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2017 SEO Guide: 17 Actionable Steps For Attracting more Purchase-Ready Customers

Tired of poor marketing results? Lower the cost of acquiring new customers and help purchase-ready audiences find your business.
Number of keyword searches per day.

Why Search Engine Optimisation Is Important For Your Business

Did you notice the counter above?

Okay, I’ll admit, it’s a hard number to miss.

On any given day, this is the running total of searches being performed with Google.

That’s:

  • 58,082 searches a second.
  • 3,484,920 searches a minute.
  • 1,826,655,667,200 searches a year.

Every one of those digits is a potential customer actively looking for information, products or services online.

In this guide I’m going to show you exactly how you can use your website to scoop up this traffic and convert them into leads and sales that drive profitability for your business.

Did you know?

Inbound ROI is 3 times higher

Companies are 3x as likely to see a higher ROI on inbound marketing than outbound.

So ask yourself…

Are people finding your website when they search? If the answer is no, then you’re missing out on the opportunity to:

  • Talk to them.
  • Inform them.
  • Sell them on your products or services.

It gets worse…

If you’re not, then there’s always another business out there who is talking to them instead.

A business that is maximising the potential of their website as a sales tool, increasing lead generation in the process, and spending less to do so.

By optimising your website for search, you too can quit throwing money at standard advertising channels that shout your message to a disinterested audience.

Instead, you’ll be appearing in searches, discussions and conversations that active and interested customers are taking part in right now.

So what are you waiting for?

Time, and those searches, are ticking!

5 Ways SEO Outperforms Traditional and even Social Media Marketing

  • In 2012, Hubspot found that ‘inbound’ leads generated by SEO cost a staggering 61% less than leads generated by ‘outbound marketing’ such as cold calls or direct mail.
  • Inbound marketing is said to yield 3 times more leads per dollar than traditional methods.
  • Search Engine Journal revealed that SEO leads boast a 14.6% close rate, compared to just 1.7% for outbound leads such as print advertising.
  • Protofuse discovered that the Top 3 results in a Google search receive 61% of the clicks.
  • Eloqua also found that mid-sized businesses save 31% on Inbound Marketing costs compared to paid search.

How This Guide Will Help You

So how does your business do this?  How do you tap into these searchers?

With this guide, I’m about to tell you how.

So forget the technical jargon.

Skip the boring theory.

From here on down you’ll only find actionable, effective steps specifically tailored to increasing the visibility and effectiveness of your business website.

By the time you’ve reached the end, you’ll start to:

  • Increase your business’s marketing return on investment (ROI)
  • Generate targeted website traffic, increase sales and maximise lead generation
  • Turn your business’s website into an effective sales tool

Your journey to optimising your website for search starts now!

Step by Step SEO Blueprint - Robert Kramers

17 Actionable Steps To Optimising Your Business Website for Search Engines (instant download)

Download your Step by Step SEO Blueprint to on-page search engine optimisation.




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So, What Is Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)?

Search Engine Optimisation is known for being full of technical jargon.

Today? I’m changing all of that…

I’m here to tell you that SEO doesn’t have to be difficult.

Unlike Google AdWords, Search Engine Optimisation increases your natural, organic visibility in search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing for targeted industry search terms and phrases (Keywords). Each step in this optimisation process is executed with the goal of naturally increasing your business’s visibility within search results.

By doing this effectively, Search Engine Optimisation can boost traffic, lead generation and sales for your business better than any other form of marketing, and transform your website from an un-optimised state, into one that sends the right signals to search engines about what your website is about.

This makes SEO a vital tool for any business with an online presence.

In fact, this makes SEO the most important tool for any business operating today.

Keep reading to kickstart your SEO journey.

“People looking for your products, services and information convert better than un-interested audiences targeted with traditional outbound marketing and sales strategies.”

3 Simple Lessons That Will Prepare You For Search Engine (SEO) Superstardom

1What Do The Components Of A Result In Google Mean?

One of the best places to learn about SEO is so obvious it hurts…

The answer?

It’s Google’s very own search result pages.

By examining the components of a search result in Google, you can learn how the effective use of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) techniques can help your business increase its search rankings.

