In this edition of the SPT Agency Academy, we take a look at how you can implement SEO best practice principles on your own, without the need to take on an SEO agency. You can find a full transcript of the lesson below.
At the end of this Free Academy Lesson, you will learn:
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You can view a full transcript of the lesson below.
An interesting thought…
“The best place to hide a dead body is on the second page of Google.” – Anonymous
SEO is the process of increasing the quantity and improving the quality of your organic website traffic on search engine websites by creating and optimising your website (amongst other tactics).
That’s not all though. It’s about understanding the ever-evolving digital landscape, being able to pivot to changing algorithms and understanding and acting upon changing consumer behaviour trends.
Google utilises several data points to conclude whether a website is the most reputable source of information for a particular topic. It identifies the topic itself through crawling keywords and their synonyms and subsequently concludes:
(1) the relevancy of the website (and brand) to the topic
(2) the quality of the content and insights within the subject; and
(3) the number of external sources that validate the content as being reputable
Crawl: Search the internet for content, checking over code and content for each unique URL. Crawling is done by bots from search engines who continually check URLs for content.
Index: Arrange the content that has been crawled by the search engine bots. Once the page is indexed, the page is available to be displayed for relevant queries, resulting in the creation of a “database”.
Rank: Serve the content to the user that best answers their query, ordered by relevance.
Before we get started, remember the following and always consider this when undertaking your SEO activity.
✅ Reduced paid spend: Improved organic results in search engines reduce the reliance on paying to be the at the top for relevant keywords.
✅ Credibility: Organic search engine results appear more credible than paid results. The vast majority of search engine users are far more likely to click an organic link when compared to a paid link.
✅ Increased conversions: A study concluded that SEO leads provide a 14.6% conversion rate when compared to cold leads from outbound activity (1.7%).
✅ Improved user experience: Search engines favour websites that invest in enhanced user experience. If you offer an improved user experience, your customers/visitors are more likely to associate your brand to a higher quality product/service.
You can discover what pages on your website Google is currently crawling by searching “site:yoururl.com”. This methodology doesn’t provide an exact figure but can provide you with a guide. For precise results and to learn more about how your website shows on search, we recommend opening a Google Search Console account.
To disallow Google Bots from crawling pages, you can add “robots.txt” files. To view what files you currently have set up as robot.txt files type into the URL bar “www.yoururl.com/robotstxt. Some examples of pages to remove from indexing could include cart/checkout pages.
You can see what it will look like from the below example. Adding these files can be a complicated process for those who are just starting. Please contact us if you need help setting this up.
Here are some basic principles to follow when choosing your keywords:
There are two ways to ensure your content is easily visible on search engine sites.
Usable navigation: This includes ensuring the same nav is used across mobile and desktop and ensuring that the navigation of the website follows a logical flow to all primary pages of the website.
Submitting your sitemap to Google Search Console: Your sitemap is at is says, a map to your website. Submitting your site map to Google shouldn’t replace an excellent navigation experience. Undertaking this practice can be utilised to show the crawling bots how to access pages.
Linking (also known as backlinking) follows the same principles of word of mouth and is an essential part of your SEO efforts. They are links to your website content from external sites or your own.
Good backlink: A well known, established website links to your content from their website. Good backlinks are a reputable form of word of mouth and an essential factor in improving rankings.
Internal link: A link to a piece of content/page within your website. Internal linking is a biased form of “word of mouth”, but still an important SEO tactic.
Weak backlink: A low-quality backlink from a spammy website. Poor backlinks are a commonly used “black hat” SEO tactic.
No backlinks: No word of mouth (no backlinks) means we are unsure of the website quality. If you have no backlinks, it’s essential to build a strategy to begin this process.
Images are an easy way to provide readers of your content with a visual cue to help them further understand the content.
Unique imagery – Try to use your imagery where possible, as original photography/graphics are always more unique and relevant to your brand than stock imagery.
Filename – If the image introducing a new topic (e.g. how dogs use ramps for couches) and the image is of a dog going up a ramp next to the couch, save the file name and upload it as dog-ramp-couch-demo.png.
Don’t overdo it – Similarly, if you are trying to sell dog ramps and have 10 images on the page, don’t name them all dog-ramp-1.png, dog-ramp-2 and so on, especially if the photos are not of a dog using a ramp. Google’s bots will recognise this as “image keyword stuffing”, and your rankings may worsen. Introduce each image and ensure you describe what’s in the actual image, don’t overdo it!
Image size – Compress your images before uploading them and utilise a tool such as an image compressor. Reducing the size of the image once it’s loaded on the site won’t reduce page speed. If you upload an image sized 2000 x 1000 and resize it to 200 x 100 the larger image size still needs to load.
