S-E-O… If you own your own business you’ve probably heard these three little letters but have no idea the power they hold to sky-rocket your business to exponential growth!
What is SEO?
So WHAT IS SEO? SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. This means making your site friendly for search engines like Google, Bing or Yahoo so that they can easily understand what your site is all about. When a search engine like Google understands what your site is about then they can easily rank you in the search results for keywords that relate to your business. Therefore, SEO is about finding those specific keywords and optimising your site for them so that Google can rank you for those keywords.
SEO is different to Google ads and other paid traffic as it concerns organic traffic. What is organic traffic? Well this is all the traffic coming from search engines that are not coming from paid ads. SEO is about not paying for clicks but rather working hard to get ranked by Google organically.
Your aim with using SEO is to get your website healthy and ranking in the first page of Google for the popular keywords that relate to your business’s products/services.
If you do a little research into SEO it can seem overwhelming with all the little bits and changes you need to make, believe me we’ve been there! (Learn a little bit about the history of SEO here).
But being in the business for little over 10 years we’ve learnt some insider tips that we always follow to get our clients and ourselves ranking high on Google. These tips are so straightforward that you can start improving your rankings today guaranteed!
Step-by-step guide to improving your seo
1. SETUP your important TOOLS
Google Analytics is a robust and powerful tool that can help understand what people are doing on your website. Without it you won’t know how many visitors are coming to your site, which pages or products are most popular, which pages aren’t working and so on. Because of this it is a very important tool for SEO and is free with the use of a Gmail account.
How to set up Google Analytics?
To set up your analytics account go to google.com/analytics » click Start for free » Create Property (Google shows you how to set up an analytics account here)
*Pro Tip* To find your Google Analytics tracking ID, login to your Google Analytics account and navigate to Admin » Property settings » Basic settings» Tracking ID.
Google Search Console
Google Search Console is a free service from Google that helps businesses optimise their sites for Google search. Use it to find and fix technical errors, submit sitemaps, see backlinks, and more
How to set up Google Console?
- Visit Google Search Console’s website (https://search.google.com/search-console/welcome)
- Create an account, or log in using your Google Analytics credentials.
- Next, select a property type by adding your website address to either the domain or URL prefix tab (as seen below).
- You’ll have to verify that you own your site. Preferably, verify ownership using your Google Analytics tracking ID.
And that’s it. You will also be able to access Search Console through analytics in the future via the sidebar as well.
2. Find your SEO KEYWORDS
- Find your keywords using Google search (look at suggestions for longer keywords)
*Pro Tip* you will find suggested keywords at the bottom of the search results page and they look like this:
- Use Google’s keyword finder to find popular keywords
Normally used to find Google ads keywords but just as useful for SEO keywords. It will be found in your google ads account navigate to Tools & Settings » Planning » Keyword Planner
- Type in your desired keywords to see search volumes and other data.
*Pro Tip* use specific location keywords to tap into lower competition and more specific keywords eg. Instead of focusing on the keyword “lawyer” which is highly competitive and not specific, focus on the keyword “lawyer Cape Town” so that you are not competing for huge keywords but rather reaching those people specifically looking for your services. With less competition you will also end up higher on the search results of more specific keywords.
- Find question keywords using Answer the Public (ATP)
Type in your main keywords and ATP will come up with questions related to those keywords. This is very important as these questions can be used for blog articles which further enhance your SEO standing.
3. OPTIMISE your ON-PAGE SEO
Here we map out a mini-checklist of the best on-page SEO practices you can do centered around your chosen keywords
- Heading tags– Make sure you use no more than one header tag (H1 tag) and your keyword should feature in this heading
- Feature your keyword in a few of your subheadings (H2, H3, H4 tags)
- Use your keyword in your introductory paragraph
Here is an example used from https://www.semrush.com/ and how they optimised their blog post for the keyword “ecommerce SEO”:
*Pro Tip* Orbit Media gives a great tip to check your on-page SEO by pressing Control+F to see if your keyword features in the right places on your page.
- Image optimisation and alternate text
Let Google understand what your images are about by using your selected keyword in the descriptive alt text of the image. Big Apple Media also gives some helpful tips as to how to correctly optimise your images in their blog post.
- Search-friendly URLS
Use a short URL featuring your keyword. Use internal linking and submit site maps, making your site easy to navigate and search engines can connect relevant pages together
- Meta description and title tags
Add you keywords to your meta descriptions and title tags
- Use external links– Add links to high quality sites that allow Google to see that you’re trustworthy and well-referenced.
4. Create Monthly content through the use of blogs
This helps Google understand what your site is all about. It also allows you to optimise your blogs for the SEO keywords you chose at step 2.
*Pro Tip* Remember you can get good questions to answer in blog posts from Answer the Public (ATP).
5. Make sure the site is mobile-friendly
You need to access your users where they are, and most of the time that is on mobile devices. Google prefers mobile too, therefore you need to make sure your site is mobile-friendly. You can go straight to Google console to test how mobile-friendly your site is and it also gives helpful suggestions to improve each page.
6. Fix 404 broken links
A 404 Error page or “Page Not Found” occurs when a URL is mistyped or a broken link is clicked on. 404 errors frustrate users as well as devalue your SEO efforts and impacts your rankings negatively. To find broken links you can use https://www.drlinkcheck.com/ or WordPress, which has its own broken link detector tool, and emails you when a broken link is detected.
7. Check your website’s loading speed- the faster the better
Your website’s loading speed is an important part of your SEO strategy as Google and other search engines penalise sites that load slowly. This is because users don’t like sites that load slowly and will quickly bounce off a site if it takes too long to load. Your page speed can be impacted by a number of different aspects on your site such as image size, redirects and your website’s caching. To view your page speed take a look at gtmetrics.com.
8. Start building backlinks
Building backlinks is super important for off-page SEO. Backlinks are links from one website to a page on another website. Search engines like Google use backlinks as indications of the linked-to content’s quality, so pages with a high number of backlinks tend to have high organic search engine rankings compared to those with less backlinks. These can be made by creating valuable content, such as blogs, that people will want to link to. There are many different ways to build backlinks, find out more here.
What to do from here?
So, after reading this you should have a bit more knowledge about SEO, how it effects your website’s ranking and what you can do to improve your SEO score. Because we are a professional SEO agency we can help manage your SEO checklist on a monthly basis. If you find that you understand what is going on but need a more practical to-do list for yourself then you can sign up for our DIY SEO software where you can bring your SEO changes in-house.
- Set up Google analytics
- Set up Google Search Console
- Find SEO Keywords
- Include keyword in Title tags (H1, H2, H3 etc.)
- Include keyword in introductory paragraph
- Image optimisation and alt tags
- Short URL
- Keyword in URL
- Internal linking
- Keyword in title tag
- Keyword in meta description
- External linking
- Create monthly blogs
- Website is mobile-friendly
- Fix broken links
- Check loading speed
- Build backlinks
Paula Clyde is involved in managing the SEO and Google Ads accounts at The Weblab. This means doing anything from writing new blog posts and ads to understanding the data that comes through to be able to tweak and optimize their performance.