6 Ways To Improve Your SEO
A few years ago, SEO was a great way to get an edge over your less tech-saavy competitors. Today, SEO is a little more complicated in the sense that there’s no magic bullet to make your website rise to the top of the search rankings, but when it comes to having relevant information that Google thinks your audience will benefit from, Google and other search engines will ALWAYS choose the sites with the best traffic, information and clicks.
Even though there’s no magic, search engines still definitely value high quality websites with great copywriting and content, so it’s important to make sure that your website checks all of the SEO boxes! Ready to dig into the ins and outs of getting your website closer to the front page? Here we go!
1. BLOG POSTS
Search engines care the most (by far!) about the content you have on your website.
Gone are the days that you can trick a search engine into ranking you highly just by spamming keywords into the Alt Text code of your website or into a paragraph in your footer.
No siree! Today, you need a site full of content that is genuinely useful to your target audience. There’s no substitute for hard work here – if you want search engines to view your site as a valuable resource, you should shoot for at least a couple tens of blog posts that are several hundred words long, as these are easily the best places to put lots and lots of content!
People come to read blog posts, but most don’t want to read a whole bunch of text on the rest of your website. This means, the more blog posts you have, the more content you’re providing to Google.
Having a business that’s been around for a long time also helps. This obviously isn’t something you can’t control, except by your business existing for a while, but it’s beneficial if you’ve been continually posting new blog posts for a long period of time.
Search engines view this as a sign of reliability. It feels unfair at the beginning of your business, since it seems to discount all the hard work you’re doing right now, but as you go on, it’s actually quite nice. Existing for a few years is something that you don’t have to be an expert to do, you just need to show up every day and do the work!
2. SUBMIT TO SEARCH CONSOLE
Most sites that people visit get noticed by Google eventually, but if you’ve just started your site, you can jumpstart this process by submitting your web address to Google so that they can “crawl” it (in other words, Google will go through and catalog your content so that it’s up to date in their system).
You can submit your site right here, which will notify Google that you’re ready to have them crawl your website. Once Google starts crawling your site, they’ll crawl every month or two to check for new content! Resubmitting your link to that URL will not help to have them crawl it again – it’s good to submit your site just the one time, or anytime that you make major changes like switching host platforms or getting your website designed.
It’s definitely good to make sure that Google knows you exist, especially when you’re just getting your site off the ground, but it’s best not to spend too much time worrying about the technicalities of this. That time is much better spent producing the kind of quality content that will get shared in your industry and between your customers or clients!
3. USE GOOGLE KEYWORDS TO PLAN YOUR KEYWORDS
Google AdWords, which will shortly become Google Ads, has a Keyword planner which you can access right here!
Here’s how to use Google’s Keyword Planner so that you can find some really great keyword phrases to help boost your SEO ranking:
If you don’t have a Google account (like Gmail), you’ll need to make one (it’s free ).
Once you’ve logged in, if you aren’t taken to the page automatically, go to the tools icon in the top right corner and select “Keyword Planner”
Select “Find Keywords” and then enter up to 3 phrases that relate to your business. Something like, “brand designer” or “photography austin texas” or “cupcakes phoenix” then click, “Get Started”
Google will give you list of similar keywords sorted by relevance along with their search volume and how competitive the search terms are. These numbers (search volume & competition) are what we’re looking for here.
Search volume is just what it sounds like: it’s how often someone searches for the term.
Competition in this sense is how much people are paying for ads related to that term, or how many people are already ranking for this particular term.
What you’re looking for are search terms that your target audience is already searching for (HIGH search volume), but aren’t very competitive (LOW competition).
Most search terms that are high volume will also be very competitive, but there are some that have thousands of searches that aren’t very competitive at all. These are the search terms that you’re going to want to write down and incorporate into your website, Pinterest and social media copy!
4. LABEL YOUR PHOTOS AND MAKE SURE THEY’RE THE CORRECT SIZE
Labelling photos is an easy thing to do that can give you a big boost in the search rankings. Search engines like it when a site is more than just plain text. People are engaging with visual media more than ever before, so it’s important that your site isn’t just plain text.
It’s also very important, however, that your site loads quickly and that search engines can tell what your pictures are.
Technology hasn’t gotten to the point that search engines can figure out what’s in your pictures just by looking at them – Google can’t physically SEE your photo. Instead, what all search engines see when they “look” at your pictures is the file name, and any tags that you’ve added.
It’s best if the file name has something to do with the content of the picture and even better if it also has a keyword phrase in it. This is done BEFORE you upload your photo to your website at all – while it’s still on your desktop or in your Dropbox or wherever you store your photos.
A good photo file name will look something like this: brand-design-for-creative-entrepreneurs.jpg or austin-texas-wedding-photographer.jpg
Notice that we use hyphens (-) in between the words in your photo and everything is lowercase. We’ll also want to use the key phrases that you found in Google’s Keyword Planner that have HIGH search volume but LOW competition.
There’s also a place to put a picture title, which typically does not not show up on the screen, but will be seen by the search engines. This can be a little more descriptive than the file name and should be accurate and relevant to your website. You can use the same phrase that you used in your filename or another keyphrase that you found on Google Keyword Planner, as long as it’s relevant to the content of your website.
A good picture Title will look like this: Brand Design for Creative Entrepreneurs or Austin Texas Wedding Photographer
Notice that we do NOT use hyphens here, but instead spaces, and all words are Title Cased (they’re capitalized like titles).
If you’re using WordPress or Showit, your website may also have a place for an Alt Title or Alt Tag (Squarespace does not have this). This is the text that appears when you mouse over most images. If a blind person was using a screen reader to browse your site, the Alt Title is what they would hear in place of the image.
Accessibility is also important to search engines, so don’t neglect this part! Your Alt Titles look the same as your regular Titles – all title cased and using spaces (not hyphens).
Also!! Make sure your photos are the right size! All photos should be fewer than 250KB which is quite small. This will help with your page loading times, which Google weighs heavily. Make sure your photos are small and you’ll be golden.
5. HAVE KEYWORD RICH COPY THROUGHOUT YOUR SITE
A lot of online guides talk about blogging and so that’s what most people tend to focus on, but it’s just as important that the copy on your site is keyword rich and that you have enough of it. It’s not only important to prospective customers and clients to fully explain who you are and what you do, it’s important to search engines as well.
For search engine purposes, make sure that EACH page on your website has some of those juicy keyword phrases that we collected from Google’s Keyword Planner sprinkled throughout them. Make sure to not spam the phrases, but to use them in sentences that you would say naturally.
A lot of people write their copy sort of as an afterthought, but for a lot of visitors to your site, it may be the only thing they see. And before you get your blog really up and going, it’s going to be basically the only thing the search engines see as well.
6. USE A TOOL LIKE YOAST IF YOU’RE USING WORDPRESS
Lastly (though there are tons more ways to boost your SEO like being featured on blog posts and podcasts, having a Youtube channel, having a regularly updated social media account and more!), if you’re using WordPress or Showit, you’ll want to install a plugin like Yoast.
Yoast is a free SEO plugin that will scan all of your content and give you feedback about readability and keywords. You can tell it which keywords to look for and there’s also a paid version with a ton of additional functionality, but at the very least, it’s a great way to get off on the right foot with your blog by making sure that your posts are long enough and readable enough.
After using Yoast for a while, you’ll start to get a knack for figuring out which of your content will have more SEO success, which is helpful when it comes to writing additional content for your audience!
Did I miss something? Did you learn something? Let me know in the comments!