The better your site ranks in search engine results, the more visitors you will get to your website. However, to achieve those higher rankings, youâ€™ll need to do some Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). For many business owners, this can be a technical challenge. SEO is a big subject and one which is in constant flux due to the regular changes search engines make to their ranking criteria. It is impossible, therefore, to provide a comprehensive guide in a single article. Instead, this post will provide some simple, common sense tips to prepare you for your SEO journey.
1. All three types of SEO are required
There are three main types of SEO and to effectively optimise your website, youâ€™ll need to work on all three. These are:
- On-page optimisation â€“ this is essentially putting the right keywords in the right places on your pages and providing high quality content for your visitors.
- On-site optimisation â€“ a more technical form of SEO which requires things such as fast loading times, mobile-friendly pages, a well-structured site, easy navigation, good use of internal links and search engine-friendly URLs.
- Off-site optimisation â€“ improving the authority of your website and its pages by getting your content linked to on other high-ranking websites.
2. Learn from your competitors
The ultimate aim of any SEO strategy is to come top of the first page of the search engine results. According to Smart Insights, the top ranking site gets 35% of all clickthroughs. Between them, the top five sites get 65%. Those in the positions between 6 and 21 share out most of the 35% which is left, while any website that ranks lower than that is unlikely to receive any clickthroughs at all.
If you want to be at the top of the list, then analysing the websites that achieve those positions is a good way to start. This doesnâ€™t just mean looking at the website, it means using competitive analyses tools that go much deeper and can show you the number of backlinks a site has, how fast its pages load, where its traffic comes from, what search terms it ranks well for, etc. With high-quality information like this, it can be much easier to implement the strategies that have worked well for your more successful competitors.
3. Patience and perseverance
Patience and perseverance are two essential requirements for those doing SEO. Patience is important because the things you implement can take some time to have an effect on your rankings. It can be weeks or months before you see the benefits. So, if you change some keywords and donâ€™t see any improvements after 48 hours, it isnâ€™t a sign that they have not worked and need to be changed yet again, itâ€™s the fact that they havenâ€™t been left long enough to have an impact.
Perseverance is equally important because SEO is an ongoing process. Search engines are always tweaking their ranking criteria and not responding to those changes can result in your website losing its hard-won position. At the same time, the search engines prefer to give their users the most up-to-date information, if your web content is old or out of date, it will eventually slide down the results page. Youâ€™ll need to regularly update your pages or add fresh content.
4. Play by the rules
Search engines make it very clear about the expectations they have of website owners, as can be seen in Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. Here youâ€™ll find a list of things they expect a good website to do and a list of things they prohibit. The main aim of these guidelines is to ensure that users get the best experience from the search engine, for example, Google will not want to send its users to your site if thereâ€™s a chance their devices will get infected by a virus.
Another key element of the Webmaster Guidelines is the stipulation that website owners must â€˜avoid tricks intended to improve search engine rankings.â€™ Failure to do so can result in your site receiving a penalty or manual action from Google. If these things happen, your site will disappear from Google results completely. With a manual action, you may be able to submit your site for reconsideration after you have made the necessary changes.
5. Team up with the right partners
The complexity of SEO often means that website owners will outsource it to a third-party agency that has the tools and resources to undertake the on-site and competitor analyses and implement the necessary changes. When you do so, you need to choose a partner you can trust not to use unscrupulous black-hat SEO methods that can result in search engine penalisation. In particular, make sure that anyone offering content outreach (writing content containing a link to your website to publish on other sites) only publishes on relevant, quality sites. Creating lots of backlinks on poor ranking sites can have a long-term, negative ranking effect and lead to a penalty.
Another partner you will need to consider is your hosting provider. From an SEO perspective, you should identify a web host that can has the resources to help your site load more quickly on your visitors devices and which offers the security tools (firewalls, intrusion prevention/detection, SSL certificates, etc.) to keep visitors safe â€“ these are both things that can help you rank higher.
Undertaking SEO is essential if you want your site to rank highly but there’s a learning curve to go through and so you cannot expect to achieve everything overnight. Indeed, the process is an ongoing one and will require regular monitoring and input. Hopefully, the information provided here will have given you the preparatory guidance you need before starting your SEO journey.