Applying SEO to your website can be a daunting task, I know this for a fact when I created my first website. However, it’s essential to ensure that your website is visible to your audience.
By improving your website’s ranking on search engines, you’ll reach more potential customers and drive more traffic to your site. If you’re not a tech geek don’t worry – there are basic ways to get started with SEO.
Keep reading to learn some essential tips on how to optimize and apply SEO to your website.
What is SEO?
SEO is a digital marketing technique to help websites stand out from their competition and reach more of their target audience online.
This is done by improving the code and structure of the website so that it can be read by search engine crawlers. A well-optimised site will appear higher in the search results, making it more likely for users to click on your site. This means more traffic for you and better business opportunities.
Why is SEO Important?
Just think about the last time you made a search on Google. Did you go past the first page of the results?
The answer is most likely no, and if you did it wouldn’t be often. This is why SEO is so important because you could be losing out on a lot of potential traffic opportunities.
Performing Keyword Research
Before applying SEO to your website, one of the key foundational steps is performing thorough keyword research. This involves researching relevant terms and phrases that potential customers may use. This could be when they are trying to find content or products related to your business.
Remember, keep the audience search intent at heart – really think about what it is they might be searching for and then incorporate those terms into your website’s content.
Keywords can either be short or long. Short keywords are known as “head” keywords and consist of only 1-2 words. Longer keywords are known as “long-tail” keywords and usually consist of 3-5 words.
Long-tail keywords usually have less search volume, this is because they are specific. However, this can mean there is lower competition and increase your chances of ranking for them. Additionally, this is a good sign that there is more search intent by the user who performed this search which can make traffic more valuable.
Let’s show an example for the keyword “gardening”:
This word has a very high search volume of 110,000 a month. However, the SEO difficulty is 72, which means there is more competition in the search engine. If the competition are larger organisations it can make it very hard to outrank them. This is why focusing on long-tail keywords can be a sensible approach for smaller businesses.
If you take a longer version of the same word such as “gardening tools for sale”, despite the search volume being less the SEO difficulty is only 36. Less of your competitors are going for this word so it can increase your chances of ranking.
Evidently, as this is also a transactional keyword users who search for this are more inclined to make a purchase at this stage in comparison to just “gardening”.
How is Keyword Research Performed?
You can perform keyword research in a variety of ways – Google’s Adwords Keyword Planner tool is a great place to start as this is free to use.
Alternatively, I recommend you use some of these other great paid keyword research tools for a more detailed analysis to discover search volumes, ranking difficulty and tons of other SEO metrics.
You can use the free versions or activate the free trials to get a feel for each of the tools.
Once you have selected the keywords you want to use it’s time to apply them to your content. Content is one of the most important factors to consider when it comes to improving SEO for your website.
Where Do I Place Keywords?
Each page or blog post of your website should target a different keyword. This stops the search engine from thinking your site is irrelevant for a particular term.
Ideally, these are the locations keywords should be implemented:
- Post title
- The slug/URL
- The introduction
- Throughout the main body text
- The end of the post
- Image tags
Remember, keywords should be implemented naturally into text, not forced. This is because there is a risk of “keyword stuffing”. Keyword stuffing is a negative ranking factor as it basically looks like you are trying to manipulate the search engine.
Create Quality Content Focussing on User Intent
Creating quality content with the right user intent is an essential part of SEO for your website. User intent refers to the reason why someone has searched for a particular keyword or phrase – are they looking for information, products, services, or something else?
For example, if you’re optimising a page for a service-related keyword, make sure your content reflects that. Provide value to the reader by answering their questions and providing helpful advice.
Focussing on content that matches their search query entices them to take action on your website. That way, you’ll not only be satisfying users’ needs but also optimising for search engines. It’s a win-win for both parties.
How to Create Quality Content to Improve Your Website SEO
While there isn’t a set “checklist” for producing high-quality content, it is helpful to keep these points in mind when writing articles to ensure you are doing your best to improve their overall quality:
- Write for your audience, not yourself
- Make content engaging, informative and easy to read
- Keep content up to date
- Include relevant images – self-created ones are better
- Add your own perspective to content
Optimise Page Titles and Meta Descriptions for Website SEO
Optimising page titles and meta descriptions for SEO is an effective way to boost your ranking in search engine results pages. The page title and description is the first thing the user sees in the search results.
Think of it as a first impression. You only get one chance to make a good first impression so make it count.
How to Optimise Titles & Meta Descriptions for Your Website
Page titles should be descriptive but concise, and should include the keyword phrase you’re trying to target. As a general rule of thumb, the optimum page title length should be between 30 and 60 characters.
