SEO for beginners - a few things to check.
After a couple of years in the business, there are a few themes that I’ve noticed and a couple that I can’t help but laugh a little at. One of them is this question soon after a client’s website has launched: “Why isn’t my website coming up on page 1 in Google?”.
The short answer is that Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) takes TIME, particularly if it’s a new domain name you’ve just activated.
The longer answer is that there are hundreds of factors that Google takes into account when determining the ranking order of websites. Search engines need to crawl, index and understand your content, then start measuring how ‘useful’ it is compared to other websites, which is how you’ll get your ranking.
In Google’s own words:
Search engine optimisation is often about making small modifications to parts of your website. When viewed individually, these changes might seem like incremental improvements, but when combined with other optimisations, they could have a noticeable impact on your site's user experience and performance in organic search results.
Here are a few simple things you can check:
1. Check your URLs.
I often come across websites with poorly structured URLs. For instance, when you look at the browser, the page might look like www.website.com/newpage1 You should use that URL to accurately describe what Google will find on that page, or at least not default to the website’s page names.
2. Break down your copy.
Google prefers website copy that is broken into smaller paragraphs with headings, rather than big chunks of text with no hierarchy. And I promise you that your audience will prefer that too!
3. Name your images.
If you look at the image files on your computer what do you see? (I.e. something like 1468379992.640x0c.jpg). Change this to something like ‘interior designer melbourne’ and upload it to your site, then also change the ‘alt’ text, which specifies the alternative text for the image that will be shown if for some reason the image itself can’t be. Naming your images and using alt text makes it easier for image search projects like Google Image Search to better understand your images.
4. Don’t use graphics instead of text
And be wary: don't use images to display important content. Google doesn’t recognise or read text that is contained in graphics. For instance, rather than uploading an image of your cafe’s menu go for a PDF document, or even better, have the text typed out onto your actual website. The same goes for graphics - avoid these and opt for text on your website instead.
5. Focus on value for your audience
The most important thing is to give your audience useful content. Focus on providing an information-rich site, sticking to one topic/service/theme for each page, and think about the words that your audience would type into Google to find you, then include these on your site. If your website provides useful content, you’ll attract visitors and they will spend time on your site.
And here are a couple of important things to prioritise:
1. If your website isn’t already mobile friendly, it’s time to change that.
These statistics from Google illustrate the importance of mobile optimisation:
- Today, more people search on mobile phones than computers.
- People are five times more likely to leave a site if it isn’t mobile-friendly.
- Over half of mobile users will leave a website if it takes longer than three seconds to load.
If your website is currently not responsive across devices or takes a long time for each page to load, you’re killing not only your chances of ranking highly organically in search results but also your users’ experience.
2. Keep your website updated with fresh content.
Google’s algorithm favours freshly updated content. This is why having a blog or news page is a great tactic to help your search result ranking. However, it also gives your audience a reason to visit your website AND spend time on your site (two other things that Google’s algorithm likes). So introduce regular blog posts into your marketing strategy.
If you’re interested in reading more about SEO from Google itself, take a read of this SEO Starter Guide here and if you’d like to discuss a fresh new website or a content strategy for your business, let’s talk! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to get the ball rolling.