Designing and developing a website is the easy part... the hard part (and the most neglected part) is getting your website to rank highly in search engines so that it can attract organic traffic to your business. This organic traffic will then get to see your beautifully designed website and hopefully convert into a lead or customer.
This list will show you how to improve SEO; from on-page to off-page and everything in between. Let's take a look at 21 tips to improve your site's SEO so you can start climbing the rankings.
1. Optimize For Mobile
If Google is putting mobile first, then so should you.
Make sure that your website is mobile responsive and doesn't lose any functionality on different sized screens. If your website isn't working on smaller screens, invest some time to make sure that it is fixed.
If getting penalised by Google doesn't scare you into taking action, then maybe this stat will. 70% of internet traffic now comes from mobile phones. If your site is not mobile friendly you could be ignoring almost three-quarters of your potential traffic.
2. Publish High-Quality Content
Pop quiz. How many blog posts are published each day?
According to Hostingfacts.com, 4 million new blog posts are published to the internet every day. If you are not creating high-quality content, then your site is going to get lost amongst the vast array of average content on the internet.
Focus on publishing content that helps your intended audience. Answer the questions that they are asking and provide resources to use so that they can get their intended results faster. To do this, create content that is targeted towards a keyword that your target audience is searching for. For example, if you are a digital agency that helps businesses with their SEO, you may choose to write an article about "How To Improve SEO" because this is a question that is regularly searched for in Google.
It has been shown in the past that longer content tends to rank better in search engines, but you need to maintain quality. Don't produce a 10,000-word behemoth that is 9,000 words of filler. A rule I tend to follow is to make your content as long as it needs to be and not a word more.
3. Update Your Content Regularly
Search engines love new content. However, they also love updated content. Going back over your already published content and updating it is a way to show that you are keeping your website relevant.
You can update your content in any way that is fit. If there are new updates in your field, go back to your old relevant content and mention the change. If statistics are updated, find the old statistics and input the new ones. The list could go on but I'm sure you get the picture.
Make a habit of updating your content. Depending on your publishing frequency, you may choose to give your content a refresh every 6-12 months.
4. Make Your Content Easy To Read
Have you ever opened up a website and just been bombarded with a poorly formatted wall of text? I think we all have. Write your content in an easy to read format.
Some considerations include:
- Using a font that is easy on the eye
- Making the text big enough to read easily
- Use short paragraphs and leave adequate spacing in between
- Use headers to break up your content in easy to consume chunks
- Insert images to break up text
- Be aware of the readability of your writing
A tool that I use to proofread my content is Grammarly. It'll tell you your reading score and give you tips on how to improve your writing.
5. Publish New Content Consistently
I mentioned it above, but just to reiterate, search engines love new content. It gives them more content to index, which in turn gives them more opportunity to learn what is relevant to the search queries that users are searching for.
You do not need to be publishing new content every day (however, it probably wouldn't hurt) but just be consistent. Pick a number that you can commit to each month and just hit that number each and every month.
I tend to recommend that a minimum of 4 blog posts per month is a good place to start, which is 1 per week. In saying that, HubSpot data shows that businesses that post 16+ blog posts per month get 3.5x as much traffic and 4.5x as many leads as those that post 0-4 times per month.
Pick your publishing frequency and commit to producing high-quality content.
6. Optimize Fringe Content
Fringe content is content that is just outside the top 3 search engine results. It is content that you are already ranking for but, for whatever reason, you just haven't cracked those top positions that attract the bulk of the traffic.
A good way to get some quick-wins with SEO is to target your fringe content, i.e. anything ranking between positions 3 and 25, and spending a bit of time optimizing it.
This could include:
- Refreshing the content
- Building some backlinks
- Doing some competitive analysis on the top ranking content
- Turning that content into skyscraper content
... and the list could go on.
Identify your fringe content and work down the list, starting with the content that is closest to the top 3 positions.
7. Include Your Keyword In The Title
Every page on your website should be built around a target keyword, with some supporting keywords thrown in. This commonly missed on-page SEO tip just means that your target keyword should feature in the title of your page.
For example, if you target keyword is "mittens for cats", then your title may be "7 reasons why mittens for cats are important". A word of warning here though. Make sure that it grammatically makes sense. I've seen a few pages that have crammed the keyword into the title and it didn't really make sense.
Remember to make it easy to read.
8. Make Sure Every Page Has A Meta Description
We do dozens of SEO audits on websites each week and this is by far the most missed on-page SEO ranking factor. Meta descriptions are important to help search engines understand what is on your site. More often than not, search engines will use the meta description as the text that it displays in search results.
Make sure that your meta description includes your target keyword and is descriptive enough so that it will entice people to click through to your site.
9. Give Every Image A Title
They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, however, search engines aren't that good at interpreting those words yet so they need a little help from us. Give every image on your site a relevant title (including keywords, if it makes sense) so that search engines know what the image is about.
As appealing as 'IMG093321' is as a title, your SEO will appreciate it if you called it something relevant like 'Man Showing Tips To Improve SEO'.
10. Create Alt Text For All Images
Flowing on from the above, Alt Text is a snippet of data that search engines use to understand what is contained within an image. Alt text is visible to us when an image fails to load for whatever reason, however, search engines are constantly crawling the Alt text of images on your site.
Give every image on your site some Alt Text that includes keywords (where it makes sense).
11. Improve Your Loading Speed
Your site's loading speed is a ranking factor. Studies have shown that slow loading sites provide a poor experience for users so search engines don't rank them as highly. Despite the ranking penalties, you should also be concerned about your customer experience. Websites that take longer than 3 seconds to load have a much higher bounce rate than quick websites, with the majority of bounced users never returning.
