We all know that SEO is important, but how do you actually interpret and tackle the link-building, content marketing, social signals and all the other jargon and geek-speak that you see bandied around. We thought we’d throw together a few quick, easy tips that you can carry out in just a few hours to help your website be more visible to google.
Many SEO techniques need access to change the code on the website, but there are some quick and easy techniques that you can use even without this.
Creating a Google+/Google Places for Business page is probably one of the easiest things you can do to help your visibility on search engines. Although Google deny that Google+ has any impact on your Search Engine ranking, we know that +1s (Google’s equivalent of a Facebook or LinkedIn ‘like’) have an impact, and it helps by displaying your business on Google Maps and in the right-hand sidebar of the main search.
To create a Google+ page, first create a personal profile, if you currently use a log-in on any Google product (i.e. an Android phone or Gmail) this will be very easy. Just visit plus.google.com and either log in with your current google login, or create a new one (it can be any email address you like, it doesn’t have to be gmail.) This should then take you to the page guiding you through your profile set-up.
Once you are all set up the next stage is creating your page – hover over ‘home’ at the top left and you’ll get a drop-down. Click ‘Pages’ then ‘Create a page’. If you ahve a physical location you like people to visit you’ll want to be a Local Business, if not you’ll probably prefer to be a Company. Fill in the relevant details here and you’re off! Don’t forget to make sure your location marker is in the correct place, and that you have a good cover and profile photo. As with anything like this, fill in as much as you can as it is all data that will help Google (and any potential customers!) get to know your company. Also ask your webmaster to add a rel=publisher code and Google+ link to your website – this is just a little piece of code that helps to verify you to Google and makes you more visible. If you have time, use Google+ to connect and engage with other businesses and industry influencers – it’s definitely growing and it’s best to stay ahead of the curve with these things!
2. Meta Tags
This one will require access to the code on your website, but you can probably ask your webmaster to carry out the additions for a few hours small charge. Meta Titles and Meta Descriptions are essentially what comes up in the search engine results, for example take a look at ours below.
If you do not add meta titles and descriptions Google will automatically fill these out by pulling random text from your website, but people are far more likely to click on the result with an engaging description that tells them why they should click.
For Meta Titles (what is shown in purple on the image – the clickable part) aim for around 70 characters. For Meta descriptions, aim for around 155 characters (however these amounts are fluid and not everything is always shown depending on result placement, character width and a whole range of other factors). Each page should ideally have it’s own unique meta tags, and avoid words that don’t say anything about the business (i.e. page titles like Homepage or Our Story)
As a side note, if anyone tells you that meta keywords are essential then ignore them. Google has categorically stated that they do not pay attention to these, and they could actually let your competitors know what keywords you are targeting.
Google is ever-shifting towards ‘content marketing’, essentially creating useful, engaging content that helps users. One of the easiest ways to do this is by blogging. Create helpful hint posts (like this!) and publicise it across your various social networks (not forgetting the all-important Google+ you set up earlier!). Don’t just limit yourself to your own blog either – if you get the opportunity to publish out to other sources, then go for it (as long as they are reputable!). For example, just this week Michelle sent out an old blog post (on Direct Mail Marketing) to the new LinkedIn publishing feature – she is one of the lucky 25,000 beta testers. The post had over 1000 views and 10 shares within a few hours, and has been steadily rising since then. This has resulted in loads of profile views for Michelle, and literally thousands of people being exposed to our brand and contact details. All for an old blog post that took about 20-30 minutes to write!
Make sure your blog is linked from your website (again speak to your webmaster) to make sure this all counts in your favour. You can also add authorship (or rel=author) to have your blog posts appear with your Google+ profile and picture alongside – pretty and engaging for users, and gives you ‘bonus points’ in Googles eyes. This can be a little tricky and merits its own post – I will write about this soon, or you can search for how to add authorship to your blog.
4. Format images
If you upload your own images through a CMS gallery there will often be a box for ‘alt tags’. Always ALWAYS make sure you fill this in. Google is a robot and can’t read images… the alt tags tell Google what the image is about. It helps your images get found in image searches, and helps to make your site more authoritative. Search for ‘alt tag checker’ to search for a range of tools you can run your website through to identify any images that aren’t google-friendly
5. Check any links on your site
While you are ‘spidering’ your images to improve the alt tags you can also use a broken link checker to ‘spider’ for any on-page 404s (spidering is the process that search engines use to find data about your website – spidering tools allow you to see what they see so that you can improve it). Any broken links on your site makes the website look unloved and abandoned – the online equivalent of boarded-up windows in a house. If you have access to the Google Webmaster Tools for your website you can do this directly from there. Fix these as soon as possible to help improve your website for users and Google.
You may notice a running theme that Google is happy when things are easy for users – most of their recent updates seem to focus on this. They are constantly cutting down on shady ‘black-hat’ SEO practitioners who try to game the system, and usability and Content Marketing are the watchwords. Think about investing in removing your flash content, making your website responsive or adding a mobile site. And if you just can’t get your head around the social signals and content marketing then get in touch with us and we’ll see what we can do to help.