6th August 2021
The four key areas of SEO explained
A solid SEO strategy is crucial for your business as the increase in traffic to a website can result in potential new customers.
Improving the quality of traffic to a site from search engines is no easy task as there are many areas that need covering. As well as consistently updating and improving your content you must keep on top of technical and off-site SEO.
So, to give you a clearer understanding of how SEO works, we have split it into 4 sections covering all the areas you need to know to fully optimise your website to the best it can be.
Content is essential for any website to perform well, as the more relevant content you have will only further your chances of the site being viewed by new and old audiences.
A good first impression of your site always lasts with a customer, so having an informative homepage amongst others will give the user confidence that you’re a reliable and trustworthy business.
Ensuring your site has in-depth and consistent content throughout each page will only fuel the audience’s eagerness to put their time and effort with you, whilst simultaneously boosting your SEO efforts. Be sure to include targeted keywords related to your business as this linchpins between what people are searching for and the content you’re providing to fill their needs.
Optimise your product descriptions with relevant keywords, so that they have more chance of appearing in search engines when customers search for them. Google regularly crawls the written content on your site, so by ensuring it is relevant it will help significantly towards SEO and rankings.
Another great way to boost the amount of content across your site is by consistently uploading blog posts. Writing regular blog posts provides plenty of opportunities to add more relevant content to your website – from expanding on your products/services offered, to answering the most commonly searched customer questions. Be sure to optimise your blogs by including your target keywords where possible.
The key takeaway here is to ensure that your blogs & website content are not only optimised for SEO, but are informative and engaging enough to entice the reader to stay on your website. This can help to keep users on your site, and increase your average session duration. Adding social embeds and high quality images further increase the customers experience as they’re viewing content that is engaging, but also eye-catching too.
On-site SEO covers the optimisation of your website, as the name suggests. Mostly, it involves editing your content and elements, ensuring it’s easily readable and understandable by search engines, while suiting its purpose to meet the needs of users.
There are several things to include and consider in your on-site SEO, which we’ve listed below:
- Internal links
On each page or blog post you publish, you should include relevant links to other areas of your website. Doing this improves your site’s user experience and structure, and can have a positive effect on your SEO – of both the page the link is on and the page it leads to.
Make sure to use relevant, descriptive anchor text on the links to maximise the potential impact.
- External links
As well as linking internally, you should also include outbound links to other websites. This is seen as a positive SEO signal by Google – if you’re pointing links to pages related to the topic or industry of your content, it can signal that your website is relevant.
External links can be added to content in many ways. A good example is if you’re writing a post that includes statistics or data – you could add a link pointing to the source of that information.
- Page titles & meta descriptions
A key part of your on-site SEO is managing your page meta data. You should ensure your page title starts with your target keyword, as this will instantly inform SEO crawlers that your page is relevant for the search term.
You should also ensure you write a good quality meta description – this should also include target keywords, but should be balanced enough so that the description reads well to users. Your meta descriptions will be seen by users who find your site on SERPs (search engine results pages), and should concisely tell them what your page is about.
- Keyword density
Whilst it’s important to mention your target keywords in the content of your relevant pages, it’s key to get the balance right.
Your main keyword should be mentioned in the first 100 words of your content, but shouldn’t be mentioned too many times afterwards, as this can make your work appear low quality and spammy.
Instead, you can try to mention other variations of your search phrase, including LSI keywords.
- Heading structure
Every page and post on your website should feature one H1 title. This is usually automatically generated from the title of your page, and as such, should contain your target keyword.
After this, your following subheadings should use the H2 tag format – one of these should also include your target keyword.
- URL structure
Make your page’s URL as SEO-friendly as possible. To do this, your URL should make it clear what the page is about, and contain keywords.
Not only is this good for SEO, but it’s also more user-friendly, and can make links to your site look more attractive to potential visitors.
For example, the URL example.com/seo-tips is going to be better for search engines and users than example.com/2021/07/14-things-you-should-do-to-make-your-websites-seo-perform-better.
- Image alt tags
You should include images on any pages and blog posts to ensure a better user experience.
Once you’ve added images, make sure you take advantage of the optimisation opportunities in front of you. Include your target keyword in the file name of the image, and add a descriptive alt tag that also contains this.
If your website uses WordPress as its CMS, we recommend downloading the Yoast SEO plugin to effectively manage your on-page SEO efforts.
Yoast SEO appears at the bottom of the WordPress editor on your pages and posts, and enables you to easily update things such as your title tags and meta descriptions.
It can also provide you with a score for your SEO on the page, by entering your target keyword as the “focus keyphrase” for checking. The tool works as a check-list, letting you know if you’ve not entered the keyword into places it should be, or if the keyword density is too high. It also checks for other on-page SEO basics, such as internal and external links, and image alt attributes.
Technical SEO helps to improve the technical areas of a website. This increases the rankings of the website’s page in search engines. It also makes your website faster, easier to crawl and understandable for search engines.
Technical SEO works alongside on-page SEO, and helps improve the elements on your website to ensure you gain higher rankings. This area is the opposite of off-page SEO which helps generate exposure for a website through other channels.
Why Should You Optimise Your Site Technically?
These reasons all whittle down to your user experience. For example, the page speed or understanding the topics of each page by scanning all text and headings.
If you improve technical aspects of your website you can help search engines crawl and understand your site better. Do this properly and you will benefit from higher rankings and much better visibility in search results!
