8 ways to optimise your site before spending on SEO
If you have a new website, don’t jump in and part with your budget as soon as somebody mentions Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). There are a number of things you can do to optimise your performance before you actually make an investment – most of which can be achieved in-house and at little or no cost.
1. Create regular updates
Make sure your content is up to date throughout your website, and that you post frequent blog or news articles with content targeted to your audience and services. High quality articles will attract new and repeat visitors as well as allowing you to create links around your site – both great from a search engine perspective. If you can, make sure your site is built using a content management system (CMS) such as WordPress to make this process as streamlined as possible.
2. Consider your design
It’s a popular misconception that ‘content is king’. Granted, you can attract a large number of visitors to your site with the right content and optimisation strategy, but if those visitors don’t experience a good design and user experience when they arrive then you won’t convert them.
3. Make sure your front and back end content is consistent
Meta-data may hold only a fraction of the importance it used to for search engines, but it is still worth keeping in line with your front end content (which is much more important). This doesn’t mean to say they should be the same – they shouldn’t, but they should support each other.
4. Don’t go overboard with keywords
Google will penalise you for stuffing your articles and pages with as many keywords as possible. Try to make each page individually targeted, and aimed at one or two specific keywords. Even then don’t fill the content with these keywords, use them relevantly and sparingly.
5. Server and site build are important
Site performance is a key factor of SEO. If your site is slow or cumbersome it will affect both its success in search rankings and its user experience. Make sure your site is hosted on a suitable server for its size and traffic density, reduce your images a reasonable size and resolution, and don’t load your site with plugins and widgets.
6. Choose your keywords wisely
Use the Google traffic estimator to predict how many searches there are for your desired keywords, as well as the amount of competition there is for them. Don’t necessarily choose the ones with the most traffic as they may be impossible to rank sufficiently for. Instead, choose those that represent a balance between search traffic, low competition and level of importance to your business. Sometimes longer (long-tail) keywords have lower traffic numbers, but will drive much more targeted visitors to your site because of lower competition.
7. Set up Google Tools
Set up a Google+ Account and an associated Google Business page (the successor to Google Places) to help boost your natural ranking. It is just as important to set up Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools to track visitor behaviour on your website and keep an eye out for any errors in the way the search engines view it. In addition, remember to submit your sitemap to Google.
8. Think social
Just as important in driving traffic to your site as search results is social media traffic. Not only can you easily encourage visitors to deeper into your site through links from social networks, you can also inspire the growth of a community around your brand and services to help amplify your messages.
Peer recommendations will always outweigh search results in terms of trust and conversions. Taking all these points into account will give you a great start in your quest for search engine fame, but don’t totally discount commissioning SEO work to take your site to the next level.
In summary, look for an SEO provider that is open about their methods and realistic about what you can achieve. Prices can vary massively, so make sure you know exactly what you’re getting for your money. Always approach an SEO provider with a clear idea of what you want to achieve and you should be able to work out an effective and productive campaign.