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.