Here’s how:

  1. Search for a phrase that relates to your industry or niche. This could be ‘Auckland Accounting Services’, ‘Personal Loans NZ’ or ‘Financial Planning Wellington’.
  2. Pick out the top result. We’re going to take a closer look at its components:

Whenever the words or phrases you use in your search appear in any of these three components, they are bolded. Google does this to draw your eye to the most relevant search engine results.

You can also use this to your advantage.

Check out the steps below to find out how.

Search engine result from Google

1The Title Tag
The Title Tag is blue, between 50-60 characters in length, and sits at the top of each listing.
2The URL
The URL comes next. This is the page’s web address, and is displayed in green.

3The META Description

The META Description is displayed in grey, and is usually between 150-160 characters long.

Here’s how you can use these 3 components to your advantage

By adding the phrases and keywords users search for (more on this later!) to these areas of your own website, you can quickly and easily increase your rankings within Google.

How?

Because Google will deem your page as relevant to these searches.

Thanks to Google’s bolding of keywords, users will also see that your website contains the information they’re looking for. Which makes them far more likely to click on your result.

2What Determines Google Search Rank?

So, how does Google Search Rank work?

Chances are you’ve searched for that exact term in Google more than once.

If you did, you’d see that this search includes literally hundreds of articles all looking to answer this exact question.

The truth of the matter? It’s complicated!

Like the Colonel’s eleven secret herbs and spices, Google are highly secretive as to how they decide on page rankings. But through the power of deduction, we now have a better understanding of just how this works.

Let me explain:

Google uses a bot called Googlebot to crawl the internet.

This bot:

  1. Discovers new pages.
  2. Updates existing ones.

As it does this, it follows every link it finds through to every web page, which creates an index of this content as it goes. This index is then run through a secret algorithm that scores every web page it finds.

Yes, every one!

It then rates these pages on their relevancy to every possible search phrase. When doing so, it looks at the following elements of a page:

Content
Is there content on the page, within the headings, and other elements that is relevant to the search being carried out?

Performance
Is the site fast, snappy, and working properly for the device that the search was performed on. (Note the differences between desktop vs. mobile experience)

Authority
Does the website feature helpful, worthwhile, respected content that other authority sites link to and share as a invaluable source of information on the topic?

User Experience
Is the site easy to navigate? Does it retain a searcher’s attention? Does it draw users into other pages, or do they bounce off of it and back into search results?

The most relevant website for a specific search phrase is then given the top spot.

Pages that implement Search Engine Optimisation techniques like those I’m about to outline are able to send the clearest signals to the Googlebot that yes, this site is the one searchers are looking for. In turn boosting its rating and increasing its position in search.

3How Do I Choose The Right Keywords To Target?

Choosing the right keywords is the most important decision your business will make.

No pressure, right?

Don’t worry, this process doesn’t have to be difficult.

I’m about to show you a quick and easy 3 step process that will have you researching, finding and deciding on your keywords in next to no time! Dive deeper on Keywords & Keyword Research by reading our complete guide to keyword research.

Looking For Keywords? Use This 3 Step Quick-Start Guide

Check Out Your Competition

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

When it comes to deciding on your keywords? This couldn’t be more accurate.

Let’s be real here: you competitors are ranking highly for a reason.

On of those reason? You guessed it! They’re using the right keywords in all the right places. So you should use this to your advantage. Here’s how:

Search Google for a phrase related to your business.

Google search bar

Make a note of the top results that appear in search.

Accounting search results in Google

Competitor’s On-page Optimisation
Look over each page, and make note of the keywords and phrases being used throughout the page’s:

  • Title Tags
  • Headings
  • Within their content
  • In their image ALT Tags
  • In their menus

Bonus Tip! Right-click on the page and select ‘View Source’. Now look for any keywords the site is using within their

Titles and Meta Descriptions.

View page source

User Forums

No one knows what’s going on inside a searcher’s head better than the searchers themselves.

But by browsing user forums and social networks, you can get a pretty good idea.

You’ll also find the exact words they’re using in conversations that relate to your industry, your business, and the products or services you offer.

It’s super simple, too. You just:

Open Google.

