Many people I speak to have mentioned how they’re struggling with Search Engine Optimisation (“SEO”), especially for WordPress. Which is why I thought I’d write a post offering some simple, free ways to improve your website’s SEO all by yourself. For the sake of clarity, SEO is the method of increasing organic direct from the search engine to your website, this will be done on a page-by-page basis as well as for your website as a whole.
To understand how you can optimise your website for search engines, it’s worth first understanding that despite what some might believe, companies like Google actually want you to do well. That being said, Google will promote websites and companies that they feel would be of their user’s best interest, taking into account searcher’s intent, the quality and relevance of information and the user’s overall experience [on your website].
That is why one of the best ways of improving your search engine ranking, is to consistently add quality information on a blog about a certain niche which your customers would be interested in. The more blog posts you have, the more likely it is that people will be able to find your website (when searching for a specific keyword).
Simple ways to improve your SEO
The following suggestions are aimed at business owners and bloggers who have little to moderate understanding of Search Engine Optimisation, and will include tips that you can implement yourself today. If you’re looking for more advanced solutions then this post probably isn’t for you. That being said, let’s get started…
#1 – Improve site performance
The overall performance of your website plays a crucial role in deciding where Google positions your website in their search rankings, after all you could have the very best content on your site however if the site takes 12 years to load then it’s just going to infuriate the user.
The first thing to look at is site speed. It’s reported that any site that takes over 4 seconds to load will see a sharp increase in their bounce rate. A ‘bounce’ means that the user has visited your website and then quickly hits the back/close button before even checking out the rest of your content. A quick way to check how your website is performing is to run it through GTmetrix, which is a service that will quickly scan your website performance for you and offer suitable solutions. Try GTmetrix out here for free.
Arguably the biggest and most simple change you can make to improve your website’s SEO, is to ensure that you’re using a powerful hosting server in the first place. Finding a good web host these days can be difficult given the amount of providers out there who rely heavily on their marketing campaigns – as opposed to quality of service. That’s why I personally recommend Siteground to all of my clients, based on their fast server speeds, competitive pricing and fantastic customer support, amongst other reasons. Build your WordPress site today with Siteground.
If your site has been built on sites like Wix, Squarespace or GoDaddy Website Builder, then you might find that your website performance is currently below par, this is due to the way that the software has been coded, this won’t necessarily be because of anything you’ve done on the front-end. I always recommend that my clients steer away from drag-and-drop builders like these and instead look at using WordPress.
#2 – Consider the user experience
Going back to an earlier point, you need to ensure that the user is having an easy time when navigating through your website. Reason being because if the website is difficult to use or read, then the user is likely to click-off of the website and divert to the next website in the list of search results instead. That’s the reason that I tend to have a clean, minimalist design to my own website, even though I would like to go all-out with graphics and illustration! With this in mind you’ll want to ensure that your website is mobile-responsive too, as in it’s just as easy to navigate on tablet and mobile, as it is on desktop.
Other things you can do is to break up your content into paragraphs, or short sentences, to keep the reader’s attention for as long as possible. The addition of relevant subtitles will only help to improve the user experience, especially when reading long-form blog posts which can otherwise become quite tiresome to consume. This can also be done by breaking up your content with videos and images.
#3 – Produce More Content
I feel I need to repeat this point as it’s arguably the most important part of this entire post. By continuously adding content to your website, you are only improving your chances of rising towards the top of the search rankings, because with each new page or post you give the user another possible way of finding your website.
Of course though a blank page or post isn’t going to do much for your SEO, therefore you’ll need to fill out these pages with quality, and relevant, content that will entice the user to click through in the first place. The more content that you produce, the more likely you are to include keywords that will be searched for by your ideal client, much like how I’ve included “simple ways to improve SEO” sporadically throughout this post, which will tell Google to show this particular page when a user searches for that exact (or similar) search query.
The best way to continuously add more, quality content to your website is to set up a blog, in which you can write about topics that your ideal client would be interested in learning about. For my website I blog about business & marketing topics, which aim to help business owners & bloggers to grow their respective businesses and become financially successful, so I tend to write about topics that answer a specific question that my reader’s might have, such as “how to improve my SEO?”. Alternatively you can adopt a writing style similar to a news agent, reporting on current events that may have more viral potential.
When producing more content on your WordPress site, you’ll want to make sure that you’re using the amazing Yoast SEO plugin, which helps to give you live-feedback on how to improve your page content to increase the likelihood of ranking towards the top of the Google search results. Try out the Yoast SEO plugin today for free.
