Practical advice: website optimisation for better ranking

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Would you invest in a piece of equipment and never work out how to use it? I doubt it. The same can be said for your website. Simply having one is no guarantee that the phone will ring and your inbox will fill up with enquiries. The thorny subject of website optimisation can be complex, whilst the goal posts continually change. But amongst it all, there’s some sound and practical advice that you can harness to make your website more appealing to Google. Here’s my take on a few of these issues.

What are they searching for?

Your target audience that is. If you make luxury dog beds, what are the most commonly used keywords and phrases typed in to find websites like yours? Keyword analysis is the task that answers this question and you can undertake research at many levels. It’s well worth some early attention.

If you knew that “luxury dog beds” as a search phrase was used 200 times monthly across the UK, yet “premium dog beds” enjoyed 2000 searches monthly, you might just want to prioritise being found for the latter. So, this would be a priority phrase to optimise your website for.

It’s a simplistic example, but it highlights the point. You can undertake a certain level of keyword analysis yourself if you have the time. Tools like Google Keyword Planner in addition to many free resources can give you some ideas of search volume for specific keywords. Take a look at your competitors too and see what phrases they are appearing for.

There are specialists that undertake in-depth keyword analysis day in, day out and if you’re serious about your website visibility, their involvement can be a valuable move. Needless to say, Cantaloupe can help you with keyword analysis if this is your focus (please contact me).

Develop an optimisation plan

You have some idea of keywords, what now? Whether you’re improving an existing website or creating a new one, create a plan to establish how you will optimise each page. Start with the home page and then the next level down.

Google likes to see what a page is about, so refrain from trying to shove all your keywords into one page! One or two (if related) phrases per page is sufficient – and try not to have two pages optimised for the same phrase. Your plan might simply be a basic spreadsheet – nothing fancy, just have a plan.

Writing copy for website optimisation

The copy on a web page is an important tool when it comes to SEO optimisation. But (and it’s a big but) always write for your audience first. Can the two objectives be achieved together? Of course they can. And that is what SEO copywriters do for you.

As a general rule of thumb, a standard web page should have a minimum of 300 words of copy on it, naturally involving the chosen keywords perhaps once or twice. There will be inevitable variations on this, depending on the purpose of the page. Excessive use of your keywords can actually do more harm than good – and that can then be tricky to rectify.

Headlines matter and these are generally structured as H1 headings (check with your web developer). Google reads these to establish relevance, so if you can naturally include your keyword, good stuff.

Ensure that all your copy is original and never duplicate. That’s something else Google hates.

URLs, meta and alt tags

If you’re creating a new website, you can optimise your page URLs with your keywords in mind. For example, a page optimised for the keyword “first edition books” might be

Optimising an existing website? Take care changing URLs. If they are already ranking with Google, changes will affect this. You’ll also need to think about putting redirects in place so that the previous URL does not become a dead link.

When it comes to meta, the title tag is what Google likes to read. You’ll also want to pay attention to the meta description as well. This is used as the line of copy that you see in search results – it needs to reinforce relevance to the keyword search. For the above example then, you might opt for:

Meta title: First Edition Books | Jones Book Store UK

Meta description: Our first edition books at Jones Book Store include many well-known authors. View our range online and find your next collector’s item.

Meta titles can be up to 60 characters long, meta descriptions should be a maximum of 160 characters.

Alt tags are for images. If you have a couple on the web page, make use of your keywords in the alt tag. Let’s say there’s an image of a first edition book. The alt tag might be “First Edition Book Example | Jones Book Store.

The truth about backlinks

To help with your overall website optimisation, inbound links matter. But they must be good quality and from relevant or high domain authority websites.

Some links are easy to achieve. There might be industry directories that you can list your company in. You might ask your stockists to list you with a link on their website. Others are harder – perhaps some editorial coverage or a guest blog on a relevant website.

Working from a targeted list will always be more productive – put the effort in where it matters. Those SEO specialists I mentioned are also very good at carrying out in-depth backlink analysis and have done so for many of my clients. It results in a working document for your backlink work. An ongoing activity that can take months to achieve, the effort will have a positive effect on your domain authority, enhancing your Google rankings.

Are we done yet?

Well that’s just it. There is actually no end to the optimisation of your website. You should be creating fresh content on a regular basis to show Google that your website is alive and well, communicating it via social media and email marketing. You should periodically review your keywords (Google Trends can be a useful tool here) and you should continue to look for fresh off-site opportunities to take advantage of. Demonstrate your expertise where you can. Get involved in the discussions on social media. Find questions that your target audience want answering – and answer them!

Your commitment to website optimisation will pay dividends. Even a little bit each week or month will help. If I can help you with any part of this, please do get in touch and let me learn more.