Enter in any of the following search terms:

Searching Google for forums

  1. [KEYWORD] + inurl:forum
  2. [KEYWORD] + intitle:forum

Click through to any forums dedicated to topics relevant to your business.

A forum result in Google search

Make a note of the words customers use when talking about you.

Keywords used in forums

It’s that easy!

Keywordtool.io

Are you still struggling for keyword ideas?

Then consider giving Keywordtool.io a go.

This is a great online tool that will help you to find variations on your keywords. It does this by combining a keyword that you give it with an array of other terms, which provides a wealth of new keywords that you may not have thought of.

Using it? It’s as simple as:

Open Keywordtool.io

Enter a keyword into the search bar

KeywordtoolIO search bar

Select which country’s search engine you’d like to get results from, and click the ‘Search’ icon.

KeywordtoolIO country selection

You’ll be presented with a huge list of related keyword combinations that could be your key to unlocking search success.

KeywordtoolIO keyword results

Tip! Different locations will return different keywords, so it’s worthwhile repeating your search using a variety of locations.

1The Title Tag

What Is It?

The Title Tag is the text displayed along the top of the browser window or tab. It’s also displayed within Google search results, and is the first thing users see when searching.

In HTML, the title tag looks like:
<title>This is the text that appears in the top of the window</title>

While this is what a title tag looks like in Google search:

A title tag in Google search

Improving your title tags isn’t just the easiest change you can make to your website, it’s also one of the most important. An SEO Title Tag will make it easier for both Google and searchers alike to identify whether your page is relevant to what they’re looking for.

How To Improve Your Search Rankings With Title Tags

Limit Titles To 59 Characters
Google only displays the first 50-60 characters of a title tag, so it’s important to make the most of the room you have.

Include Keywords
Include keywords in your titles that relate to your industry as well as the contents of the page itself.

Make Your Titles Enticing
A Title Tag stuffed full of keywords does not guarantee success. Instead, focus on making your Title Tags enticing for users as well as Google. Instead of ‘How To Market Your Business’, try ‘5 PROVEN Ways To Market Your Business Online’. I know which one I’d click on!

Make Each Title Unique
When writing your title, aim to be brief yet descriptive, with a unique Title Tag for each page on your website. If you’re stuck for ideas, you can use one of the templates I’ve outlined below.

Mention Your Location
If your business operates within a given country, city or region, tell search engines and users about this!
As our Step-By-Step Guide To Local NZ SEO shows, by utilising this technique you can boost your visibility within local search engine results. Search engine results that are among the most lucrative sources of traffic available for your business.

Use These Title Tag Templates To Get You Started

Home Page Templates:

Business Name | Keyword Phrase | Keyword Phrase

Home Page Examples:

Number Crunchers | Auckland Accounting Service Specialists
Fresh Flowers, Roses & Bouquets at Sunshine Petals NZ

Product & Service Page Templates:

Keyword Phrase, Location | Business Name or Keyword Phrase | Keyword Phrase | Business Name

Products & Services Examples:

#1 Xero Accounting Services, Auckland | Number Crunchers

Buy Gorgeous Roses Online | Bouquets | Sunshine Petals NZ

Title Tag Checklist

  1. Do your Title Tags use an SEO optimised structure that puts keywords first?
  2. Is there a consistent use of high-priority keywords throughout Title Tags?
  3. Are all of your Title Tags unique?
  4. Do your Title Tags use Location & Purchasing keyword variants like ‘New Zealand’ or ‘Buy Online’?
  5. Are your Title Tags enticing or exciting?

2Meta Descriptions

What is it?
The meta description is the text displayed in search engine results below the Title and URL of a page, and is generally capped at around 156 characters.

In HTML, a meta description looks like this:
<meta name=”description” content=”This is where the META description text goes”>
While this is what a meta description looks like in Google search:

A meta description in Google search

META descriptions are your opportunity to convince people to click on your link over competing websites. That is, it’s your chance to advertise your page to search engines and users alike, so make the most of it!

 

How To Improve Your Search Engine Rankings With Meta Descriptions

Pick Your Top Pages
You probably won’t have the time to write unique META Descriptions for every page. Instead, pick out your most important pages, which should include:

  • Your home page.
  • Product category pages.
  • Services pages.
  • Killer content or worthwhile resources.

