Unlocking SEO success: strategies to skyrocket your website's visibility
In this edition of Takeover Tuesday, our Fullstack Developer Asim explains the basic principles of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to help increase your website's rankings on search engine results.
In today's digital landscape, where countless websites compete for users' attention, achieving visibility and prominence on the search engine results pages (SERPs) is more important than ever. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has evolved into an indispensable tool for website owners and digital marketers alike, enabling them to enhance their online presence and connect with their target audience effectively. To harness the full potential of SEO and elevate your website's visibility, it's crucial to stay up-to-date with the latest strategies and best practices. In this blog, we’ll go over some of the basics of SEO and how you can start your journey to truly make your website stand out against your competitors.
What is SEO?
To get started with improving your website's visibility, it’s first important to understand what SEO is exactly. SEO, at a very basic level, is the process of improving the quality and quantity of website traffic, to a website or a web page, from search engines. By leveraging techniques used by search engines, we can use their algorithms to boost our sites' visibility and over time, with planning, become the most visible site within our niche on search results pages. We can split SEO into three different categories:
- On-page SEO
- Off-page SEO
- Technical SEO
The first type of SEO we will be talking about is on-page SEO. This type of SEO is referring to the process of optimising content on each page of your website and their visibility on a search results page. This can be done through various different methods and one of those methods is to keep each page title on your website below 70 characters. This practice is rooted in the idea that search engines, such as Google, typically display only a limited number of characters in their search results. By keeping your page title concise and within this character limit, you can increase the chances of your title being displayed in full, making it more informative and appealing to users.
Another on-page SEO method you can use to increase your website visibility and appeal, is keeping page meta descriptions within the recommended range of 160 to 300 characters. The meta description is a brief summary that appears in search engine results, providing users with a concise preview of what your web page offers and by staying within this character limit, it ensures that your description remains informative and engaging while avoiding truncation by search engines.
For both the page title and meta description, it is important to ensure that you populate your content with keywords. These are certain words or phrases in which you want to rank for your site. For example, a site that sells graphic design will want to use keywords such as “graphic design services” or “creative logo designs”. By having these keywords or phrases on your site frequently enough, it tells search engines that this is what your site is about and will rank higher when users search for these specific terms. There are some rules to follow though, in previous times website owners would flood their entire sites with these keywords in what is known as “keyword stuffing”. Search engines however caught onto this and now consider this as spam which can effectively backfire on you and lower your SEO score. The reasoning behind this is that your content should have meaning and purpose and not just be written for the sake of it. There are some general rules you can follow when planning content with keywords in mind and how often they should appear on your page. If you have a one-word keyword you want to rank for, such as “graphics”, you should aim for 3-7% of the page content to include that keyword. For any keywords that are two words or above, such as “graphic designer”, you should aim for 2-5% of the page content to consist of that keyword. This seems like a daunting task but there is a great tool you can use to achieve this that will display how frequent your keywords are, as well as free tools such as Google ads keyword planner, where you can enter general phrases and the tool will recommend keywords to use.
The second type of SEO we will be talking about is off-page SEO. As on-page SEO is all about improving the content and structure on your website, off-page SEO refers to the strategies and techniques used to improve the visibility and reputation of a website on the internet outside of the website itself. One of the main ways in which you can do this is through backlinks. Backlinks, also known as inbound links or external links, are links from other websites to your site. High-quality backlinks from reputable and relevant sources are crucial for search engine rankings as they indicate that your content is valuable and trustworthy. Every site has an authority score from 0 to 100 which is improved over time with the correct planning. The aim is to have links from other sites who have a high score to your own website as this sends search engines positive signals.
Another method to improve off-page SEO is by engaging with and sharing content on social media platforms. By sharing content from your website, you can indirectly impact search engine rankings by increasing a website's visibility and traffic. The more likes, comments and shares your post gets, the greater the traffic your site will get.
The final type of SEO we can focus on is technical SEO. This is referring to the process of optimising a website's technical elements to improve its search engine visibility and user experience. In this aspect of SEO, you are focusing on optimising the structure, performance, and back end aspects of a website to make it more accessible to search engines. This can then lead to higher rankings in search engine results pages and better user engagement. One of the key aspects of technical SEO is ensuring that your website loads quickly, as the initial page load is a crucial factor in ranking. By using Google's page speed tool, you can help optimise page speed as this tool will run a test on your website and give feedback on what aspects can be improved. For example, if you had a host of images which have a large aspect ratio or are in jpg format rather than webp, this tool will list those images along with potential savings you can achieve by converting to webp. The main aim here is to go through the issues and get a score as close to 100 on both desktop and mobile for your site.
Another way to improve the technical SEO on your site is to ensure it is fully crawlable. Search engines use web crawlers (also known as spiders or bots) to navigate and index the content of your website. To help them achieve this we can submit a sitemap to Google which is a list of all the URLs on your site that you want search engines to crawl. If we don’t want a page to be submitted or be crawlable by search engines, we can use a robots.txt file which tells search engines what parts of your site to crawl and what to ignore.
Another step we can take to improve the technical SEO on our site is to ensure we avoid any duplicate content issues through canonical tags. For example, if you are selling a product on your site and it comes in different colour variants, each of these variants could have its own web page with almost exactly the same content. This causes an issue as search engines will get confused and will not know which url to list higher in the search results. This can be prevented by adding a canonical tag to any variations of the product page pointing to the original product page. This tells search engines that this is the original content and to ignore variations and in turn avoid any confusion.
We’ve now explored some of the fundamental concepts of SEO, from the importance of keywords and on-page optimisation to off-page strategies and technical considerations. However, it is crucial to remember that the world of SEO is vast and ever evolving. There are countless more facets to SEO but with these basics, you have an entry point to making your site visible to the world.