When customers are looking for a service you offer, it’s likely they’ll head to a popular search engine to find information, products or providers. Search engines will serve its users with a compilation of links to the websites it ranks as the most valuable or meaningful to a user’s need. Ensuring your website is found by prospective customers as they search for related information should be a top priority for small businesses. To be visible to a user, a website must be easily searchable and highly ranked by search engines, but there are a combination of factors that will affect a search engine’s assessment of your website. We’re sharing five quick and simple search engine optimisation tips to boost your website visibility and improve your online traction.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of attracting website traffic from major search engines such as Google, where results are ranked according to relevance. The practice of SEO exists because search engines such as Google, utilise ‘crawlers’ to gather information about content online. These ‘crawlers’ will use the information available online to build an index – with each search query a user enters, the search engine’s algorithm will aim to understand your request and serve your needs with the relevant data it has gathered.
Optimising a website is important as it increases the quantity and quality of your traffic. A healthy website should be easily found by users interested in a product/service you provide and most likely to convert. Unlike paid advertisements on search engines, SEO attracts quality traffic organically.
1. Look for keywords
Keywords are foundational to a website’s visibility. In SEO speak, ‘keywords’ refer to any words or phrases in your website’s content or navigation that signals to a user or search engine, what your site is about.
The keywords used on your website should be consistent with the type of language a potential visitor is likely to use when searching for a topic, product or service related to your business – it’s worth investing into extra research beforehand to ensure you know how people search and speak about the types of products or services you offer.
Develop a list of keywords before embarking on any website or digital marketing activities. You can use Google Adword’s Keyword Tool or begin by brainstorming the potential words someone might use to search for a related area of interest to your business.
When you’re writing website copy or refreshing the content on your website, it should be easy for a user to determine what the page is about by looking at the title, call-to-actions, image captions or paragraphs. Ultimately, it’s a process of trial and error but the more keywords you discover, the more your website’s copy will become relevant.
TIP: While it’s important to look out for keywords, this should be a natural process. Avoid stuffing your website with keywords in an irrelevant or robotic way as Google could deem your website as dishonest and spammy.
2. Keep your website fresh
For most small business owners, a website is barely touched after its development but, keeping your website’s copy fresh and relevant is important.
Fresh content will encourage visitors to return to your website and consume unique and timely content. Up-to-date content is also favoured by search engines that want to serve the most relevant content to its users.
TIP: If you have a blog section of your website, aim to keep it updated with at least two new articles a week.
3. Mobile-friendly websites
With more users searching and accessing information via a mobile device, it’s paramount that websites are optimised for a smooth mobile experience. Investing in a mobile-friendly website caters to your mobile traffic and will have a significant influence on your engagement rates.
From the size of an image to the amount of content displayed, websites that fail to consider mobile users can affect their search engine visibility.
In the first half of 2016, Google announced an algorithm update to favour mobile-friendly websites, emphasising the importance of designs and content that are intended for a mobile devices.
TIP: It’s best practice to prioritise your website’s designs for a mobile experience first. Test how mobile friendly your website is here.
4. First in, first served
Frustrated users are less likely to engage with a site. Search engines are therefore less likely to recommend a slow loading website to its users.
According to Kiss Metrics, nearly half of all website users will abandon a site that does not load within 3 seconds. A website with lots of images, flash objects and Java objects will only slow down its loading time and frustrate users.
Ensure your website loads quickly – Google also takes into consideration the load time of a website so test your website’s load times through sites such as Google’s PageSpeed Insights and look for opportunities to decrease page load times and improve a user’s experience on your website.
TIP: Page speed began to factor into a website’s rankings on Google from 2010 but the load time of your mobile site is also an important consideration. Don’t forget to test the speed of your website on mobile.
5. Improve your clout
Recommendations from a reliable friend go further than a stranger’s two cents. In the same way, the more references and recommendations to your website from reputable, external sources, boosts your credibility and your website’s searchability.
Having users and genuine websites in your industry will influence your search ranking, as well as call attention to your website!
TIP: Ensuring your content is easily shareable, you are opening your content to be shared and distributed by users across a variety of social media platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
Higher rankings should not be the end goal of your website. Higher rankings are a result of search engine optimisation activities that prioritise new and existing users. Ultimately, the user is the most important consideration for a search engine and it’s unsurprising that algorithms will favour websites that are also committed to providing value to a user.