5 SEO basics you can do yourself
Every business has its FAQs, and Digital Bridge is no different. Most clients are keen to know some SEO basics and website optimisation tips, and we’re happy to help.
In this post we share some simple advice on how to optimise your website that even absolute beginners can follow.
First, what is SEO and why should you care?
Search Engine Optimisation is the process of optimising your site so that search engines can understand what topic is covered on each page on your site.
It's a little less intimidating if you think of it this way: you’re essentially telling the search engines what each page is about, so they can serve your page in relevant search results. And ideally, you want to rank highly for your chosen keyword phrase.
Here’s how to optimise your website in 5 key areas
If you concentrate on getting these SEO basics right, you’ll have covered the essential elements for website optimisation.
1. Page Titles and Meta Descriptions
Each web page requires a unique page title and meta description. Duplicate any and you’re ruining your SEO for those pages.
A page title describes the content on that page:
- The title is for both humans and search engines. Your page title needs to let the search engines know what your page is about, yet it also needs to encourage a click – so make sure it sounds compelling.
- Include your keyword phrase in the page title.
- A meta description summarises the content on that page – in around 155 characters.
- The description should give a little more colour, so someone knows what to expect if they click the link. Write an engaging description to entice people to view your page.
- Include your keyword phrase or related keywords in the meta description. While not a ranking factor for SEO, the keyword will appear in bold in search results – which may help you earn a click.
Related post: How to do keyword research the easy way
Take a look at our Digital Bridge Home page to see what we mean:
- The page title shows first (blue text). It’s like your ‘shop’ sign.
- URL (green text). This is your shop’s address.
- Meta description (grey text). This tells potential customers what you do and how.
Note how the meta description summarises what we do and includes our keywords. Compare that to our Website Management page below.
See how how they differ? The meta descriptions convey a consistent message in a different way.
A word about this. You can’t always control what search engines choose to show as your meta description. Sometimes Google will choose alternative text from your page. This could be because your meta descriptions are too similar (so they compete). However, it can happen for other reasons too and you won’t know why.
If you change your meta descriptions to avoid this, bear in mind it can take a while for Google to recognise the adjustments.
2. Header tags
Each page on your website needs a header (H1) and subheader (H2, H3… H6) tags. These signal hierarchy, and call out key parts to the search engines.
- At the very least, your page should have H1 (only one H1 tag per page) and H2 tags.
- Include your keyword in the H1 tag. And use your keyword, related keywords, or synonyms in H2, H3, etc. tags.
- Follow a logical hierarchy: H2 should follow H1, H3 tags should follow H2, and so on.
Not only do header tags help with SEO, but they’ll also make your pages look much easier to read with a heading and subheadings. If your pages look easier to read, then site visitors are more likely to stay on the page and site longer, which will also help with your SEO.
Your page URLs should include words, not numbers, symbols and so on. And should be indicative of the page content. You should:
- Include your keyword in your URL (but resist cramming) e.g. www.yoursitename.com/french-tutoring-collingwood/ XXXXXXXXXXXXXX
- Keep it short and simple
- Create (and write) it for humans first, Google second. Readability is important.
- Avoid capital letters and use all lower case
4. Anchor text for links
“Anchor text” is simply the word or words that you click in a hyperlink to another web page or document on the web. They’re really important for SEO.
- Add the link to a descriptive word or phrase, not a generic phrase (e.g. “click here” or “read more”).
- A reader should have some idea of what they’re going to see if they click the link (e.g. “see more birthday invitation designs”)
- Learn more about anchor texts here.
There, see that? That’s good anchor text in action. No ambiguity - just a clear, simple, concise message.
Search engines can’t see images, so you need to tell them what each image is about. And you do this via the file name and the alt attribute.
An image file name is a brief yet meaningful description of the image.
- Use your keyword.
- Use dashes (-) between each word.
- e.g. custom-cedar-desk.jpg instead of IMG9285.jpg
Image alt attribute (the ‘alt tag’) describes what’s on the image. It’s the text that will display if your image can’t be displayed.
- Include your keyword or related keywords.
- Write as normal: (e.g. “A handcrafted custom cedar desk with two built-in drawers and a privacy return”)
Ready to tackle your website optimisation?
If you haven’t read our post How to do keyword research the easy way yet, make sure you do, before you act on the advice offered here. The value of thorough keyword research shouldn’t be underestimated. Having said that, with the right approach, even a beginner can find little nuggets of keyword gold right under his or her nose!
When you move forward with your keywords and these 5 SEO basics you’ll have made a great start in improving the ranking and performance of your site. Remember, be patient and results should follow.
Still not sure about SEO?
Try a plugin to guide you throught the SEO maze. There are many to choose from ranging (as you would expect) in price and sophistication. Still, they’ll only help you optimise your website if you understand them, so choose one that’s beginner-friendly. The smarter they are the more confusing they become, which is not the point.
Digital Bridge is a Melbourne-based web development agency that speaks on ideas and is low on jargon. We specialise in designing, developing, and managing websites and web applications for people like you and businesses like yours.