You have probably heard the terms SEO and keywords. You probably also know that they are vital to your online presence and how users interact with your website. But what does it all mean and how does it affect you?
What is SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. It is the way your content is treated by search engines like Google. Why should you care about Google’s opinion of your content?
Most searches on Google have hundreds of results pages. Users tend to favour results on the first few pages, if they even go beyond the first page. Ultimately, you want your site to be listed on that first page. By implementing SEO on your website, you will ensure that your content ranks higher on Google’s search results.
What are Keywords?
Keywords go hand in hand with SEO. They are the key terms a potential customer will use in a Google search when researching something. If your content matches the terms used in a search, Google’s bots will list your website on the results page.
When creating content for your website, keep in mind the keywords your potential customers are most likely to use in their searches. What do you want to be known for? If you are a baker specialising in easy-to-make recipes, you might want your page to be returned whenever someone searches for “easy-to-make cookies” or “mug cakes”. Including these words on your website will help make your page more searchable.
How Do You Pick Keywords?
Be mindful that emptying an entire jar of keywords in one post will negatively affect your ranking with Google (and we want to be on its good side for better searches!). While in the past pervasive use of specific keywords on a page was an important ranking factor, Google has since refined its algorithms to penalise pages that use keywords like stuffing in a Christmas turkey.
Do not use keywords indiscriminately and make sure they are appropriate to your industry and offering. Always be relevant, create something original, and write for the humans visiting your site rather than Google’s ranking bots.
Free tools like Ubersuggest will help you find possible keywords and assess their search volume and levels of industry competition. It is important to remember when using popular keywords that you are competing with a lot of other fish (who might have a team of people dedicated to SEO optimisation). Using generic keywords with high search volumes to attract a higher number of potential hits is therefore not necessarily a good strategy. Rather use less popular keywords that are more specific to your offering and brand. It is better to get fewer visitors who are actually interested in your offering than an army of people who will simply leave your site because it is irrelevant to their actual needs.
Where Should You Use Keywords?
There are various places on your website to add keywords and other SEO bits and bobs to make your website more searchable and help improve its Google ranking. It gets a bit technical but is good to know, so here goes.
Your website has headings, subheadings and body text, all of which should contain keywords. An oft neglected keyword component of websites is images. When an image does not load for some reason, descriptive text called alt text is displayed in its place. Google’s bots also search the alt text of images for keywords, giving you an additional place where you can optimise SEO.
Another neglected keyword measure is a website’s metadata. Ever noticed the little piece of text under the website link of something you have googled? That text snippet is the metadata. It does not display on your website but is visible in Google searches. If you have a WordPress website, you can add metadata with the Yoast SEO plugin. Enable the advanced settings page on the Yoast plugin and you are good to go.
Use keywords in all the above mentioned sections (headings, subheadings, body text, images’ alt text and metadata). Remember though to not overdo it as this will make your site more difficult to digest for the humans you want to attract. Always make sure your content is original and interesting to potential customers.
Add Links to Your Posts
SEO is not only about keywords. You can increase your website’s authority (thereby prompting Google to rank it higher in search results) by adding links to your content. This allows Google’s bots to follow the outline of your site and verify that all the pages are legitimate and original content-rich sources as opposed to nonsensical “dummy” pages stuffed with keywords.
If you are writing a blog, include a reference to something you have written about previously and add a link in your current blog to the one you are referring to. You can also add links to external websites or blogs that are relevant to the topic you are writing about. Having other authoritative websites link back to your page is even more valuable (you will of course have to convince the human in charge of said website that your offering adds value to their own).
Keep in mind that all these links need to be checked from time to time to make sure they are still valid. Invalid links will negatively affect how Google ranks your site.
Tend to Your Page Loading Speed
Slow loading websites negatively affect the overall user experience as well as Google’s ranking. Images are often the cause of slow websites. At the same time images make websites more attractive to users, so they form an integral part of good content. Tinypng is useful for compressing images one at a time, while the WordPress plugin Smush performs a bulk compression of all the images on your site.
Google has a page speed tool, which scores your website’s loading speed and allows you to drill down to the areas on your page that require some work. To perform the test, enter your website URL and click on the button for the analysis to begin. Once the test is done, you can view your score for mobile and desktop.
SEO, keywords and Google rankings can be very intimidating when you are starting out and are not inclined to all things internet. Work closely with your web designer to maximise keywords and SEO and keep your site user friendly and fresh. Remember that great content remains the most important factor in determining whether your site interests visitors.
We love this blog about SEO basics, which will provide you with more insight if you are managing your own website. And if it is all too much and you need help with your website or content, do get in touch and we will gladly assist you.