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Increase your traffic with best practice search engine optimisation (SEO)

digitalstream - Jul 27, 2016

One of the best online investments of time and resource is improving your website search engine optimisation (SEO). This will result in creating a strong web presence and visibility for your business and brand so your target audiences can easily find you in the organic (non paid) search results. Below is a short list of foundational SEO best practices for optimising your website.

 

Google gets over 100 billion searches a month worldwide.

(Source: Mashable)

 

Keyword indicators for Google - Ensure you base your keyword focus on a sound and well researched site map structure. By having multiple places in your website with the same keyword focus will result in lack of clarity to Google on which page to rank for your target term.

Meta descriptions - Meta descriptions are not a ranking factor as such, however they are a very important search display factor to give you the best chance against your competition in the search results - be sure to provide a descriptive benefit driven message.

Image tags - Ensure you add keyword rich text describing what the image is about for the image ALT attribute. These images will get found and indexed by Google.

Website structure and navigation - Google rewards a website that is well structured with correct hierarchy, where Users can drill down to deeper information of a given section from a main menu navigation. Related subs pages will also have links to one another.

Correct content structure - It’s important to a good page structure not just for SEO but so your users can get the essence of what the page is about from a quick scan. This would ideally look like the following:

  • A benefit driven value proposition headline
  • Short intro summary of what the page is about
  • Supporting image(s) and video
  • Good use of bullets or lists
  • Paragraph headings
  • A focused call to action
  • Related pages

A page that offers little value to the User, IE one with thin content will not rank with Search Engines and therefore may as well not exist.

Keyword density - Days are long gone when you can try to trick search engines by stuffing a page with excessive keywords. Now days if you do this you’ll only indicate to Google that you page is poorly written and therefore rank poorly. Always write copy like you are speaking directly to your audience making it sound as naturally as possible. If you write primary for your audience, and your copy is well constructed with natural keyword inclusion your page will naturally perform well with Google.

 

72% of consumers who did a local search visited a store within 5 miles.

(Source: Wordstream)

 

Local search - Creation of local online profiles using Local Business Listings that contain your business name, address, phone number, and other details will increase your visibility on the Internet.

There are many websites and directories on which local business owners are allowed to create free business listings. Some you'll already know such as, Google My Business, DMOZ, Finda, NZS, Yelp, ZipLeaf, Business Me, NZ Directory, Localist. The more places your business is listed you increase your chances of ranking well in local search and the more visible you are. However ensure your citations are accurate and consistent otherwise all your work will be all for nothing.

Page loading speed - Check your page loading times are fast and optimised with best practice coding, correct caching techniques and optimised images.

URL best practice - It is still surprising today to come across so many website that have multiple versions of the home page /index or /home (this is because of either old or lazy coding techniques. This is not so obvious to the untrained eye but of course Google can easily pick it up. Google needs to quickly discover what is the root domain of the site, so correct use of redirects for various domains you might have to a primary domain is important. This also applies that you have one target for non www or www.

Backlinks and anchor text - Ensure backlinks to your site are relevant and factual. Link relevancy is determined by the content of the landing page and the text of your anchor link. You can use Google Search Console, to check what in linking to your site from from external sources. If your page has many too many inbound links with the exact same keyword rich anchor text it may cause Google to look deeper at your sites link profile - using unnatural back linking means to acquire better page rank can and most likely will backfire on you.

Duplicate pages - Make every page unique, doubling or trying to amplify your content will work against you. Ensure you create a sitemap that is well researched and well structured. If you are struggling with where a page should go, perhaps you haven’t got the structure right.

When there is the case of similar page versions it is important to assign a canonical tag to the page version that you want to rank and index in Google.

Redirects and 301s - If you are creating a new site or a new page to replace an existing one it is vital to retain your ranking and indexing with Google. You don’t want to start from scratch as that will lose precious time and resources. The use of a 301 redirect (telling Google you want a permanent redirection) passes page link authority from the old page URL to the new page URL.

Broken website links - Having 404 errors appearing on your site is not a great look so check your website links are all working - good for Users and search engines a-like. These can be found with Google search console tool. Also ensure you have a branded page 404 page with a main link back to home for those odd occasions should one be found by a visitor.

Robots.txt and xml sitemaps - The robots exclusion protocol robots.txt is a text file webmasters create to tell search engine robots how to crawl and index pages on their website. Ensure your developer allow search engines to crawl the CSS & JavaScript files in your code.

xml sitemaps are important, it is a easy way for Google to crawl pages on the website, these should be updated regularly if possible - ideally dynamically generated. If it’s a WordPress site allow search engine robots to crawl the various xml site map version (check with your developer if you are unsure of which ones to allow).

Important SEO indicators for search engines - Here are 8 top SEO signals that Google uses to determine the ranking of your website.

  • Domain Authority (How overall Google ranks the importance of your website)
  • Site Speed (Load Time - A mobile responsive platform is important here)
  • Backlinks (Quality and number of Links pointing back to your website)
  • Number of Indexed Pages in Google
  • Social Media Interaction
  • Site Sessions
  • Organic Visits
  • Bounce Rate

If you would like to learn more about any of the information covered in this article and how it relates to your online presence please get get in touch. We’ll can arrange a time for you to chat with one of our online marketing experts about how to use SEO to drive more leads and grow your business.