Search engine optimization is the process of increasing the quality and quantity of website traffic to a website or web page, by improving the organic listing in search results. In the past, SEO was more of an afterthought for many website owners. It wasn’t until the early 2000s that Google started to become a significant player in the search game, and SEO became a priority for anyone who wanted their site to rank on Google.
SEO is now an integral part of any company’s marketing strategy. It is necessary if you want to get your site on the first page of search engine results pages (SERPs). There are many ways you can do this, but here are some basic steps.
A title tag is the first thing that a user sees when reading search results on Google, Bing or Yahoo, and it’s often what convinces them to click on your site instead of a competitor. When a user performs a Google search, the results show them what is most relevant for their query in the form of headlines and meta descriptions. These headlines are page title tags, which can be seen at the top of your browser tab/window and often used as the main heading in the page content.
Google recommends to use title tags which contain a concise and accurate description of the content on the page. This way, search engines can better understand what the page is about and rank it accordingly. A detailed description, called a meta description, also provides an opportunity to persuade a user to click on your page and provide them with context of what to expect.
Title tags should be kept at 60 characters to be displayed in their entirety – however, they can be longer and will just get truncated. We have put together a list of best practices to refer back to while creating title tags:
- Ensure your target keywords are included
- Avoid duplicating title tags
- Avoid keyword stuffing
- Try to keep it informative but concise
HTTPS is a protocol that encrypts the information sent between a user and the website. It is a great way to make sure your website is more secure. Your web host needs to provide you with an SSL certificate, which will allow them to create an encrypted connection between your website and their servers. This encryption helps protect your data from being seen by other people or entities on the internet. Google favours sites that are served with HTTPS, and it provides users with piece of mind when access your site.
How do I know if my site has an SLL certificate?
If you access your website, take note whether you can see a lock icon in front of your URL ( as seen in the image below). A lock indicates that your site is protected.
If there is no lock icon, then it would be a good idea to install an SSL certificate. If your web host does not offer one in your package, check out LetsEncrypt for a free one. Once HTTPS is installed, every page you publish from then on should be safe, making life easier and safer!
Optimise your page speed
There are many factors which can affect the speed of your page including your site’s code, images and server location.
Optimising your page speed is important. If your page takes more than 2.5 seconds to load, then you should optimize it, otherwise users could get irritated and might leave.
How long does my page take to load?
There are a variety of tools online you can use to help check the speed of your page, such as Google’s own PageSpeed insights tool.
If you want to optimize your pages to load faster, here are some best practices:
- Check your hosting service, you may need to upgrade to ensure faster speed
- Compress your images so that they are as small as possible (while still looking sharp) and therefore take less time to download. To learn mote about optimizing images for SEO, please click here.
- Optimze your HTML code, this including removing spaces and other unnecessary characters and deleting obsolete code
- Combine CSS and JS files to reduce the number of requests
- LazyLoad images – implement a feature that will prevent images preloading until they need to be shown on the page
- Leverage browser caching, read more about this here
Use of Keywords
What is a keyword or phrase?
Keywords are the words and phrases that people type into search engines to find what they’re looking for.
Did you know?
The location of your keyword is just as important as the keyword itself. One of the best practices for using keywords is mentioning the main keyword at the beginning of your page.
If the search volume is too low, try to use mid-tail keywords with low to medium keyword difficulty. A great tool you can use to determine the difficulty score of the keywords is SEMrush (Keyword overview tool). It provides sufficient information and key data that can help you decide which keywords are worth picking.
When you are trying to rank for a keyword, you need to make sure that the keyword has enough search volume and is not too competitive.
Keyword tools such as SEMrush can provide a difficulty score for the given keyword, which helps to identify if it’s worth targeting or not.
Optimise your images for SEO
Google is now more likely to show your images in their search results than text-only pages.
Properly optimising your images helps your pages rank higher in Google web search. Check out the list below for the best way to optimise your images for SEO.
- Use a descriptive alt tag of the image
- Make sure the filename is relevant and includes keywords
- Ensure that there are no duplicates of the image on the same page or site
When it comes to naming your images, the filename is important. Google cannot see images (yet), therfore the filename helps it understand the contents in your image. Another important practice is to have a descriptive alt text. Alt text is the alternate text that appears when a user hovers over an image on a website. Alt text can be a keyword or descriptive sentence about the image. It helps search engines understand what the image is about, so they can rank it better in search results – this is also an important attribute when making your website accessible.
The alt attribute should be placed within the tag and should not exceed 255 characters in length.
Use Internal Linking
Internal links are one of the simplest SEO best practices to use. It is a good way to improve user experience and your site’s navigation. It also helps search engines find more pages that are relevant, which improves your rankings in search engine results pages.
SEMrush is a great tool to use for this practice, as it can help spot and fix internal linking errors on your website. Check out this article, which provides some very useful information.
This article has provided you with a set of best practices for SEO proofing your website. These practices are not exhaustive, but they are a great start for any business wanting to get ahead in today’s competitive digital world.