This week we caught up with Rachel Weinhold, Managing Director at GrowTraffic who provides some tips and guidance on what you can do to give your website a better chance of being ranked.
Search Engine Optimisation. It’s a tricky old thing isn’t it?! All those strange terms and fiddling in the backend of your website. It’s a blooming mystery!
Well, actually, I’d argue that no, it isn’t.
A lot of SEO agencies will tell you that SEO is black magic; a dark art that only they can help you with. Of course they will, they want your money.
However, in my opinion, SEO is not only fascinating but it’s also fun – and really quite simple too. There’s no reason whatsoever for it to be made more complicated than it is.
OK, full disclosure time; I’m the MD of an SEO agency and I absolutely do not want to do down others in my profession. If truth be told, the majority of SEO agencies out there today are honest folk doing SEO the right way.
However, what they won’t tell you is that the answer to getting your website to rank better is not complex; it just takes time and a little dedication.
In fact, there is an awful lot you can do yourself in the first place, before you even approach an SEO agency, that will get your website ranking better in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
In this blog post, I’m going to take you some (relatively) cheap and (relatively) easy things you can do to your website yourself, which will give it a much better chance of being ranked.
I’m not making any promises – if you do these few things today then you’re not going to be ranking on Page 1 of Google within a week (unless you’re VERY lucky!); I’m not writing clickbait here. However they will undoubtedly help and will certainly be enough for you to start seeing some movement, especially if your site has been static for some time.
They will also be the first things that any SEO agency will do in the first instance so, if you can get these things sorted first, then your SEO agency will be able to focus on the more complex aspects once you are ready to approach them, meaning you’ll get better value for money in the long run.
So, without further ado, let’s crack on.
Update Your Website
Updating your website is one of the easiest things you can do to improve its performance. In fact, it’s something that you should be doing regularly anyway.
The rationale is easy; Google (and all search engine algorithms) want to be sure that, when they are returning a website to someone who has asked a query, they are not giving them a website that is outdated and redundant. If your website hasn’t been updated since it was built three years ago (or even longer), how does Google know that it’s still relevant and up-to-date?
It doesn’t. In fact, it will think the opposite and simply not return you if there’s a better option.
Once upon a time you could build a website and just leave it there, static, but not any more. Now your website needs to be updated at the very least a couple of times a month, more often if you can manage it.
So, the first place you need to start is to run through each page on your website and make sure all the information on there is still correct. Is the phone number listed still the right one? Have you got services on there that you no longer offer, or have any new services been added on? Are members of staff listed that actually left you two years ago?
Once you’ve checked the content itself, you also just need to make sure that all the pages and links are still relevant. For example, if you’ve taken a page out, have you made sure that no other pages are still trying to link to it? Have you removed the page from the navigation? Conversely, if you’ve added a new page in, have you made it easy to find or updated the links to it?
It’s common sense but, if you can dedicate at least an hour a month to making sure your website is completely up-to-date, then it’ll see it in good stead for everything that will come afterwards.
Check Your Keywords
Time and again our clients come to us with a list of keywords that they want to target – usually fairly sensible keywords – but I’ll then look through their website and fail to see them anywhere. Believe me, I could tell you some real SEO horror stories about keywords, such as the client whose keywords didn’t appear anywhere in either the front end copy or the backend optimisation!
That’s why, whilst keywords might seem like an obvious and straightforward thing to tackle, they still require a little bit of thought first.
The first thing to think about with keywords is that you need to pick sensible ones…obviously they need to relate to what you do, but they also need to be things that people are actually searching for.
This is particularly true if you do something that’s really quite technical or niche; don’t assume that everyone will know what the official terms are for things. For example, in SEO, we might want to optimise a page for ‘content marketing’, whereas most web users might be much more likely to search for the term ‘blogging’.
Go generic and think like your customer, not your company.
The other thing to bear in mind is the fact that it might not always be the best policy to go for the most obvious keywords; unless you’ve got an SEO budget of thousands, in most cases you’re going to struggle to rank for the big money keywords if you’re up against some impressive competition.
For e.g., one of our previous clients sold niche bottled beer online, made by local microbreweries. They came to us wanting to rank for ‘buy bottle beer online’, but they didn’t have the budget to go up against Tesco, Sainsbury’s or Morrisons to compete for such a high value keyword. Instead, we managed to get them ranking for more niche keywords, such as ‘buy boutique bottled beer online’ or ‘buy locally brewed bottled beer online’. OK, the search volumes were lower, but the traffic generated was of a higher quality to them, so it worked out better in the end.