As for the rest? Leave the Googlebot to grab relevant snippets from the text on these pages.

Tip: Don’t copy and paste a generic META description across your pages. This duplicate content can do more harm than good.

Write A Unique Meta Description
Write a concise, unique META description that summarises the contents of the page, covering:

  • The services it offers.
  • The products it sells.
  • What the content is about.

Limit Titles To 156 Characters
Google only displays the first 156 characters of a Meta Description, so it’s important to make the most of the room you have.

Include Keywords & Locations
Include keywords and locations that are relevant to a given page.

Invite People To Click!
Just like your Title Tags, a Meta Description is your chance to sell your page to users browsing through search engine results, so make it enticing! You could do this by promising to answer a question, solve a problem or appeal to their curiosity.

Use These Meta Description Examples To Get You Started

Number Crunchers NZ is a chartered accountancy firm providing Auckland small businesses with leading financial services. Call us today at 0800 111 222!.

or

Send flowers to friends and family with New Zealand's florist of choice. With guaranteed same day delivery available nationwide. Your first order is on us!

Meta Description Checklist

  1. Do all important pages feature a META Description?
  2. Are META Descriptions unique across the site?
  3. Do META Descriptions use keywords relevant to the content on the page?
  4. Are Meta Descriptions under 156 characters in length?

3Create Epic Content

What Is It?

Pinch me if you’ve heard this phrase before:

‘Content is king!’

The thing is, it’s true!

Creating content is one of the most effective ways to cut through the static and market your business, products and services directly to your target audience.

The easiest way to do this is by writing content for your website’s blog.

But how does this increase your search rankings, exactly?

Oh, let me tell you the ways:

  • You can market your website and business with content relevant to your industry.
  • You can build quality backlinks to your killer content that increase your rankings within search.
  • You can position yourself and your business as a leading authority within your industry.

How To Improve Your Search Engine Rankings With Content

Avoid Duplicate Content
If there’s one thing Google hates, it’s duplicate content. This is content that appears on your site that is also posted elsewhere on the web. You see, Google penalises sites that feature too much duplicate content, which can harm your chances of ranking.

The message? It’s simple: don’t copy content. If you site does feature duplicate content, it’s best to remove it.

Remove Thin Content
The lengthier the content, the higher its rankings will be in Google. That’s a fact!

This also works the other way, too: if your pages feature thin or very little content, then they’ll suffer because of it. To fix this, start writing more content for your site. Your rankings will thank you for it.

Create Epic Content
Epic content is supercharged versions of the content you already create, which can help to position your business as the go-to expert in your industry or niche. In fact, this very page itself could be considered an epic piece of content.

This epic content provides a one-stop-shop resource on everything a user would want to know on a given subject, written around your keywords. This provides your business with potentially viral content that offers even greater link building opportunities!

Start creating epic content with our guide to Content Marketing

Start A Blog
Epic content is great, but it can take time to write.

That, and there’s always going to be smaller or shorter topics that your audience are interested in that don’t warrant an epic piece of content.

Instead? You should start a blog! Blogging is one of the best tactics for business. By setting up a content calendar and blogging about topics relevant to your users and keywords, you’ll continue to build relevancy. By linking these back to your important pages and epic content, you’ll also strengthen not just your blog but your entire site, and ensure your results are long-lasting.

Expand your business’s horizons with our guide to Blogging For Businesses

Content Optimisation Checklist

  1. Is there any duplicate content found on external sites or pages?
  2. Does your site include a blog?
  3. Do important pages feature 250-500+ words of content?
  4. Does your site feature any cornerstone content or pillar pages related to Primary Keywords?
  5. Are there any opportunities to turn existing downloadable content into on-site content or pages?
  6. Are there any pages that target the same or similar keywords that would benefit from being consolidated into a single page?
What Is It?
Internal Links are hyperlinks that link to other pages on your website.

See the navigation bar or menu on your website? This is just one example. But of course, everybody has a boring old menu bar!

The trick with internal links is to include these within the content of your pages wherever a relevant keyword or phrase is found that you have more information on.

For example, the following is an example of an internal link that links to a page on SEO, while here’s another that links to Content Marketing & Promotion.

