5 SEO Tips to Improve your website’s ranking
So you’ve hired a designer/developer to produce your website (or dare I say it, did it yourself). But now, how do you bring people to it? Most will start by searching for the product or service that you offer, and the holy grail of online marketing is to appear as close to the top of Google’s and Bing’s search results page as possible. Part of the equation is “Search Engine Optimization” or SEO.
While there is no way to guarantee that your site will rank first on Google, there are a few simple things you can do to increase your site’s chances of ranking real well.
Choose the right URL
Before your website goes live, you need to select a URL. Also known as your domain name, it’s the address that visitors will type in to find your site. Like the giant sign above a storefront window, it’s one of the first things visitors see when they come to your site. That’s why it’s also the first place Google looks to understand what your site is about and decide how to rank it.
The ideal domain will include your business name and perhaps a keyword or two that are relevant to your business. For example, if you are a photographer in Montreal, you might want to purchase a URL like www.montrealphotographer.com.
It’s also important to make sure your URLs are free of special characters, numbers, and other bits of code that make the address of your site or pages within less “human-friendly.”
Create titles and descriptions for each page
Titles and descriptions can be written for each page on your website. These are brief texts that accurately and clearly describe what your business does, ideally with a few keywords and phrases mixed in.
Ever hovered over a tab on your browser? That short phrase that pops up under your mouse is the title of the page. While the description is not visible, it too is very important for search engines. In fact, the title and description are among the first things Google uses to determine your site’s rank. Plus – once your site does show up in a search results page, web surfers will read your title and description to learn what your site is about and decide whether or not to check it out.
Utilize anchor text
As you write the text for your website, consider where you can use anchor text within your site. Anchor text is simply text that visitors can click on to be taken directly to another web page, either on your site (internal linking) or anywhere on the Internet (external linking).
Effective anchor text should be used to help users navigate your website and find what they are looking for. It should also include keywords and phrases related to what you do. If you own a shoe store, for example, the words, “Check out our selection of children’s shoes,” on your homepage can link via anchor text to your online store that is stocked full children’s shoes.
Anchor text is a great way to boost your SEO, but keep in mind that excessive linking or anchors that don’t really help your readers can raise red flags with Google.
Add alt text to all your images
Search engines are great at reading text on your website, but they still haven’t quite figured out how to look at the images on your site. To understand what’s displayed in a photo or graphic, search engines look for “alt(ernate) text,” a concise written description (just a few words) about each image on a website. When writing alt text, be sure to accurately describe what is shown in the image, but also try to include the name of your business or a few keywords related to what you do.
Connect your site to your social channels
Did you know that your Facebook page has an impact on how you rank on Google? In fact, being present (and active) on any social media site, from Twitter and Instagram to Facebook and Google+ is an essential part of boosting your SEO.
When you create your website, make sure to include prominent icons for each of your social networks, linking directly to your profile on each site. You also want to make it easy for your visitors to share the content on your site. As users share your content, traffic to your website will increase and Google will take notice! Sites that generate a lot of social activity will come up more frequently in searches.
When I develop a WordPress-based website, I typically use the SEO plugin from Yoast. While there is a premium (paid) version of this, the free version does a great job of helping you implement all the changes above to help boost your website’s presence.