Top five things to improve the SEO of your website

Top five things to improve the SEO of your website

Now we’ve discussed what SEO is, it’s time to discuss the basics of how you can improve the SEO for your website. This is a much more complicated and longer discussion as it involves a lot of areas of technical ideas, but don’t let that scare you off!

SEO is a constantly evolving concept, with search engine providers constantly looking to improve their search algorithms to give users the best, most accurate search results for their queries.

This leads to a constantly shifting set of criteria as the search providers look to ensure that website owners can’t abuse the system to get their website higher on the search ranking than users would want it to be.

There are presently two schools of thought on SEO, the black hat and white hat.

Black hat strategies look to trick search engines into giving a page a good position on search results. This produces quick results and quick wins but you will be found out and, often, black listed on your site. Not a good idea as black listing removes your site from search results entirely.

White hat strategies, by comparison, work with the search engine to deliver good quality content to users, using the systems and criteria that the search engines have set up. The Ninja Collective only offers and supports white hat strategies, playing fair takes a little longer, but is sustainable and much better for long-term business growth and development.

So, here are our top five things to think about and plan to help your site get the best search engine result position possible:

Page Speed

In the last fifteen years there has been a major shift away from laptops and desktops being the main way that users access the Internet. Mobile devices now account for around 50% of the total traffic on the web, one of the most crucial things to these users is load speed.

Page speed is a key consideration for SEO
Page speed is a key consideration for SEO

Users still anticipate that sites will load as quickly on their mobile as it will on their desktop. This means that your site code, images, videos and extensions need to be as slick and lean as possible, ensuring the fastest possible load time. In fact, slow loading sites are now punished with a lower ranking on search engines.

How do you tell what your page load speed is? Well, there are plenty of free tools online which will helpfully tell give your load speed and even make suggestions of ways to improve your sites speed, our favourite is from the team over GTmetrix, check it out here:

…and before you ask, you should be looking for a load speed of 3 seconds or less, so get optimising!

Mobile friendly

With all of those mobile users, it’s no wonder that search engines now require that your website is mobile friendly in order to be listed.

Yes, you read that right, if you don’t make your site compatible with mobile devices, some search engines, including Google, simply WON’T list your site!

Your website will need to be mobile friendly to rank highly on search engines
Your website will need to be mobile friendly to rank highly on search engines

But how do you make your site mobile friendly? There are three options; automatically detecting the device your site is being viewed on, creating separate web addresses or making your site responsive. I’ll ignore the first two as they’re not the best way to do things and pretty time intensive because you’ll need to make many different copies of your site.

Responsiveness, however, is very much the way to go. Simply put, this means that the site adjusts how it looks based on the size of screen its being viewed on. This means a smart phone sees a site that fits perfectly on a screen, whilst a laptop sees the same size but scaled for its screen. Clever, huh?

Not sure if your site is responsive or not? You can find out with Google’s tool here:

Relevant content

Relevance is an interesting term that appears a lot in SEO, oft spoken in hushed tones so as to imply its power. In truth, relevance means that what you put on each page of your site is distinguishable as useful to someone who is searching for the information which appears on your page.

As an example, if you’re looking for how to improve the SEO of your website, what might you search for? “How to improve the SEO of my website” maybe? Well, if you look at the title and first paragraph of this blog, you’ll see those terms (improve, SEO, website) littered throughout the text. This means that this piece has a good chance of being deemed relevant for your search.

Relevant content will greatly help your SEO performance
Relevant content will greatly help your SEO performance

Conversely, had I titled this “Making your site searchable on Google”, aside from this being terrible English, the number of people who would search for that is much smaller than the “improve SEO website” crowd.

Careful consideration of who you want on your page, and why you want them there, will help you decide on relevance for your pages. If you need some quick prompts with this, check out our five tips to help you start your new website blog from a few weeks back:

Freshness of content

Search engines ensure that users keep coming back by ensuring that they only have the freshest, newest information in their results, no matter what the topic. This means that, if you don’t update your site very often, you’ll gradually slip down the rankings and disappear from view.

Keep your site content fresh to stay relevant
Keep your site content fresh to stay relevant

But, how can you keep your site updated regularly? Well, one of the easiest ways is with a blog or other form of social media. Posting regular, interesting articles (just like this one) will keep your site fresh in the eyes of search engines and so top of the tree for searches.

Use the right code

This bit is a little more technical, but bear with me! As with so much in life, there are many ways to build a website; and not just right and wrong. As we discussed above, page speed is a big consideration for your website and having the wrong code can greatly slow down your load speed.

But, in this case, we’re talking about something a little simpler; headings. When you create a page or a blog, you can usually adjust the size of some text using heading or H values. These headings tell a search engine which titles on your page are most important. Titles with a lower value will be deemed to be more relevant to the page content than higher ones.

So, placing your name as heading 1 may make it bigger on the page, but, unless your page is all about you, it’s probably a bad idea.

Adding headings can be pretty simple, in services like WordPress you can select the Heading value from a drop down, however, for other systems you may need to add the tags yourself by hand. If that all sounds a bit scary, you can ask us for pointers.

Heading tags in code can have a big impact on SEO
Headings can have a big impact on SEO so get to know yours

In conclusion, by considering these points, you’ll have a much better chance of gaining higher rankings on the search engines of your choice. With some planning and an understanding of the basics, you can also avoid the common mistakes which could harm or even ruin the chances of SEO success with your website.

These are our tip five ways to improve your websites SEO performance, are there any you think we’ve missed or do you have any questions? Let us know in the comments!

One of the founding members of The Ninja Collective, Simon is a current creative partner in the team. Specialising in all things to do with writing, blogging and social media, you'll usually find him behind his keyboard. When away from the screen, favourite distractions include reading, listening to music and walking his two dogs, Pepper and Doerak, in the fresh air.

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