Five ways to start optimising your content for SEO
Search engine optimisation (SEO) can be a daunting task. The algorithmic gods that decide each web page's fate can be both mysterious and cruel to novices. We’ve put together five of the most impactful tips for driving traffic to your website without the need for rocket science.
Search engine optimisation (SEO) can be a daunting task. The algorithmic gods that decide each web page's fate can be both mysterious and cruel to novices.
Below are five of the most impactful tips for driving traffic to your website without the need for rocket science.
1. Find your key words.
Key words are the crux of SEO. When looking for a new vacuum cleaner, you might search “vacuum cleaner”, and expect to see a list of web pages that mention them. However, in that sea of vacuum cleaner search results, you might narrow down your investigation by adding words like “pet-hair friendly” or “cheap”. In those extra words lies the SEO secret to success, ensuring that products and pages appear in as many relevant searches as possible, no matter how niche. Otherwise, every site will be competing for the top spot on a select few, very broad searches - which is less than ideal for both users and businesses.
Whether you’re writing about dishwashers or dinosaurs, it’s essential to include the same words that users will be searching for in your content. You can likely guess a fair few of the most relevant words to describe the content on your webpage but, to take your SEO practice to the next level, try tools like ahrefs.com and Google’s Search Console to see essential stats. These tools enable you to see how many users are searching the terms you’re mentioning, find other words that you may have missed, and can even show a score detailing how difficult it is to rank highly, with each word on Google’s search results listings.
Repeating key words is great, as pages that mention them most will appear more useful. However, Google isn’t stupid, and sites that appear to spam a term without making any sense are likely to be penalised as users land and bounce away again.
2. Headings, headings, headings.
As your school teacher likely told you, titles are important, and they need to be written well to ensure that your audience knows what it is they’re about to read. If users land on your page and the title is too vague, unnaturally long or just plain gibberish - they won’t risk wasting their time reading your page when there are millions of safer bets a click away.
Google (unsurprisingly) knows this too, and uses the content of your headings to decide how useful your content is likely to be. That means that pages with clear h1 headings, that contain the key words users are looking for, and subheadings that neatly and informatively break up sections of your page using more of those key words, (Those are your h2, h3, h4 headings onwards) will appear sooner (or higher) in search results.
FAQs are a great way to implement this, by asking the same questions your users do. Frequently asked question sections are a great place to use plenty of key words and increase your chances of being the source that search engines surface to answer user’s woes and curiosities. Google might even pull out your question and show your answer as a top search result, just like the one shown below.
3. Betta' check your Meta-tags.
Meta is a nice futuristic prefix, the brand formerly known as Facebook obviously agrees. So it can cause some to groan at the idea of getting unnecessarily technical. But fear not, meta-tags are no more complex than the hashtags we’ve been tweeting for over a decade and a half (I just Googled it - scary, I know).
Within your site’s HTML, or more likely these days accessible somewhere in your site’s CMS, are your meta tags. These are a list of words or phrases describing the content on your webpage, letting search engines know what kind of content this site contains. A lot like the ingredients on a food label. These ingredients are whispered quietly to Google, and if added correctly, won’t appear at all on your webpage. This is because they live in what's known as the “head” of your webpage, where all the less glamorous admin is done, such as telling Google which language your webpage appears in.
Which words should be used as meta-tags?
See what I did there? There are four types of meta-tag, but three we’ll discuss here.
Meta Key Words
The Meta Key words Attribute is made up of, you guessed it, the relevant key words you lovingly researched earlier. This is less important than you’d expect however, as due to people including key words that are completely irrelevant to their site’s content in order to try to increase their search rankings, Google has devalued the meta key words attribute in its search rankings. The moral of the story is, only use relevant key words, spamming irrelevant ones is bad for everyone.
The Meta Title tag is not devalued, because it’s very important. The words assigned to this tag appear on tabs as the title of your webpage, and in Google’s search results. This is the sign above your shop door. It needs to be clear, concise, and armed with key words. Although Google says there’s no official title tag character limit, the industry standard and recommended length is 50-60 characters. This is partly to ensure the most useful parts of your title can be seen in Google’s search results, and not cut off with a dreaded “...”. It doesn’t need to include full sentences, which is why you’ll often see sites use key words, separated by the “|”, or pipe symbol, like so.
Finally we have the Meta Description tag. This is used by Google to determine your webpage’s relevance using key words, and also to form the description of each website seen in Google’s search results. Google determines the most important “snippet” of text from your description to display on search results, by looking at which part of it mentions what users are searching for. The guidance here, is to utilise your key words, but keep sentences concise and to the point, as Gucci demonstrates below.
There are some clever extra tags you can use, to beef up your meta-descriptions without showing it all to users, such as the data-nosnippet attribute - but this usually isn’t necessary as there’s no limit to how long a meta-description should be. Just be aware that Google will interrupt your description with an ellipsis at roughly at least 160 characters.
4. Who’s got your back-links?
As one of the most important search engine ranking factors, back-links do what they say on the tin, they’re instances where other webpages link back to your page. The logic here is that websites that have lots of other websites linking to them are likely to be good sources of information and more trustworthy. Pages with a lot of back-links benefit from higher organic search rankings and, if all goes well, higher traffic. It’s often compared to votes, or recommendations.
Sadly, utilising back-links isn’t as simple as setting up one hundred unlisted fake websites and linking them all to your target webpage. Google can see, and cares, how credible the web pages linking back to your site are. This means that a back-link from BBC News will boost your site's search rankings much more than a back-link from your uncle's pet-friendly-vacuum-cleaner review blog.
Savvier still, Google also cares how contextually relevant the back-linking websites are. A cookie recipe page back-linking to a page about cooking gluten-free food will benefit far more, then a plumbing blog back-linking to a page about the top 10 lipstick colours of 2023.
5. All traffic and no experience can do more harm than good.
Why does search engine optimisation matter? Why optimise web pages for Google’s search result rankings at all? Well, the obvious answer is to increase overall traffic to your site. However, all this hard work is worthless if your users land, only to find content that doesn’t satisfy their query, or a user experience that leaves them bored, frustrated, or with "the ick".
Lots of users bouncing away from your site suggests that your content is low-quality, and less useful than other sites. This is another factor Google is wise to, and without improvement over time Google will take back the SEO ranking spot you worked so hard for. There’s no point hanging up a beautiful sign for a restaurant that serves terrible food, after that initial spike in footfall, people always catch wind that the staff are rude and the chairs are uncomfortable.
If your team could do with support to achieve this delicate balance between technical SEO, excellent interactions and best in-class content, to create experiences with impact - get in touch with us at Yoyo for a chat about how we can help.