With the right search engine optimisation (SEO), you can appear to your target audience when they search. SEO isn’t a dark art – and there’s no magic involved. Organic search is now personalised – so the objective is no longer about ranking number 1 – it should be about making sure Google and other search engines know who you are, where you are, what you do and why you’re relevant to your target audience.
SERPs – short for search engine results pages – are the results which show to searchers. What appears in SERPs is determined by algorithms which ‘score’ pages and websites. Search engines assess a website on many factors, including the code which sits behind a website, to determine whether it’s the right site to show.
A website needs to show a search engine that they are the best and right answer – this is SEO.
1. Page titles, meta descriptions and URLs
A page title, meta description and URL are 3 elements that appear in SERPs. A page title is the blue link text, which users click and the meta description is the text underneath. Getting these 3 elements right is not only crucial to encouraging clicks from users – but is also an important factor in determining whether you appear in SERPs at all.
To optimise these three elements, you need to make sure they are all relevant to what is on the website page – and the keywords you are targeting. For example, if your website page is a sales page for white trainers – then ‘white trainers’ should appear in the page title and URL. The meta description should explain what the page is – and that people can purchase the trainers by clicking on the link.
You must not ‘keyword’ stuff these 3 elements – as that can signal to Google that a page is low quality or ‘spammy’. Instead, you should make sure they describe what is on your page and provides the answer to what your target customer is searching.
2. Appear in Google Maps
Google My Business is a directory, which is free to join. Registering your business on GMB will help you manage your presence in Google SERPs and Google maps. Setting up a profile will mean that you show to people searching for your brand and product in your local area.
Visibility isn’t guaranteed –your profile needs to be optimised and contains information useful to those searching for the products or services you offer. Make sure all the details on your profile are correct – including contact information like your business’ phone number, website address and location.
3. Backlinks = Trust
Backlinks are links to your website from other websites. They have always been important to search visibility – but now, the quality of a website’s backlink profile far outweighs the total amount of backlinks a website has.
Backlinks are a factor search engines use to assess the quality of your site and content. The better quality the site linking to you is, the better the link is in Google’s eyes.
In the past – many websites paid for low-quality links and ended paying for it when Google penalised those with low-quality links. Getting high-quality links takes time and effort – but it’s worth it, as it is still one of the most significant factors in determining where you rank.
4. Content, content, content
Look at the content on your website: is it informative, detailed and does it fully cover what you do, offer or sell? If the answer is ‘no’, then it is time to start looking at how you can improve your content.
Page content and engagement are factors search engines algorithms consider when determining what appears in SERPs. Searchers are search engine customers, so they want them to have a positive experience by providing engaging, relevant answers.
Although creating SEO friendly content is vital, it is more important to write content for your customers that is SEO friendly – there is no good ranking high in search results but customers not engaging because the content doesn’t answer their question or needs.
5. Page loading speed
Pagespeed refers to the time it takes for a web page to load; this can be on either a desktop or mobile device. Page speed is a factor in where a website appears in results. Search engines want searchers to be able to find what they need quickly, so, they favour pages that load quickly.
There are numerous tools available which will allow you to test your website’s page speed. Assessing your page speed is important – it will give you an idea of what needs to be fixed on your site and why.