Most online experiences start with a search engine. According to the latest statistics, Google gets over 57,000 searches every second─that’s close to 2 trillion per year. If your website isn’t on the first page of results, people probably aren’t going to find it.
Search engines are our primary source to get information on everything. If you want people to find your website and business, you need to make search engine optimization (SEO) a top priority. These are some of the most important tips that you should know to boost your SEO:
1. Conduct an SEO Audit.
You wouldn’t start repairing a car without identifying what is wrong with it first, would you? You don’t want to start making changes to your website until you have identified the parts that need fixed. Figure out what state it is in. Conducting an audit can help you assess your site’s ranking, see how much traffic you get and where it is coming from, identify issues that you didn’t know existed and much more.
Conducting a thorough SEO audit is an extensive process that may take some time, and you’ll likely want to hire an agency or SEO expert to help you out. But, it is worth it. An effective audit will give you actionable data that you can use to develop a better SEO strategy and make changes that will have a significant impact.
2. Perform keyword research.
Keyword research will essentially tell you how people are finding your site. What keywords are they putting into search engines? You can start by brainstorming ideas based on your industry, name and product and typing them into Google. Take note of the search suggestions that pop up.
Another way to get keyword ideas is to use Google’s Keyword Planner in Adwords. Put in your website URL and the tool will generate a list of suggested keywords. You can also use the tool to see what keywords your competitors are optimizing for by inputting their website URL.
Also, if you are a local business, remember to include location-based keywords, especially if your primary audience is local. When you conduct research, remember that you want to find and optimize for keywords that have a high volume of search but a low level of competition.
3. Optimize HTML title tags.
When you search, the first blue line that appears in results will be the title tag. This is a HTML code that serves acts as the name for a page. How you name your page affects how search engines find it.
You can easily find the title tags of your pages by right clicking and selecting “View page source”. The title will appear in HTML code as “<title> Name </title>. For example, our homepage is titled:
<title>10twelve - Creative Agency Chicago</title>
There are few tips to keep in mind when creating SEO-worthy title tags.
● Length: Keep title tags between 50 to 60 characters long.
● Duplicates: It may be tempting to simply copy and paste the same title tags for every page, but don’t. Duplicates will lower your ranking.
● Keywords: Including keywords can be valuable, but don’t over-optimize by shoving them wherever you can. Search engines will penalize you for over-optimization.
● Relevancy: Don’t be misleading. Make sure that the title actually describes the content on the page.
Besides title tags, another HTML element to watch out for is meta tags.These don’t show up on the page itself, but describe a page’s content to search engines. These include, meta descriptions, as well as your headlines or H1-H6 tags on your blog and other pages.
When crafting meta descriptions, remember to keep them under 150 characters, include keywords and clearly describe the content. Headlines should be relevant, catchy and grab attention. For search engine visibility, keep them under 50 characters.
4. Site navigation should be user and search engine friendly.
Site navigation is an important factor in SEO, but it is often overlooked by businesses. The structure of your site helps visitors easily find what they are looking for and helps search engines index your pages. If you have good navigation, search engines can easily crawl your website and identify the most important categories. These are often visible in sitelinks, which are the categories listed under a search result that are intended to make it easier and faster for people to browse your site. For instance, if you type “10twelve” into Google, then you’ll see 6 different categories listed. These are sitelinks. If you have them, it can improve your site’s user experience and SEO.
Another navigation tip to keep in mind is the use of generic menu labels like “About Us” or “Contact”. These won’t technically hurt your SEO, but they are not doing anything to help it either. If you can incorporate a keyword while accurately and naturally describing the tab contents, then do it.
When it comes to navigation and SEO, the most important rule is to design it so that it is the best user experience possible. Conduct user experience tests on your site to make sure that it is functioning properly and that it is designed with the user in mind.
5. Keep URLs descriptive but brief.
The structure of domain names and URLs play a fundamental role in your SEO. Here are some rules for SEO-friendly URL structure:
● Create URLs that are readable. A good rule of thumb is to ask someone else to look at your URL and see if they can tell you what the page is about.
● Shorter is better. Try to keep URLs under 75 characters.
● Use keywords, but not too many. If possible, include 1 or 2 keywords in the URL, but remember, don’t over-optimize.
Your site’s URLs are one of the easiest ways that you can impact SEO, so don’t overlook them.
6. Check your site speed.
Did you know that the speed of your website is a huge factor in Google search engine ranking? Well, now you do. Check your site speed quickly with Google PageSpeed Insights tool. If the loading speed is 3 seconds or more, then it is killing your SEO rank and probably driving visitors away.
More than 40 percent of people will leave a website that doesn’t load after 3 seconds, but they really want it to load in less than 2 or even faster. If it’s a mobile device, shoot for a loading time of less than 1 second.
7. Optimize images.
How are you tagging images? Image tags factor into your SEO. If the images on your site are named with some random numbers and letters, then they are hurting your SEO. Even if they have some generic name like “table” or “people”, what is that doing to help you?
Instead, name your images with optimized keywords that also describe the image. Make sure it is in the file name, as well as the alt image text.
Search engines can’t technically see photos. They find images based on the text descriptions. Your alt-text is what search engines read when crawling for images. It is critical that you optimize your images with relevant names, so that it can be found.
8. Build quality inbound links.
Remember those spammy commenters that obviously only post to a website, blog, social media or discussion thread to throw out their link? Nobody likes them. But, until a few years ago, those annoying and shady ways to build links were still factored into algorithms and could boost search engine rankings. Not anymore.
Shady link building tactics like that will really hurt your SEO, so don’t be tempted to buy links to quickly improve your ranking. It will do the opposite. However, quality inbound links can do wonders for your SEO. Here are some legitimate ways that you can get other places to link to your site and improve your ranking:
● Guest blog
● Work with Influencers
● Real customer reviews
If you notice any inbound links from questionable or spammy sources, it is important to contact the site owner and ask them to remove them, because they can negatively impact your ranking and brand image. If you can’t contact them or you do and the links are still there, use Google’s Disavow tool to request removal.
9. Content is king.
Content is still key to any successful SEO strategy. Some SEO tactics may change or evolve over the years, but the one piece of advice that will remain is to have consistent, high-quality content. What makes great content? Here are some rules to remember:
● Longer form content tends to rank higher. Several studies have found that long form content over 1,000 words gets higher engagement.
● Always provide value. It should offer them something that they will actually want to know and that isn’t a carbon copy of your competitors.
● Be relevant. Ask why your content is relevant to target audiences.
Make sure that your content is fresh too. Look at past posts to see which topics have performed well, and use those to brainstorm new content ideas.
These tips can help you easily boost your SEO. However, we know that SEO can get complicated. Especially if you are new to it, diving into your SEO strategy can seem like venturing into a wild jungle or labyrinth where you have to claw, climb and hack your way to figure out the rules of the game. Then, once you think you have everything figured out the rules change. Google and other search engines will roll out new updates and ranking algorithms.
But, don’t worry. You don’t have to navigate your way through the SEO jungle on your own. See how 10twelve can help guide you throughout the journey.