Want to start 2022 off on the right foot? Why not strengthen your online presence and give your business that well-deserved boost?
While SEO is a gradual process and the algorithm is always changing, there are some easy fixes that can have a huge impact on your ranking. To help get you started, we’ve assembled a list of 15 ways you can start improving your SEO today and see results before the end of 2021.
01. Market analysis and planning
Before you start with any good SEO strategy, you need to understand how users search for your content. You also need to see what keywords your competitors are targeting and whether there are any opportunities you can take advantage of.
Keywords are crucial to any and all SEO you’ll do, so it’s important to get this step right.
This is a free tool from Google that uses your main keywords to find all the relevant keywords in your niche. Keyword Planner will give you a range of keywords you can choose from and their monthly search volume.
If you’d like to try a more advanced tool, SEMrush is a good place to start. By putting in your website URL, SEMrush will do a quick scan of Google and see which keywords your site is already ranking for. Using this, you can identify the keywords that you have the best chance of ranking highly for and tailor your pages accordingly.
SEMrush has both a paid and free option. The free version (currently) allows you to:
- Research up to 10 keywords a day, seeing 10 competitor results
- Create and manage 1 project (audit 100 pages and track 10 different keywords)
Other keyword research tools
Other tools you can use include:
- Google Search Console (more on that below)
- Ahrefs Keyword Explorer
There are a lot of keyword research tools out there, so feel free to explore and discover which one works best for you.
02. Keyword mapping
You’ve got a list of relevant keywords, but what to do with them? The next thing you need to do is map each of your keywords to the most appropriate page on your site.
Say you’re a plumber. You’ll want to group all your keywords regarding drain unblocking and use these on the corresponding page. The same goes with blocked toilets, burst pipes, leaky taps, hot water systems, emergency plumbing services, gas fitting, and all your other service pages.
You can do all your keyword mapping in a simple Excel sheet or on Google Sheets, if you prefer.
03. Meta titles and description
Your meta title and description is the information that shows up in the search results, meaning this is your chance to convince users to click. You’ll want to include your main keyword for the page in both, but avoid adding too many and make sure it reads naturally.
To ensure that your content displays properly, make sure you keep titles under 60 characters and descriptions under 155–165 characters.
04. Title tags
The tags on your web page are vital for organising information. They are one of the most important ranking factors, second only to content. There are many types of title tags: H1, H2, H3, H4, and so on.
Google suggests using the same meta title and H1 title, so make sure that your H1 matches the meta titles you wrote in the previous step. For your H2 and H3 tags, you’ll want to assess how many subheadings your competitors use and aim for a similar amount. While you should aim to put your secondary keywords in these headings, you’ll want to make sure that you avoid stuffing.
05. Content optimisation
You’ve likely heard the expression that content is king – when it comes to SEO, this is certainly the case. Google is more likely to rank unique, relevant and high-quality content, so this is where you’ll want to focus quite a bit of your time.
While it is important to make sure that you include all the right keywords, you also want to make sure that the content is optimised for human readers. All the SEO in the world won’t help you if you bring people to your site and they can’t understand (or don’t care about) what you’re saying!
And finally, make sure you do a final edit for spelling and grammar. Nothing makes your site look more unprofessional or puts customers off quicker.
06. Image alt text
Google isn’t quite as good with pictures as it is words, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make your images work for you. Adding alt text simplifies the process and shows the engine exactly what your image is about.
By including alt text, you’ll be able to implement some valuable keywords and ensure that all users are able to access your site. Visually impaired browsers will be able to use their screen readers to understand exactly what the page is showing, meaning that they will be able to understand it far better.
Some best practices include:
- Use a maximum of 125 characters
- Be as descriptive as possible to give the user an idea of what is happening in the image
- Make sure the description (and the image) relates to the content on the page
- Include natural keywords, but don’t overstuff
07. Internal linking
While it may be hard and time-consuming to earn valuable backlinks, internal linking is a way you can boost the authority of certain pages. By adding internal links – that is, links that take you to other pages on your site – to higher-ranking pages, you can pass some of that ‘link juice’ on to pages you wish to optimise.
This is also helpful from a user standpoint, guiding your customers through your site in a logical way that allows them to find the information they need.
Submitting your sitemap is a simple way to help Google better navigate your website. Many website-creating platforms will automatically submit your sitemap for you, but you can also generate a free sitemap using XML-Sitemaps or submit a sitemap directly to Google.
09. Competing pages
You’ve optimised all your web pages and they still aren’t performing as you’d like. So what’s the problem?
This is referred to as keyword cannibalism – that is, you have several pages that are optimised for the same keyword, stealing valuable clicks from each other. To fix this, you’ll need to carefully go through each page on your site and ensure there is no overlap. While this may be time-consuming, this can have a pretty powerful impact on your ranking.
10. Page speed
Page speed refers to how fast a website can load and can be measured by page load time (the amount of time it takes for a page to fully load) or time to first byte (the amount of time it takes for the browser to receive the first byte from the server).
How fast your page loads has a significant impact on your business; by improving your load time by just 0.1 seconds, you can boost conversion rates by 8%. To do this, you may want to consult with a professional web developer or reconsider your hosting.
You can check your existing page speed by using Google’s PageSpeed Insights.
Publishing regular, relevant content to your site is crucial for attracting organic traffic and establishing yourself as an authority in your niche. The best way to do that? Blogging.
Starting (and maintaining) a blog for your business allows you to target customers at different stages of their purchasing journey, answering their questions and demonstrating the benefit of your offerings. And best of all? With a large backlog of blogs that gain authority and backlinks over time, you’ll still be seeing the benefits of your blogs down the line.
12. Clear call to action
Your call to action is what guides users to the next step, whether it’s to ‘Call now’, ‘Get a free quote’, download one of your lead magnets or sign up to your mailing list. You’ll want to include one on each page to ensure that wherever users end up on your site, they always know what they need to do next.
For services, you’ll want to make sure that your phone number is visible on every page and clickable to make it as simple as possible for clients to get in touch. To do this, use the following tag:
<a href=”tel:123456789″>123 456 789</a>
13. Social sharing
Social media is a powerful tool in your digital marketing arsenal – make sure you use it. To start, make sure that you have social sharing widgets on your webpage, especially on your blog. This will make it easier for users to share your content with others in their network and further their reach.
If you’re looking to double down on your socials, make sure you check out our post on Social Media and SEO.
14. Google Search Console
Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster) tells you what keywords users are searching for to find your content, which web pages they’re finding, and where those web pages are ranking. You’ll also be able to see:
- What countries your users are from
- What devices they use
- Click-through rate
15. Google Analytics
If you haven’t already, make sure you have Google Analytics set up. This allows you to monitor several key metrics for your site, including:
- Bounce rate
- Exit rate
- Average session duration
- Pages per session
- Average time on page
- Organic traffic
- Organic impressions
- Keyword conversion rate
From this information, you can see how users are actually interacting with your site and how you can improve it.
It is a good idea to sync your Google Analytics with your Google Search Console as this will give you a more complete picture of user experience and how to better target your audience.
Want to dominate your competitors in 2022? Book a free 30-minute consultation with one of our SEO specialists and we’ll show you how to get there!