Meta descriptions are a few sentences and should provide a brief summary of what’s on offer. While meta descriptions can be any chosen length, it’s important to note that Google will only show between 155 to 160 characters in total. Therefore, it’s best to create one within this character limit because information can go unseen otherwise.
Make sure both of these elements contain keywords relevant to your web page, as well as clearly communicating what potential visitors will find when they click through.
Here is an example of a well-optimised title and meta description:
This SERP listing provides the relevant information that allows the user to understand what the page will offer. The title, URL, and meta description are all displayed in an easily digestible format. This enhances the user experience by giving them the ability to make an informed decision about whether to visit the page or not.
Utilise Internal Links to Build your Website Hierarchy
Internal links are essential to the functionality of your site and are important for navigation. Creating internal links between pages allows you to establish relevance between them and signal to search engines that they are all related.
This helps build authority, gives context to your content, and encourages greater engagement with your website. Strategically placing internal links to important articles can help boost your rankings for the target page as well.
How to Apply Internal Links to Your Website Content
If using WordPress, adding internal links is really simple. Here’s how:
Begin by accessing the post where you’d like to add links and selecting “edit”. This is accomplished by navigating to the WordPress Dashboard > Posts > All Posts > Edit
Secondly, find the text you want to link to and highlight it. Click the link icon.
Finally, add the link URL and hit enter on the keyboard. Ensure “open in new tab” is unchecked.
You can avoid confusing your audience by letting them use your website’s navigation system instead of opening new tabs unnecessarily. It is recommended to reserve the “open in new tab” option for outbound links that direct users to a different website.
Once the link is added, hit the Publish/ Update button to make it visible to your audience.
Apply SEO to your Mobile Website
Mobile optimisation is an important element of SEO and should also be a top priority when it comes to designing your website. With more people relying on their mobile devices, having a website that is optimised for smaller screens is essential to ensuring visitors have a positive experience and can interact with the content of your site seamlessly.
Optimise Website Images
When adding images to your website, it’s important to make sure they are understandable to both people and search engines. Images help make your website visually appealing, improve user experience, and make your site more engaging to look at.
Images can be large in size, particularly high-quality photographs, which can slow down your website. The aim of image optimisation is to achieve the perfect balance between quality and size.
The image below was initially 1.3 MB in size, but after using TinyPNG to compress it, the size was reduced by 61% to only 507.5 KB.
As you can see, the image quality is still excellent for website display.
WordPress Image Optimisation Plugins
If you are using WordPress, the good news is that there are several plugins available that can compress images with minimal loss of quality. Here are some plugins that I suggest:
Applying Image Alt Text
Image alt text, also known as “alt tags” is essentially a brief description of what the image is. Search engine crawlers cannot visually see images, therefore, this is where alt text comes into play.
Alt text provides a brief explanation of what the image is about and how it relates to the text content. This helps search engines understand your content better.
Here is an example of image alt text from the compressed image shown earlier:
Install an SSL Certificate
SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer. This is an encrypted link between a web server and a web browser and is vital when applying SEO to your website. Having an SSL certificate installed ensures visitors’ data is secure when they are accessing your website as it helps to protect any information provided by users.
SSL certificates are shown by the small padlock icon displayed at the top of the web browser next to the URL, you may have noticed this before.
Alternatively, you can check if a site is secure by seeing if the website address starts with “HTTPS” instead of just “HTTP”.
On Google Chrome, clicking on the padlock icon allows you to view the certificate if you want to find out additional information.
It’s important to acquire an SSL certificate for your website because it gives your visitors peace of mind when accessing your website. Visitors want their data to be safe.
As of July 2018, Google labelled all sites not using HTTPS as “Not Secure” despite whether they stored sensitive information or not. This type of warning can scare visitors away before they even get the chance to see what the site has to offer.
How to Obtain an SSL Certificate
In order to acquire an SSL certificate, you must enlist the services of a certificate authority (CA), which is an external organization that produces the certificates. Following this, they then sign them using their own private key.
Getting an SSL certificate can be expensive, especially for websites that deal with a lot of sensitive information. However, many providers offer free trials or low-cost options for a lower level of encryption, making it affordable for most blog-based sites and businesses.
To help you get started, I recommend looking at these providers:
After obtaining your SSL certificate, it is important to check with your hosting provider to determine the proper steps for applying it to your website.
Conclusion: Keep Applying SEO to Your Website
It’s crucial to keep in mind that applying SEO to your website is not a one-time task. You must continually invest effort to fully capitalise on the benefits that organic traffic can provide. Consistently creating new, relevant, and high-quality content that satisfies user search intent can significantly enhance your Google rankings.
Implementing the SEO techniques outlined in this article into your strategy can establish a solid foundation and enable you to concentrate on more intermediate and advanced SEO tasks.