8 Easy SEO Changes You Can Make Alone
SEO (search engine optimisation) is often seen by business owners, perhaps including yourself, as something of a dark art and it’s still the case that some fear what SEO agencies actually DO, with the perception being it’s very little for often a lot of money.
There are two reasons for this. Firstly, few people really know what SEO actually is, just that they “need” it, and secondly there have been horror stories of businesses forking out large amounts only to see results go backwards. It’s no wonder business owners cringe at the term “SEO”.
That needn’t be the case though and in a bid to prove it, here’s a comprehensive list of on site SEO tips that practically you can apply to your website to improve search engine rankings. And if you – or anyone – can do these and make a difference, imagine what a reputable agency or SEO expert can do with their knowledge.
Remember, these tips can be done easily and quickly by anyone with a working knowledge of their CMS, so whether it’s yourself, whoever looks after the content on your website or a contracted web development agency, they can all be applied with little to no cost for an almost immediate positive impact.
Is your website mobile-friendly?
I’ll be up front here – if the answer is no, then sorry, but you are going to have to spend some money. But you have little choice.
Google recently announced that they are rolling out a mobile-first index. This essentially means they are using the mobile version of the web as their primary index, which in turn means that if your website isn’t mobile-friendly your search engine rankings are going to suffer.
Most websites these days are designed to be responsive, which is mobile friendly, but if your website is a few years old, you’re going to want to check if it’s mobile friendly or not (in fact, if it was launched yesterday you should check anyway).
To do this easily, visit Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool, pop your URL and see what it says. Here’s the GNGR site results:
If you get this result, you’re ok and you can carry on with this list of tips. If not, speak to your developer about getting a mobile friendly version of your site up and running ASAP. Even if you DO get a positive result from the test, Google may well have some suggestions for you, so always click the “GET MY FREE REPORT” button and read it over.
How fast does your site load?
Page speed is a significant ranking factor these days, as well as an important visitor factor too. If your site is slow to load not only will you lose out on business from impatient customers, your search engine rankings will take a hit too.
To test the speed of your site as far as Google is concerned you can use the same tool as above. As you can see from the image above, the GNGR site suffers from site speed issues. If yours does too, make sure you read that report in full and address as many as the issues as you can.
They could include:
When you add a new image to your site always make sure you’ve compressed it first using Photoshop or some other image compression tool. You can reduce the file size of your images without compromising the quality and dramatically increase the speed of your site.
Check the file size of the images on your site already too and replace those that are too big. Focus on those that are over 1Mb to begin with and then work your way down.
If you have any plug ins on your site then you might want to check these out – some of the poorly built ones can cause significant bottlenecks when loading pages. Test by disabling them one at a time and reomve those you can see slow your site down.
This covers a multitude of things, starting with yur server. Ensure that Gzip compression is in place and turned on – you can do this by speaking with your hosting company or running a test here.
These are all relatively simple to do.
Does your site use pop ups?
Pop ups are a popular way to increase email lists or push promotions and while they have their place you should consider alternatives. If you can find a way to eliminate pop ups entirely, great, but if you want to retain them as they work well for you then the least you should do is make sure they don’t appear on mobile. Why? Because Google says so.
They are pushing for removal on these on mobile as they create a poor user experience and while I can’t find any evidence this impacts on rankings yet, I feel sure it will soon. Instead use in-text hyperlinks or strong call to action buttons to direct users to specifically designed landing pages for mobile.
Does your site use breadcrumbs?
Breadcrumbs not only make for a more user-friendly website, they also help search engines index your site better and faster.They look like this:
Home > Product Category 1 > Product Category 2
If you aren’t using them already, get them in place. It’s a really easy thing to do using a plug in – just make sure you use a trusted, well built one!
Do you encourage customer reviews?
If you’re not already asking for customer reviews, start. First of all, it’s user generated content that you can include on your website and Google loves this. Secondly, it can increase clickthrough rate from your PPC ads as your rating can be included next to your listing. Thirdly, the feedback you recieve – positive or negative – can help you improve your business!
There are several options for generating customer reviews, from TrustPilot and reviews.co.uk to Google’s own Customer Reviews (available through the Merchant Center) and plug ins for the likes of WooCommerce, all of which are relatively simple to implement. Choose the one that best suits your business and budget.
I would recommend using Google’s own if you’re an ecommerce site already using Merchant Center.
Is your language customer focused?
Have a read of your website pages and blog posts. Are the written for your site visitors and customers or for search engines? If it’s the latter, stop what you’re doing and rewrite everything. I’m not joking. There are a few of reasons for this.
First off, having people on your site is one thing, converting them is another. They simply won’t convert if what they are reading is clearly search engine friendly and not focused on addressing their needs.
Secondly, Google wants to serve up the most relevant sites to what people are searching for and they are damn good at it and getting better. They know when a site is written for them or for the customer. If it’s the former, you’re shooting yourself in the foot on all fronts. If it’s the latter, you’re more likely to rank higher.
Finally, voice search is on the increase and shows no sign of slowing down. So think about your content – does it contain the keywords and phrases that people actually say? It will if you write for the customer, not the engine.
For that matter, is your search engine listing customer friendly?
Google takes clickthrough as a ranking factor. Yes, it does, don’t argue. That means that your 70-character page title and your 200 character (172 on mobile) META description have to be both customer friendly and relevant to the page itself.
If your listing is generating a lot of clickthroughs Google will view this is a positive sign and bump you up the rankings – but only if your visitors STAY. If a bunch of people click through but then immediatley return to the search results, Google will view this a bad sign.
So…review your page titles and META descriptions and make absolute sure they are optimised for increasing clickthrough rates and that the landing page is precisely what you promised with them. You will soon see big improvements in your rankings if you get this right on all your pages.
Are you on Google?
Seems like a daft question, right? What I mean is, are you on ALL of Google? The search giant owns a number of properties – Google My Business, Google+, YouTube – and to give yourself the best chance of ranking highly I’m of the firm belief you should be on them all.
So create or claim your Google My Business listing, sort out your Google+ page and create your YouTube channel. Then optimise them. Then fill them with content. Google won’t tell you that by doing so your rankings will improve, but every signal that you’re relvant, every signal that you EXIST will help nonetheless.
In addition, make sure you connect your site with Google Search Console and Google Analytics correctly. Using accurate data and information from these two invaluable services will give you a host of new things you can do to improve your search engine rankings – and yes, you can do it yourself!
Over to you
Put some time aside, get stuck into that little lot, delegating some of the work if you wish, and within a few weeks I’m almost certain you will see positive results in terms of your search engine rankings. Let me know how you get on!