Hence, before you start optimising your website for your keywords, make sure you’ve put a little bit of thought into which keywords you’re going to go for.
Build Some Backlinks
Backlinks always have been – and likely always will be – the cornerstone of good SEO.
Backlinks can seem like a complex world – what with all the follow and nofollow rules etc. etc. – and in all honesty, it can be convoluted once you get into it. However, the principle behind backlinks is simple, so I’ll try to summarise it in a nutshell.
Essentially, the search engine algorithms need a way of gauging how reputable a website really is, and backlinks are the best method they currently have of doing this. A backlink is essentially a recommendation from another website that your website contains useful and reliable information.
And the more impressive the referring website is (i.e. the higher domain authority – DA – it has) the more credit that will give you. For e.g. if a small local news website links to your website, then that’s great but, if the BBC links to your website, then that’s astounding. In fact, that’s the Holy Grail of backlink building.
Hence, the goal at all times is to increase the number of backlinks going to (and even from) your website and there are two main ways of doing this.
The first is organically, whereby you just write the best content you possibly can, publish it on your website, share it to all the right places and hope that people will naturally link to it. This does work, it just takes time and patience and, if you’re after a quick fix, it’s not going to get you very far.
The second way, however, is to proactively undertake some outreach for backlink building purposes, either by sourcing other websites and writing a tailored article for them or by asking them to link to an existing piece of content on your website.
This can, however, be both a time consuming and expensive process, as websites will often require an incentive in order to link to you. Hence, in addition to having to factor in the time to research and write an appropriate article, you also have to factor in the time it will take to contact other websites, find the correct person to speak to, negotiate terms, get the article published and shared etc. This can sometimes take days, if not months to accomplish.
However, building your backlink profile is arguably the best and most sure-fire way that you can improve the rankings of, and thus the traffic to, your website and it can be costly if you employ an SEO agency to do it for you. Hence, if you can at least start to undertake this process in-house, it would be beneficial.
Add Content Regularly
I might have left this point to last, but that doesn’t mean it’s the least important. In fact, as you might have gathered from everything I’ve said so far in this blog post, regularly adding content to your website is one of the most important things you need to be doing.
As we mentioned at the beginning of this piece, the reason for this is quite simple; search engine algorithms want to ensure they provide the searcher (that’s the person who’s just typed or spoken a question into Google) with the best possible results for that query and that means two things.
First up, the content needs to be fairly recent, to prove to the search engine algorithms that it’s still relevant. For example, if you’re blogging about something that’s in a fairly fast moving industry (like SEO!), then a blog post or web page that’s a year old might be completely out of date by now. If you want to indicate that your website is right up-to-the-minute with the latest information, then you need to make sure your content is frequently being updated, if not replaced.
Secondly, the search engine algorithms also understand that, when the searcher asks one question about something, they’re likely to ask more after that – and it knows what those next questions are likely to be too! Hence, if you want your website to be returned in the search engine results pages, the smart move would be to make sure your content answers every single question that anyone looking for your product or service is ever likely to ask.
It’ll requires some brainstorming but, if you can write down (almost) every question your customers have ever asked you and then plan a piece of content that answers those questions, you’ve likely already got your content calendar sorted for the next few months at least! Add in some key calendar dates and updates about your business and sector, and you’ll more or less have enough blogs to see you through the year.
As a result, regularly adding content to your website becomes a much easier and less arduous task. Plus, if you can create some multi-media content too, such a videos and infographics, longer white papers or subscribe-able podcasts, then you’re not only giving yourself plenty of material to share on social media but you’re also giving visitors a reason to return to your website again and again; another two key signals that will indicate to the search engine algorithms that your website is one of value.
All in all, the more content you can add to your website and the more frequently you can do it, the more likely you are to improve the SEO of your site, increase your ranking position in the results pages, get more traffic onto your website and thus achieve an increase in customers.
You see, it ain’t rocket science!
Get In Touch
If you would like a free and impartial audit of where your website currently sits in terms of SEO, then you can contact GrowTraffic and request one of our free audits.
GrowTraffic have been helping SMEs and Marketing Managers improve the SEO of their websites for over ten years now, so we really do know our onions. We’ve got flexible packages to fit any budget and plenty of case studies that demonstrate our expertise and prove our results.
To find out more or for a no-obligation chat, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 0161 706 0012.