5 ways to get your website ranking higher

5 ways to get your website ranking higher

5 ways to get your website ranking higherSEO isn’t rocket science. It might seem that way when you’re just starting out trying to get your website ranking higher though, because there are millions of articles about how to do this all over the web. What I’ve tried to do here is to pick 5 fairly simple things you can do yourself that will make a difference. Yes, you can do these things yourself, assuming you have access to edit your website in whichever CMS it’s been built with, eg WordPress, for example. So here are my 5 tips:

How to get your website ranking higher

1. Invest in Yoast

Yoast doesn’t actually do the SEO for you, but it will tell you how well optimised each page on your website is. Yoast is a plug-in you can use in WordPress, it’s very easy to use and it reminds you about all the things you need to have in place to get your page ranked highly. Visit the Yoast website to find out more about this and download the plug-in.

2. Include desired search terms in your page

Time and time again a client will say to me something like, eg “We want to rank for the term Oak Furniture.” Great. But then I look at their website and they don’t mention the phrase Oak Furniture anywhere at all! You’re not going to rank for a phrase that isn’t even mentioned so make sure you use the term you want to rank for in your Meta Title Tag, Meta Description Tag, H2 headings on the page and image names. The Yoast plug-in allows you to enter these Meta Tags and your CMS editor should allow you to select different heading formats. Highlight a heading on a page and select the H2 format. This indicates to Google that this is an important sub-heading. Each page can have several H2s and should also have an H1 heading that contains the key search term you want to rank for.

3. Put your keyword at the top of the page

If your page is about oak furniture, but you don’t mention the phrase Oak Furniture until somewhere near the bottom of the page, guess what? Google isn’t going to think this page is about oak furniture. If your page is about oak furniture, talk about it up front, right at the top of the page, preferably in the first sentence and definitely in the page title.

4. Alt Tags

One of the ways Google knows what your page is about is by reading names and alt tags of images. So don’t call your images home-page-1.jpg or header-1.jpg. Call them oak-furniture.jpg, pine-furniture.jpg, etc, whatever the main keyword is for your page. And make sure you type in an Alt Tag description for each image. The Alt Tag should contain the key search term eg “Oak Furniture.” This helps the user and also tells Google what the image is about.

5. Links

Links are the way the Google bot crawls through the web. If your page has no internal or external links coming to it, Google will never find it. Make sure there are links into your page from your own website, and also that any links out are to relevant sites. For example, you could link to the Institute of Oak Furniture Manufacturers from your oak furniture page and this increases its relevance.

Higher website rankings – where to get more help

We have a free website checker tool you can try right now for any page on your website. Just enter in your web page url and get an instant report to find out how well your page is optimised for SEO.

Or if you’d like our help to get your website ranking higher in Google, please email us or call us on 0843 289 3060.

Do you know how to set up SEO?

How to set up SEO

How to set up SEOIt might sound like a strange question when we’re the ones offering SEO services! But we exhibit at lots of business and networking seminars and in talking to visitors about SEO, when we ask that question we often hear the answer:

“It’s all right, I know how to set up SEO – leave it with me!”

But all too often their knowledge is just outdated. Lots of people have content managed systems (CMS) to manage their websites and see the section called ‘SEO SETUP’ which has a few fields to enter information such as META TAGS, META DATA, PAGE TITLE and URI. They quite rightly enter these details and then assume that’s all there is to SEO and away they go expecting their sites to be ranked on the first page the next day. If only it was that simple!

SEO management covers a whole host of areas, is an ongoing activity and needs to really inform the search engines about every aspect of your website and your business:

  • detailed analysis of how you want to be seen;
  • how on-page content is related to underlying website SEO information;
  • how to create a unique focus on the information on each page;
  • the correct way to submit your website to each search engine;
  • updating information regularly;
  • ensuring videos are managed correctly to avoid down grading by search engines;
  • image tagging for performance and recognition;
  • site structure levels and the money pages…

There’s so much to do to setup and then manage regularly to get that search ranking and to maintain it.

SEO Top Tips – Download this guide now

The list of activities and requirements is extensive and is more than just entering the scant data into the SEO fields that may be available to you. So we’ve put together some SEO Top Tips to get you started that touch on some of the key areas to look at when starting out on SEO.

 

Keywords: How to help search engines understand your website content

Pick the Right Keywords

Pick the Right KeywordsWe’ve been doing quite a few web site analyses over the past couple of weeks and it’s been fascinating to see that not one of the sites we’ve analysed so far, has what I would call good SEO in place.

