For any business, search engine optimisation (SEO) is crucial if you want your website—and consequently, your brand—to be seen by as many potential customers as possible. The internet is flooded with SEO experts and agencies who promise to boost your website’s rankings in search engine results pages, and this practice in itself has become lucrative: in the UK, SEO assistance can cost you anywhere between £20 to £250 per hour.
But effective SEO doesn’t need to cost you a pretty penny. There are tons of simple ways that you can tweak your website to improve its rankings, so here are a few that you can get started with today!
Nail your content
When it comes to SEO, a lot of emphasis is placed on keywords. But keywords aren’t the only thing that count, and too many will actually work against you if Google thinks you are “keyword stuffing”. One of the most basic ways to make your content SEO-friendly is by making sure that it is compelling enough for visitors to actually read, as getting people to stick around on your website for as long as possible will demonstrate your relevance to search engines. Interestingly, longer content seems to be preferable for SEO: a study has shown that the average page on the first page of Google results features over 2,000 words. Just don’t waffle on for the sake of it.
Keep your site speedy
There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to access a website but being met with a laggy page that expects you to wait around as it loads. Newsflash: people don’t like to wait! Make sure the load speeds on your website are as quick as possible, or else visitors will immediately return to the search results and find a different website that will load quickly. An easy fix to reduce your website’s loading speed is by optimising your images so that they remain of high quality with the smallest file size possible. You can also look into caching your webpages, minifying your HTML and minimising plugins.
Any place where you’re able to put a description is a chance to include keywords and to be as specific as possible about what your website is, so make the most of it. For images, utilise captions, alt tags, long descriptions and file names to include even more detail, and write a clear, concise meta description for your page so that search engines know exactly what you’re offering.
Make it easy to read
It should go without saying, but including lots of keywords in your text is pointless if it’s a nightmare for your visitors to read. Be sure to use readable fonts, different font sizes to distinguish between headings and the body of the text and (sensible) additions of colour and bold type. Longer content may be a good thing to aim for, but ensure you break it up into manageable chunks by using short paragraphs, bullet points and lists. If users arrive at your website and are met with an impenetrable wall of text, they’ll most likely be so overwhelmed that they’ll just leave the page immediately.
Consider mobile users
In the age of the smartphone, it’s understandable that optimising your website for mobile devices is key for SEO—as of 2015, Google has started improving search rankings for websites that they consider to be mobile-friendly, so be sure that your site is up to speed (literally). To give you a hand, Google provides their own mobile-optimisation advice as well as a test for checking how compatible your website is with mobile devices.
This clearly isn’t an exhaustive list, and none of these individual steps are going to send your website zooming up to the top of Google results pages immediately, but they’re an easy place to start…without having to part with your hard-earned cash.