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Top 10 SEO tips for optimizing your website for Search in 2023

Top 10 SEO tips for optimizing your website for Search in 2023

SEO Tips to improve your website performance on Search Engines

If you have a website then you will always want it to be as high in search engine rankings as you can be. Search Engine Optimisation or SEO can have a huge part to play in the success of your business (or at least the online side of it). You could be doing well with your retail store, but remember your online store works for you 24/7 so if you have a well-performing website you technically have a salesperson working around the clock. Having a well-founded and well-planned SEO strategy will help your website get higher in search (SERPS) and your target customers will be able to find you much more easily. If your website does not appear on the first page the majority of internet users won’t navigate past page 1 of a search result. This guide which includes 10 simple SEO tips and tricks may help your SEO strategy go from good to great.

 

1. Update your site regularly with Quality Content

This is one of the most basic SEO Tips – Content is King. I’m not going to delve too much into this but it’s quite easy to understand; if you have good content and update your site regularly you will get a reputation with users and Search Engines that your site is a good place to visit. Having content that consistently delivers traffic is called Evergreen content.

Evergreen content is the Holy Grail and you should try to write this type of content. One thing to note, much of this evergreen-style content will need to be reviewed every year or so to ensure that no corrections need to be made. This article you are reading stems from a 2009 article on SEO. I have updated it over the years, it was called “How to Optimize your Website – Organic SEO Tips #1” and now after updates we have an article called “Top 10 SEO tips for Optimizing your Website for Search in 2023“. Adding the year shows that it is content relevant to this year and it is fresh with updated content for this time. It is better to write about topics that will continue to be of interest and also topics that you feel you can write about accurately and originally. Finally, NEVER Copy content from other websites – Google can find and penalize sites that simply copy content from others.

2. Write for Users but Optimise for Search Engines

Never write an article trying to be clever and just to satisfy the search engines. You may want to write an article to get to number 1 on Google and you are thinking if I use a lot of keywords and synonyms then I can easily get to number 1. Don’t use this method as you could be keyword stuffing and Google knows when this is happening. Instead, write a well-written piece of content that answers a question that your audience may be asking.

Some SEO Tips for a well-written article;

  • Research the topic well
  • Use short punch paragraphs
  • Use keywords well and use synonyms of these words scattered around the article
  • Aim for between 500-1000 words – Google likes long content (but make sure it is quality as long for long’s sake is not good)
  • Use Headings and Sub Headings – e.g. H2, H3, and so on but ensure you only have one H1 tag
  • Use images with Alt Text to break up the paragraphs
  • Use Featured Snippets to help Google present the content and this can get you higher rankings

3. Do your Keyword Research and Target them on the page

One of the key parts of your SEO Strategy is running good keyword research. This should be done when you are beginning to write your content so that you can incorporate your targeted keywords into your content. You want to include keywords in the content which will work with the search engines. You will have Primary Keywords which are the main keywords and then secondary keywords are synonyms and related keywords supporting your content. Make sure to include your keywords naturally in your content and don’t overuse them.

4. Optimize the Page Title and Meta Description with Keywords

This is an SEO Tip that goes back to the early days of SEO. Back in the early days we would also have said, ensure that your keywords are optimized but keywords are no longer really used by search engines. The Meta title and Meta description are used when the search engine indexes your website so this would be visible to the public. Best to ensure you have this well-written and using keywords. This Meta Title and Description could very well be a deciding factor to users – they may click or not click your listing on the search engine based on what you have in these areas. A well-written Meta Title and Description will give the users enough information so that they will click on it.

Some SEO Tips for these two items would include (1) not making them too long or short, and the title should be optimized at around 35-65 characters for the title and around 160 characters for the meta description (2) including keywords and synonyms in the title and description and (3) in the description summarise your page in this short area.

5. Use a Combination of Internal and External Links

When creating your web page it is a good idea from an SEO perspective to use a mix of internal and external links. This can help with user experience, crawlability, and the overall use of your new web page. Don’t just add links for the sake of the tick-box exercise; make them useful and in context to the page. If you are writing about travel to Paris and you already have a blog post about Travel to Prague, you could link the two and make a comparison between the two cities. This is related content and the audience may appreciate it and it keeps them on your site longer.

6. Use Well-formed, Short, Descriptive URLs including keywords

When creating URLs and creating your URL structure you should be aware of how to do it correctly. So if you have an article about the Top 10 things to do in Paris, instead of /paris/ being the URL slug, a better URL might be /Top-Attractions-in-Paris/ as it is descriptive and also has keywords. having a strong URL structure helps the search engines index your site and also can directly impact your on-page SEO. It also gives a more usable and more logical structure to your site. So if you have products you could lay them out logically e.g. if you run a deli website and sell a lot of chocolates and coffee, perhaps separating these out into logical structures might work well, thus giving,  /products/chocolate/ and /products/coffee/. Try to keep your URLs some way short, a maximum of 50 characters would be ideal but try not to go over 60 characters.

