SEO 101 - How to improve your rankings on Google

SEO 101 - How to improve your rankings on Google

Designing and building an amazing website is one thing, getting Google to rank it is another. Read on to find out how you can manage your own SEO.

Search Engine Optimization, otherwise known as SEO, plays a vital role in the success of your website. If your website is poorly optimized it will do little if anything on search engines like Google and Bing.

The good news is that it is not difficult to maintain your SEO at what we call a base level, meaning that if you follow these simple steps you will see an improvement to your rankings on Google, which in turn drives traffic and sales or enquiries.

As I said, these are base level steps and you can pay an SEO company to do this but more often than not, dedicated SEO companies will want to tie you into a contract of at least three months and it’s not cheap. This is because it can take a couple of months to see results, depending on your site and how often Google indexes your website.

So let’s take a look at what you need to do at base level,let’s go.

Set a unique keyword of phrase for each page

Each page on your website should target a keyword or phrase and all pages on your website should have their own unique keyword or phrase. This is so that Google can index your pages and decide if it’s useful to the user. If Google sees a website with the same keyword or phrase, Google will struggle to index your pages. It is important to research your keywords or phrases and a great tool to checkout is Google Trends. Google Trends provides data on search terms and you can compare multiple terms to see which is the most popular. It can sometimes be surprising when you think you know what the best keyword or phrase is, yet after doing some research on Google Trends the volume of searches are low but when you compare different alternatives and see they have a higher volume you know which will perform the best on your website.

Meta titles and meta descriptions

So what are meta titles and meta descriptions? In short they do not appear on your web pages but are used by Google to index your website and display them on their search result pages. When you search on Google and are presented with results you will see a blue link and a summary below it. The link is the meta title and the summary is the meta description. As you can see it’s important that both of these meta tags contain the keyword or phrase that you have set for each page. This will help Google understand your individual pages and thus rank your page. Also worth noting is that the meta title and meta description should read in such a way that it should encourage people to click on the link.It is a good idea to keep your meta titles to approximately 55 characters and your meta descriptions should not exceed 160 characters.

URL / slug

Your URL slug is also important and should include your keyword or phrase. The slug is the bit that comes after your domain name. As an example, if you look at this page and the URL bar you will see it reads www.whittledesignstudio.com/blog/how-to-improve-your-rankings-on-google, this is the slug. Try to make it as short as possible because the longer the slug the harder it is for Google to index.

H1 title tag

The H1 tag is a special formatting tag that Google needs to help index your site. Your H1 should contain your keyword or phrase and will be the main large title text on your page. A common mistake people make is setting multiple H1 tags, this will harm your chances of Google indexing your pages so it is important that you only have one H1 tag set. Once you have set your H1 tag you then need to add H2, H3, H4 tags etc… In most case H1, H2 and H3 is enough but the difference with H2 and H3 tags compared to H1 tags is that you can have multiple H2 and H3 tags, which are idea for sub titles. The only thing you have to adhere to is that they need to be in order on the page, so starting with the H1, then H2, then H3 etc… Also the H1 should be the larger title, H2, slight smaller and the H3 smaller again. Only the H1 should contain your keyword or phrase.

Keyword density and on page text length

So once you have set your keyword or phrase you then need to look at the text on your page. Remember, you have to apply this to all your pages so every page on your website is unique. In order for Google to index your pages you can not get away with a few lines of text. Google will not consider your page as useful content and will not index your page. A general rule of thumb is that each page on your website should not have less that 300 words and aim to have much more to increase your chances of Google indexing your page.

Next we need to look at keyword density which means that you should include your chosen keyword or phrase in your text. Again, this is so Google can index each page uniquely but be careful not to include it too many times because this will have the opposite effect and is called ‘keyword stuffing’.As a guide you should aim to include your keyword of phrase 1 to 2 times for every 100 words of text on your page.

Add Alt tags to all images

It is important that all images used on your website must include an Alt tag, which basically means it should include a label. This label is not visible to the user, instead it is used to describe an image which Google will use to index your page. Failing to include Alt tags will make it more difficult for Google to understand your page and Google may not index your page. Alt tags are also used for users who are blind and use a screen reader to read out content on a page.

Localise your content

Depending on your business you may be able to localise your content, keyword or phrase. For example a service based company may work within a 20 mile radius which means it is easier to rank highly on Google because you can include a location. So let’s say you are a gym in Manchester, you can include the word Manchester in your keyword or phrase to narrow the results. If you do not include your location then Google will add your site to a list of other sites across the UK so it’s better to localise your site to increase your chances of ranking towards the top of page 1.

Optimize your images and page speed

The speed and loading time of your website also plays an important role in ranking your website. No one likes a slow website, especially Google so it is important that images are optimized for the web and your website is as fast as possible. Where your website is hosted is also important. If you pay for cheaper hosting, this will mean your website will be slower which has an impact on Googles ranking. If you have a website with Whittle Design Studio, then you are in luck because we use Webflow and all Webflow website are hosted on Amazon servers. Image formatting and optimization is a difficult subject to explain but there are various online tools that have built in features to compress images to the right resolution and format to be used on a web page.

Regular and fresh content

Even once all of the above is done it does not stop there. It is important to maintain your website with regular and fresh content. A great way to do this is writing useful blog posts like the one you are reading now. The more blog posts you write the better because Google will index each post and if you follow the steps above, will deem your blog post as useful content for the reader.

Finally, you need to keep your SEO up to date and adjust it if you are not seeing the results you expect, this is why its considered a long-game and an ongoing task you need to keep up with.

Remember, there are no guarantees to get your site to the top of Google and anyone that claims they can do this, run a mile. Unless you pay for Google AdWords which means you are listed as a Sponsored link, it is just down to hard work and being consistent.

If this all sounds a little too much, don’t worry because we are here to help. We can review your site and maintain it for you, freeing you up to run your business. If you would like to find out more please drop us an email or call us on 01736 811103 and lets have a chat.

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