Whenever you’re working on a new initiative for your business, whether that be starting on a new social media platform, testing out paid ads, or focusing on your search engine optimization to boost website traffic, you need to do so with intention.
Get clear on your plan
What is the goal of this new project or venture?
Does it make sense to go about this on your own (do you understand the process and what’s required, and do you have the time and energy to execute?), or would you be better off to hire support?
When it comes to SEO, the goal of most businesses is the same: to drive more traffic to their website to encourage more conversions.
But, let’s get even more granular with that goal.
What do your website analytics currently look like?
Dive into the back-end of your site to see how much traffic is currently visiting your website each month, and where they’re coming from. Stats like time spent on page and bounce rate (people who visit a particular website and navigate away after viewing only one page) can also be important in establishing an understanding of how users are currently using your site.
From here, take a look at your sales to help you determine your current conversion rate. Of everyone who visits your website, how many are buying? Or, if building your email list is your goal, what does your website visitor to email subscriber rate look like?
This data collection and reflection is important to give you a baseline of where you’re at and where you can improve.
By the way, this is just one part of a bigger digital marketing audit I suggest doing regularly to have a good understanding of your web presence.
What do you want users to be doing?
Now consider how you want those metrics to shift.
Where are you looking to drive traffic in particular? Which services or offers are you hoping to encourage people to buy?
What is a traffic goal you could realistically aim for? What about a conversion rate goal?
Work backwards from your goal to determine some of the changes you might need to make to see the results you desire.
One of the main ways to increase traffic is, you guessed it, SEO.
What is SEO?
SEO, or search engine optimization, refers to the process of making modifications and improvements to a website in order to get it to rank higher on search engines like Google.
People are online almost chronically nowadays, and therefore when they have a question or are looking for information on a subject, Google is the first place they tend to look.
Looking for quick and convenient answers, an estimated 75% of people will never scroll past the first page on a Google search.
This is why it’s so important to prioritize increasing your ranking in search engines, so more people find and visit your website.
Here are 6 areas to focus on to boost your website SEO
Ensure your site is set-up to optimize user experience
One of the key factors search engines look to when determining a website ranking is user experience.
Search engines want users to find what they’re looking for quickly and easily so they continue to use and trust said search engine.
So, if a search engine notices a particularly high bounce rate or finds a lot of broken links that would negatively impact user experience, website credibility is going to suffer.
Think about your own habits and tendencies when it comes to navigating websites.
- How quick are you to navigate away from a page if you can’t easily find the answer you’re looking for or a page is taking too long to load?
- How frustrating is it when you’re looking for a particular page but you keep getting 404 errors instead?
Your website visitors likely feel the same frustrations.
User experience can be improved with some simple changes to layout, wording, and formatting, and some detective work:
- Prioritize a clear navigation with easy-to-understand titles. Don’t get too fancy or cutesy with your page names, and instead make it clear where the user will be directed if they click on each link.
- Avoid overcomplicating your navigation with too many options. A good rule of thumb is often 4-6 choices, with basics like “Shop” or “Services,” “Contact,” “About,” “Home,” and “Blog.” Additional pages can always be linked in your footer, or within each page. If you overwhelm people at the top they may not take action at all.
- Use appropriate and clear calls to actions, attractive buttons that bring users where they desire, and hyperlink differentiation (underline and /or introduce a new colour to text to clearly indicate it’s a link and will redirect users when clicked).
- Look for and replace broken links. These can quickly disrupt user experience and throw off the visitor. Use a free 404 checker like this, and avoid changing URLs when unnecessary. To avoid some user frustration, you can also modify your 404 page, apologizing and giving visitors suggestions as to where to look instead.
- Ensure your website is responsive and mobile friendly so that the experience is seamless regardless of the type of device it’s accessed on.
- Ensure you’re using headings and subheadings, bullet points, and lots of white space to break up text and make readability better.
Improve website speed and loading times
Again, speed is a priority for most website visitors! If your website takes a long time to load, chances are people are going to go elsewhere to find the answer they’re looking for.
The main way to improve your website speed to boost SEO is to ensure you’re optimizing any and all images on your site.
This means choosing the right file type, and compressing your images before loading them onto your website, to the smallest possible file size you can without reducing the overall image quality.
In terms of general rules for file type, opt for JPGs for photographs, and PNGs for graphics and files with transparent backgrounds.
