The Business Startup Guide to Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
The investment and effort you’ve put into your website don’t stop on the day it goes live. The ongoing focus now is to let your prospects know that you’re open for business and you’re ready and waiting to help them. They need to be able to find your website. Your job is to make it as easy as possible for them to find you. That is where Search Engine Optimisation – or SEO – comes in, and this blog is a beginner’s guide to understanding some of the basic principles of SEO and how you can apply it to your own site.
What is SEO?
You want your website to rank highly and be easily found on Google and other search engines. Search Engine Optimisation is a term that relates to all the best practices that you can continually carry out on your website that allow this to happen – organically. We’re not talking about Google Ads or Pay Per Click.
How does SEO work?
Google has spiders that crawl the internet looking for links. When they come across a link to your website the page is indexed in their vast database. Google uses its secret algorithm to decide which websites to present when a search is made. If you’ve changed your website, the spiders will revisit and re-index your page. The more frequently you make changes to your website the more often the spiders return.
Important factors for good SEO
1) Site Structure – User experience is a high priority! If the experience your visitors have is great, Google will love it too. This has much to do with the structure of the website. We hope that when your website was created, your web designers discussed and planned the website user journey; making it easy for them to find the next piece of information.
2) Technical excellence – this is to do with the code on your website. We’ve seen some shockers. The code looks like spaghetti! Maintenance of the website is also key, such as fixing errors where links are broken. You’ll have seen ‘Oops!’ or 404 error pages. These need to be rectified.
3) Content – Content is king. It attracts visitors in the first place and then keeps their attention, encouraging them to view other pages and to return time after time. What story does your website tell?
Now, you can see why SEO is a long-term plan. It needs to be continuously worked on if you want to maintain a vibrant and healthy website.
We love Yoast SEO!
To promote SEO best practices, there’s a WordPress plugin called Yoast SEO, which we really love. It’s like having your own SEO guide working with you and prompting you to do the right things.
When you install the plugin, you’ll see a Yoast SEO guide at the bottom of each page. This flags different elements of the page as green, amber, or red, along with suggestions for improvements.
- Keyword – This isn’t for Google’s benefit, but helps Yoast SEO to guide you to optimise the page correctly for the search term you’ve chosen. It’s important that you do your keyword search thoroughly. Long tail keywords (a very short sentence) can also be used effectively, especially if you are in a very competitive market.
- Readability analysis – If the post is easy for your audience to read, it’ll be easy for Google to read too.
- Snippet preview – This shows you what the searcher might see in the Google search results. It comes from the meta description that you add, describing what the content of the page is about. 160 – 250 characters is recommended.
- Technical bit! – What’s great about Yoast SEO is that it handles the technical configuration such as robots.txt, cleans permalink URLs and XML sitemaps.
What else should you know about SEO?
We’ve mentioned maintaining your website to make sure that any broken links are dealt with. To help you find these, take a look at Google Webmaster Tools if you’ve not yet done so.
Adding internal links within your website is another SEO good practice.
A plan for SEO is a must if you want your website to thrive. It starts with a good site structure. Remember, your website should be an excellent experience for your visitors.
Next, technically your website should be professionally developed, which means that the code is sound and easy for Google spiders to crawl.
Regular maintenance includes updating to the latest version of WordPress and your plugins.
Finally, content is king. Great content attracts website visitors and generates leads and inquiries.
If you have a question about SEO that’s not covered here, please get in touch. We’re here to help.