By Lauren Hamilton, Guest Blogger
Digital Narrative Founder & SEO Expert
SEO - aka Search Engine Optimisation - gets a bad rap, even among us digital marketers. In my 7 years working with SEO for small businesses, I've come to realise most people see it as a confusing, time-zapping and expensive thing to improve. Most people assume you need a very high level of 'techiness' to even attempt it, which enables unethical consultants to charge insane prices and gives them an incentive to keep quiet about what exactly they’re doing back there...
That's why 'demystifying' SEO is one of my favourite things to do. Simply gaining an understanding of how search engines - mainly Google in Australia - find and display your website is a great place to start. Knowing what floats Google's boat, and how you can give it more of what it loves (and less of what it hates) is the next step. Wrap your head around these and commit a few hours a month to your website, and you're on your way to great rankings!
Get started below, with my favourite ways you can begin to make a difference to your website's level of optimisation yourself. Once you've tackled these, if you're still not appearing as a search result when your main keywords are Googled, only then is it time to call in an SEO specialist.
Page Speed Upgrade
Google h-a-t-e-s a slow website. Head to Google Page Speed Insights and check how quickly your site is loading. If it’s performing poorly, look at the list of suggestions there to improve the loading time. Some may be too complex to address alone. Some - like reducing photo size - are simple fixes you can get onto immediately. There are many photo resizing tools online OR WordPress and Shopify site owners can install a simple plugin to compress images without losing quality.
Metadata is another one of those words which makes people cover their ears when I start talking, but I promise, it’s not scary. All metadata means is information (data) which tells search engine ‘bots’ what your actual data (your images, videos, pages, files) are ‘about’. What's in them. This metadata allows search engine bots to rapidly discover what info your site contains, which it loves.
The most important metadata is your meta description on each page; this is the sentence or two which appears on search results under the heading. If you can ensure every page of your website has a thoughtful, well written meta description, that's a great start. If you can get the main keyword for that page in there, even better.
Otherwise, the simplest metadata you can adjust yourself is probably photo data; the name or title and the ‘alt text’ of each image should reflect the page topic and the keywords you’re keen to show up for.
Backlinks for Daysss
People get worked up about backlinks, but they're actually very straight forward. They’re simply links from another website, back to your site. An example is your Instagram profile - it probably has a link to your website in the bio, which counts as one backlink. Other simple places to score backlinks include other social media profiles, directory listings and networking sites you’re a member of. Once you’ve knocked off all these obvious places, it’s time to put your thinking cap on. My favourite ways to score backlinks from other websites are;
Do you have a Google My Business listing? How about Google Search Console or Google Analytics? These free tools are all must-haves to help you rank better in searches and also monitor and manage your SEO. There are oodles of tutorials on YouTube which can teach you how to set these accounts up and manage them (hot tip; use the same account when you’re setting them all up to avoid future frustration!)
Google Search Console allows you to check that your site is being indexed properly, see where your traffic is coming from, and get suggestions to improve your SEO. Google Analytics helps you track website activity such as session duration, pages per session, bounce rate etc, all of which is helpful to know. And Google My Business is a) another free backlink b) another chance to appear in search results and c) another thing that floats Google's boat!
There are many, many more aspects to SEO than I’ve listed above - this is really just the “101” on the topic, but if you conquer these tasks and feel you’re ready for more, consider enrolling in an SEO training course online to take it to the next level.
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