Websites receive the majority their visitors from search engines, such as Google or Bing. Every website and blog owner should structure their website and its content to make it as easy as possible for search engines to understand, categorise and rank them in search results – this process is known as search engine optimisation, or SEO.
For search engines, not only is high-quality content important, but also the way the content is structured and presented. The many variables involved in SEO can make it a very complex topic and there are agencies that specialise in SEO services for businesses. Here, we’ll explain some basic but important measures that can easily be implemented by new website owners. Even if your website has been online for a long time and doesn’t have the desired rankings, good SEO can still be done to improve its visibility in search engines.
Many of the measures in the below checklist will not only improve your search engine ranking, but also improve the user experience of your website. This will increase the visitors’ time on your site, which in turn continues to improve your rankings. The importance of SEO is not to be underestimated.
1. Sort Out Your Navigation And Structure
A clean and logical main navigation on your website helps the search engines interpret your website information easily. If you have a lot of articles on your website,, you can use tools in your CMS to include categories and tags to organise the content into a more logical structure that’s easy-to-use. A good idea is to create categories which can then be placed in a sidebar.
Likewise, breadcrumb navigation helps enables the search engines to understand the relationship between the individual subpages, because they . show the whole path to the current page or post. If your installed website theme does not have Bbreadcrumb navigation, you can add one using out additional plug-ins such as Yoast SEO or Breadcrumb NavXT.
For articles and pages with a really large amount of text, it i’s also useful to include a table of contents. These can also be created with plug-ins such as Table of Content Plus or Easy Table of Contents.
2. Use Keywords To Your Advantage
It’s important to include keyword variations and keyword synonyms in your content. The main keyword, its synonyms and variations should be included throughout the main text, headings, and any lists that you use in your post or article.
However, keyword density no longer leads to good search-engine rankings. So, never overdo the use of keyword-related phrases or sentences – always preserve your natural writing style. I find that a great proof reading technique is to actually read your page out aloud imaging you are making a speach.
3. Include Keywords In Your URLs
The main keyword for your article or post, should be included in the URL of the webpage, to help search engines understand what’s on the page. URLs are also displayed in the search results of the search engines. If a URL contains the keyword entered by the searcher, it will be shown in bold. This increases the chance that the searcher will click on the search result and land on your website.
With CMS’s such as WordPress, you can define an individual permalink for each new page and article. This URL should be defined before the page goes live; it’s not a good idea to change a URL after a page has been published.
4. Include Headings
Always use headings to structure your articles and pages – use different heading types such as H1, H2, H3, etc. The first header on each page or post should always be a H1 tag. Always ensure headings are used in a logical order. For example, never use a H3 directly under a H1 heading.
For example, the heading at the top of this blog post is a H1 heading and all the numbered headings down the page are H2 headings.
This helps search engines understand page structure. Also, avoid using headings to name or mark areas such as the navigation, sidebar, or the footer on your site. This could impact on your rankings.
5. Use Pictures Properly
You should enrich your content with pictures to make your website more attractive and improve the customer visitor experience.
All images should be stored in a compressed file format and. The JPEG format (.jpg) is usually the best choice.
The image file name and alt text should also contain a relevant keyword.
It is key to think about the file size of images you add to your site and to try and keep it as small as possible, without losing quality.
The faster your site loads, the more professional it will appear and, ultimately, the higher it will rank.
Professional image manipulation software such as Adobe Photoshop is the industry-standard option, but there are free alternatives such as Gimp or befunky, which have all the tools you’ll need for this.
There is a very useful free tool for quickly and simply optimising your images at https://tinyjpg.com/. Just drag your image into the box on the page and Tinyjpg will give you a link to download an optimised version of your image.
6. Keep Load Times Down
Search-engine crawlers and visitors both favour websites that loads quickly. The loading time of your website depends mainly on the your web hosting service, theme, and images sizes.
The use of ‘caching’ – eg, storing and serving data and images in a more efficient way – helps you to eliminate or at least improve loading times.
7. Always Add Internal Links
When relevant, you should add internal links to related content elsewhere on your website. This helps search engines and visitors understand the structure of your website even faster. A good example of how to implement internal linking can be found throughout Wikipedia.
8. Consider Adding External Links
Many website owners are keen to include external links within their content. However, you shouldn’t be. If external links offer your visitors useful information, then you should use them, by all means, as search engines positively rate valuable external links and this will improve your rankings.
However, a good tip when adding these links, is to ensure that any external links open in a new tab within the browser, so that , so your visitors can stay on your site if they wish to.
9. Add Meta Titles And Meta Descriptions
For each page and article, you should define a ‘meta title’ and a ‘meta description’. This ‘meta’ text is then displayed in search results in the search engines: not only will doing this improve your rankings, it will also provide a preview of the page for potential visitors.
In Google, the meta title is displayed at the top of the search result in blue. It’s limited to 50 to 60 characters in length. Longer titles are automatically shortened. Under the title, each search result contains the green-coloured URL, and the meta description is displayed. This is limited to approximately 156 characters and is also automatically shortened by Google.
When writing your meta title and meta description, you want to both encourage the potential visitor to click on your link and also ensure it’s relevant to your page. Otherwise, if the searcher does click through doesn’t find what they were searching for, they’ll exit your website, which can have a negative effect on ranking in the search results.
In WordPress, you can use plug-ins to set the meta information for each individual page. For example, the WP Meta SEO or Yoast SEO plug-ins are very useful, because they show you how your article or page is displayed in Google search results.
10. Track Analytics And Refine Your Site
To measure and evaluate important data about how visitors use your website, you should use analysis software. This is not a direct SEO measure, but it’s vital in helping you understand whether any SEO measures you’ve employed have actually worked. Google provides the free services Google Analytics and Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster Tools) for this purpose.
To use them, you need a Google Account with Google Analytics. After you’ve included Google Analytics in your website, you can sign in to your Google Account with Search Console and add your site. You can then use your Google Analytics account to track visitor sessions and other data. After setting up Search Console, you should submit a Sitemap for your website.
This helps Google to comprehensively capture your site’s structure and contents and encourages Google to crawl and evaluate your website. For new websites, which have not yet been linked from other websites, this is enormously important. For somehow, Google must first learn that your website exists at all. To create a sitemap, you can use plug-ins such as Yoast SEO or Google XML Sitemaps.
In addition to submitting a sitemap, you can also use Google Search Console to fine-tune aspects of your site to improve its SEO performance. Search Console is a powerful collection of tools and reports which can help you to improve your website’s structure and code to make your website index better, to manage URLs displayed in search results and to invalidate harmful backlinks. Used together with analytics data, you can harness Search Console’s capabilities for a positive effect on your rankings and your visitor numbers.