1. Titles & Descriptions
You know when you search on Google (other search engines are available) and a list of answers appear – big blue writing with some smaller grey text underneath? Those are your titles and descriptions. If you don’t set these on your website, Google will choose something for you and it may not be exactly what you’re wanting to put across. Usually, your CMS system will have an SEO section built in either automatically on the page you’re editing or in a ‘marketing’ or ‘settings’ section. Once you’ve found your SEO option fill out your title so it’s something grabbing and informative (try to keep away from Joe Blogs | Homepage – it’s not exciting or particularly informative, why not try Joe Blogs| Home – Natural Wholefood Produce), keep it under 60 characters to ensure it all appears and doesn’t trail off.
For your metadescriptions tell the user exactly what to expect from this page on your website. Don’t keyword stuff (use keywords unnecessarily and in an unstructured manner to get attention / rank), but think about what the user is likely to want from your page and get that out there in your wording. Keep this under 160 characters.
Depending on how many images you have on your website this next tip may be quick or not so much, but either way it’s an important one – image size. Ensuring that the images on your website aren’t too big will help the load time and in turn SEO. Google likes fast loading sites and a good mobile experience and users don’t like waiting longer than a few seconds for a website to load.Check your media folder on your website and see how big your images are, if they’re bigger than 300kb you may want to start compressing them using a site like tinypng.com to make them a more suitable size for your website.
You’ll also want to make sure that they’re named properly, use the opportunity to change the name of the file but also the alt tag. ‘What is an alt tag?’ I hear you ask. An alt tag is primarily for informing readers what an image displays but it also informs Google what an image displays so is a prime SEO opportunity so ensure you use this function to provide key details about your product or service.
Check how quickly your website loads using Google Speed Test (https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/)
3. Security & Trust
Google likes a trustworthy site so make sure you have the basics in place. Start with an SSL Certificate. You can expect to pay around £10-50 per year for this and your URL prefix will change from http to https. An SSL certificate is authenticates your website’s identity and encrypts your site’s information making it more secure.
Create a XML Sitemap. Your CMS provider should have this option to do it for you, if not try a plugin or take these steps as recommended by Quick Sprout (https://www.quicksprout.com/creating-website-sitemap/). A sitemap is a blue print to your website and if Google has this up front it cuts out the hard work. You can then upload this to Google Search Console.
‘Search Engine Optimisation is all about keywords!’….well it’s not. Hopefully you know that by now by reading all of that other stuff above. SEO includes keywords and content but it’s not the be all and end all. However once you get to the content part here’s what you need to know. DON’T keyword stuff, Google recognises it and you will be penalised for it. Ensure your sentences have structure and don’t over use words unnecessarily. DO use a minimum of 500 words per page (not including any words that appear on imagery – Google can’t read this), use headings to break up copy and highlight what the content is about and DO keep your content informative, the longer you keep your users on page the better in Google’s eyes.
5. Check Your Site
This might sound obvious but check every single link on your site both on page and in your menus. Make sure that everything directs where it is meant to and there are no broken links. Check your social links are still correct and if you haven’t used that platform in a while, maybe delete it.
Check how your website looks on mobile!!! Please do this. Every single time you publish something check how it looks on mobile as chances are a lot of your traffic is coming from there and not desktop which is how you’re likely to be publishing your content. You can check how Google feels about your website on mobile by checking Google Mobile Friendly Test (https://search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly)
Favicons are the name of the little icon on your browser tab that utilises your branding to let the user know which page to click on when they’ve multiple tabs open. They also turnup when looking through your history to jog your memory of where you were. Finally, they’re a pet peeve of mine when a website doesn’t have one. It’s simple to do and improves the look of your site. Does it have a direct SEO affect? No. Does it have indirect like brand recognition, history markers and UX? Yes. So please do it, even if it’s just for my sanity. They’re 16 x 16 pixels and you should be able to upload through your settings somewhere on your CMS provider.
Bonus tip – nobody loves Google more than Google so try to ensure you have as many Google products set up as possible (though never at the risk of your website’s integrity). Google owns YouTube so try to use this for any videos, set up your Google for Business (previously Google My Business) and submit your sitemap to Google Search Console which you can also use to see where your traffic is coming from.
It can take 3, 6 or even 9 months to see the true results of improved SEO on your website however below are some basic tips for how to improve your SEO on your websites.