Alt tags are written pieces of copy in case an image can’t load and can help those who are vision-impaired understand the image that is there and helps search engines find relevant content. Most CMS’s with an SEO plugin will have an option to add alt tags when uploading an image. Describe the image in a manner that is suitable for someone with a disability. If not, you may need to code it in. Contact us if you need help.
❌Poor practice – alt= “Image of small dog up down ramp for dog.”
✅ Good practice – alt= “Small, black and tan dachshund going down a dog ramp.”
Header tags are used within HTML language to categorise headings on-page and are coded as per the below example:
You can also utilise header tags in h2 size through to h6 size to introduce topics related to the on-page content. Google will recognise these tags, wherever possible, introduce your search terms/topics in headers with the above coding.
Keyword – Dog Ramp
H1 – Main topic heading – e.g. Dog Ramp
H2 – Subheading – e.g. Why your dog needs a ramp
H3 – Dog ramps can prevent back injuries
Anchor text – This is the practice of linking your internal pages (or from other sites) with the content rather than pasting the direct URL.
❌Poor practice – You can buy one of our dog ramps here: www.sausagedogcentral.com/dog-ramps
✅ Good practice – Don’t forget to check out our exclusively made dog ramps.
Utilising anchor text indicates to the search engine what the topic is most likely to be about on the linked page.
Link scarcity – Only link when you need to. If you link to 100 pages on a single content page, the search engine will believe it’s not that valuable of a link. If you only link to one or a few pages, the search engine will assume that link is of higher value.
Font size – Google recommends 16 point font size for general on-page content.
The structure of your URL is vital to ensure the search engine can easily distinguish what the content on the corresponding page will discuss. It’s also useful for the user to understand what the topic on the page will be.
✅ Good example – https://www.sausagedogcentral.com/products/dachramp
❌ Bad example – https://www.sausagedogcentral.com/productid=45828/colourstyle=42
Try and minimise the length of your URL too.
✅ Good example – https://www.sausagedogcentral.com/products/dachramp
❌ Bad example – https://www.sausagedogcentral.com/products/ramps/dachramp/dachramplite
Some of the most critical statistics to report on in SEO are:
Clicks (from search engines results) – If the copy in your search engine result (META description) generates higher clicks, you will continue to improve/maintain your ranking.
Time on page – If someone is on your website only visits for 5 seconds, it will signal to Google that the site provides a poor user experience or has low quality, non-engaging content.
Bounce rate – Percentage of users who visit your website then leave straight away.
Pogo sticking – This term is related to users who have a search query, visit the site, can’t find the answer then return to the search engine. If this is frequently occurring, it will signal to Google that there is low-quality content on the page that doesn’t answer the search query.
The Meta Description is the description that shows in the search engine when a user enters their search query.
Development of the META descriptions, in conjunction with the implementation of previously discussed principles, are all critical factors in achieving strong search engine ranking results.
Use the below META description brief and example below to test out writing your META description copy.
META Description (160 characters):
(note: include SEO Keyword(s) and synonyms but write the description to entice the user to click)
CREATE YOUR EXAMPLE HERE
The example below is for a Pakenham based gym. The targeted keywords are “gyms Pakenham” and “gym membership Pakenham”.
“Frank’s gym in Pakenham has all the gym equipment you need to smash your fitness goals! Buy a gym membership with us before January and get two weeks free. Located 2 km from the Pakenham CBD!”
Copy and paste the below brief into a word document to get you started in considering how to optimise your website.
SEO keyword synonyms:
Proposed new page URL with keyword:
Proposed new page title with keywords:
Most reputable CMS have an SEO tool that can be utilised in the back end of the website to assist with the implementation of SEO strategies.
To demonstrate how to set up some basic settings within these tools, we will provide a brief guide, using the popular WordPress tool “Yoast”.
The following screenshots relate to functionality that appears on pages and posts within WordPress (sitting below the text editor).
Advanced Keep “default” (index) pages unless optimising a back-page. De-indexing pages tell Google not to crawl them or include them in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPS)
Meta Robots Advanced – Default
Include in SiteMap – Auto-detect unless you do not wish for a page to be searchable or identifiable (i.e. a back-page of the website designed only for a specific set of eyes the link)
Sitemap Priority – Set prioritisation based on “page-level” (i.e. core landing pages should be prioritised over content pages.
Canonical URL – Leave as default and edit the main permalink if required to change the URL (ensure that if edited once already published, a 301 redirect must be placed).
301 Redirect – If the content has moved to a new location (URL) on the site, put the new destination URL here.
These boxes allow specific text to for instances where for links shared across social media. They will appear as follows on social media channels (post “featured image” as set in the bottom right-hand corner of the WordPress editor will be pulled as the featured social media image) unless set specifically within the social media section of Yoast.
If you’re developing custom social media images (recommended if the text appears on the image to ensure it renders correctly when cropped for the platform) consider the below dimensions: Facebook: 1200 x 627 Twitter: 1024 x 512