Most of the sites have no meta tags, but I won’t go on about that here as I’ve covered it in previous articles. But surprisingly, not many sites actually include their key search terms in their on-page copy.

Analysing the most frequently used words on a web site home page often picks up generic terms like “leader”, “we” or “business”, which aren’t specific enough to explain to a search engine what your website is about.

While I don’t want to encourage you to repetitively stuff your page full of keywords, you have to make sure that the search terms you want people to find you for, actually do exist on your page, maybe 2 or 3 times, otherwise Google is not going to find your site when people type those search terms into the search box.

You should also make sure that the other copy on the page supports your main theme. So if you’re a social media consultant, talk about social media channels, twitter, facebook, youtube, and whatever other words relate to the social media. This sort of occurrence of associated words makes Google realise what your site is all about and will increase the chances of your page being returned higher up in the search results.

Fact: Our website is #1 on Google and SEO only cost us $99!

That was the comment I was confronted with when I went to see a client recently.

“See this? See this!” said my client. “There we are, our website is right up there at number 1, and it happened overnight after I paid my $99. How simple was that? And I have a cast-iron guarantee that it will stay at that position for that single payment!”

Now I had two options here:

  • Hit him hard with the facts i.e. there is no way you can go to #1 overnight

or

  • Let him down gently and explain what’s happened and that he’s just wasted $99

I have to admit I was so annoyed that he’d gone off and done this that I wanted to take the first option, but I decided that our long term relationship deserved more than that – my annoyance is my problem!

How Google indexes websites

So I explained that when you type your own website url into Google search, Google will return all instances of the pages it has indexed. So yes it appears to be number 1 (and 2 and 3 and 4….). And yes every time you do that it will be the same, but actually that’s not what he wants or needs – if someone knows his url then SEO is not needed, people will just go straight to his site anyway – a fact that he had forgotten during the sales pitch.  I expanded on ‘real’ SEO and what it meant, what people search for, how his competitors are defined and how to set up his USPs. We talked about all the different areas that needed to be considered, from search terms, on-site content, domain authority, meta data, video and PDF optimisation through to Google Search Console, articles, blogs and on and on. It was then that he realised just what a mistake he’d made.

#1 on Google for $99? No way!

Don’t waste money on the wrong sort of SEO

Next, I showed him how it worked for any website by entering website urls at random. He saw that they were also #1 and the penny dropped big time – yes he’d been duped. What came next was more embarrassment for him and shock for me. He’d been so impressed by what he’d seen that he’d paid out another $199 to do the same for his site on Bing (because, as the sales pitch went, “Bing is so much more complicated to get to number 1 than Google”). He’d also paid out $248 ($49+$199) for 3 other sites he runs plus a general overrider fee of $499 for a whole host of secondary search engines that “we can get you to number one on as well”. So in total he’d handed over $1,491 for absolutely nothing.

Giving SEO agencies a bad name

While I am fuming that there are con artists out there that play on the innocent (and give real SEO agencies like us a bad name) I was more annoyed at his naivety – but part of me can’t blame him. Everybody (and their dog!) must get the same emails that I do “$99 to be #1 on Google with instant SEO techniques”. These emails scream that they can achieve the impossible. But when you want to drive people to your site it does seem attractive and low risk. To give him his due, he then said “OK – I was stupid” and proceeded to give me an order to carry out ‘real SEO’ for him – I just wish it didn’t have to come on the back of wasted money.

SEO – where to get help

My plea to anyone reading this is – don’t be duped and fork out money for nothing. The old adage is worth remembering more than anywhere else at this time:

“When people expect to get ‘something for nothing’ they are sure to be cheated.”

By PT Barnum (that great showman who knew a thing or two about convincing people to part with their money)

I rest my case.

If you’d like help with your SEO and want to work with a white-hat (ethical) SEO consultant, please get in touch.

Find out more

Please click to find out more about our SEO service.

Have you been conned by SEO?

Have you been conned by SEO?

Have you been conned by SEO?“Hello, my name is Sonya and I’m an SEO consultant. We can get your website to the number 1 position in Google for only £99.”

How many emails and phone calls per week do you get that start off with something like this?  If my own experience is anything to go by, you probably get quite a few.  What’s your first thought? “Mmm, maybe they might be onto something here, I would love to be in the top position on Google”?

You might think it sounds tempting. But let’s just analyse this for a second. What exactly are they promising? To get your website to the Number 1 position in Google.

What do they mean by “Your Website”. Do they mean the home page? Do they mean a particular section page?