By adding these links, visitors are able to jump directly to pages on your website that explore a topic in more detail.

Avoid This Common Mistake Everyone Makes When Adding Internal Links

Internal links are great, but they can always be better…

To get the best mileage, it’s important that you use relevant keywords.

A common mistake is to use text like ‘Read More’ or ‘Find Out More Here’ as the anchor text for internal links.

Stop!

Instead? Use keywords and phrases in your internal links. Your website’s rankings will thank you for it!

A Bonus Tip For Your Bonus Tip: Text based hyperlinks and navigation are the best option. Googlebot can’t see navigation methods generated by Javascript. And it can struggle with image-based navigation too. So stick to text where possible!

How To Improve Your Search Engine Rankings With Internal Links

Add Internal Links To Your Most Important Pages

When you’re adding internal links, it’s best to focus on building links to your most important pages. That is, any product or service page that you might have.

In doing so, you’ll ensure you’re guiding users who arrive at your site to the pages that matter the most.

Internal Links Checklist

  1. Are there internal links present on your site?
  2. Do blog posts contain internal links to other posts & content on your site?
  3. Do Product, Service or other pages link to other relevant pages on your site?

What Is It?

Inbound links are links on other websites across the internet that point to yours.

When it comes to your ranking in searches, these inbound links make all the difference.

In fact, Inbound Links are what the internet is built on.

These links aren’t just a great source of traffic for your site. They’re also an indicator to Google that your website is worthwhile and worth being excited about.

The logic here is pretty clear: if people are linking to it, it must be worth looking at. And so your search engine rankings will rise.

How To Improve Your Search Engine Rankings By Building External Links

Establishing inbound links is an ongoing task for any website owner. But by following these steps you too can start to build relevant, quality links to your site.

List Your Site With Business Directories
Business directories are free, easy to list with, and provide a great way to boost your local rankings.

Kick-start local link building with our list of 65 business directories for New Zealand businesses.

Write For Blogs & Sites Within Your Industry
Also known as Guest Posting, writing for other blogs and sites within your industry is an excellent method of promoting your business online.

Here’s how:

By sharing your knowledge, you’ll build your personal brand and increase your standing as a thought leader within your industry. You’ll do so in front of an established audience of potential customers. And better still? These sites will provide you with a link back to your website via your author bio!

Create a Free Google My Business Account
A Google My Business account is a crucial ingredient in Local SEO, and can give you the boost within local search results that your business needs to succeed.

Inbound Link Checklist

  1. Do you have a Google My Business account?
  2. Have you listed with relevant Business Directories?
  3. Are you starting to write for relevant sites within your industry?

6Use Heading Tags

What Is It?
Heading tags tell GoogleBot that the text within these tags is particularly important, and that the paragraphs that follow contain additional details.

Heading tags look like this in HTML:
<h1>This is a primary heading tag</h1>
<h2>This is a secondary heading tag</h2>
<h3>This is a tertiary heading tag</h3>

How To Improve Your Search Engine Rankings With Heading Tags

Despite their usefulness, it’s common to find pages that don’t use heading tags at all.

Why?

Because without styling, they’re often big and ugly.

This lead many sites just like yours to use a regular paragraph instead, and simply force a large font size or colour. So the tag looks something like this:
<p class="bodyText" style="font-size: 18px; color: #0066ff;" align="center">This is my primary heading</p>

But doing this can have a number of nasty consequences:

Googlebot doesn’t get excited about a <p> tag in the same way it does an <h1> tag. It interprets this tag as a normal, slightly larger paragraph that’s blue in colour. But when it comes to heading tags? Googlebot interprets this as ‘This is a major heading. It summarises the content on this page. It’s super exciting and very important

When it comes to SEO? You want Googlebot to be excited!

To do so? You’ll want to:

  • Use <h1> tags for the titles of posts, pages or products.
  • Use <h2> tags for main headings.
  • Use a range of H3-H6 tags for sub-headings.

The second consequence? This extra formatting bloats your HTML code. This can leave the page cumbersome and increase load times for Googlebot and users alike.

The solution to this formatting problem is simple. Utilise Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) to control the appearance of your heading tags. This way you’ll have clean code as well as good looking headings that Googlebot will be excited about.

