The world of digital marketing and especially Search Engine Optimisation changes every day and sometimes it’s a struggle to keep up or even know where to start.
However, there are some principles that remain unchanged, are quick and easy to do and deliver great results. It’s a good idea to start with these whilst you research and learn about longer-term SEO strategies.
In this blog, we give you 5 simple SEO tricks that you can apply to your business straight away. If you focus on these techniques alone, you’ll definitely improve your search rankings and drive more traffic to your site without risking a Google penalty.
Don’t want to read all of it? Skip to the bits you need here:
1. Improve Your Site Speed
Page and website speed is a critical factor for SEO and for getting your site at the top of Google’s search results. Regardless of your quality content, if you have a slow website, you will frustrate your users, discourage them from engaging and even cause them to search elsewhere.
Slow sites are also considered as untrustworthy; not just in your user’s eyes, but also Google’s, which will harm your search rankings.
According to eConsultancy, 40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load and 80% of people don’t return to try again. The infamous SEO guru, Neil Patel, explains more about how loading time can affect your bottom line.
To avoid frustrating your users, damaging your user experience, conversions and sales, follow the below tips to improve your site speed:
- Clear your site’s cache. When someone visits a website, the data that they create on each page is temporarily stored on a hard drive. This data is then used and loaded each time the user comes back to that same website, rather than sending another HTTP request back to the server. Clearing this cache and the stored data will not only speed up your content loading, but it also accommodates and delights those who frequently visit your site.
- Deactivate any plugins that you don’t use from your CMS. Whether you’re a WordPress user or your site is hosted on another Content Management System, it will more than likely come with a load of plugins and extensions that you might not use. You may as well not keep these and if one plugin is slowing your site down, you can find a faster one or remove it altogether.
- Declutter your site’s navigation bar. Not only can you communicate more effectively using a minimalistic design and delight your users, but having a simple navigation bar can also increase your site speed due to there not being as much content to load. We advise to also only display widgets that you know actually work.
- Minify files. This is the method of removing white spaces, line breaks, comments, block delimiters and other unnecessary characters from the source code of your site’s pages and content. This will help load them faster, improving the site speed and performance.
- Optimise images. If user experience and creativity are at the forefront of your mind when it comes to web design, it’s tempting to use amazing imagery that is high in resolution. However, this can really slow your site down. Even if you scale down after upload, your site will still need to load the original size, which is unnecessary. Just make sure you reduce the size before you upload to your CMS.
- Compress files. Enabling compression is like putting your site into a .zip file, which we all know is handy when receiving and sending large or groups of files. Doing the same for your website can knock off a whopping 50%-70% of your files, which is a shed load of data that your users won’t need to wait to download!
If you do all of these things, you will see that your website loads of lot quicker, which will lead to an increase in your online revenue. This is because your visitors won’t get frustrated with a slow load and will stay on your site, making them more likely to engage and convert!
Top tip: You can use Google’s free tool, PageSpeed Insights, to find out what is causing your website to load slowly. It analyses your domain URL, gives you a page speed score and a list of opportunities you can work on to improve your site speed.
2. Set Up And Start Using A Google My Business Account
A crucial step in any SEO strategy is to claim and verify your business on Google My Business. This will increase your visibility on not only local organic search results but also Google Maps, Google’s Local Pack and Local Finder.
It’s a really simple way to show your users your company’s details such as your phone number, address, opening hours and accepted types of payment.
Google has also got some neat features that will enhance your listing and grab searchers’ attention, such as Business Posts. These are similar to your social media posts, where you can showcase recent news, promotions, offers and events.
You also have the ability to provide imagery, copy, links and to choose a relevant CTA. These types of posts might be similar to those you publish on social media so adding this extra channel to your strategy should be no extra effort and should quickly give you SEO results!
There is also a way for your customers to get involved and do some work for you for free – sweet! Google encourages people who are familiar with your business to answer questions so that Google can learn more information about your company.
For example, Google could ask your users if you have a car park, provide food and drink or have wheelchair access. Simple things can make a really big difference.
Top tip: For a comprehensive guide on how to set up a Google My Business account and its features, read Moz’s blog post ‘How to Optimize Your Google My Business Listing’.
3. Write Great Meta Descriptions
A meta description is a snippet of information below the URL in a search result. The purpose is to describe the contents of the page it links to or, if it directs searchers to your homepage, it should outline who you are and what your company offers. If the right language is used, it should intrigue and persuade the user to click through on your search result rather than your competitors’.
Meta descriptions can be super effective, but only if they’re used and written correctly. Below are some best practices to follow:
- Actually put one in. If you don’t, Google will display one for you automatically and this is usually the first couple of sentences of the content that link to and it’ll more than likely end with a “…” at the end, which just looks messy. Don’t miss out on being able to sell to your prospective buyers!
- Use action-oriented language. Tell the reader exactly what they can expect or do if they click through onto your site. Use vocab, such as ‘discover’, ‘learn’ or ‘book’, followed by specifics of what they’ll get from you if they click.
