Running your own website isn’t a walk in the park. It needs to look sharp, run smoothly and regularly requires your undivided attention. If your website is a successful one, it can be a champion of your company. So how can you ensure you’re getting the best out of your website?
Start the race right
You wouldn’t run a race with a sprained ankle. Chances are, you’d have lost the race before it had even begun. Effort and time wasted, and you’d probably end up in a worse state than you started. Think about this principle, but with your website. Why post content and expect results when it’s not running (excuse the pun) properly in the first place? Is your website’s performance up to scratch? Is it designed with both aesthetics and usability in mind? Does it have enough high-quality content to drive your site to Google’s top results? These are all questions you should be asking to make sure your website is at its optimum running pace.
Consider Google Ads (AKA AdWords)
It will provide you with traffic (the website kind, not the transport kind), but you will have to be prepared to dig into your pocket. Although there is a fee, your website will reach the top tier on Google’s search results with keyword searches. Once you start receiving more traffic, you will notice a spike in sales leads and customer interaction. While this can become expensive, it might be a good idea to dip your toes in the water of Google Ads to get some traffic to your site and to hit the ground running. Something to consider before you splash your cash on advertising is to plan your budget, your goals and how long you intend to advertise for.
Commit to content
One of the best ways to drive traffic and website interaction is by posting unique content on your site. Many websites achieve this through a blog feature, writing posts that could spark interest from web users within their industry. For example, you might want to write informative posts, which will remain timeless and relevant to users who search for the keywords that happen to be featured within your post. Alternatively, your posts could be industry news related, which will attract attention from anyone searching live, trending buzzwords. It’s ideal to switch up your posts and maybe even create categories once your posts become more numerous. If you’re struggling for inspiration, just ask yourself what sort of content you would be interested in reading about.
Don’t try to cheat the system…it won’t work any more
‘Once I crack Google’s code, life will be a breeze,’ I hear you say.
I’ll stop you right there. Google is much more than a bunch of rules that web users have to abide by to in order to achieve decent results. In fact, Google constantly changes its algorithms to prevent manipulation of the system. Did you also know that Google analyses every page and the links to and from your website? This is called ‘crawling’ – essentially, search engines trawl throughout your website and rank you according to what they find. Don’t get comfortable, SEO-related rules are designed to keep you on your toes!
CTRL+C then CTRL+V, right? Nope. Absolutely not. Set down your coffee and pause your wellness podcast, because what I’m going to say next is very important. You mustn’t copy and paste your content. Blog posts, ‘about’ sections, company profiles, services…this rule applies to the lot. A blinding mistake a lot of people make is ripping content from a random site, posting it as their own. This is not only plagiarism (and could even land you with a fine attached to a copyright lawsuit), but can also have hugely detrimental effects on your SEO. The world of SEO is a complex one, but the simplest rule to remember is that the more unique content you have, the better. If you can’t avoid reposting content, such as with a supplied press release or a bulky technical reference, it is essential to credit the source with a backlink to the source, and highly advisable to insert a canonical link. These essentially prove that you recognise that the content is duplicated and that you are aware of the original source already existing. Google will then not penalise you for this.
This avoidance of duplicate material should extend to the rest of your site as well, even with your own, original content. Don’t have the same content repeated within the site or you’ll be punished by Google. Instead, make sure you rewrite any information that you intend to repeat, for example a summary of a service on the home page and the more elaborated version on the services page.
Keep it simple
There are a few key tips to keep in mind when writing content to enhance your SEO. Firstly, keep your post’s URL (www.etc…) as simple as possible. If your title is above five words, then make sure you customise your URL link to something still relevant to the article, but shorter. A post URL of ‘www.webpage.com/blog/how-to-make-sure-your-post-URL-is-not-too-long’…is probably too long. This doesn’t mean that you have to change the title of your article – your CMS (Content Management System, e.g. WordPress) should allow you customise your post URL. Perhaps www.webpage.com/blog/keeping-URLs-simple would be better suited.
Another point to consider is paragraph size, sentence structures and repetition of words. Keep your sentences simple and brief if you can – this reads much better and increases your website’s readability for Google’s crawlers. Your opening paragraph should be fairly succinct, around four-to-five sentences. Feel free to go into more detail in the main body of your text, but remember that nobody likes a big slab of copy. It’s daunting and unappealing. Break up your text with headers, images and paragraph breaks. Even use ‘pull quotes’ to illuminate important elements of your article.
Repetition of keywords can be bad for SEO. Again, don’t underestimate Google. It knows if you’re trying to outsmart it by cramming too many keywords in one paragraph. Note that you gain a loyal reader by creating interesting, relatable content. As a writer, I can say that connecting with your reader should always be your #1 priority.
Don’t neglect keywords
The clue is in the title: key. Keywords are vital to your SEO. Anyone searching for a topic remotely relevant to your website may stumble across your website thanks to a beautiful little keyword you once wrote a few times in an article. Cargo, freight, airlines, goods, shipping: in the case of the logistics industry, these are little Easter eggs you can leave around your site for an internet browser (and potential customer) to discover. Bingo! They discover your website and are likely to take a nose around.
If you’re wondering what the world is talking about online, visit Google Trends. Google Trends displays the current, most talked-about keywords being searched for online. Although don’t be surprised if the majority of keyword trends include Kardashian, Love Island, Jeff Bezos or Game of Thrones! Sometimes it’s just in the craft of making even the most contrasting topics fit. I mean, you see what I did there, right? I just bagged myself four of the most talked-about keywords in one article ;-)
Utilise your social media accounts (if you don’t have a social media presence…get one!)
Social media is easily one of the most successful and quickest network-building tools. Just one retweet could reveal your brand to thousands of other Twitter followers. Internet users check their social media on their lunch breaks, waiting in queues, sat on a train, even whilst waiting for the kettle to boil. Reaching new audiences couldn’t be easier. Link to your social media from your website, and link to your website from your social media. If you’ve posted a new blog post, tweet about it. Post it on LinkedIn. Use hashtags to extend to a wider audience. Some of the biggest brands reach far more people these days thanks to their social media marketing; just look at Apple, Nike, Spotify. Again, more traffic and a higher click rate will boost your website’s interaction performance and Google ranking.
Analyse your site
If you were to see a professor giving a university-level lecture to a class of toddlers, you’d think…pretty pointless, right? The target audience would be completely inappropriate and nothing would be achieved. Apply this mentality to your website, and ask yourself whether your website and its content is reaching the right target audience. If it’s not, then the chances are you’re not getting the optimal results. Take a look at Google Analytics and dissect your website’s structure and activity. Using this data-analysing tool, you will be able to review your audience demographic, your most popular webpages, your organic visit levels and much more. This is a great way to see what areas you’re acing, and whether there are elements of your site that need to be improved.
Consider and address the points above, and you’ll be ready to ace the race.
And remember, this is all a lot to take in and a lot to commit yourself to as a business owner or marketing executive. SEO work is one of the services we offer, so get in touch with the team if you’d be more comfortable leaving it to the professionals…I doubt anyone would blame you!
Rachel Jefferies, Editor, FORWARDER magazine