7. Check the Page Load Speed

Having a web page that loads fast is something that Google and the other search engines seem to prioritize as being a factor for better search results. It can also impact the visitors to your site as users may leave if the site does not respond quickly. The speed at which a page loads is one of the three Core Web Vitals and is also a Google ranking factor. There is a tool called Google PageSpeed Insights – this free SEO tool scores your desktop and mobile page speed on a scale of zero to 100, with 100 being the fastest.  If you are having a page score low you may wish to review the page and look for page elements that might be causing the slow load time. This could include unnecessary plugins, large unoptimized images, or other content which is dragging down your page load speed.

8. Try to get Backlinks from Authoritative Websites

Getting a link to your website is always something webmasters would like to have – this increases your referral traffic. However, not every backlink is created equally. It is better to have links from reputable sources or authoritative websites than sites that are low authority. So having a link from the Official BBC website would be much better than a link back from your friend’s online store (although it would be a lot harder to get), but you see the difference.

Having authority links back to your site can actually increase your own site’s authority and as this authority grows your SEO score will improve. This process is called link building. But do it correctly – as buying links is not normally a good way to go. You can search and see what types of sites are linking back to your competitors. Also writing strong and well-written content may get your article linked by other websites and this really helps your aim of growing strong authoritative links.

9. Run a Site Audit

This is something I do on a rolling basis and I do it about every 6 months. Things do go out of date or indeed your content may need to reflect new information so this is a perfect way to update your website. These regular site audits help to ensure your website is also functioning correctly – in a recent site audit, I found that a header file was not loading correctly thus rendering all navigation and CSS usage void – embarrassing but it was easily fixed. You can also run a check on your links to ensure they are not broken. You may also wish to check page load speed or pages that link to nowhere.  I also run checks on analytics to see if there are any pages that are getting very low web traffic. If over 1 year I have a page that receives between 0 and 20 hits, I may consider removing this page as Google may consider it as being low-quality. I may wish to try to improve the page content and SEO and see if the traffic increases between now and the next site audit but certainly something to consider.

10. Include other technical SEO measures

Ensure that you have robots.txt updated on your site, and also a fresh sitemap in XML format. Most CMS-based websites, running WordPress, etc can have this generated dynamically by plugins like Yoast, but best to check that you have this on your site. It just helps web crawlers know more about your website. For your images, you should also ensure that you are using search engine friendly filenames, so instead of IMG0002.jpg for your product image, you would use 500gDarkChocolate.jpg if you were selling chocolate, etc.

Improving your Technical SEO

If you wish to read a related article, I highly recommend this article on Perfecting Technical SEO

WordPress SEO – Some Simple Tips for better SEO

WordPress SEO – Some Simple Tips for better SEO

WordPress & SEO

I just learned of something WordPress SEO related which might be hampering your attempts to get good levels of traffic to your site if you are using WordPress. This is a great WordPress SEO tip.

One of the best things about WordPress is that you can add a category or two to your post. It turns out that listing your blog post under more than one category might be considered as duplicate content in Googles eyes and your site may be penalised.

I will be posting under only 1 category for a while to see if this helps with the site traffic / SEO on the site.

Any comments – please add them below to discuss the search tricks you use for WordPress SEO. I am trying this on this site, shanemcdonald.ie and hopefully, it will help my SEO efforts.

Also, if you are adding Tags to your site and you have tags which only have one or two posts this could cause issues also. Consider this, your site has 300 posts and you have a blog post with a recipe and a WordPress tag called ‘recipe’. If this tag has never been used on your site apart from this one time, then this tag remains with 1 post attached to it. This doesn’t really have any real impact on your site’s SEO. Perhaps a better approach might be to add this into a tag such as ‘Lifestyle’ or ‘Food’ which might have a higher post count.

If you are working on your WordPress sites SEO then you should also consider SEO plugins such as Yoast or the All in One SEO plugin. I have used both plugins but I can tell you that Yoast works a bit better for my 3 sites. Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress also connects to Google Search Console. As a result, your WordPress SEO can benefit from things like Google and Bing Authentication and also notifications about soft 404 errors and much more.

One final SEO tip for WordPress users is to install caching and speed optimisation plugins. Take a read of this blog post ‘How to setup WordPress caching and image optimisation your website‘.  I saw an improvement in Bounce Rate reduction and also organic SEO visits. Search Engine Optimisation is an ongoing thing for bloggers and website owners and WordPress has many features to take the pain out of this for you.

If you have any comments on website or WordPress SEO Tips please leave a comment below. 

April Fool’s Day Pranks,Pranks for April Fool’s Day, April 1st SEO

Everyone who has a site wants loads of FREE Hits to their site. One of the biggest draws to any site I ever built was one with April Fools Day Pranks and Tricks. The site at shanemcdonald.com, which originally was an Alumni site and later became a jokes and fun site, had a page called April Fools Day Pranks. This was uploaded in 2006 and got reasonable traffic in that year. It was only in 2007 that I saw the traffic grow and it peaked in 2008.

In 2007 I got over 45,000 unique visits in 3 days and the hosting company (Host***** … I’m not going to name and shame them) shut the site down and would not let me retrieve the files. They shut it down just because it got too much traffic – needless to say, I moved away from them asap as they were rude and did not accept any explanation.

