With our SEO training course being heavily booked yet again it’s clear that optimising your website to improve its performance in the search engines and to generate more visitors is still an important topic to many SMEs.
Gareth Edwards, The National B2B Centre Associate e-Marketing Consultant, quick guide to some important activities that you can conduct yourself or instruct your web developer to carry out for you.
1./ Install Google Analytics
Google Analytics is a free tool that provides a lot of valuable information about who is visiting your site, how they got there and what they do when they arrived.
Get Analytics on your website today and start looking at the search terms your visitors have used or which sites they saw and clicked on your link.
You’ll need to be able to edit your website’s code or have access to a content management system (CMS) such as WordPress to add Analytics yourself. Otherwise your web developer should be able to do it easily and cheaply.
There’s more information in our article “Google Analytics – First Time Through”
2./ Get Back Links
Search engines like links from other quality sites to yours.
In practice this takes quite a bit of effort. Ignore spam emails that promise a “100 links for $20” and look for opportunities such as being included on client websites in their list of suppliers or in suppliers’ news stories or testimonials (check what they say about you). Signing up with recognised directories and using free PR sites such as PRLog has some benefits too.
If you have worked with us then we’ll often publish a testimonial or blog post and include a link (hint, hint).
3./ Keyword Research
Knowing what words people use to search for your products and services is vital. The chances are that they don’t search in the way you expect. Maybe they is more than one word or phrase to describe what you do, or people search in terms of a question or describe the outcome or benefit from your service.
How do you find out? Try asking! Anything from a simple question during a ‘phone call to a detailed survey. You can also use Google Analytics to look at the organic search list and, if you are starting to feel confident investigate Google AdWords Keyword tool andGoogle Webmaster Tools.
Search engines favour websites with good quality content. That means words and images that are meaningful to visitors, well presented (no spelling errors or broken links) and, as far as possible, aren’t replicated somewhere else.
The search engines want to take people who do a search to the page that best fits the search they have made. That means you can target your pages to match those searches, which is why researching what words people use is so important.
Each page on your site provides a unique chance to target one or two keyword or phrases. That means if you have a number of products, you have clients in different industries or there are a number of uses for your products then you should consider creating new web pages for each topic.
If you are struggling to think of what to say (and it’s a common problem) then check out “Success Audit – How to generate content for websites and Social Media”
A lot of the people I work with offer products or services that are in some sense location sensitive – think garden design, car repair, accountants etc. If you are in this situation make sure that the search engines actually know what areas you serve.
There are some straightforward ways to do this. Make sure that you have full address details on the contact page and include other relevant geographic information in the text on your site (e.g. terms like “West Midlands” or “inside the M25”).
Create separate pages that refer to office locations or customer case studies in other places and embed Google Maps to strengthen the point.
6./ Social Media
There are two very good reasons for using social media to improve your website’s performance.
The first is that search engines look out for social media activity referencing your website.
The second is that you can drive traffic directly to your web pages by creating blogs, Tweets, Google+’s or Facebook posts that attract people’s attention.
Choosing the right social media channels and creating interesting content is, of course, another matter. And remember Social Media isn’t really free – your time costs money and it can take a lot of time to do right.
7./ HTML elements – the techie stuff
Web pages are created in a computer code called HTML, which the search engines can read and understand. There are a few elements of this code that search engines pay particular attention to and which can make a big difference to your rankings and whether people click on your link.
If your website has been been built with a CMS like WordPress then you will be able to make changes to these pieces of code through tools that make it very easy (for instance you can add a “plugin” to wordpress called Yoast that simplifies the process).
If all of this sounds like gobbledegook then relax because you can tell a web developer or SEO consultant what you want to do.
The HTML title tag (aka the page title) is the most important of the elements to utilise. It provides your opportunity to tell the search engines exactly what the page is about. Not surprisingly it pays to use the same keywords in the title tag as you have in the page content in order to target the page even more closely to what your customers are searching for. For instance the title tag for our Mobile Apps training course is “Mobile Apps training course | Birmingham, Coventry | Mobile Apps workshop.”
Two other HTML elements to draw your attention to ate the Meta Description tag and the image alt Tag. The meta description doesn’t influence ranking but it is displayed in the search results so you can use it to attract people’s attention and encourage them to click on your entry. Image alt tags allow you to label pictures and graphics with text. This gives you more opportunity to add keywords on to your page and also makes it easier for the search engines to include your pictures in image searches.
If you aren’t sure what’s in your website’s title tags and meta description try doing this search in Google (site:www.yourwebsiteaddress – insert your actual website address). The phrase underlined in blue is the title tag and the black words are the meta description. You could try doing this for competitor websites too so that you can see what words and styles of phrase they use.
Millions of tablets and smart phones were sold in the UK over Christmas so the amount of visitors you get from people using these devices could rise dramatically. Before you go into panic mode and spend unnecessarily on new websites though there are some simple checks that you can do to understand how to react.
The first is to try looking at your website on as many different tablets and smart phones as you can to see what happens. You might find the site doesn’t work at all on say an iPhone or iPad or it may be that it’s ok (albeit rather small on a mobile phone screen).
The second is to use Google Analytics’ mobile report to see how many visits and what devices are being used to get to your website. This will give you a sense of the urgency of any changes and more accuracy as to the devices and systems being used.
Then, armed with some facts, talk to your web developer about what to do next.
Good SEO is as much about being clear about who your clients are, what they search for and what will attract their interest as it about being technical.
With the points highlighted above and the other articles that we have linked to you should now able to more SEO work yourself or be in a better position to select and brief a developer or consultant to do things for you. Our article “9 tips on choosing a good SEO supplier” could be a help in this area too.
Associate e-Marketing Consultant, The National B2B Centre Ltd.