If you are using the internet to market your products or services, then making sure you rank well in the search results is going to be very important. In fact, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is so important that you can even hire professionals who specialise in it. But, before you shell out your hard-earned funds to an SEO professional, there are numerous things you can do yourself to get better results. In this article, I’ll discuss some simple SEO techniques I use that you can implement yourself to get a boost in your online search results.
1. Embrace mobile
Having a responsive, functional site is one of the most important factors that Google looks for in determining site rankings. Although a business’ website might be functional for a desktop user, many are not accessible for viewers using mobile. Perhaps your site loads far too slowly on mobile devices, or perhaps it doesn’t render your content in an easy-to-read format for smaller screen sizes. These are examples of things that can hurt your SEO. The first step towards embracing mobile is to run your site through Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool. You’ll want to make sure Google determines your site to be mobile friendly. Then follow Google’s customised recommendations on how to improve your site’s mobile friendliness.
2. Content that matters
Rehashing old, tired content that’s already online isn’t going to get you many followers. Instead you need to develop new, fresh, cutting edge ideas. That means spending time researching what your competitors are doing and analysing what is trending online by using sites and apps like Google Trends and BuzzSumo. Once you know what is popular, you can explore new twists and directions that extend on those popular themes. This will open up new audiences and new opportunities for you to pursue. Never copy text from other websites and remove duplicate content if you have some; as Google will penalise you in the search rankings for both of these. Finally, make sure your content is up-to-date and that all your links are working.
3. Encourage customer reviews
Consider allowing customers to post reviews. Reviews build credibility and the more credible your business seems, the more favourably Google will position you in the search results. Although you can embed customer reviews on your website, for best SEO results set up a Google My Business page and encourage customers to leave their reviews there. Setting up a Google My Business page also helps boost local SEO.
4. Feature in local business directories and listings
Getting featured in local business directories and listings is good as it enables you to potentially feature multiple times on the first page of the search engine results. Along with your own website listing, users may find you in niche business directories that feature on the first page too. Local business listings also increase backlinks to your site, which again is good for SEO. Some directories may charge a minimal monthly or annual fee to host your listing while others are completely free. Popular local business listings include Urbanspoon, Yellow Pages, True Local and Yelp. However, most industries will also have directories specific to their niche, e.g. Zomato lists popular restaurants, TripAdvisor lists businesses in the tourism directory and the Mind Body Spirit Directory Australia is a popular place for alternative health practitioners (acupuncturists, massage therapists and herbalists etc.) to list their services.
5. Use a trusted host
This one isn’t obvious but it can be a significant problem for entrepreneurs who are starting out and looking at minimising hosting fees. Yes, you can save money by using unknown hosts but this is risky – some of the cheaper website hosting services are notorious for hosting dubious sites like porn, malware, and known spammers. Having your site hosted through a provider like this will lose your business a lot of credibility with search engines. Take the time to check the reputation of your host before you sign-up.
6. Research and test keywords
Finally, make use of Google Keyword Planner (part of Google AdWords) to research the most relevant keywords related to your niche. As well as checking for relevance, also consider checking the competitiveness of your keywords. In big cities like Melbourne or Sydney, some keywords related to popular industries may be incredibly saturated. To be competitive you might want to focus on using keywords in combination with particular suburbs, rather than the larger city area, or use derivative variations of the most popular keywords. Once you have found the best combination of keywords, implement then by inserting them into your website copy, blog posts, metadata, alt tags (for images) and page descriptions. Don’t go crazy and try to use every keyword on the same page five times. Keywords should be embedded into the text in a way that still looks and reads naturally to site visitors. If it doesn’t look natural, site visitors will be turned off, and you will risk being penalised by Google for spam.
Once you have implemented the changes above, it may take 2-3 months before you start to notice an increase in SEO. If you are still not achieving the desired results after this time, considering hiring a search engine specialist to assist you. Google’s algorithms for search engine rankings are complex, with over 200 known factors that contribute to your search position.