In 2008, April Fools Day, the site traffic peaked and I got 101,000 unique views in 3 days. Luckily the site stayed up. 2009-2010 the site had a security breach but it is back up this year and will be interesting to see what traffic it gets this year.

The link is here – April Fools Day Pranks – The site is not the great site it once was but it is still there as an old timer getting a few hundred page views a day.

These April Fools Day pranks are just fun and I don’t advocate the pranking of people who might not have a sense of humour or who might take it too seriously… April Fools Day has occurred for many decades, have fun but be sensible! The pranks contained on the link above are just humorous to read and I do believe number there are certain ones like #14 which are harmless.

Google Trends for SEO Keyword Research

Google Trends for SEO Keyword Research

Its been a while since I posted a Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) post and this is quite a useful one for choosing your SEO Keywords or Key-Phrases for you TITLE, DESCRIPTION and BODY content. This tool from Google is called “Google Trends” and it allows you to view relative search volumes and seasonal keyword search trends between two or more keyword phrases. For example if you want to see how people are searching on the web, you can include these keywords into Google Trends and leave it do its work. Below, I have done a search for Golf Course, Golf Club and Golf Links for the past 12 months using the Irish Datacentres.  Golf Club and Golf Course are usually the same thing in reality, but what do people search for? Google Trends for SEO Keyword Research - SEO Tool This can show that Golf Club is used more than Golf Course. This is important when choosing your SEO Keywords. So if you are a Golf Course you can choose to go for the most searched term “Golf Club” or the less competitive term “Golf Course”. Selecting a less competitive search term can help you when you setup a website. If you are promoting a very competitive keyword, e.g. “music download” which is the second most competitive keyword term, you can try combine this into a niche 3 word phrase, e.g. “classical music download” , “free music download” or “irish music download”. You can then use Google Trends to see which keyword combination would be best for you. If you were to search for something like “Festival” or “Mothers Day” you would be able to see the annual trends for these terms, which may be interesting for you when selecting keywords for your business website. This is only one use for Google trends and there is much more that this system offers. For a bit of fun, take a look at this Google Trend : LINK It shows how talk of Recession is going down and Cheating is going up. Especially a huge spike , dated November 19th, when Theirry “Le Cheat” Henry decided he wanted to take up Gaelic Football for a few seconds. Play around with Google trends and you should find some uses to assist your SEO Keyword Research.

Optimizing your Website : Organic SEO #2

This is the second post regarding tips and tricks you can use to improve your organic SEO or search engine optimization.

1 – Creating a Useful Web Presence
If you can create a useful web presence then you will be default get some good traffic. More and More, Google is moving towards natural searching patterns, so if an article is written for the audience (people) rather thank being stuffed with keywords aimed at search engines, keeping visitors in mind, then it should do well.

2 – Update your site often
Keep the site well updated, don’t let any content go out of date – this will ensure that your site will not be ignored by the search engines. One trick is to update your site with relevant breaking news or related topics as soon as possible – for example, one email company used Google alerts and on a day when GMail went down, their site was updated within minutes saying “Fed up with GMail Outages – Buy our Email Solution” – this was reflected in their Google AdWords campaigns and showed how an opportunity in their business field was taken advantage of.

3 – The Right Content
Wherever possible try to create sticky content. Sticky Content, or having a sticky site, refers to how longe people will stay on your site. If you can write articles greater than 250 words (some people say 600 words), but which are relevant, well written and “solve the search” for the visitor, then you have ticked off another box for your SEO.
For Example, if you have a Spa website and you are trying to sell Facials, you could list all the facials you currently provide, on your products page. However you could write some articles on why facials are good for the skin, what facials suit certain skin types and perhaps even how to make a homemade facial scrub with oatmeal …. none of this will earn you money though. What you are trying to do is to bring in visitors, this leads to brand awareness and ultimately conversions.
Articles are a great way to supplement your website and enhance what people know about your business.

4 – Making the Site Social
Social Media is a buzzword we now all know. One way to get your website out there is to provide a widget (or button) on your site, which allows people to share your websites link or content. This means your website address, blog post or a snippet of your content, can be sent by email, posted on Facebook or Tweeted on Twitter all for free … and you don’t have to do anything. Just place a button on each page of your site and this can all happen. There are a few major providers, but I found that Add This (www.addthis.com) is best. Visit the site for more information.

5 – Most Important – Don’t try anything stupid
People often try stupid tricks – these are called Black Hat SEO Tricks. These include;
– Keyword stuffing : placing lots of keywords in the text and meta data
– Cloaking : a script which trys to trick the search engines
– Invisible Text : Making the text the same as the background color
– Doorway pages : Invisible pages which try to get the site indexed

SEO requires patience, planning, and monitoring. If you use some SEO keywords and descriptions which bring you a large increase in traffic, you may try to improve on this but changing them further, but a good tip is to retain the old files incase the SEO changes backfire, you can always revert to the last most successful campaign. Try to record your visitor levels and your levels of sales (if you are a business site), in that way you can choose the best SEO combination which produces the best sales from your website.