SEO is often seen as bit of a dark art. Some people are scared of it, some people will tell you it’s incredibly complex, some people will charge you a lot of money to fix it for you.
SEO, or ‘Search Engine Optimisation’ in basic terms is: the stuff you need to do to make your website more appealing to search engines like Google or Bing, to make it easy for them to find and understand your content, and to push it higher up the search results. The higher in the list your content ranks, the more visible you are to potential customers.
Whilst it’s true there is a technical, nitty gritty side to SEO that you might want to get the experts in for, there are a few common sense tips that will help you get started whilst improving the experience for your visitors.
Adding fresh content to your site on a regular basis is a must. Start a blog, create project pages, add a news or inspiration feed. Whatever it is, keeping your website live and lively is very important for search engines, but also vital for building and maintaining readership.
When creating new content, quality is key. You’re creating for people, not search bots, so make it personal, useful, and interesting. Give it an author, have an opinion. There’s no point creating reams of poor content for content’s sake, or overloading potentially great content with keywords, because even if these efforts made you the top hit on Google (unlikely, as Google can spot dodgy practice a mile off), you’d lose readers the moment they hit your site.
Internal linking within your content keeps visitors to your website engaged, giving them jumping off points to other relevant content on your site and improving their user experience. As well as being helpful for readers, it also gives you the option to shape their journey through your content and direct them to pages you want them to see.
That being said, don’t create entire paragraphs consisting of links, it doesn’t look good, disrupts the natural flow of reading, and might send your readers off elsewhere before they’ve absorbed your content. A couple of internal links here and there will do just fine.
In the age of digital social, giving your content an online presence outside of your website is really important. Whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Google+, etc, find the right platform to suit your brand and audience, then get sharing your content. But, don’t just become a link fiend; make shares personal, have conversations, get your followers involved.
It’s also a good idea to make connections with other relevant blogs or websites. Share each other’s content, make guest editorial appearances, have a digital PR plan. The more other websites link to yours, the greater your reputation and the higher up you will rank in the search listings.
If you’re creating links or images in your content (let’s hope so!), then make sure to be descriptive. Search engines like this. It let’s them know you’re human, and it also gives them the data needed to understand and index your content.
When it comes to links, let go of your ‘read more’ or ‘click here’ habits, and make linked text descriptive. For example: here are some really inspiring 3D printing projects.
On the image front, resist naming your files ‘image_0123’. Instead give them short descriptive titles (imagine what someone would type into a search bar), and make sure you fill in all the image attribute boxes in your CMS when uploading.
Mentioning all the right things in your content is important, but keywords should make an organic and relevant appearance. Google can dismiss shamelessly keyworded content immediately, plus your readers will HATE it. Really, if you’re writing about the things you do and love, then you’re probably automatically keywording anyway.
It can also be helpful to put keywords at the beginning of your page titles or headlines, as these will stand out to search engines when indexing your content.
There is so much more to be said about SEO (especially the more technical side), but hopefully this gives you a helping hand to start making some changes to your own content. You can also use free website grading services like Hubspot to see how well you’re doing overall. These sites will benchmark your website against various categories including SEO and let you know where you might need to make some improvements. However, do be aware that sites like these usually ask for your email address so expect a few sales calls afterwards!