Jack Barber / Website Design

Practical Search Engine Optmisation Guide Part 2

Following on from my previous Practical Search Engine Optmisation post here some further ideas, tools and techniques you may be able to employ on your site in order to improve your sites search ranking:


1. Prove Your Authorship with a Google+ Account

Google now gives us website owners the opportunity to validate our authorship by linking our website content to a Google+ account.  To do this, you should go here http://www.google.com/insidesearch/features/authorship/ and follow the instructions.

The result of doing this is that you will get your profile photo and a link to your Google+ profile alongside the search results Google has presented from your site.  These results are a little more attention grabbing than the standard lists so should get you noticed.  However, there are various other benefits to proving your authorship - Buffer posted about it not so long ago, so if you want the detail have a read of this and if not, just trust that it'll be worth the 15 minutes it takes to setup.


2. Write a Blog - Vital for Generating Search Traffic

There was a time when you could put a website online with some reasonably well written content, leave it there for a while and soon it'd be drawing traffic and generating business.  Maybe you'd update your contact details or the odd photo now and again, but that'd be about it.

These days, getting a good ranking and more importantly keeping a good ranking requires a bit more effort, and a bit more content. But you can't just keep revising the same old content, can you?  (Well, you could, but it's not going to be of much benefit).

You need a blog.  Call it what you like; blog, news, updates, notes - whatever.  What's important is that it's a place to post just about anything which relates to what you do, or anything else, for that matter.  Each blog article is generally going to be about a specific topic and will generate it's own page, with its own specific page title, its correctly used HTML markup and its well-written, specific but varied, human-readable content.

Write a few good blog posts and you can see your search traffic take off.  I know - I did just that when I wrote this post last year.  It's about something specific and it's not going to generate me any web development work (it's unlikely to anyway), but what it did do was double my website's traffic pretty much over night.

You do not need to write loads, or a great number of articles. But simply by providing a regular stream of content you are informing Google that your website is current, it contains relevant up to date information and is worth visiting.

I always advocate that a blog should be part of your main website, not a separate site or even a subdomain.  But however you choose to do it writing a blog will be one of the best things you ever do in an attempt to generate more search traffic - get writing!


3. In-bound Links Reinforce the Quality of Your Content

This is a bit more tricky as it involves getting links to your website from others' sites. However, there are some simple things you can do to create inbound links.  I would suggest:

  • If you have a business page on Facebook, ensure your link is on there and that it works - I have come across loads of mis-spelled or redundant website addresses on business pages.
  • Link to your site from Facebook posts or Twitter messages.
  • Sign up to as many industry websites and directories as you can.  This is easier for some sectors than others, but if you're a bed and breakfast for instance, there are loads of free directories you can sign up with - it takes some time, but will be worth it as you'll be getting links from other relevant websites which will improve your ranking.
  • Ask friends.  Do you know people you can do a link exchange with?  Ask them!

In-bound links reinforce the quality of your content - after all, if something's worth linking to it's (hopefully) worth reading.  Google sees all these in-bound links as validation for your content, they act like word of mouth referrals.


4. Responsive Design and Page Speed

Does your website work well for mobile users?  If not, you could well be being penalised.  Google recommends using CSS media queries to create mobile-friendly website layouts for mobile users (instead of a separate site for mobile).  This is how I build websites, just resize your browser to see how this page reacts when the window is made smaller.

Chances are, if a visitor on a phone lands on your site and it's not responsive - that is, it doesn't work well on their phone, they'll click off pretty quickly.  There's really very little point going to the bother of optimising your site's content if the design isn't also optimised.  With mobile traffic on the rise (very quickly on the rise too) if your site's not mobile friendly now, you should make that a priority - call me!


5. URL Structure and Keywords

As well as your page titles and web page content being accurate and detailed, it's always advisable to ensure your URLs stick to these rules too, where possible.  Depending on how your site is constructed, what control you have over content, page names etc. this may or may not be possible.  Or you may need to request some changes from your developer.

Here's an example of why this is important.  Have a look at this URL

  • http://www.jackbarber.co.uk/index.php?page=21&post=346

This link (which won't work, by the way) is a valid URL.  It could quite easily be the URL responsible for generating the page you're viewing now.  But it is not, because it tells both the human visitor and Google absolutely nothing about the content they're reading.  Here's an optimised alternative:

  • http://www.jackbarber.co.uk/blog/a-specific-blog-post-title

This URL is so much better.  It tells us we're on a page called 'blog' and a sub-page which is the title of the page we're viewing.  This URL contains (or at least has the capacity to contain) keywords relevant to my profession, or to the post, or both.  If you have the capacity to generate URLs like this you should.

Also, the speed at which your site loads is weighted for SEO.  If your site is slow, speak to your web developer - there are loads of tools to help diagnose page load problems - but I'll save my top tips for another post.


Loads of Other Stuff

I think this is the longest post I've ever written.  And I've tried to keep if fairly brief.  SEO is a minefield.  Keeping up with Google, as I said at the top, is difficult and there is a huge number of other SEO tools and techniques you could employ to give yourself an edge over the competition.

However, this list is the stuff that I employ on a daily basis.  I know it works so I would suggest if you want to make a difference to your SEO you start making some changes.  Don't feel like you have to do it all, not in one go anyway.  Pick something you can do - page titles and keywords for instance.  Make incremental changes and use your Google Analytics account to see what difference those changes make.  Hopefully your phone will start ringing and your order book filling.

If you'd like more info, please ask a question using the comments form below - or call me on 01947 878108 to discuss.