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6 ways to improve your SEO

  • By 3chillies

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is one of the most important aspects of website management. Every web team wants to ensure their website is found by the right people with the right search intent in order to generate visits and ultimately leads to conversions, with people buying products or getting in touch. When people talk about SEO, they predominantly mean configuring your site and its content so it is optimised around Google, which counts for the vast majority of web searches.

The huge volume of material available on the web to read and watch means SEO is a wide, complex and consistently evolving topic which can send shivers down the spines of even seasoned marketers. For many of us, it can seem like something between a mysterious practice and a dark art. Part of the reason for this is that Google’s search and ranking algorithms are not wholly transparent and incorporate a wide array of different factors; there is a lot you can do or attempt to do to improve SEO, but it’s not a precise science which can guarantee a good page ranking.

How do we do SEO?

Clients often ask us what they can do to improve their SEO. While there is not enough space to do full justice to this wide and complex topic, we’re going to explore it over two article, covering some of the SEO basics to consider, and then the world of “Core Web Vitals” - aspects of site performance that are taken into account in Google algorithms.

If you want to explore SEO in more detail, there are months’ worth of reading for you on the web. A great starting point is “The Beginner’s Guide to SEO” from highly respected SEO experts Moz, which is a deep dive into the topic across seven chapters, starting by explaining many of the basic concepts.

Improving SEO involves a range of different practices covering both site and content management, but it’s worth remembering that Google algorithms generally reward valuable and unique content, as well as sites that offer a good user experience. Focusing on successful, well-written content that serves a purpose will help with your SEO.

However, there are other measures you can take. Below, we list some of the basics to consider.

1. Make sure Google is searching for your site

Every website has some basic tactics which need to be covered in order to support SEO. Your digital agency will likely have set these up for you, but it’s always worth checking if in doubt. The things they can do include:

  • Creating a Google Search Console (GSC) account to help monitor the pages Google is indexing
  • Submitting an XML sitemap to Google through the GSC, which can help Google find your most important content
  • Using a robot.txt file to inform Google and other search engines where to find and not find content across your site
  • Using the URL parameters feature within GSC to tell Google which URLs to use if you have multiple for the same content

This is just the tip of the iceberg on some of the measures that can be carried out. Again, speak to your agency. The article from Moz on how search engines work is a good starting point for researching the topic.

2. Focus on keywords

Search keywords are the terms and phrases that users are entering into Google to perform searches. Effectively, you want to make sure your site and content uses the right keywords that are recognised by Google, who can then match your content to the users who are searching for those terms. A key aspect of SEO management is trying to optimise pages so they contain the right keywords.

While there are tools which help highlight the kind of keywords your competitors are using and can suggest the words and phrases to add to your content, just getting into the habit of considering search keywords when you prepare your content makes a real difference. What kind of terms are your visitors likely to be using to search for your page or article? Using these words in titles, headings, meta descriptions and body content will make a difference; once you get used to focusing on keywords, you can start to be more precise about where you place these phrases to improve SEO.

3. Getting the right content

It might sound obvious, but your content itself will have a major impact on SEO. When your content is unique, valuable, well-written and orientated towards the kind of queries that users are looking for via Google searches, you have a better chance of achieving good SEO. When you also consider this in conjunction with keywords, you have the roots of a more comprehensive approach to making your content Google-friendly.

For example, some sites deliberately focus on pages that answer basic common questions about a particular topic, such as “What is SEO?” or “SEO: a basic guide” (see more information about title meta tags below). These are more likely to be picked up by Google’s algorithms, especially if they provide clear and unambiguous answers to popular search questions. Sometimes, these pages have been principally created for SEO purposes.

4. Meta tags

Every web page has meta tags - additional information about your page contained in the HTML code that Google uses to both display search results and consider the ranking of a page. Often, your content management system will have fields where you can enter some of the more important meta tag information that will then render as HTML when a page is published.

There are actually many different types of meta tags, many of which are less important for SEO purposes. However, three are particularly important:

  • Title: This is the title of the page that appears in the listing on the search results page of Google, and is also used in the ranking algorithm. The best titles are usually under 60 characters and could include keywords that you are focusing on.
  • Meta description: This is the description of the page that appears in Google’s search results telling a user what the page is about. The meta description is not actually taken into account in Google’s search algorithm, but is what a user may consider when deciding whether to click through to a page or not. A meta description must be 160 characters or fewer.
  • Canonical tag: This is a tag which defines which page Google should consider when there are duplicate pages, and avoids indexing duplicates.

5. Get backlinks

Backlinks are links from another website through to yours usually set up because your content is useful and worth referencing. Google likes backlinks, and uses them positively in its algorithms because it sees them as citations - a sign that your content has value, and is regarded as authoritative and useful. Generating backlinks is not always in your control – you can’t dictate whether other sites are going to link to you. However, if you can generate high-value and unique content, as well as contact partners, media outlets and other third parties who might want to link to it, you can create opportunities for backlinks that have a positive impact on SEO.

6. Focus on core web vitals

Core web vitals are three major elements of your site’s user experience that Google has earmarked as being essential, therefore contributing to SEO. These are the loading speed of your page, the visual stability of your site and how quickly the site responds when a user interacts with it. Core web vitals are an important topic in their own right, and we cover them in detail in a separate post.

Stuck with SEO? Get in touch.

SEO is a wide and complex subject, and there are many things you can do to boost it. If you’d like to discuss how to find out if your site is optimised for SEO, then get in touch!

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