Heading Tag Checklist

  1. Are H1-H3 tags present on all major pages?
  2. Are Primary Keywords used in H1 Tags?
  3. Are relevant and related keywords used in H2-H6 Tags?

7Use Clean URLs

What Is It?
In your time spent online, you’ve probably seen a URL or two that looks something like this:
http://www.qjumpers.co.nz/QJumpers/SitePage.aspx?s=55&ss=251
Crazy numbers? Odd characters? It’s a mess.

URLs like this are automatically generated by website software such as WordPress, where mathematical algorithms and categorisation are put ahead of readability and usability.

These URLs not only negatively affect SEO, but they’re a deterrent for users finding these pages in search engine results.

But there is a better way!

How To Improve Your Search Engine Rankings With Clean URLs

Using clean URLs ensures these are readable and descriptive, and utilise keywords wherever possible.

The reasons for doing this? They’re threefold:

  1. Users are able to read them, making identifying pages they want to click on in search engine results that much easier.
  2. Google will bold keywords in URLs if the user used these in their search.
  3. Google gives these pages a boost in visibility and rankings because of this.

When writing these URLs, keep them short and descriptive. And don’t forget to use a hyphen ‘-’ to separate each word, as this is the most readable format for search engines like Google.

Remember To Do This One Thing When Updating Your URLs!

Whenever you change your current URLs, you also need to set up a 301 redirection of the old URL to the new one.

If you don’t? Users visiting the old URL will be presented with a 404 Error page. Search engines will also mark these broken links against you.

URL Checklist

  1. Do URLs include hyphens as separators?
  2. Do URLs include keywords relevant to the page content?
  3. Are there any unnecessary alphanumeric characters within the URLs?

8Use Descriptive Image & File Names

What Is It?
As we explore later in this guide, Google doesn’t see an image or a file when you place it on your website.

Instead? It just sees information such as the file name and the image’s ALT Tag.

As a result, you need to five Google as much help identifying these files and images as you can, by giving them descriptive names that utilise keywords wherever possible.

Not only will this help Google to decide what your image or file is about, it will also ensure these are found when users search using Google’s File or Image Search functions.

Consider the following example:

Say you have a diagram on your site that compares the differences in Accounting Software Packages. Instead of keeping the generic filename of ‘diagram.jpg‘, change this to something like ‘AccountingSoftware.jpg‘.

That way, when a user searches Google Images for Accounting Software Packages, they’re more likely to find your image and your page.

How To Improve Your Search Engine Rankings With

Include Keywords Within File Names

When you go to upload a file or image to your website, make a habit of checking the filename. If it doesn’t already include a descriptive phrase or keyword, then add one! This takes a matter of seconds to do, and will ensure your files are optimised before they go live.

Image & File Name Checklist

  1. Do image files like .PNGs or .JPGs make use of relevant keywords?
  2. Do files like .PDFs or .DOCs make use of relevant keywords?

9Use Clean HTML

What Is It?
There’s one important thing to remember where your website and Googlebot are concerned.

Google and it’s crawling bots don’t see your website in the same way humans do.

Instead? They only see the HTML code.

Take Wikipedia as an example!

You and I will see it like this:

How we see a website

But Googlebot? It sees the code displayed below.

How Google sees a website

Unoptimised, messy or improper HTML can bloat your code.

This pushes your actual page text – which is full of those all important keywords – hundreds of lines into the code.

As Googlebot will have to work harder to find this text, your rankings may suffer as a result.

Fixing this can be simple.

You just need to follow a familiar philosophy: When it comes to websites?

Less is more!

How To Improve Your Search Engine Rankings With Clean Code

Avoid Bloated Navigation & Menu Options

Javascript and other code used for interactive elements such as menus can become bloated quickly. Less is more in this case, so try to keep things as simple as your design will allow.

Remove Unnecessary WordPress Plugins

WordPress plugins make it easy for anyone to set up a website. Without having to know complicated code, you can add cool extras like sliders, pop-ups and design features. Too many of these, however, can leave your site working overtime, so make a habit of removing any unnecessary plugins or extras that you no longer use.

