SEO basics to improve your website

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SEO stands for ‘search engine optimisation’, which means enhancing your website to appear organically higher in search engine (essentially Google) listings without paying for advertising space.

If you type any search into Google, you are likely to see that the first few results come up with a little box saying ‘Ad’ next to them. These companies are paying for their website to appear on Google’s first page in what is know as ‘pay-per-click’ advertising (PPC), with an average cost of between £1 and £2 a click.

Websites listed without the ‘Ad’ box next to them are organic results that have reached that position on Google purely by their own SEO brilliance.

How can you help your website climb the SEO rankings?

Insights into SEO can get extremely detailed and Google doesn’t ever disclose exactly how it ranks websites, and also changes its rules frequently to prevent people designing websites just to get higher up the search engine.

Google wants to try and rank websites based on the relevance of their content – not because they have used the same keyword on the homepage 100 times (Google will actually now penalise sites for tactics like this).

However, there are many things that can be done that we know that Google likes.

  • Key pages on your website should look to include 1000 words or more of text which include your target keywords and phrases.
  • Keywords and phrases that you want to rank highly for should also appear in your web page titles and URLs.
  • Content on your website should always appear natural (despite including keyword and phrase placements), and the emotional impact of the copy and titles are crucial to keep the reader on the page (for higher ‘time on page’ and ‘session durations’ in Google Analytics).
  • The more visits your site gets, the higher Google will rank it. Drive more people to your website by creating shareable blog posts that you and others can post on social media and send out in email campaigns.
  • Keep your site healthy by regularly updating it and giving all your images titles.
  • Make sure your website is mobile-friendly and that your page loading times are fast.
  • Get the link to your website listed on online directories and other well performing websites. Check the domain authority (a search engine ranking score from 1-100) of your website and of partner sites (to see if it’s worth listing on them) using this free domain authority checker tool.

How to find your target keywords

“By giving your website some regular TLC you can increase your rankings and drive more traffic. Choose your keywords carefully to attract the right target audience and then create content like blogs, articles and videos around those keywords.” Sally Preed, e-Commerce Consultant.

The keywords that you are aiming to appear higher on Google for should be as relevant as possible to your website and what you do.

Think about what people would search for if they were looking for a product or service like yours. If you offer a service then including your location in your keywords is probably a good idea.

Your target keywords should be as specific to you as possible as it’s better to get a low number of searches but a high conversion rate than it is a high number of searches with no conversion.

Example keywords that are too generic (too much competition)

‘accountant’ , ‘accountant london’, ‘UK accountant’, ‘tax accountant’

Good example keywords

‘tax accountant Wandsworth’, ‘certified accountant south west london’

Use the Google Keyword Tool to find keywords and see what people are searching for in what volumes, and how much competition there is. Become the authority within your niche by creating great blogs, articles and video content that include your keywords like ‘top tips for finding a good tax accountant’.

Track how your website is doing

There’s no point trying to improve your SEO rankings if you don’t track whether or not your efforts are working.

As well as keeping an eye on your overall domain authority score, you can check where you are ranking for different keywords with this search engine results page (SERP) checker.

Type the same keywords into Google to check which of your competitors are appearing higher than you and see what they are doing well on their websites that you could also do or improve on.

Sophie Cross is the Editor of Freelancer Magazine and a freelance writer and marketer at Thoughtfully.

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