And when they say “Number 1 position”, what search term would someone have to search for in Google, for your website to come up in the “Number 1 position”? I would hazard a guess that if you typed your company name into Google now, your site will probably already come up in the Number 1 position. But the people you want to find you on Google are the people who DON’T already know your company name. What search term will they type in?

Let me explain why this promise is meaningless

Let’s say your company name is “Lannards” and you sell office furniture. What search term do you want to be found for? “Office furniture” probably, right? Maybe some other terms like “desks”, “office chairs”, that sort of thing. Certainly, you’ll want to come up in the top 3 search results if someone types in “Lannards” and “Lannards office furniture”, but you probably already do. what you really want is that if someone types in “Office Furniture”, your website will come up in the top 3 results. Probably you’ll want this to be your home page.  If that happens, you’re reaching new potential buyers who may not know about your company and who will click on the link to your site.

What page should come up in the search results?

But if someone types “desks” into Google, you would probably want the “desks” page of your website to come up into Google, so that the potential customer goes straight to the page containing the products they’re interested in. And if they typed in “office chairs”, you’d want them to go to the “office chairs” page. In this way, each page of your website needs to be optimised so that it can be found for its main topic when people search for it.

Don’t be conned by style

So it’s totally meaningless for someone to say they can get you to number 1 in Google, because it depends on a) the search term being searched for and b) which website page will be returned in the search results. They could quite easily take your money and then say “we got you to number 1” because if you search for “Lannards”, you’ll come up top. And don’t be fooled, it can’t be done for £99. Because all your competitors are constantly changing their own websites and doing their own SEO, it has to be a continuous process of updating content, tweaking copy and key search terms, to keep on top of it all.

How can you improve your Google rankings, then?

What you should really be doing, is deciding on a main topic for each page of your website, make sure each page has a good volume of high quality text and other content such as images and videos that talks about this topic, and optimise each page for its own unique topic. In this way, Google will be able to easily work out what each page of your site is about and your rankings will improve. You can do this yourself of course, if you have the time and the inclination, or you can use a trustworthy SEO agency, based in the UK, who have proven results and a good track record with other clients. They should want to talk to you about what’s important to your business and what your potential customers are looking for.

For more information about how to improve your Google rankings, see our SEO top tips and other marketing resources and read about our in-depth, organic SEO services.

 

Why it’s important to choose the right CMS package for SEO

Choose the right CMS for SEO

We recently started working with a new SEO client, whose very nicely designed and laid out website was built with a Content Management System (CMS) we’d not worked with before (it wasn’t one of the CMS systems we provide at Insight). This isn’t normally a big problem but we’ve discovered that this particular CMS package has some serious shortcomings that mean optimisation is very difficult.

Choose the right CMS for SEO

Some of these issues and why they are important for SEO are:

Image File Names

When Google is working out what your page is about, one of the things it looks at are image file names. If your page is about green dresses and your lovely image of your green dress has a file name of 2456435.jpg, this isn’t helpful at all for SEO and doesn’t pass any information to Google. But if your image is called green-dress.jpg, then Google knows this is relevant, especially if green dress is mentioned in the page name, the meta title and the page url. We started renaming the clients’ images and uploaded them to their CMS so that they had meaningful names. Imagine our shock when we discovered that the CMS system was renaming the images all on its own, so our lovely image called green-dress.jpg was being renamed to 324555667.jpg! Disaster! But surely this can be rectified? A quick call to the CMS company to check, but no, it is not possible to have a proper file name, the CMS does actually rename all the images to numbers.

Page Names

This particular website has a News and Articles section and the client has written some very nice articles about topics of interest to their market. This is great for SEO and it’s lovely as an SEO to have some material like this to optimise, so we got going and started on the first article.  We changed the Meta Title to incorporate the relevant key search term for the article, then changed the Meta Description, and then changed the page main heading from a generic “News” to the title of the article. All seemed fine until we went to work on the second article. This seemed to have the same Meta names and page headings as the first article we’d just done. Another call to the CMS company told us that every single page in the News and Articles section has to have exactly the same Meta Title, Meta Description and Page heading. So they are all going to be just called “News” and there will be very little to tell Google what the page is about. The pages are also going to be seen as duplicates so Google isn’t going to know which page to bring up to relate to the search term being typed in.