If you don’t do this correctly, you stand the risk of blocking search engines from crawling your site. This will seriously damage your site health. Your website also needs to have a great loading speed, needs to be readable and easy to use. If you build your website with a good foundation, your users and search engines will have a much easier journey.
Five Examples Of Technical SEO
- Link Errors
- Duplicate Content
With the ever evolving internet speed and regular updates to major websites, it is crucial to have a fast loading speed across your website. This is because users are becoming less patient. If your site is slow, you will certainly miss out on all the potential web traffic coming your way.
The easiest way to test your website speed is using Google’s Page Speed Insights.
You can just pop the link to your website in the search bar and away you go! A good margin to measure for page speed expectations is between 2-3 seconds for initial page launch. This means you will expect 10-22 seconds for a full desktop load speed.
Google aims to place your web users in the best area dedicated to their search. This is why Google has crawlers (also known as spiders, or robots). They evaluate as much of your site’s pages for various different reasons. You can also block these crawlers from gathering specific content if you don’t want them to visit an area of your site. Using the robot.txt file correctly is very important to the successful crawl of your website.
If you’re looking to stop a page of your website from being crawled, you can do this with the crawlers meta tag. You can instruct crawlers to crawl a page without following links to your page.
3. Link Errors
Broken links on your website are just as frustrating as slow loading speeds. This includes Error 404, or simply a page that doesn’t exist. Allowing this to happen on your website trumps all the hard work you put in to creating your website!
Not only will this hurt the level of traffic coming to your website, search engines really don’t like to see error pages. Your website is an on-going project, it doesn’t stop as soon as it’s built. You will need to keep on top of links and refreshing pages in order to get the best possible crawl experience.
If you do walk into this problem because you took a page off your website, you will need to redirect the link you initially planted to lead your users to a page that closely relates to the page you removed – or remove the link completely.
4. Duplicate Content
If you have duplicate content on other pages of your website, crawlers will become confused at which page they should be ranking higher to the other pages. This means they can’t come to a decision on which page is more relevant, eventually leading to rank each page lower in search-ability.
A developer will know that you can use the canonical link element. This is an HTML element that can prevent any duplicate content problems you may come across. This element is used to help specify the preferred version of a web page.
A website that is technically optimised is also a secure site. It is an essential requirement to make your site secure. You can do this in many ways, but this specific point we’re referring to is the implementation of HTTPS.
HTTPS will ensure nothing and nobody can intercept data that is transferred between the browser and the site. This means if someone logs into your site, their credentials are safe. This type of security requires an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate in order to implement HTTPS on your site. Google is also aware about the importance of having a secure site. Meaning, they will rank your site higher if it is secure.
Want to know if you’re on a secure site? Look to the left hand side of the URL in your browser – it shows you a lock symbol. Clicking this allows you to view the security certificate and the site and cookie settings set for the site.
So, you’ve got your content and technical SEO nailed down – where do you go from there? This is where it gets a bit trickier, as a good SEO strategy isn’t just about your website and how you can optimise it, it’s about your presence and authority on the internet as a whole.
You could create the slickest, fastest website with the most optimised, relevant content – but how do search engines know that it’s trustworthy and worth a place on SERPs? This can be heavily influenced by the number of high-quality backlinks pointing to your site.
Whilst there has been less emphasis on link building over the past few years, it’s still a crucial part of SEO and shouldn’t be forgotten. Search engines such as Google analyse your backlinks and use them to determine the popularity of your website and its pages – which in turn, influences your Domain Authority and ranking positions.
The key to a successful link building strategy is to aim for quality over quantity, always.
Search engines see backlinks to your website almost like a vote of confidence. If another website sees quality in your content and deems it worthy of linking out to, then there must be some credibility in it. This is why it’s important to aim for links from websites which not only have a high Domain Authority, but are relevant to your business.
You can’t outsmart Google – if you’re a local business selling bikes and suddenly get an influx of backlinks from low-quality websites on domains from the other side of the world, it raises a red flag. However, if you get one top quality backlink from the UK’s best cycling magazine? You’ve struck gold.
So, how do you go about building high-quality backlinks? There are a few different routes that can be explored:
- Create engaging, shareable content that other websites in your industry will want to share with their readers.
- Write guest blogs for industry-leading websites in exchange for a backlink.
- Utilise high quality online directories and keep your citations up to date.
- Make sure you’re listed on Google My Business and Google Maps if you have a location.
- Utilise your social media channels by sharing links to your website. Whilst this isn’t quite as powerful as conventional backlinks, social media can still have some influence on SEO.
Link building is one of the hardest parts of SEO to get right, as you don’t always have full control over it. It’s important to play the long game and aim to build your backlink profile slowly and naturally over time.
Try to avoid spammy backlinks, but know that they’re likely to happen. Too many toxic links can harm your website and even lead you on your way to a Google penalty, which is why you should always keep an eye on your backlink profile.
Use a tool such as Semrush to regularly check in on your link quality score, and consider disavowing any links which look to be harming your profile, or try to request the removal of links which may not be spam but you simply don’t want.
So, now you know the four main pillars that build the foundations for a solid SEO campaign – how do you go about tracking your progress? Check out our blog on the 7 essential SEO metrics and how to track them.
Looking to improve your SEO efforts? We’re a Google-partnered SEO agency in Manchester, offering bespoke campaigns tailored to your business, budget and requirements.
Want to find out more about what we can do for you? Get in touch with us today!
Check out this useful video from Simplilearn on SEO In 5 Minutes to learn the basics of SEO.
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