Recently businesses in the UK have adopted the “DIY approach” to website design. Afterall with the rise of builders like WIX and Squarespace, it’s now easier than ever to make your own site.
You might be thinking “now he’s going to try and upsell or say it’s wrong”, but nope, I’m not. Website builders are an excellent way for small businesses to get up and running quickly, on a budget. As a web agency, we believe that our role is as much advisory as it is designing or developing.
With this rise of DIY website’s, there’s an equally growing trend of DIY SEO. We’ve had quite a few people contacting us saying “we’ve looked into SEO ourselves using tool x, and am wondering if you can point us in the right direction”; so here we go, 5 simple SEO tips to help you rank better.
#1. Don’t change common terms to be unique
This is a big that one comes up more than you’d think; you look at yours and your competitor’s sites and think “they’re using the same word to describe a service, we’ll change it”.
Yeah, DON’T DO THAT! You want to use the terms people already know and are actively searching for.
Think about it, if someone is looking for a web design position in Bournemouth, they will probably Google “Web Design Jobs in Bournemouth” and if a recruitment agency has changed the terminology on their website from “Jobs” to “Appointments”, they lose a critical keyword and hurt their own SEO.
The worst example I’ve come across is changing “Our Story” to “Labra-cadabra-dor”; trust me context doesn’t make that any better.
Our advice, look at the wording on your website, think about what your customers will be searching and use the terminology that will reach the largest relevant audience.
#2. Keep content short and simple
This one a little tricky, yes search engine like long-form content and yes, you need to make sure your customers are well informed, but that doesn’t mean writing 5,000 words for something that could take 100 with a handful of bullet points.
Search engines are smart, and most will consider how a real visitor will use your site; so if a page is a wall of unreadable text or a cluster of rambling nonsense, then your SEO isn’t as good as you think.
Your content is for customers, not search engines; when was the last time you read every word on a website? Never that’s when; everyone skim reads online; because they already have a goal in mind and aren’t interested in anything that doesn’t help them achieve it.
That being said, feel free to split content across multiple pages with clear well-labelled links to each; and if you want to write long-form, save it for the blog where people’s goals are to learn more.
#3. Make sure content is well formatted
Bouncing off the last point, remember that nothing beats a well-formatted content structure, and search engines agree; for quite some time now, readability of content has played a big part in determining website rankings.
What I mean by well-formatted content is simple, be sure to make use of:
- Short sentences
- Bullet points
These are quite simply the big titles to each section of a post, they’re great at breaking up topics into smaller skimmable chunks. Just make sure to use them correctly, page titles should be a heading one, section titles a heading 2, subsections a heading 3 and so on.
Try to avoid lengthy sentences, they end up hard to read, and since search engines take readability into account, you could be negatively impacted. My general rule of thumb is
“If it’s a mouthful to read aloud then it needs a rewrite.”
No one want’s to read a solid wall of text, so use paragraphs to break up content further. Remember people don’t tend to read everything, so the smaller a block of text is the easier it is to understand.
Bullet points & Tables
Sometimes paragraphs aren’t the best way to get the point across; if you can cut back 200 words to 5 short bullet points, or a good’ol fashion table, do it.
#4. Optimise your images
Even images play a significant role in your website’s ranking, and there are a few things you can do to boost it. I won’t go into too much detail here, but the basics are:
- Rename the file to something relevant, “img_098273.jpg” isn’t quite as optimised as “SEO-mistakes.jpg” for example.
- Use alt text
- Resize and compress your images, you don’t need a 4k image online, in fact, all you’d do is slow down your website and hurt your SEO.
You can read more about optimising your images from our previous post “The gargantuan guide to website photography”.
#5. Use meta titles & descriptions
Anyone that’s been working on their website for a while might recognise this; needless to say it’s quite an old one but still entirely relevant and somehow one of the most forgotten.
A “meta title” is the title that you’ll see when you Google a site, page or anything really.
This plays a fairly substantial role in SEO and marketing, remember just because you’re #1 on Google doesn’t mean someone will visit your website. It’s got to be catchy, relevant and convincing.
A “meta description” is the short description also shown on search results and carries the same weight as their title counterparts.
“Meta keywords” are pointless and have been for some time. If you’re feeling nostalgic, use them, but it’s not going to do much.
One final point on DIY SEO
There are so many approaches to SEO, and it can quickly feel like a rabbit hole so, no matter what remember “Your customers come first”.
Search engines are designed to give the best quality results based on your customer’s questions; it stands to reason that making your website easy to read, navigate and understand will be more beneficial to your SEO than cramming it with content or checking off a list of compliance checks.
If you’re using any tools to check your websites “technical” SEO, don’t read into them too much, yes getting an A on SEOpimizer is great and could help, it’s not the standard and doesn’t analyse past the “technical” aspects. It’s entirely feasible to have an A in everything and still not rank very highly.