We get endless emails from people/companies offering us SEO services to “get us to #1 on Google”. We know that there is no magic bullet to getting found online.
Following on from our post about how search works, we are going to take a look at how to improve your results on search engines to get found online.
SEO is made up of many parts of varying relevance and difficulty. We are going to review some of the biggest impact items so that you can check that you are not falling down on any of the top barriers to being shown in search results.
Things have changed dramatically over the past few years, with a shift from trying to satisfy search engines and trying to create a great user experience to a situation where creating a great user experience is the top item you can work on to improve your search engine results.
Put your ideal target audience first in what you do online and the search results will follow.
Is your website loading fast enough?
There are many ways to improve the speed of your website, as always the first step is to review where you stand currently.
Check our Resources page for a link to Google’s tool to test your speed. The tool will give you a score with a traffic light system to show you where you stand as well as some recommendations and tips to improve.
People are impatient, if your website takes too long to load then they will bounce away and find one that loads faster. Google knows this and will select faster websites to show in its search results, its aim always being to provide the most relevant and highest quality search results for each user.
Is it mobile friendly? Does a user on mobile get the same experience as a user on desktop – or as close as possible?
Google knows that the majority of search is on mobile and will only show mobile friendly sites in search so that users will not be sent to a site that doesn’t work on their device.
Again, check our Resources page for a link to Google’s tool to test whether your site is mobile friendly. This tool also gives a score based on the traffic light system with tips on what to improve.
Google offer a safe browsing check tool, check our Resources page for a link, which allows you to make sure your website has not been labelled as unsafe. This can happen to a legitimate site that has been compromised but this label will prevent your site from being shown in search results so it is well worth checking to make sure your site is not on the list.
Up to date
Do you regularly update and add content to your website? This is one of the best ways to let Google know that you are still in existence and that you have useful content for searchers.
Don’t post for the sake of it, make sure you are writing posts that are relevant to the audience you want to attract and that your content is valuable.
Write useful, relevant, valuable content. Make sure that it is well written. Use images and video, making sure that any media is tagged so that Google’s spider can identify it as it is crawling your website.
Share your content on Google My Business, via social media, email newsletter etc. This increases traffic to your post, telling Google that it is useful and valuable, as well as creating links to your content around the internet. Relevant links will also improve your search results.
If you use a CMS like WordPress, make sure you have an SEO plugin installed which will allow you to review your content as you go and make sure you are ticking the boxes to improve your chances of getting found.
As you read in our post about how search works, keywords are how the search engine knows what your content is about and which search terms it is relevant for.
Make sure to use the correct keywords – the terms that your ideal audience will search for and the terms that your content is relevant for. Both are important. If you don’t use the keywords that your ideal client is searching for you will not get your content in front of the right people. If you use keywords that are not relevant then your content may be shown as a match where it isn’t relevant, in which case the person who clicks through to your site will bounce away quite quickly which will count against you.
Don’t overuse the keywords, trust the search to understand what you are writing about.
You can use the Google Keyword Planner (it’s free with a Google Ads account) to plan and to find new keywords. Bear in mind that your customers may search differently than you will, eg we tend to think of the solution where they are more likely to search for the problem.
Creating trust on your website is vital if you want users to take the next step to buy from you.
Give them information that will build trust in knowing who you are, what you do, that you will take care of them and that you are an expert in your field.
Avoid too many popups and ads, they distract from your content and can make it difficult for the user to navigate your site. They can also impact the trust factor as well as usability, speed and mobile friendliness.
Use them with care (or not at all!)
This sounds so technical and complicated, and when we build a website we do some very thorough testing to make sure that everything works as it should do. I’m not suggesting that you go to that level, that’s what we’re here for!
What I really mean here is simply to actually use your site! Visit it as if you were a stranger, navigate it, follow the flow you expect your customer to take and make sure that each step works as it should and is intuitive and easy. Find and remove any blocks to that flow so that there is no reason for your customer not to complete the process and purchase from you. If you can, ask some friends and family to test it with fresh eyes, too.
I do like an example! I was on a number of networking calls this week and for many of the people I connected with I visited their Instagram profiles to follow them. Instagram is best used on phone and I was able to look while on the call. On one of the accounts I saw an interesting post with the usual “link in bio” so I clicked through to the profile and on to the link which brought me to the website. All good so far, easy to access the page that the business wanted me to see. Then the website loaded and the great experience ended. This lovely person’s website had a header that didn’t resize so I could only see a narrow part in the middle of it, the content on the rest of the screen was a little better but still not very easy to read. The content was interesting enough that I persisted and did my best to read it… for a couple of seconds, until a popup bounced up in front of the text asking me to subscribe!
Mobile responsiveness should be a given now on any website, if your site doesn’t work on mobile then you are effectively shooting yourself in the foot.
Don’t load a popup within seconds of a person landing on your site. Why would I subscribe to your newsletter without having had a chance to read any of your content? That just annoyed me and I left, feeling very disappointed.
Test it, test all of it! Make sure that it works how you would want it to work if you were visiting as a customer.
If you are still feeling unsure on where to start to check and/or improve the search performance of your website we can help.
Check out our SEO audit for a full review of your website and social media. We’ll review your online presence and provide you with a report outlining where you stand on each element as well as opportunities to improve. This can be done with no further commitment – you can choose whether you would like us to implement any fixes or improvements or whether you would prefer to do them yourself.
Alternatively, you can book a free Discovery Call, a 30-minute video chat with us to discuss your digital marketing needs and how we can help you to improve your results.