There’s never a bad time to improve your website, and of course improve your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). SEO is the process of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through ‘free’ or ‘organic’ search engine results. This blog post will go through what we believe are some of the best SEO tips you should follow for now and the rest of 2017.

1 Content & Influence Marketing

Gain exposure organically with Google by creating content that will be appealing to your users, this can be done through a Blog. Blogs are highly effective for ranking on the Google Search Engine Results Page (SERP). This is also a highly effective way to encourage backlinks (links to your website from other websites) and traffic towards your website.

Blogs will grow the size of your website, increase index count (the number of pages Google and other search engines can index) and give you the opportunity to rank for more keywords.

Here are few pointers to help your content/blog:

  • Every piece of content created should have a purpose, whether it is to inform users about your product or service, or simply to provide details of latest changes in your industry. Try to be specific for each blog, one topic per blog gives you the chance to create more blogs for other topics. The various blogs can incorporate less competitive, long-tail keywords into your content, allowing your site to rank for more keywords.
  • Content Marketing has been spoken about for many years, but engaging with online users is still evolving; including images and videos on your website helps users interact with your site more. Engage your visitors on the site to decrease bounce rate. User experience is a very important Google ranking factor.
  •  Online tools such as Buzzsumo help you to identify the social media influencers in your industry. Engage with those top influencers and ask them to view and read your content, and importantly share it with their audience.
  •  Having quality content, and having it shared by online influencers with large audiences can drive a lot of traffic to your site.

2 Local Indexes

Almost every modern business has a website, but you should still list your business profile on online local business directories like Google+, Yahoo!, Bing and Yelp which increase your business and website visibility. Having your business registered in these local directories will increase the likelihood of ranking on SERP.

Here are a few things to include in your listing:

  • Your genuine business name
  • Your unique address and number (preferably local)
  • Operating hours
  • And a link to your website

Tip: Make sure your business name and address appear the same across all your directories as well as on your website.

3 Switch to Safer HTTPS

When it comes to Google search ranking and their approval, sites that are seen more secure, reliable and verified are viewed more favourable. One way to boost your site in search ranking is to migrate your website to HTTPS, that’s if you haven’t done so already. Google have already said that HTTPS sites will have slightly better rankings than those without.

HTTPS adds an extra layer of security to your site. Ensure when moving your website to HTTPS it is done correctly and using the right procedures. We recommend moving to HTTPS as standard.

4 Making Use of Breadcrumbs

Ensure your website is making the most of breadcrumbs; indicating a user’s place when viewing your webpage and making it easier for them to navigate through your site. Improved user experience is always good.

Breadcrumbs are highly useful for SEO, as they can help boost rank position on search engines. Search engines uses breadcrumbs to understand and view your site which can help point keywords to certain pages.

There are other benefits of breadcrumbs for SEO too; they reinforce internal linking and can also be highlighted by schemas, shown in the SERP, potentially enticing more users to the site. They also help with the visitor experience.

SEO Breadcrumb Example

5 Assess your Sitemap

Sitemaps are very important for Google SEO; they inform search engines about the site structure and allow them to find content from the site quicker. Here are a few things you can do to work on improving your sitemap and to help minimise the risk of having your sitemap ignored by search engines:

  • Google limits its sitemap crawls to 50,000 URLs. Therefore, you should keep your sitemap much shorter, ensuing more valued pages get crawled more often.
  • Ensure the sitemap is clean and excludes rubbish links such as redirected URLs and pages blocked from indexing.
  • Keep your XML sitemap updated; if new content is added to your site, ensure the sitemap is changed too.
  • Regularly inspect your sitemap for any errors in Google Search Console, this can be found in Crawl > Sitemaps.

6 Suitable Clean URLs and Hierarchy

An important consideration with site hierarchy and web page URLs is to use a ‘clean’ structure. This is when URLs are easy to read and do not look like a mess of letters and numbers.

Here are three URLs for example:

In terms of site hierarchy; an organised and logically structured site hierarchy creates a greater user experience. This can also help with SEO.

