like deleting unnecessary files and compressing images. The best news - it’s totally free to use.
Google favours fresh content, so if you set up your website with SEO in mind several years ago and haven’t done much with it since, chances are it’s affecting your rankings.
More often than not ‘old content’ refers to blogs and articles, so if you’ve got any on your site go back over them and highlight any that are in need of a little TLC. You can freshen up content in the following ways:
Another important factor in keeping your content fresh is to regularly post new content as search engines are always looking to display the most relevant pages.
A meta tag is a snippet of text that describes the content within a page, and they sit at the top of each page on your website. They’re one of the first things that a search engine spider will see when indexing the pages of a website, so it’s important they include keywords and explain what the page is, so the spider knows where it should rank.
Nail your meta tags and you’ll help boost user click-through rate, which in turn can boost your ranking in search results, and you can do this by using enticing language, keywords, and selling your business’ USPs.
One thing Google hates is duplicate content, so it’s important you check your meta tags aren’t duplicated across your site. If they are, it confuses Google and you’ll end up with two pages with 50% ranking power rather than one page with 100% - it harms your SEO.
So, to keep your website healthy make sure your meta tags are on their A-game and not duplicated.
What would you do if you were looking for something on Google and the first page you clicked on returned an ‘error 404’ message? You’d move on to the next search result, and you’re not alone - 73% of people would abandon a site in this situation.
This links back to the all-important user experience again, and search engines will not favourably rank a website littered with broken links. So, to boost your website’s health you need to dig out any offenders.
You can do this manually or use a tool such as Monitor Backlinks’ HTTP Header Status Check. All you need to do is copy and paste your site’s URL into the search bar and it’ll tell you the status of all your pages. If you do find any issues, rectifying them can be as simple as redirecting said pages to another internal URL.
We alluded to duplication already when discussing meta tags, but the same principle applies to your entire website, and it’s not just inter-site duplication but externally too. If another website has ripped your content off word for word, as annoying as it is, you’ll get penalised in search results.
Finding duplicate content within your own site might be easy enough to do manually, but when it comes to external pages no one has time to hunt out copy-cats. Luckily there’s someone who’ll do it for you - Copyscape.
Using their tool you can scan the internet and get reports of any like-for-like content and then act on it by re-arranging structure, re-wording content, editing links, etc. This’ll help Google recognise your site as the original and boost your ranking.
Top tip: If you do come across a website that’s ripped off your content, you can report them to Google.
Backlinks from other sites to yours are one of the fundamentals of SEO. Get them from other top-notch sites and you’re onto a winner because it demonstrates your authority as a source of reliable knowledge. However, if they come from poor quality sites they can damage your reputation by association, so it’s important to tread carefully.
This isn’t the most straightforward step to take, but it’s an important one. Use a resource like Monitor Backlinks and get a list of all the sites that are linking to you, dig out the low-quality ones and disassociate yourself from them using the tool.
Good to know: You can get a free trial with this tool so it doesn’t need to cost you a penny.
Keywords are the words and phrases most commonly used by search engine users, so it’s super important you stay up to date with the latest. Even if you took keywords into account when setting up your site, they can change regularly, so use a tool like Google Trends to discover which words are gaining and decreasing in popularity.
Once you know what’s hot and what’s not you can use this information to ensure the content throughout your site is optimised and boost your chances of being found.
Google Analytics is the Adonis of the web analytics arena, it’s free to use and will give you heaps of valuable information about the performance of your website, so whether you’re already set up or a total newbie, this is a friendly reminder to make the most of this tool.
Within your account, you’ll be able to see on which pages users are most frequently leaving your site and you can use this information to improve your content. If you have a search function you’ll have access to all the search terms used too, arming you with invaluable data you can use to give consumers what they want, and heaps more.
For a deeper dive into the world of Google Analytics and how to use to it improve your website head here.
If you’ve got social media accounts for your business (and you should!), put links from your social pages to your website in an effort to promote traffic and increase SEO.
Businesses often link from their site to their social pages, and that’s fine too, but the idea here is to use social networking to direct traffic to your website because the more traffic your website gets, the more it ranks in search engine results.
Last but not least, check your website is optimised for mobile users. Nearly 60% of all Google searches are now done on a mobile device, so if your site isn’t loading properly for these users it’s going to negatively impact your ranking, your traffic, and potentially your bottom line.
Remember earlier we talked about load time? Well, the same applies here, in fact back in 2018 Google introduced mobile load time as a ranking factor. So, use a tool like Google’s mobile-friendly test, and check your website’s up to scratch.
Once your website’s got a clean bill of health it’s time to check your online payment systems are in fine shape too. Whether you’re after a top-notch payment gateway, pay by link service or some expert developer support, a takepayments system could be just what the doctor ordered, so get in touch today on 08082 390206.