Say No To Image-Heavy Website Design

Visual elements are important. They break up the dreaded wall of text, and provide visual interest for your users. But only to a point. Too many images on the one page can make your page slow and unresponsive, and – when images are used in place of text – can hinder your chances of ranking higher in search.

Use The W3C Validator To Check Your Code

To see if your website passes muster, enter your web address at W3C Markup Validation Service

10Improve Page Speed

What Is It?
Google’s search algorithms are constantly updated to ensure it returns the most relevant results in the shortest time possible.

This is just one reason why page speed is increasingly important.

If your page is slowed down by cumbersome plugins or large images? Your rankings will suffer.

How To Improve Your Search Engine Rankings By Optimising Your Page Speed

Analyse Your Page Speed
Load Google’s PageSpeed Tool and select ‘Run Insights’ to run Google’s PageSpeed test on your site. This will provide you with an easy-to-read report of your results.

Remove Unnecessary Javascript Or WordPress Plugins
Whether you created your website yourself, or had a professional do this for you, there are usually unnecessary added extras left around long after the web gurus have packed their tools away.

Either alone or with your web developer, run through your Javascript and WordPress plugins to identify any redundant ones that can be removed.

Optimise Image File Sizes
Large, high-quality images increase your page loading times. But this doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice quality for speed.

Tools like ImageOptim & Advance Projects will compress your images while keeping quality in tact.

11Add Image ALT Tags

What Is It?
Image ALT tags are used to describe the contents of an image, and are generally displayed when you hover over an image or if the image fails to load.

These Image ALT tags are also used heavily by Google.

Why?

Because Google can’t actually see an image.

Instead, Google relies on the filename and ALT tag to determine what an image contains.

How To Improve Your Search Engine Rankings With Image Alt Tags

Add An ALT Tag To Your Images

By adding keyword-rich ALT tags to your images, you won’t just be increasing usability. You’ll also further boost the signals your page sends to the Googlebot.

Further still? You’ll increase the likelihood of these images showing up within Google Image Searches, which is an underappreciated but still worthwhile source of traffic for your site.

Image ALT Checklist

  1. Do image ALT Tags make use of relevant keywords?

12Add An XML Sitemap

What Is It?
XML Sitemaps are used exclusively by search engines to speed up the process of indexing pages. This is because search engines tend to follow and index links within a website quicker when an XML sitemap is present.

How To Improve Your Search Engine Rankings By Adding An XML Sitemap

Add An XML Sitemap To Your Site

Head to XML Sitemaps to generate an XML sitemap for your site.

Once you have this? Submit it to:

XML Sitemap Checklist

  1. Is there a Sitemap.xml file present?
  2. Have you submitted this Sitemap.xml file to Google and Bing?

13Add An HTML Sitemap

What Is It?
HTML Sitemaps primarily serve users, and provides them with a quick and easy method of navigating around your site.

That said, search engines like Google can detect HTML Sitemaps. They recognise them as a sign of increased usability, which is a metric search engines are placing an increasing emphasis on.

How To Improve Your Search Engine Rankings By Adding An HTML Sitemap

Add An HTML Sitemap To Your Site

Head back to XML Sitemaps, and generate an HTML Sitemap. From here, add this as a new page on your site, and then link through to it from your 404 Error Page.

HTML Sitemap Checklist

  1. Is there an HTML Sitemap present?
  2. Does this HTML Sitemap link to all pages on the site?

14Create A 404 Error Page

What Is It?
A 404 Error Page is the page that a visitor sees when a URL can not be reached. Either because the page has been removed, or has an invalid dynamic URL

The 404 page is very important to the usability of your website. Rather than presenting users with a dead-end, it should act as a starting point for users to find their way again.

This is your opportunity to guide visitors back onto the website-browsing track.

How To Improve Your Search Engine Rankings By Creating A 404 Error Page

While 404 pages are primarily for users, these once again send usability signals back to Google which can only serve to help your SEO overall.

When it comes to your 404 page? You should:

Maintain A Consistent Design

404 Error Pages can be confusing enough: a user who sees one was expecting the page they clicked on, not an error page. Having a 404 Error Page that looks different to your regular site only makes this feeling of being lost that much worse.

