One of my pet hates is receiving telephone calls and emails from companies offering to improve my SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) ranking. I guess they are just used to people saying “yes please” because they have no idea what they are talking about and handing over their cash – but you can do this yourself!
In a nutshell, SEO is the process of getting traffic from the “free” or “natural” listings on search engines. All the major search engines (such as Google, Bing and Yahoo) work on these results as well as on paid advertising and it is important to make sure your site ranks well with these to ensure you get traffic to your website – without it you just don’t get seen.
However, you don’t have to pay anyone to sort it for you and in just six simple steps you can improve your own SEO ranking:
Step 1 – Include Relevant Keywords
It requires a bit of research, but use your favourite search engine to search for businesses like your own and figure out which keywords they are using to get to the top of the list. You then need to include these keywords in your own site – within page headings if possible and also throughout your text.
For example: include terms like ‘beauty business in Staffordshire’ or ‘eco-friendly products in Melbourne’ but make sure these are part of your text and not just a long list of random terms at the bottom of every page as search engines frown upon those…
Step 2 – Keep Your Navigation Simple
So many sites I visit are difficult to navigate and links within pages to other pages often don’t work. Make sure you visit your own page and search for items that you want your visitors to find. If you find it difficult then so will they. Oh, and keep the smart titles away – a page is titled ‘Shop’ is much easier to figure out than ‘Creations’.
I often ask my partner to check my sites this way because we often search for things differently (female v male brain!). You’ll be amazed at how another point of view can help!
Top Tip: ask someone you trust to search for a specific item or service and see how easy they find it. It may be obvious to you, but they may struggle. The more links you have within pages as well as in simple menus the better.
Step 3 – Update your Website Regularly
Search engines really do like websites that are kept up to date and a very simple way to do this is to include a blog on your site. As long as you post to it regularly, there will always be new and relevant content to help improve your SEO ranking. It is also a really good way of sharing your ideals and information with potential clients as they see you as someone who is interested in their own business.
Top Tip: link your Instagram account to your website so that anytime you post to Insta your images appear on your site! This makes it look up to date even if you haven’t been online for ages – but make sure the page you connect your images to is relevant (such as your About, Gallery or even your Blog sidebar).
Step 4 – Submit your Sitemap
Most website builder programs I use automatically create a Sitemap for your website and submit it to search engines every time you publish your site, but if you use a different program, such as WordPress, then make sure you include this useful tool. Having a sitemap allows a search engine to see all of the pages within your website and not just the first page and is key to moving further up the rankings.
Step 5 – Track your Results
I use Google Analytics and I would recommend that you also use a similar analytical tool to see exactly where your visitors are coming from when they visit your site. It helps you to recognise how your social media presence, networking and word-of-mouth is driving traffic to your website.
You can see which keywords are helping people find you and also the demographics of your audience – all very useful data when trying to figure out how to improve your site in future. It is simple to set up an Analytics account and put a small piece of code in your website to track it’s performance and is another free service.
Step 6 – Check SEO Optimisation Websites
Finally, you can always visit a free online SEO optimisation website such as SEO Analyzer by Neil Patel – you just need to type in your website address and in a minute or two you will have a simple report on some of the issues that could be hindering your website ranking. No need to sign up either (just ignore those messages along the way!).
Once you have a grip on your SEO, you can ensure that you are doing as much as you can to make sure your website is seen in all the right places. The next step is shouting about it to anyone and everyone – word of mouth really does still count!!