Understanding search engine optimisation - SEO tips and advice

Are people finding you online or do you feel that you get lost in searches and trail behind your competitors? Is there some secret that they know about that you don’t?

If you are not using Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), then the answer is yes and that could explain why you are lagging behind.

Anybody can use search optimisation, or at least some of the key elements to boost their website visibility in searches. It may be that you haven’t heard of SEO before now and don’t understand its importance in determining your position when somebody searches on the Internet.

SEO boosts your visibility online. Aim to be listed in the first position when somebody inputs relevant search terms into Google or other search engines, or at least on the first page.

What is search engine optimisation?

Understanding Search Engine Optimisation - what is seo or search optimisation

A search engine is simply a software program that helps a user to find websites or content on the Internet according to keywords they enter. The way that search engines display results is important to understand so that you can maximise your online visibility.

Research shows that the domains listed on the first page of Google receive 95% of the traffic while 5% will browse the second.

Some of the popular search engines are:

  • Google
  • Bing
  • Yahoo

Search Engine Optimisation is a process where you (or a professional) assess your website and determine what can be changed to improve your ranking. There are two main areas of search optimisation. The first is on your website known as on-page SEO and the second is off -page. That’s SEO tactics which help to build credibility and send the right signals to search engines to rank your page. For example, quality backlinks and submitting your site to relevant web directories are off-page factors. And meta titles and descriptions are on-page.

How does search engine optimisation work?

The key is to show the search engines, using a range of techniques, that your website deserves to be positioned high up in the rankings for the keywords determined by you. The purpose is to get as much free organic traffic as possible flowing to your website. However, you want to ensure that the keywords are relevant to your audience and the content you show them.

Algorithms are used to automatically sort the rankings using hundreds of variables called ranking factors, like popularity demonstrated by visitor numbers.

Top 11 SEO tips

The good news is that it is not difficult to apply SEO to your site once you are aware of the areas to tweak.

1. Use outbound links

Link to trustworthy content within your posts. Don’t overdo it, always make sure it is relevant and adds value to what you are saying. For instance, link to websites or other content that backs up a statement that you have made in a blog. Think of it like writing a research paper.

Remember, others will likely return the favour when they see that you are supporting their efforts and link to your content, helping to boost your rankings.

2. Speed things up

People are used to pages loading quickly. If your page speed is slow, it can not only affect your organic search results based on the performance signals of your content, but it can damage your bottom line too. Customers will browse onto other sites if your website is too slow.

According to Google. The ideal time for a page to load is 3 seconds – quicker, of course, is good too.

Try:

  • Deactivating unused plugins e.g. WordPress or other features
  • Compress images using tools like Tinypng
  • Use embedded links for video (e.g. YouTube) instead of large files that need to load
  • Check with your web host provider on your options
  • Compress or cache files using plugins or third party tools like CloudFlare

3. Prioritise human readers over search engines

SEO for humans not robots - optimise for human readers

Have you read pages that repeat keywords over and over and don’t make much sense, often feeling like you have gained nothing from reading the content? These are pages that stuff keywords trying to rank well with search engines, which don’t appeal to the consumer in mind.

They don’t convert customers to your brand or improve your return on investment or effort. Create content that engages your users so they buy your products, interact with your product and recommend you to their peers.

The most successful content helps someone solve a problem or fills a need.

It’s worth noting Google and other algorithms are also catching on to this traditional tactic. There are penalties for stuffing your content repeatedly with search terms.

4. Link to your other relevant content

Create high quality content that you can link to for other articles. That’s if you are writing a blog about a similar topic, add a hyperlink into that piece of content, so search engines and humans know where to find more relevant information.

5. Keep track of your progress

Don’t stumble around in the dark, install web analytics on your site so that you can monitor what is working and what isn’t as you modify your website. And don’t forget Google Search Console (formerly webmasters) for added insights.

6. Add relevant meta titles and descriptions

When you search for something in a search engine and get results, Google and other sites collect this information often from the meta titles and descriptions you’ve set on your website.

A meta title is a ranking factor. A meta description is not. However, a description does have an impact on whether a person clicks on your website result over another.

Meta titles and descriptions need to be unique for every page. Grab your user’s attention with descriptions that briefly describe the purpose of the page. Don’t over promise or under deliver as it’s likely they will leave your website.

If using WordPress, consider Yoast SEO to help with this.

7. Purpose built URL’s

Have you ever linked to another page or article and said “read more” or “click here.” Instead of saying these generic terms, you can tell readers and search engines what the link is about by being descriptive. For example, instead of saying “read more here” you can mention “read more about SEO factors” and link this to your content.

8. Maximise social media channels

Incorporate social media into your overall SEO strategy. Create useful content for people to share, make share buttons easy to find on your posts and ask your users to share for you. Although social media is said to impact your search ranking indirectly, it has shown to drive more people towards your website.

9. Make images matter

It’s not just the size and look of your images that is important, use appropriate keywords to name them using the alternative text (ALT) section. Remember, keep it relevant and DON’T stuff keywords for the sake of it. The ALT text section is used for web accessibility too.

10. Create new quality content

You need to create new content on a regular basis to keep your information relevant and up to date. It helps with your fresh factor that affects your search engine freshness score.

11. Update high performing content

If you have a blog post or content that ranks well already when you review Google Search Console or your web analytics, consider updating it with new information. Updating this older content can help to improve your overall ranking long term and make the most of the increased interest. If the information is still the same, you could also consider adding an infographic or video to provide readers with another option to digest the content.

Getting started

The first step is understanding your site’s current performance and how to check your website SEO. Many online resources can help you do this by entering your website URL.

However, if you need help understanding the results and creating a search optimisation strategy, contact us at LYF Solutions for SEO, and we will guide you through the process.

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