Traffic. Not always a good thing.
But in the online world, it’s a measure of website success.
Every person or business with an online presence is constantly looking for effective ways to increase traffic to their websites.
Websites that most people find online by using a search engine.
Wouldn’t it be great if your business was at the top of the list when someone searches for a topic or product within your industry? Yeah, duh.
Unless you’re a genius and you’ve managed to crack the complicated algorithms that search engines like Google and Bing use to rank search results, that isn’t going to happen anytime soon.
But that’s where SEO, search engine optimization, comes into play.
While there’s no hard-and-fast way to skyrocket your site to the top of a list of search results, there are some effective SEO guidelines you can follow to help “optimize” your website for search engine recognition.
Want to upgrade your organic rankings, and thus, traffic to your website? Check out these 10 SEO tips.
1. Start with keyword research
How do people perform an online search? With a keyword.
So you need to identify what keywords and keyphrases have the greatest search volume within your industry.
First, think about your target customer. What would someone seeking out your company be looking for, specifically? Tortilla chips? Massages?
Then get more specific. The more generic the term, the greater the likelihood that it’s being used by a ton of other companies. And you don’t want to get lost among the competition.
Base your keywords on highly searched terms, then tailor them to the particular goods or services you offer. For instance, buy organic blue corn tortilla chips. Or, Houston deep tissue massages.
This is known as a “long-tail” keyword strategy.
How do you determine the best keywords to use? Give Google AdWords’ Keyword Planner Tool or Moz’s Keyword Explorer a test drive:
Another great option to try is TrafficTravis. This software has both free and paid options (depending on your needs) and is extremely easy to use. Plus, it offers more than just keyword research tools. You can perform full site SEO checks, monitor search engine rankings, build quality backlinks and more!
2. Craft the right page titles
The body copy of your website isn’t the only place where you should be using keywords. They’re essential for use in page titles as well.
Include a few in your titles, but only where they make sense. You should never sacrifice content for keywords.
Make sure your titles are clear, direct and as descriptive as possible of the content the reader will find on that page. As with keywords, crafting page titles that are unique to your business is beneficial as well.
3. Include heading tags
You’ll want to include heading tags within the body copy of your website.
Again, these should include keywords appropriate to the topics being covered, without purposely “keyword-stuffing” content and sacrificing meaning.
Format using H1 tags for the title of a post or article and H2 tags for headings within the copy.
Where it improves readability and organization, include italics and bold formatting.
These types of formatting not only help improve user experience and readability, but also help Google’s algorithms identify the information found on your page.
4. Beef up your meta descriptions
You know that little “blurb” of information that’s located below each link on a search engine results page? That’s a meta description.
Create a meta description that will clearly inform someone of what he or she will find by visiting your site. What details will make them want to visit your site over the others that came up in their results?
Best practices? Make your copy easy to read and understand. Stay within the 150 character range and use effective keywords – without stuffing.
5. Build internal links
Not to be confused with external links, which send visitors to other websites, internal links direct visitors to other pages of your website.
This is your chance to keep them on your website longer and increase length of time on page, as well as traffic to other pages.
Just make sure you’re using internal links effectively.
Make sure they:
- “Fit” within the copy.
- Link to other articles on your site using the full post title or keyword anchor text, not terms like “click here.”
- Are easy to understand.
- Help readers navigate your site better.
- Aren’t overused within the copy.
6. Optimize your URL
Ever see those URLs that are a jumbled mess of numbers, words and symbols, making no coherent sense? Yeah, not good for your SEO.
As you may have expected based on the above, it’s important to make your URL clear and free of unnecessary words or numbers. Make sure it’s consistent with the title of the page.
Add keywords and keyphrases where possible, without stuffing. The more significant the word, the closer to the beginning of the URL you should aim to place it.
Most importantly, use hyphens to separate words – Google is able to identify these as word separators.
Considering all of these best practices, a good example of a URL linking to an article called “SEO Tips: The Definitive Guide For Newbies” could look something like this:
7. Include images the smart way
Let’s be honest, images make all copy better. Well, almost all copy…
But you want your images to be helping out your SEO efforts too.
Name your image files similarly to how you optimize your URLs – include important, relevant keyphrases, and again, use hyphens to separate words. Make sure the file names make sense and aren’t just a mashup of numbers or terms.
You should also apply these guidelines to describe the image in the alt text. This is the HTML text related to your image that is recognized by search engines.
One last thing – make sure you adjust your images to a size that’s “just right.” Small enough to not affect the loading time and speed of your website, large and quality enough that they aren’t fuzzy or hard to see.
8. Amp up your page speed
Did you know the speed of your page affects your ranking in Google’s search results?
Sounds odd, but makes sense knowing that a search engine’s goal is ultimately to deliver the most relevant results as quickly as possible.
Plus, the faster your page, the better the user experience. Which keeps people coming back, i.e. more traffic to your site…given you have great content that interests them.
Things you can do to increase your page speed (that are relatively simple, even for the most IT-adverse):
- Get rid of unessential plug-ins
- Adjust the size of your images
- Use GTmetrix to evaluate your site and get ideas for improvement
9. Don’t forget to breadcrumb
Web breadcrumbs are just the “trail” of links at the top of a webpage that essentially show visitors the path they took on your site to get to that particular page. They help visitors navigate more easily.
Each of your internal pages should feature one.
An example breadcrumb might look like “Home > Widgets > Blue Widgets” – users will be able to see the hierarchy of their current location to the parent category.
Perhaps they really don’t need a blue widget, but wanted to see the other widgets available. Clicking on the “Widgets” link in the breadcrumb will take them to a page of all available widgets.
Is your website missing breadcrumb navigation? No sweat.
Some website creation tools offer plug-ins to help create breadcrumbs. And if you’re using WordPress, this breadcrumb plugin is among one of the most popular.
For bonus points, use structured data to mark up your breadcrumbs in the search results.
10. Make content your priority
At the end of the day, people are going to spend more time, return and refer others to your website ONLY if the content they’re getting is interesting, informative and what they’re looking for.
If you’re following tips 1-9 to a tee and still having traffic issues, chances are, you’ve let content slip from your priority list.
If you know your target audience and customers, then you should know what kind of information they will be seeking by vising your site.
Here are some tips to keep in mind when developing content for your pages:
- Format your copy for readability
- Make sure your page contains copy that lives up to what its title promises
- Aim for quality over quantity
- Keep your information fresh, add new stuff regularly
- Include keywords where applicable
- Watch for grammar, spelling and punctuation errors
Keeping up with the Joneses
Don’t think that by applying a few tips and adopting a set-it-and-forget-it mindset you’ll always be on top of your SEO game.
Because technology and website methodologies are evolving at the speed of a Google search.
These 10 tips are a great way to get you on the road to site traffic success, but they’re just the tip of the SEO iceberg.
Keeping an open mind toward learning, utilizing super effective tools such as Linkio – a SEO Management Tool and adopting a flexible website strategy are the best things you can do get ahead of your competition – and stay there.
What tip are you looking forward to implementing the most for your site? Let us know in the comments below!
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Great post. Always happy for new SEO ideas. Breadcrumbs is the one I’ll definitely use today
I am just trying out some bits I learnt about on-site SEO, Was a little shocked by how it was so in-depth-luckily I found some
good sites to follow
Added to Reddit, it will be useful to people over there!
Hi Mahalia! So happy to know you were able to put the info to good use. Thanks for sharing the article & best of luck on your SEO efforts 🙂