Search engine optimisation is one of the main ways to get your website found, but making the search engines want to rank your site highly can be difficult. These ten steps will help you get well on your way to optimising your site.
Google’s keyword research tool is probably the best way to find keywords. It will help suggest relevant keywords, tell you how often they are searched (nationally and internationally), and how much competition there is.
The biggest mistake is just picking the keywords with the highest search volumes. Think carefully about relevance, and which ones are likely to be used by people actually looking for your business. Think also about competition; you may get better results with lower search volumes but less competition.
There are a few specific places that search engines like to see your keywords. Aim to use them in the title, the first paragraph and at least one subheading. When search engines find keywords in these positions, they judge it to mean the page is more relevant to the search query.
Your content should not overuse keywords; this is a common mistake and gets penalised by search engines. Neither should it be designed to appeal to search engines alone and be off putting to users. Quality, professional content will both attract search engines and engage with users.
On the subject of engaging users as well as search engines, your meta description will usually be used as the brief summary of your site that users see in search results. If you want your page to not only rank highly but attract clicks, use a good meta description.
Page titles will also be shown to users in search results, as well as crawled by search engines. Include relevant keywords, and write them in a way that will also appear to users. They should be informative without being excessively long.
If a site has been linked to by other sites, then search engines assume this must mean the site is useful and worth linking to. They are therefore ranked higher and get more visitors. Build links from other sites through tactics like offering to submit articles for blogs.
Search engines also like to see (relevant) links going out of websites, as this is often an indicator of quality content. Use a couple of links in your content, preferably leading to very reputable sites such as news outlets.
It’s easy to inadvertently hide quality content from search engines. They cannot crawl images and videos, so make sure you give them something they can crawl. Always use the “alt text” attribute for images, and include transcripts of useful content given in video form.
Websites that are regularly updated with new pages or revised content appeal to search engines. This is a sign of a website that is actively-maintained and unlikely to contain out-of-date information. Having an on-site blog is a relatively easy way to add regular new pages.