Launching a website is a lot of work, strategy, structure, build, content... doing it right is no small task. That makes it all the more disheartening when you don't get the traffic you're hoping for.
Sound familiar? In this article you'll find five practical tips, covering everything from infrastructure to content which will help you move in the right direction. There are also plenty of links to useful online tools to assist you longer term.
Sitemaps are a vital tool for helping search engines discover and understand your content. Without one, they'll still do their best to index your site, but content could be missed and not show in search results.
If you're using a CMS such as WordPress, SquareSpace or Wix you probably already have a sitemap, it's usually named sitemap.xml and found in the root directory of your domain (e.g. www.website.com/sitemap.xml).
Now we need to get this sitemap over to the search engines! Let's focus on Google for this next step, with over 70% of global search traffic it's vital to be visible on their platform. The best way to do this is via Google Search Console, this is an incredibly powerful tool which will allow you to monitor your search performance, including search terms you show up for plus those users click on - I'd highly recommend getting to know it.
Here's a handy video which introduces the basics of Google Search Console...
2. Redirect old links
We’ve all been there, clicked on a link to that perfect piece of content we've been looking for and it ended up being broken. Typically you’ll see a “404 message” or “Page Not Found.” A lot of times this is caused when a page is moved to a new URL and the old link hasn’t been directed to the new page.
Think about the lost opportunity when your customers or potential buyers want information that they can’t locate. If you choose to move a page on your website, make certain that you use a permanent 301 Redirect, a method used to change an old URL to a new one.
In addition to keeping visitors happy when navigating your website, permanent 301 redirects are also important for SEO. When a user can’t find a new page, neither can a search engine, and you’ll lose any SEO authority the old page once had.
You can use Dead Link Checker to identify broken links across your website which require fixing. Implementing redirects is covered in this piece on Google Search Central, or if you're on WordPress there are many plugins available.
3. Site Speed
Not only does a slow site make for a frustrating user experience, but it's looking all the more likely this will become a factor search engines consider as a part of ranking algorithms. Get ahead of the issue now and benefit in the long run.
- Optimise images and video on your site.
- Serve media content using a CDN (Content Delivery Network) to improve speed.
- Don't over-fill pages with imagery and video - there's no hard rule here, but try and keep to under 10 images if possible.
- Ensure your site code / theme is optimised.
- If you're on WordPress use a site cache plugin to speed up page loads and also reduce stress on your server.
Experte Page Speed Tester will scan all pages of your site and help you identify any slow pages which need attention. Following on from that, GTMetrix is a great tool for analysing individual page performance and to gather advice on what to change to increase your score.
Sidenote: Site speed can also be a hosting issue, cheaper hosting packages often put your site on a shared server, so if one of the sites you're sharing with is having a particularly busy day, you're probably going to have a bad one.
4. Quality Content
Everyone knows having a lot of content is a good thing, but in the days where search engines are getting smarter and buyers are becoming more selective, quality content is truly king. Quality content is a definite must-have for any website. You should:
- Offer unique content, drawing on your experience.
- Write for humans, not search engines - avoid filling pieces with keywords in the hope of boosting search traffic.
- Provide value and educational content that helps others.
- Keep content fresh and try to establish a regular schedule for new content.
The structure of your content is also very important, here you should consider:
- Headings - your website content editor may give you options - Heading 2, 3, 4 etc, while it's easy to get into the habit of using these purely stylistically, they should be used to denote sections within your content, and always be used in the correct descending order.
- Rich media is content too, give your images and documents file names which are descriptive of the content (no screenshot112.jpg...).
- Add ALT tags to images. Not only does this help improve accessibility, it also gives better image context to search engines.
5. Link Building
Off-page search engine optimisation (SEO) is another important factor to increasing your ranking results.
Off-Page SEO is about building inbound links, essentially getting other quality websites to link back to you. The more inbound links you have, the more important your site must be, and the higher you’ll rank. Link building is something that takes time and effort, but when done correctly will yield great results.
Here are some tips on building inbound links:
- Create high-quality, educational or entertaining content. If people like your content, they will naturally want to link to it.
- Submit your website to online directories.
- Write guest content for other sites. This is a win-win for both parties. People will want extra (quality) content from others and in exchange, it’s a great way to build inbound links.
- Researching link building opportunities with other websites, it's a good idea to check the authority of the websites that you are trying to get links from. Moz has a free Domain Authority Checker.
Never ever buy links, search engines are wise to this, and in a worst-case scenario you could see your site banned and removed from search engines entirely.
I hope you've these tips helpful, if you'd like to discuss getting some help with your website, please do get in touch!
Get in touch today to see how we could help get you on the right track