Launching your new website is an exciting time but have you considered how people are going to find it? Effective
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) puts your site in front of those already looking for what you have to offer. Here are 6 great tips to point your site in the right direction. Launching your new website is an exciting time but have you considered how people are going to find it?
Effective Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) puts your site in front of those already looking for what you have to offer. Here are 6 great tips to point your site in the right direction. Launching your new website is an exciting time but have you considered how people are going to find it? Effective Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) puts your site in front of those already looking for what you have to offer. Here are 6 great tips to point your site in the right direction.
There is a lot of work involved in a complete SEO campaign but some tasks can be done quite easily in your spare time. While they probably won’t see you hitting the top position for your most competitive terms, they will at least start your site off on the right foot, making their way toward the top:
- Page Titles
- Meta Descriptions
- Easy Backlinks
Until a couple of years ago, Google placed new domains in the “sandbox”. This typically lasted around 3 months while they observed how your site evolved and how users were interacting with it.
While in this sandbox phase, you were going to see some terrible rankings no matter how effective your optimisation efforts. While frustrating, the quality of your site was rewarded once you progressed from that phase.
This sandbox phase is no longer used, however, you will still see a period of 1 – 3 months after launching a site on a new domain before it can really achieve substantial rankings. The stronger your efforts during this time, the better your initial results will be so don’t delay your optimisation, just know that the first month or two will be slow – good things come to those who wait!
Your page titles are the first opportunity to highlight your target keyword(s) while also compelling users to visit your website over the other ~ 9 on that page of the search results.
The above example is from Web Design Jedi’s home page. Since it’s the first thing users are going to see, it’s also your first opportunity to grab their attention. This title clearly demonstrates both what they do and the fact that they’re located here in Sydney.
It’s easy to see how valuable they can be but don’t underestimate how difficult they are to write. Here are some guidelines that should be followed for an effective page title:
Length – With a limit of 512 pixels, you’re limited to around 50 – 60 characters, depending on the width of the letters used. Beyond this, your titles will be truncated (cut off with a “…”).
Keyword First – Where possible, try to place your keyword at the start of the title. This is going to clearly demonstrate the focus of that page to both search engines and users immediately.
Brand Name – If you have great brand strength, placing your brand name at the end of the title can also help attract more clicks from the search results because users trust a brand they’re already familiar with.
If you don’t have a particularly strong brand strength, you can leave this element out and put those precious pixels to better use.
Compelling Text – The remaining width should be used to entice the user. Highlight your strongest selling point to users right there in the search results.
Meta descriptions are the black text directly below your page title. While not as prominent, they do give you 923 pixels to work with so you can be more descriptive here and really use it to convince users to click.
These descriptions are not something Google looks at, they’re purely for the users’ benefit but, that doesn’t mean you should put any less effort into them… users are the ones buying your product, not the search engines!
When it comes to writing descriptions, they should generally flow on from your page title. They’re used to further highlight why your site/business/product is the best fit for their needs.
These are really quite straight forward but something that often goes overlooked on a new site. Just like any other form of writing, headings are used to clearly describe exactly what the text contains and define the sub-sections below in the form of sub-headings.
The only thing to really be mindful of in terms of SEO is keyword focus. It’s generally best practice to include that page’s most important keyword in the title. It doesn’t have to be just the keyword, but do include it clearly at the top of the page.
Further down the page, subheadings require no real effort for keyword focus; assuming your content is on-topic, the headings will naturally be relevant enough for users and search engines.
Both the most important, and the most time-consuming factor, content is used to tell users and search engines more about your product or service. When done well, it also tells them more about your company through a unique “voice”. Are you a fun, edgy company with an exciting and passionate environment? Perhaps a very high-end professional service that offers stern experience in a very dry industry? Make sure your content conveys this too!
Writing great content is a lengthy topic that you can read more about in Kymodo’s post. It does take time, effort and concentration but the end result can reap so many benefits that it’s worth every second.
Some handy guidelines to point you in the right direction:
1500+ Words – For important pages, more (quality!) content means an even greater benefit. It gives search engines more opportunity to understand what that page is about, and users more opportunity to find exactly what they’re looking for.
1500 words sounds like a lot but you only get out what you put in!
Structure Around Importance – Lay your content out in terms of importance from top to bottom. This is going to be more engaging for most users since they don’t have to dig around for what they’re likely looking for and search engines look at your site from top to bottom as well.
It seems so obvious but it’s surprising just how many forget about this.
Be Genuinely Helpful! – Nobody is coming to your website to read words, they’re looking for information. If they can’t find it, they’re going to leave within seconds and end up on your competitor’s site! Make it easy to find what they’re looking for and you’re already another step closer to making that sale.
Your website is exciting and you’re passionate about what you do so it’s only natural that you want to tell the world about it. The truth is, nobody wants to read about that!
Above all else, users are interested in themselves. They’re on your site looking to solve a problem so use your content to convey just how great things will be once they’ve got your product or service to take that problem away!
A well-structured navigation should be as “flat” as possible, meaning there are only as many sub-menus as the site needs.
Keeping your navigation nice and flat makes it much easier for users and search engines to find their way around your site and find those important pages. Hiding your most important pages 6 levels of drop-down menus deep is infuriating and sends search engines on a wild goose chase, crawling pages of much lower importance.
All of these tips so far have revolved around onsite factors since these are the ones that will typically give you the fastest improvements at the start of a campaign and help convert visitors into customers.
The other side to SEO is offsite; your backlink profile. A backlink is a hyperlink pointing from one domain to another. Google sees these hyperlinks as a vote of confidence since you wouldn’t point your users toward a website you don’t trust, right?
These days, search engines are quite effective at being able to distinguish between a low quality link and one that is real and relevant to your industry. These relevant links are the ones you really want to gain but it can be incredibly time-consuming.
The best way to get your backlink profile started is going to be trusted, local directories. Not SEO directories that exist just to give you (and any other site) a backlink, but directories that real people actually use.
For example, some great places to start here in Sydney are:
- Yellow Pages
- Aus Scene
While these aren’t the strongest links you can get, they will drive real traffic to your website and offer a good amount of strength for the small time investment.
Have a look around and see what other real directories you can find for your location and industry too!