- Provide a solution or benefit. The last thing a searcher wants to do is to have to press the back button or start their search all over again if what they click through to doesn’t solve their problem or meet their expectations.
- Keep it under 155 characters. Although Google doesn’t actually character count, it will cut off a meta description after a certain width. This tends to be about 155 characters, giving you a benchmark to abide by. You can double-check the length of your meta description and title tags using SEOmofo’s snippet optimiser tool.
- Make it specific and relevant. Google and it’s searchers can spot a generic meta description a mile off and if it doesn’t relate to what they should expect, be prepared for the searcher to hit that back button again.
- Don’t stuff it with keywords. Google does highlight your keywords in bold, but this isn’t an excuse to go overboard and include them all. When searchers and search engines see keyword-stuffed content, this throws up all kinds of red flags and hurts the level of trust a searcher has in your content.
- Make sure they’re unique. Don’t duplicate meta descriptions for more than 1 page as these will look the same to users and Google, causing confusion and frustration. It will also mean that your pages will compete with each other, which will harm your rankings. To identify any duplicate meta titles and descriptions, check out Screaming Frog’s crawler software.
Your meta description is an opportunity to pitch your website, win over prospects and to improve clickthrough rates. Be sure to create an engaging meta description for your website that persuades people to choose you over your competitors!
4. Use Meaningful URLs
A URL is a readable string of text that’s designed to replace IP addresses that computers use to communicate with servers. They also identify the file structure on the given website and consists of a protocol, domain name and path, which includes the specific subfolder structure where a page is located.
Due to these being read by Google as well as your users, it’s vital for them to be meaningful, clear and readable. These great URLs will help you with your SEO efforts and rankings because they will improve your user experience, be relevant to your searcher’s queries and help you with your trustworthiness and authoritativeness.
If you want to use meaningful URLs, follow these best practices:
- Write out what content the URL is referring to. Keeping them simple, relevant, compelling, and accurate is key to getting users and search engines to understand them.
- Just use words. Although URLs sometimes include numbers and special characters, its best to just use words so that Google and people can read them properly.
- Use hyphens as spaces. URLs shouldn’t use underscores, spaces or any other characters to separate words as Google can’t read them and your users will find it difficult to as well.
- Don’t use capital letters. In some cases, uppercase letters can cause issues with duplicate pages. For example, digitalethos.net/Blog and digitalethos.net/blog might be seen as two distinct URLs, which might create issues with duplicate content.
If you follow these best practices, you’ll be able to create readable, understandable (for both humans and computers!) and meaningful URLs that will improve your user experience and rankings!
5. Link To Other Websites
It’s a common misunderstanding that linking to external websites that are relevant to the content you’re creating (whether a blog post or infographic) is a bad move because it directs traffic off your site. However, this is a dated way of thinking about SEO and relying solely on internal linking probably won’t deliver the results that you’re hoping for.
In fact, linking to other websites and blogs is a good thing and is actually “critical for growth”, according to Brian Clark, Founder of Copyblogger Media. It comes with many benefits, including:
- Increases your digital footprint. Linking to authoritative, high-quality and trusted sites attracts important, relevant and valuable eyeballs as you’re essentially building a history of links between your site and more established ones.
- Builds relationships and expands your reach. If you link to a relevant external site, they will notice a spike in their traffic, prompting them to get in touch with you to see if you would like them to link to you too. It’s a fair exchange for setting up a mutually beneficial connection and is an opportunity for traffic to come back to you as well.
- Demonstrates that you care about your readers. Instead of being greedy and just keeping them on your own site (and your internal links), you provide them with alternatives or extra resources for them to find out more information. How kind!
It’s all well and good understanding the benefits of external linking, but what are the things you need to watch out for? Luckily for you, we’ve put together some best practices:
- Check the domain authority of the site you want to link to. If you link to sites that are unprofessional, sensationalistic or considered simple clickbait, you undermine your own credibility and probably hurt your search engine results too.
- Check that they’re up-to-date and active. It’s a good idea to schedule a link audit to make sure that the ones you’ve used so far aren’t broken or redirected to irrelevant content.
- Use anchor text correctly. When choosing which text to hyperlink, ask yourself which is the most natural and obvious place? It’s advised to hyperlink language that is built in a sentence rather than using the title of the blog post you want to link to, for example. Use what makes sense in your content, rather than theirs.
- Set links to open in a new tab. This is so your user doesn’t lose your own website. Your aim is to write such good content that they want to come back to it even if they visit another site.
Link building to external sites can be quite a specific and advanced task to do as part of an SEO strategy, but following these best practices is a sure and quick way to see improvements and results in your Google rankings as well as your user experience.
So there you have 2,000 words full of advice and tips on how to quickly and easily implement an SEO strategy. If blog reading isn’t enough for you to upskill yourself and your staff, the team at Digital Ethos offer training and 1-1 consultancy sessions so we can give you the tools you need to further your career and advance in your marketing campaigns.