URL names

The url you give your page is also important for SEO. Using our example, our page could be called www.company.co.uk/green-dress. This tells Google exactly what this page is about and is consistent with the content and meta data for the page, strengthening the page’s overall optimisation score. But say you have 2 pages about green dresses: 1 page is about a long green dress and the other is about a short green dress. So you want to rename your page url. If you rename your page from /green-dress to /long-green-dress, it will take a while (it can be weeks) for Google to update it’s index. So in the meantime, if someone searches for “green dresses”, Google will still be bringing up the old page url called /green-dress. But this page doesn’t exist any more, and if you have the wrong sort of CMS package, the visitor will click on the /green-dress link in Google and then see the dreaded “Page Not Found” error – you’ve lost your chance to capture that visitor.  This needn’t happen if you’re using the sort of CMS that automatically deals with this. Just to get a bit technical here, when you rename page url names, your web person would normally need to create what’s called a “301 redirect” and put some code on the page to tell Google that all searches for the old page should now be forwarded to the new page url (/long-green-dress). Good CMS packages do this automatically as soon as you rename the page url. And WordPress offers easy-to-use plugins that allow a non-technical user to redirect an old url to a new one. However, this client’s CMS package doesn’t do this, so it turns out we have to create a manual 301 redirect table for all the pages we want to rename and send it to the CMS company for them to change. This all has to happen instantaneously to minimise the chance that someone will click on the old page name after we’ve changed it, but before the CMS company has put the 301 redirect code in. It also means that the client can’t just rename a page as they’re not technical users (and why should they be?) so can’t do the 301 redirect table themselves.

Ask the right questions of your CMS provider

These are just three examples of why it’s so important to thoroughly check out the CMS package that will be used to build your website. It might not occur to you to ask this level of detailed question when you’re selecting your website builder, but if you end up choosing the wrong package, you could be severely restricted in how your website appears to Google – and that could mean that Google ranks your site lower because it can’t work out what the site is about.

If you’re buying a CMS or if you’re hiring someone to build a website for you using a CMS package – ask lots of questions. You should make sure that the user can customise each page individually for content, for meta tags, for page names, image file names, alt tags, url names, H1, H2, H3 etc headings. Make sure you find out how easy all of those things are to do.

CMS websites – where to find help

We design and build websites using CMS packages which allow all this flexibility for SEO – so if you’d like some more advice on this, we’d be happy to talk to you about how we can help you build your website, maximise your Google rankings and increase traffic to your website. Email us to talk about it further.

Google+ but not as we know it and how the G+ break up affects your SEO

google-plus-breaking-up-2015Going, Going, Google+ Gone

Since Google+ was introduced it became one of the must haves to help boost your SEO. G+ and YouTube from Google gave website owners the optimum resource for search engine optimisation. No matter whether it was personalised search results you were looking to improve or gaining increased organic reach G+ was a key driver to get Google on your side and to build on SEO for your businesses. Anyone searching for terms would see posts in Google+ being posted in top spots and YouTube helping with video promotion was also part of the social move by Google. But all this is set to change with Google’s change to G+ and its reorganisation into:

  • Communication
  • Photos, and
  • Streams

The three new areas were announced by Bradley Horowitz, the new VP in charge of the changing face of Google social media. In a recent Google blog on 27th July, Bradley commented:

“When we launched Google+, we set out to help people discover, share and connect across Google like they do in real life. While we got certain things right, we made a few choices that, in hindsight, we’ve needed to rethink. So over the next few months, we’re going to be making some important changes.”

And these changes are still in an embryonic stage and include:

  • A more focused Google+ experience
  • Moving Google+ Photos to the Google Photos app
  • Putting sharing into Google Hangouts
  • Using Google without a Google+ profile (hurrah!)

The move makes perfect sense because since G+ was installed in our mindset the general concensus was that it didn’t quite hit the mark of knocking Facebook or Twitter off their respective pedestals. It had some nice features, some confusing features and a lot of irritating features like not always being able to access other Google products without a G+ profile. With photos becoming increasingly important (e.g. Facebook acquiring WhatsApp and Instagram) the move makes sense and Google+ has seen a lot of pick-up in the image area. Google Hangouts has had a solid following and the move to breakout Google+ into streams signifies that Google has recognised that it has strengths but not the overall Social Media clout it thought it might achieve.

Changes to your SEO activities

Q: Should I ditch my Google+ business page?

Definitely not! You should keep your business page (and if you haven’t got one, then set it up now!) The “Google My Business” section of Google+ is still key to search results and allows you to add and verify business listings – these are the details that appear in organic search results and in Google Maps. You should ensure that you manage this business page to enter all correct business details, add up to date photos and videos – and to make sure that you stay on top of, and respond to customer comments.

 Q: Is it time to split my YouTube & Google+ accounts?

