6 easy actions to improve SEO
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When you start your website or blog, one of the things that you need to focus on from the beginning is Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). SEO looks at optimising your website content to increase your ranking on search engine results. Smart Insights indicates 31.52% of users clicked on the first search result in 2018 for desktops (24.05% for mobile); this means that a higher ranking on search results leads to more free traffic to your content and more potential customers for your products. So you need to make improving SEO one of your priorities from the beginning.
There are some simple steps that you can take to improve SEO. Some of them are:
1 – Write quality content that meets your readers’ needs
The number one role of a search engine is to try to serve the most relevant content to readers, so your main job is to provide the best quality content for your readers.
You want to attract readers that are interested in your niche because those are the readers that are going to enjoy your content and buy your products. Think about what your ideal reader would be interested in and focus on creating the best quality content for your readers. This will not only help you increase your ranking but also ensure that you write content that your readers will love.
2 – Post consistently
Posting at least once a week, every week can considerably increase your traffic. According to Hubspot, “Companies that published 16+ blog posts per month got almost 3.5X more traffic than companies that published between 0 – 4 monthly posts.”
If you want to grow your traffic quickly, you need to try to post regularly and consistently. Try posting at least once a week and if you can twice a week or even daily. The more you post, the quicker your traffic is going to grow. Create an editorial calendar and post on the same days every week; this will help your readers know when to expect new content and make your blog post planning easier. Take a look at this blog post from Copyblogger with some tips about editorial calendars.
3 – Structure your content into sections and use header tags
Structure your content in a way that it’s easy to follow and highlight the key sections using header tags. This will improve your content’s readability as well as your SEO ranking.
Header tags in HTML (<h1> to <h6>) are used to highlight text on a page and indicate what content is more important. They are hierarchical elements, being h1 at the top of the hierarchy and normally used for the title. Search engine crawlers use header tags to identify valuable content on your site and to understand what your content covers. This is why header tags are important for SEO.
Your page title should be h1 (recommendation is to have only one h1 tag per article), followed by h2 for sub-sections, then h3 and so on. Don’t jump elements on the hierarchy, i.e. do not jump from h1 to h3.
Include some of your keywords in the header tags. This will help you improve your ranking. The use of header tags will also help readers scan through your page and understand what you are covering in the page.
You can set and see the header tags in WordPress in the toolbar when you are writing a post:
You can see that Heading 1 (h1) is the most important in the hierarchy and hence the text marked as h1 will appear with a bigger font.
4 – Install Yoast SEO
Yoast SEO is a WordPress plugin that makes some SEO tasks a lot easier:
– Helps you easily update post titles, URL slugs and meta tags.
– Provides guidance on readability for your content.
– Runs SEO analysis on the selected keyword for a post.
– Keeps track of the number of internal links for each post.
– Helps you register with the leading search engines.
– Creates and sends sitemaps to the main search engines.
Yoast SEO provides a “traffic light” type analysis for each blog post and highlights areas for improvement. The free version of Yoast SEO includes all these features, which should be enough to get you started on SEO (it’s what I’m using).
Check installation instructions here.
5 – Choose a catchy title
The title is essential to attract your audience and it also has an impact on your SEO ranking. A catchy headline will bring more clicks. Take a look at some resources on how to write a headline such as Jeff Goins’ ”5 easy tricks to help you write catchy headlines” or Copyblogger’s free e-book “How to write magnetic headlines.”
The title tag is what search engines will list in search results and what they will use to understand what is the content of your page or post. Your page or post title will normally be part of your title tag. If you are using Yoast SEO, you can click on “Edit Snippet” and see the different components of your SEO title:
You can modify the different components of your title tag under “Search Appearance” in the Yoast SEO settings.
6 – Update the meta description and URL slug
While meta descriptions are not taken into account to calculate search engine rankings they impact the click-through rate (the number of visitors that will click on your link) and, at the end of the day, what you want is traffic so click-through rates matter. A better meta description will drive more traffic to your site. Write meta descriptions that are easy to read and compelling. This is your opportunity to convince the reader to click on your link and continue reading.
With Yoast SEO, you can check how each blog post would look in search results and update the meta description:
The URL does affect your ranking. Try to ensure that all your URL slugs are meaningful and relate to the article’s content. Try also to include keywords in the URL slug. A URL slug such as “URL-slug-optimisation” could work well for an article explaining how to optimise the URL slug.
You can change the URL slug directly within each blog post. Click on the “edit” button under the blog post title as shown below:
7 – Check your website’s speed
Improving your website’s speed may not be straightforward, and it may require some analysis. However, I wanted to add it to the list as it could make a significant impact on both your ranking and your reader’s experience.
Website speed is one of the factors used by search engines in their ranking algorithm. It also has a significant impact on user behaviour. If your site is too slow to load, some users may leave your website before the page loads, or never return if the site is slow. Speed also impacts sales.
For some stats on how speed affects user experience, check out Neil Patel’s post “How Loading Time Affects Your Bottom Line.”
You can check your website’s speed with PageSpeed Insights. This website will show you a report indicating how long your site takes to load. It will also provide you with information to understand what is slowing it down (the details are a bit geeky, so don’t worry if you don’t understand everything!). I was surprised by the results as my website was a lot slower than I expected. Check out my post “10 steps that can reduce your load speed to half” for step-by-step instructions to reduce your load speed.
Of course, there are many other SEO related improvements that you can consider, but following these steps is an excellent way to start looking at SEO. Remember to be patient, as improving your ranking on search engines may take you at least a few months.