A few ways to increase page load speed is to use caching, using GZIP compression to get rid of any redundant code, and limiting the use of excess plugins. Image optimization can also help and we'll cover that in the next tip.
You can find instructions on how to test your page speed here.
12. Optimize Your Images
Most people are visual learners so you should be including images on your site to communicate your message. Unfortunately, image files can be large so they do have a tendency to slow down your website. We already covered off why having a slow website can be bad, so let's just jump straight on in with how to optimize them.
To optimize your images, you can resize or compress them. There are plenty of plugins that make this easy, but I use EWWW Image Optimizer.
13. Include Outbound Links
I've spoken to many business owners who are reluctant to link out from their website or content, thinking that it will take someone off their site. However, outbound links should be used to acknowledge credible sources of information. Generally, you'd want to source a non-competing website, however, outbound links are a way to increase your website's credibility with search engines.
For example, in this blog so far, I have acknowledged and linked out to Moz, HubSpot, HostingFacts, and Search Engine Land. Whilst these sites all contain relevant information to my audience, they are not direct competition.
Don't be afraid to link out to high-authority websites in your niche. This allows you to use their information while crediting them appropriately. It will also build the authority of your site over time since you are linking in a natural way that a website is expected to.
14. Structure Your Site Content
Site structure is important to help search engines understand what pages on your site should be given the most authority. There are few business owners that have thought about site structure before engaging us but it is an important consideration.
The easiest way to structure your site is within Content Clusters. A content cluster has one pillar post/page and many supporting pieces of content around it. It's a way to structure content around a central theme. The pillar post is usually longer and covers the topic more broadly, while the supporting posts tend to go more in-depth around a specific area while linking back to the pillar page for the topic.
Image Source: HubSpot.com
For example, you are reading a pillar post right now. I've brainstormed a number of ways how to improve SEO and I've summarised them in point format. Soon I will start writing blogs (supporting content) for each of the points in this article. They'll be shorter, probably around 500 words, but will dive deeper into the topic. The supporting content will all point back to this pillar page.
15. Use Different Media
A good way to improve the SEO of your site is to incorporate different types of media. For example, you may have a written blog that also has an explainer video embedded in it. This explainer video could be hosted on YouTube with a link back to your original article on your blog.
This can break up your content and make it more user-friendly while also creating another potential traffic source through the world's second biggest search engine, YouTube.
16. Promote Social Sharing
There are many arguments for and against whether having your content shared on social media affects your SEO. Bing has confirmed that social sharing may influence their rankings while Google is a bit more tight-lipped on the matter.
Either way, making your content easily sharable is a way to get more traffic to your site.
17. Identify Your Business
Being easily contactable shows search engines that your website can be trusted. This is done by having your contact details prominently displayed on your site. This can be done via a 'contact us' page or having your details in the footer of your site.
It's also important that your business information matches up across the internet. We refer to this as your NAP, which stands for Name, Address, Phone Number, and this information should be consistent across business directories and other sites that mention your business.
18. Fix Broken Links
Broken links provide a poor user experience and can indicate to a search engine that your website isn't being maintained. Make sure that any broken links are fixed.
Unfortunately, broken links will pop up on your site from time-to-time. Ensure that you have a custom 404 page when that happens encouraging people to click back to the home page or another page on your site.
Make sure that you check for broken links on a regular basis.
19. Create A Sitemap
Another common missing piece of the SEO puzzle that we come across is a missing sitemap. A sitemap is a file that sits on your website and tells search engines how your site is structured. Sitemaps ensure that your website is crawlable by the search engine 'robots' which means that more of your content will be picked up and new content may be ranked faster.
20. Use Structured Data
Structured data (also referred to as schema markup) helps to classify your content so that search engines know exactly what your website is about. If search engines have a better idea of what is on your site, they can do a better job at ranking it for relevant search queries.
21. Use Google Analytics
If you're making improvements to your site, you're going to want to have a way to track the impact of those improvements. Google Analytics is a free platform that will give you access to a large amount of your website's data. This will help you understand how people find and interact with your site, so it's incredibly useful.
If you haven't installed Google Analytics on your site yet, head on over to their site and follow the instructions to get set up.
BONUS: Build Backlinks
I've mentioned backlinks above, but I have unintentionally left it off the list. So, I thought I'd include it as a bonus tip. Backlinks are the key factor for off-page SEO and are basically a voting system for search engines. Every backlink is a 'vote' for your site and votes from higher authority sites are worth more.
As your content library starts to take shape, you should implement a backlink building strategy.
BONUS: Tailor Your Slug
The slug is the last part of your URL that identifies a specific page on your site. Your slug can be edited, so I encourage you to include your keyword in your slug. Again, many sites that we audit have not tailored their slugs, so this could be a quick win for you to overtake your competition.
Many of the points on this list are relatively quick to implement. Even if you choose one point per week to focus on, you would see some measurable improvements in your SEO over time. So do me a favour... don't be like some people who will read a blog and do nothing. Be one of those exceptional people who go ahead and implement the things they learn.
Finally, keep in mind that SEO is both an accelerating and compounding strategy. This means that it may take a few months for you to see results, however, once they start flowing, your results will be more noticeable over time. Your results will also compound, meaning that what you do now will compound over time, potentially delivering better rankings as your site matures.
With this in mind, don't delay. Get started with improving your SEO today.