Again, not yet. On YouTube’s own blog they say:

“Do NOT do it right now or you’ll delete your YouTube Channel!”

Google+ has been a good tool for locating people with similar interests but in its new guise it will help ensure that the people are actually using it, and where useful, should help it thrive. Your activity on Google+ has been sharing itself across the platform and once the separation occurs (G+ split from YouTube) comments will only appear on your YouTube channel. This is great news as it should raise engagement on YouTube. At the moment comments include Google+ activity and these tended to go to the top of the comment section, which discouraged interaction as the comments just listed the activity of a video being shared – not a lot of meaningful feedback. Keep an eye on the split as you’ll need to make a positive change to split your G+ & YouTube channels to take advantage of the SEO gains of a focused YouTube offering.

 Q: How do capitalise on the changes?

Reading between the lines of the announcement and the focus on ‘Photos’ the clue here is that Google are still placing a major importance on imagery. This means ensuring that you are using images liberally across your website, when they add value and when they are relevant – just posting holiday photos on your business website doesn’t hack it with Google search! But also make sure that the images are setup correctly, tagged correctly and pushed to Google search with Webmaster tools and if used in a blog use blog posting indexes. So if you are moving to a new generic/vanity TLD you won’t have a loss of SEO – but remember Google needs to know what’s happening, just moving without following the SEO rules WILL upset your current ranking. You can read more about getting on top of Google SEO with our guide

To see other areas of website SEO check out these links:

► Learn more about ranking techniques with examples of client rankings and approaches: ‘How to be found in Google Searches

► Why Social Media is so important to SEO and Google: Using Social Media Profiles for SEO

How Google is handling SEO for new top level domains

Great News! New Top Level Domains (TLDs) avalable to boost your marketing – but what happens to your SEO?

top-level-domains-and-google-seoSince the new extensive list of TLDs (gTLDs) were announced there has been rumour upon rumour that Google is marking down your SEO if you use a vanity TLD or in one blog post that I saw, “Don’t use a new vanity TLD as Google will remove your site from SEO search and give a zero ranking!” Really? Will implementing a new TLD upset Google that much and kill your SEO?

In a recent blog John Mueller, Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google posted a comprehensive Q&A to put the record straight and to squash some of the more ‘outlandish’, scaremongering rumours. Here are the key highlights of the blog on new TLD’s and the impact they will have on your SEO… or not!

“With the coming of many new generic top level domains (gTLDs), we’d like to give some insight into how these are handled in Google’s search. We’ve heard and seen questions and misconceptions about the way we treat new top level domains (TLDs), like .guru, .how, or any of the .BRAND gTLDs, for example:

Q: How will new gTLDs affect search? Is Google changing the search algorithm to favor these TLDs? How important are they really in search? 

A: Overall, our systems treat new gTLDs like other gTLDs (like .com & .org). Keywords in a TLD do not give any advantage or disadvantage in search.

Q: Will a .BRAND TLD be given any more or less weight than a .com?

A: No. Those TLDs will be treated the same as a other gTLDs. They will require the same geotargeting settings and configuration, and they won’t have more weight or influence in the way we crawl, index, or rank URLs.

Q: How are the new region or city TLDs (like .london or .bayern) handled?

A: Even if they look region-specific, we will treat them as gTLDs. This is consistent with our handling of regional TLDs like .eu and .asia. There may be exceptions at some point down the line, as we see how they’re used in practice.

Q: What about real ccTLDs (country code top-level domains) : will Google favor ccTLDs (like .uk, .ae, etc.) as a local domain for people searching in those countries?

A: By default, most ccTLDs (with exceptions) result in Google using these to geotarget the website; it tells us that the website is probably more relevant in the appropriate country. Again, see our help center for more information on multi-regional and multilingual sites.

 

So if you are moving to a new generic/vanity TLD you won’t necessarily have a loss of SEO – but remember Google needs to know what’s happening, just moving without following strict SEO rules WILL upset your current ranking. You can ensure your SEO is not hit by following these four basic steps:

  1. Prepare the new site and test it thoroughly
  2. Prepare a 301 table from the current to the corresponding new
  3. Configure the server to redirect from the old to the new ones
  4. Monitor and track the traffic on the associated URLs

 

Aside from TLDs you can read more about getting on top of Google SEO with our guide

To see other areas of website SEO check out these links:

► Learn more about ranking techniques with examples of client rankings and approaches: ‘How to be found in Google Searches

► Why Social Media is so important to SEO and Google: Using Social Media Profiles for SEO