Here at Skizzar we get asked 2 questions all the time:
- Can you build me a great looking website?
…that one’s easy! Yes, yes we can
- Now you’ve built me a great looking website can you put it on the first page of google.
…that one isn’t actually so easy…
…In actual fact, it’s not even possible to just put one’s website onto the first page of Google – if it were that easy everyone would be doing it! Instead, Google (and other search engines, but we’ll focus on Google today as they really have the Lion’s share of search traffic) have very very clever algorithms to determine what your website is about and how popular it is…and it’s important to play by their rules if you want to improve how highly you rank.
So, without further ado, welcome to the intricate world of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) – it’s a world full of ideas, opinions, tips and theories about how to get a “higher score” on Google. There are an insane amount of online resources available with stacks of information about how to improve your website’s SEO, there are also a lot of companies who will take your money…and sometimes they charge a fair whack too, and claim that they will improve your search engine rank (and we’re not saying that they won’t help) but here at Skizzar we like to live by a simple philosophy when it comes to SEO – Do everything that you can do on your website first to give it the best chance of ranking highly, and then, if you still need to improve, start looking for outside help.
So what can you do to improve your website’s SEO and rank higher? Well, here are our top tips for you to get started with.
1. Think of some keywords or phrases for your site
The first step towards better SEO is having a list of “keywords” (also known as Search Terms). These are words or phrases that you would expect someone to type into a search engine and find your site. For example, if you are a company who offers wine tasting courses, your keywords might be something like this:
Wine Tasting Courses
UK Wine Tasting
It’s good to try to have around 5 or 6 words or phrases, and they should vary in their competitiveness – for example, if you were to search “Red Wine” the chance of you ranking #1 on Google are quite low to begin with as this is a competitive term, however, something like “Wine Tasting Courses” or “UK Wine Tasting” are less competitive and you stand more chance of ranking highly. As a rule of thumb, keywords or phrases that are 3 or more words long and/or contain a place name will be less competitive.
2. Use your keywords! Here are some top tips on how to use keywords in your content to boost your search engine ranking.
Now you have decided your keywords, you need to make sure they feature in the content of your site. But be clever about it, don’t just throw them in willy nilly, there are some specific things that Google likes to see.
You should aim to include your most important keywords/search terms as headings on your website. Headings are defined with the h1 to h6 tags (you can select these in the text settings on any Skizzar widget).h1 defines the most important heading while h6 defines the least important heading. You should try to make sure there is at least one instance of a h1 heading on your page containing your most important search term(s) within it.
Internal Links are hyperlinks that point to other pages on your site. Google will look at the content of these links and make an assumption of what that page is about. A classic mistake here is that a lot of websites will have the text click here as a link to another page – however, that tells google that the destination page is about click here. Instead, try something like Click here to book a wine tasting – straight away, Google will know that the destination page is where people should go to book a wine tasting.With Skizzar it is easy to add links to your content. Simply, highlight the content and click on the link icon – add the destination URL or page name and click insert. Here’s one of our tutorial videos showing you how to do it.
Keyword density is the percentage of times one of your search term appears on your site compared to the total number of words on the page. It’s good practice to have your search terms repeated but we wouldn’t recommend more than 3 repeats per page – otherwise you might be accused of trying to cheat the system which could have a negative impact. Avoid stuffing keywords everywhere just for the sake of it and keep text meaningful and readable. As a rule, write your content for your visitors first and then dash a few keywords in to keep the search engines happy.
Image alt tags
Search engines can’t read images when they look at your website, so instead images are given something known as alt tags – these are descriptions for your images that can’t be seen by your visitors but they tell google what the image is about.It’s so easy to add keywords to your image alt tags that there is no reason why you shouldn’t do it as it’s essentially an extra search engine boost with very little effort.
If you are a Skizzar user, navigate to your dashboard and click on Media > Library. Now click on an image and you will see the details for it. On the right, you will see where you can add alt tags to your images.
3. Optimise your images
When you build your website, you should have load time in mind – you don’t want your visitors to be waiting around for ages for the page to load…because they won’t bother waiting!!
We find a lot of our clients a little confused about whether a file is big or not, so think of file size in terms of how much mobile data you get. For example, if you have a video you want to add to your site that is 500MB in size, consider that someone with only 1GB of mobile data will end up using half of their data loading your web page! So you can see why it is important to be mindful of how big the resources are you stick on your site. Not only this, but google also favours fast loading sites so it’s definitely worth considering.
If you need to resize your images, here is what we suggest:
- For full screen images make your image 1900px wide
- All other images make then 1000px wide
- You can compress your images by up to 70% and they will still look good for web
- Try and aim for a file size less than 300kb
If you’re struggling to get the file size down, then we recommend the site http://tinypng.org – they are great at reducing the size of both .png and .jpg files.
4. Get yourself some back-links
“Back-links” is a bit of a jargon phrase isn’t it! But it’s simple, it just means a link that points to your site (but you don’t point back to it). This concept is great because it shows google whose site is more popular than whose. For example, if you link to your auntie’s website about gardening, but she doesn’t link back to your site, then that will tell google that her site is more popular than yours.
Essentially, google looks at the amount of people who are linking to you, and if it’s a lot (and you’re not linking back) then it means that people are talking about you – which is a good thing.
So how can you get back-links? Well, you need to be a bit creative. Depending on your industry, get people to give a shout out to you on their social profiles, or on their blogs or better yet, on their website – if you’re feeling brave, get them to write a quick tagline with your keywords in and turn that into a link towards your website (e.g. Aunty Gail gives great gardening tips).
This is a really important SEO concept and really demonstrates the popularity of your business to google, so it’s worth thinking about how you can encourage people to link to your site.
5. Be active on social media
This point ties in quite neatly with our last blog post on how to drive traffic to your website. These days, being part of an online social community is key for getting traffic to your site, and, the more traffic you have, the better your site ranks. The key to this is to be well-balanced and to be consistent. For example, let’s say you have a twitter account, and you’ve added a link to your website on it – well done you. However, if you only tweet once a year and only have 5 followers, you don’t look like the most popular, active business on the internet. We’re not saying that you need to give up your job and spend your entire life on social media, but you do need to commit some time to building up your social profile.
We would suggest a new status update at least once a day, show your audience that you exist and are an active business. Reply to comments, comment on other people’s posts and upload media – all of these things are going to help drive traffic to your site and give you a well-rounded online presence.
To some, the whole social media thing may seem like a bit of an effort, however, you need to play the game right if you want to rank highly and these days, regardless of your thoughts on social media, it is undeniable that it plays a massive role in how big your online presence is.
…the bottom line is this – be sociable and people will come to your website!
So that’s our top tips on how to increase your website’s search engine optimisation. As with anything, it takes time and effort, but once you gain a bit of momentum with it you will see great results.
What we always find useful is to draw up an SEO plan – start by writing out your keywords and then give yourself a daily goal – it might be to add to your website content or to compress your images and add alt tags, or to write a new status update on Facebook – if you have an action plan then you will see progress by sticking to it.
We’ve got plenty more advise to come on marketing your site to get the most out of it so stay tuned!!