Include Navigation Options

When a user stumbles onto a 404 Error Page, they’re going to do one of two things. One, they’ll leave the page immediately. Two, they’ll try and find the page they were looking for, or one like it. By adding a list of quick links to your 404 Error Page, you make it easier for users to find their way and ensure they stick around.

404 Error Page Checklist

  1. Is there a 404 Error Page present?
  2. Is the 404 Error Page consistent with the design & layout of the site?
  3. Does the 404 Error Page feature the same navigation & menu options as the rest of the site?
  4. Does the 404 Error Page contain helpful, readable text that guides users to relevant pages?
  5. Does the 404 Error Page feature links to all major pages (Home / Products / Categories)?
  6. Does the 404 Error Page feature a link to the HTML Sitemap?

What Is It?
Much like their appearance in the fairytale of Hansel and Gretel, breadcrumbs are used on websites to provide users with a visual representation of where they’ve come from, where they are, and how they got there.

These are displayed as a set of links at the top of the page, providing your website with extra internal links, as well as a general boost to usability too.

How To Improve Your Search Engine Rankings By Adding Breadcrumbs

Add Breadcrumbs To Your Website

Check out some of these WordPress plugins that will add breadcrumbs to your website:

16A Mobile Friendly Site

What Is It?
More than a desktop or laptop, where do you do most of your web browsing?

If you said ‘my mobile’ then you’re not alone!

In fact, an average of 40% of web visitors are using mobile devices. With up to 30% using tablets!

Data stats - Mobile, Desktop & Tablet Use

Given this, Google now penalises websites that lack a responsive, mobile-friendly version. This makes the inclusion of a mobile-friendly version of your website a critical component of your SEO.

Without it?

Every other step may prove ineffective.

There’s no need to panic yet! There is a solution to this problem. Its name? Responsive Web Design.

Responsive Web Design ensures your website is viewable in browsers of all widths, shapes and sizes. From the largest of desktops to the smallest of smartphones.

You can easily check the responsiveness of your websites with the Google Webmaster Tools.

Just:

  1. Open Google Webmaster Tools
  2. Enter your website’s address into the text box.
  3. Click ‘Analyze’.

How To Improve Your Search Engine Rankings With A Responsive Website

If your website isn’t mobile ready, then you have a number of options at your disposal. These include:

Talk To Your Developer Or Tech Specialist
Get in touch with your developer or tech guru and ask them about making your website mobile friendly.

Use One Of These WordPress Plugins
If your website runs on WordPress? There are a number of both free and paid plugins available that will do this for you!

Use A Responsive WordPress Theme
Use a WordPress theme that includes a responsive version designed specifically for mobile devices.

Responsive Site Checklist

  1. Is the website responsive for all devices?
  2. Does the website load & display correctly on mobile devices?

17Use A Domain Name That Includes Keywords

What Is It?
Domain names that include relevant keywords can have an easier time ranking for these phrases within search engine results.

Woah there! Before you go registering keyword-rich domain names, keep this in mind:

While keywords within domain names play their part, there should be a balance between SEO and overall branding for your business.

So, don’t worry if your domain name isn’t ‘www.AucklandAccounting.com‘? This doesn’t mean your days of SEO are over.

Far from it in fact..

A recognisable name and cohesive branding are far more important for your business in the long run.

Tip: Don’t go buying up a bunch of domain names full of keywords and redirecting these to your site! A common mistake, this actually does more harm than good.

How To Improve Your Search Engine Rankings With A Domain Name

Include Keywords Within Your Domain Name

While not crucial to your long-term success, adding keywords to your domain name can make it easier for you to rank in search quicker than sites that don’t.

When registering your domain name, think of any logical ways you could include keywords, but don’t go overboard. A domain name stuffed with keywords may sound like a good thing, but it will both confuse users and tip Google off to your overzealous SEO strategy.

Domain Name Checklist

  1. Does your website include a relevant keyword?
  2. Does your website use a relevant extension such as ‘.co.nz‘ or ‘.com.au’

Download this guide below for later reference

Step by Step SEO Blueprint - Robert Kramers

17 Actionable Steps To Optimising Your Business Website for Search Engines (instant download)

Download your Step by Step SEO Blueprint to on-page search engine optimisation.




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