#4 – Maintain a high quality of information
Your primary focus when writing new content should be to help your readers, whether that be by informing them of the latest news or providing solutions to problems or questions that they may be struggling with. When you have the mindset of helping, it becomes so much easier to write (or record) content for your followers, as you’ll begin to develop an understanding of what they want to see, and how their train of thought works.
That’s why when I write blog posts, I’ll focus on a specific problem that my ideal client might be experiencing, in this instance it might be that they’re struggling to get any website traffic direct from Google. There will be times though that I’ll answer that specific question within two or three paragraphs, so i’ll then consider what else the reader might be wondering regarding the same topic and answer it within the same post.
For instance I recently wrote this blog post on How To Structure A Blog Post, which broke down how to layer your blog post section-by-section, I then went on to answer similar questions (that I asked on behalf of the reader) such as “how long should a blog post be?” and “how to name a blog post?”. By understanding reader intent, you can write some great content that outperforms that of your competitors.
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#5 – Keep it relevant
It’s one thing to have quality information, but it’s another thing for it to be relevant. The relevance of your content plays a huge part in SEO, as that’s how Google is going to decide which keywords that your website is going to rank for in the search results. That’s why it’s imperative that you use relevant keywords and terms in relation to the content that you’re producing.
For instance if I click on a website titled ‘Golf Equipment’ then I would expect to see Golf Bags, Putters & Tees, however if I landed on the site and saw nothing but content about Fast Food then i’d be pissed – not only because it has nothing to do with Golf Equipment, but also because i’m on a diet.
What’s going to happen if the post or web page I click on has no relevance to its page title? I’ll instantly click the back button and move onto the next website instead, which tells Google that this website either isn’t relevant or that’s its just terrible in general – which tells the algorithm to push your website further and further down the pecking order.
#6 – Perform keyword research
Following the previous point, you’ll want to spend some time doing your own keyword research to find out what terms and questions your ideal customers will be searching for, and also how competitive those terms will be. You will want to test alternative ‘wording’ and phrases that your clients will use, which might not necessarily be the same way that you would word it personally. Find out which terms get the most searches with the least competition.
Given the amount of competition that there is these days, with new websites and businesses being set up on a daily basis, your best best is to write your content based on gut feeling. Yes there are plenty of tools out there that will help you to do keyword research, however my personal experience is that you should take these tools with a pinch of salt. There is no better alternative than going off personal experience, listening to your client’s queries and questions and then responding to them by writing an article about it. Every time a client, or even a friend, asks me a question about business or marketing, I will immediately write it down as a blog post idea to write in the future.
Once you write enough blog posts then the necessity to do deep keyword research reduces over time, however it’s worth doing a quick search beforehand to see if there’s any search queries that are lacking in quality answers, to which you can go in and dominate that search query for years to come. If you find any search queries that are topped by answers in forums or even sites like Quora, then that will be the sign of a great opportunity.
#7 – Add inbound (and outbound) links
Quality content alone can do a great deal of good for your website’s health and performance, however it can take Google upwards of six months before they start recognising your website as a trustworthy source of information, that’s why it can help to speed up the growth process by including inbound links to your website.
Inbound links are links that are from third-party sources, such as a link on a social media post, which directs the user to a page or post on your website. Alternatively an outbound link is a link found on your website which sends the user to the third-party site.
Surprisingly, outbound links can be just as important as inbound links as the main purpose behind them is to send the user to websites which you feel could benefit their user experience. For example I’ve included links in this post to both GTmetrix, Siteground and Yoast SEO, purely because I know that they’re going to help you, and in turn you are more likely to return back to my site in the future for doing so.
A great way to add inbound links is to add social sharing buttons to your blog posts, which allow the user to share the post to their social media accounts, such as their Facebook page, Pinterest boards or Twitter feeds, which is then likely to increase the amount of people who visit your website each month. The more links you have pointing back to your site, the better.
When it comes to implementing simple ways to improve your website’s SEO by yourself, the main understanding you’ll need is that there are two sides to SEO, one is making sure that your website visitors have a good experience when navigating through your site, and the second is getting those users onto your website in the first place. You can achieve this by having a clean, mobile-responsive website design, with tons of quality content.
Do you have any feedback or other simple ways to improve a website’s SEO? If so then feel to share them in the comment section below.