7 Ensure your online resources are crawlable

Make sure your website is crawlable and spider friendly, allowing it to be discovered by engine spiders (bots). These bots are programs which are sent out by search engines to discover and view webpage/site content; images, documents, videos, pdfs and web pages. If the bot cannot follow a link to a page, then that page will not exist in the search engine’s database and therefore not be indexed.

8 Review your internal links

Internal links are links from one page on the domain to another page on the same domain. They help the user experience, allowing them to navigate the site, establish a hierarchy for the website and help spread PageRank around websites.

To ensure your internal links are fine, consider the following:

  • Pages that are not linked to anywhere else on the site are known as orphan pages. These pages are difficult for users to find and be found on search engines. Set up links from the orphan page to other relevant content on your website and link to the orphan page too.
  • Look at click depth, a rule of thumb for webpages is to never be more than three clicks away from the homepage.
  • If pages are going through several redirecting links, this will increase load time and crawlability. Update the links to redirected pages to help user experience and crawl.

9 301 Redirects 

If you need to permanently redirect your page to another, 301 redirects do the job. Here all features of the redirected page will be moved onto a diverted page including; PageRank, Page authority and traffic value.

301 redirects are used for several reasons; if a URL is broken, webpage or site is no longer live, if you have built a new webpage/site you would like to redirect users to, split testing webpages for design or functionality, temporary amending or fixing a current page.

Once you have added the 301 redirect to the page, the diverted page will now possess the redirected page qualities. The former page will be replaced on the Google index by the new diverted page.

10 Speed Matters

Examine and test the speed of your site, as this will affect where your website will rank on Google, and importantly improve user experience on the site. There are various sites where you can test your website speed. Free tools from Google include https://testmysite.thinkwithgoogle.com/. With this tool Google offers suggestions on how to fix/improve your website speed. Speed is a key indicator for Google and is important for your users too.

11 Become Mobile Friendlier

Mobile Friendly sites are better for SEO and are an important for factor for Google. Here are a few things you can do to improve Mobile Friendliness:

  • The Google test my site tool provides a Mobile Friendliness score out of 100.
  • Google also has another Mobile Friendly Test tool to see how mobile friendly your site is.
  • Keep track of your Google mobile rankings on the search engine results page, which can hopefully impact positive desktop rank too.

12 Optimise for Voice

Make sure your site is searchable for Voice searches. More web devices have voice search functions, which are being used by more users; which is now an important issue for SEO and content marketing. Good ranks in voice searches opens the opportunity to reach out to more users and a greater audience.

Voice search is said to be on the rise for searches being made, especially for mobile, allowing users more hands-free convenience, appealing to people who are on the go. Also, being popular amongst children, anyone who cannot read, and people who struggle to type. According to some sources, 50% of search will be voice by 2020, so optimising sites for voice is more of a way to future proof the sites rankings

Here are a few things you can do to help with voice search for SEO:

  1. As previously mentioned, make sure your business is on the local listings. Having your business and website on Googly My Business listing allows Google to understand your business and contact details.
  2. Consider long tail keywords. Thinking of more conversational keywords that your user may say into the search to find your business. Identify what questions users will be asking when trying to find your product or service.
  3. Creating FAQ pages on your site will help target those long-tail query keywords.
  4. And continue to improve your mobile friendliness – as this is where most voice searches come from.

Here are a few extra points you should consider about your website and online marketing strategy:

  • Track a wide selection of keyword rankings
  • Keep your contact information up-to-date
  • Are you updating your blog?
  • Find out your competitor’s backlinks
  • Have you seen your own backlink profile
  • Create long, engaging content
  • Always name and tag your images correctly
  • Review your reviews & ratings
  • Keep track of Google Analytics
  • Is your site fast enough?
  • Are your videos embedded?
  • Be active with your blog and social media profiles

For more information about SEO such as The differences between SEO and PPC, The Importance of SEO and Online website checking tools, or visit our SEO blog section.

If you have any queries on countdown ads or would like help improving your online presence and sales, get in touch with us.

With over 25 years’ experience in marketing Jackie Key, Managing Director at Key Principles, which was set up in 2005, helps small, medium and large businesses grow through marketing and online marketing.