For file size, tools like Tiny JPG or Tiny PNG can support you in the compression process. Optimal file size for most images is around 125KB or less. Large images or full-screen background images may need to be larger to preserve quality, but should be no more than 1 MB.
Prioritize embedding appropriate keywords in your site
Keywords are the words (and phrases) that people enter into the search engine bar with the goal of finding information on that particular topic.
For example, to find this blog that you’re reading, you may have Googled something like, “how do I improve my website search engine optimization.”
While popular topics can be difficult to rank for, organically embedding appropriate keywords into your content can help users to find your website and the information they’re searching.
Keyword research can support you in knowing which words to target in your content, based on both the volume of traffic specific words or phrases receive each month, and the difficulty of ranking for said words.
However, even without these tools, you can likely begin to guess the phrases that people might be searching that are relevant to your content.
To start, consider making a list of all of the topics and themes you share about, and then expanding on those words with longer variations of search phrases.
For example, if you’re a naturopath, your initial topic list might look like:
- Natural healing
And your expanded phrase-list for the topic naturopath might look like:
- Naturopath in _____ (insert your town or city)
- Naturopathic doctors near _____ (insert your town or city)
- Naturopath for ____ (insert illness / issue here)
- Can a naturopath help me with _____ (insert illness / issue here)
- What does a naturopath do?
Using this list you can start to embed keywords in your current content, and you can plan future content that will help you reach your target audience!
While keywords are a great tool, they can also easily be overused which search engines will notice and dock you points for.
Avoid keyword stuffing and instead only utilize keywords when they make sense in your content.
Set-up and regularly update your Google Business profile (formerly Google My Business)
Google Business profile is the sidebar on Google that appears for a specific business when you type their name in Google (assuming they have it set up).
It shows you where they’re located, recent reviews, photos of the business, business hours, a short description, and links to their website and social media.
When you set this up for your own business, and regularly update it to ensure the content is accurate, it can be a great source of traffic for your business.
The verification process for Google Business profiles helps Google validate that you’re a real business, which can support your website authority.
Plus, your website is likely to come up more often for local traffic.
It’s also another opportunity for you to link your website and social media accounts, and embed keywords to help users find you.
Make an effort to introduce a backlinking strategy
Backlinking is when a different website links to yours. You’ve seen examples of this even just in this blog post, with me providing links to additional resources I feel might support you as you look to boost your SEO.
Assuming the websites that are linking to yours are high quality sites (in the eyes of search engines), they will boost your authority as a website and therefore improve your ranking.
How do you go about attaining these? Backlinking can be a great part of a long-term marketing strategy.
Consider pitching yourself to appropriate websites (to include links to your site in their content) or offering to write a blog post for a website in a similar industry as you. Be sure that it’s a win-win for both businesses!
And, when you prioritize posting valuable blogs and content on your website, you’re more likely to receive these backlinks organically.
Focus on website accessibility
Ensuring your website is accessible for all potential visitors is extremely important.
When you prioritize website design that follows accessibility guidelines, you’re making your website more accessible to those with visual and auditory disabilities, and/ or physical limitations (arthritis, paralysis, or amputation, for example).
It also supports people who might have a temporary disability like a broken arm, elderly people who are potentially losing their abilities, and those who may have a slow internet connection.
Not only is this simply the right thing to do, web accessibility is also highly regarded by search engines and will improve your ranking.
Making your website more accessible involves complying with government guidelines and laws around website access, and making appropriate website changes such as:
- Providing synchronized captions for video content
- Utilizing alt text to describe photos
- Ensure your website text is laid out in a way that digital programs could determine the order of text
- Avoid restricting content views to a single orientation when possible (for example portrait or landscape)
- Ensure there is enough contrast between colours when layering text on a background so the text is easily decipherable
- Avoid background sounds where possible in audio
- Avoid constant flashing images
- Utilize specific and clear headings and labels
- Font size, and character spacing should be appropriate to ensure clarity, and font size should be responsive to the screen that is displaying it
Final thoughts and how to get started
I know this is a lot, and might seem overwhelming.
But SEO isn’t something you’re going to be able to transform overnight anyways.
So, take your time, starting with improving user experience through your website layout and design.
From there you can build on your SEO strategy as you learn, grow, and create more content.
Looking for more ways to get traffic to your website? This blog post will support you. And if you’re looking for website design support, or to master your overall marketing strategy, I’m here for you.