After undertaking a flurry of copy and SEO audits in the last month, I realised just how common the same mistakes are.
When SEO feels overwhelming and confusing, hoards of business owners miss out on some super simple tweaks that can make a monumental difference.
So I’m guiding you through on-site SEO for beginners, all in one place. Give this page a bookmark before you dive in – you will want to come back to it.
I’m going to walk you through the SEO basics in order of priority and ease, so you don’t have to overthink it.
Table of Contents
Why bother with SEO?
If you’ve landed here, then you probably have a vague idea of what search engine optimisation is. This blog is walking you through changes you can make on your website that can improve your visibility in organic search results.
There are zillions of ranking factors that impact on your success, but if we go into all of those you’ll feel just as overwhelmed as when you got here.
I’m keeping it simple and non-techy, so you actually implement some of it.
These small changes can make a huge difference. Just rolling out a handful of these on a clients website gave them a huge boost to their keyword rankings in under a week.
Let’s get started, shall we!
1. Identifying Target Keywords
Before you can optimise your website for search engines, you need to identify the keywords to target for each page.
You’ll use these throughout your optimisation, so you can’t skip this step!
Keywords and phrases are what people type into google or their chosen search engine to find results. Putting these in the right places on your website is vital if you want your website to rank.
Choose a keyword or phrase that accurately matches the page content to be sure you’re satisfying user intent. There’s no point in winning traffic that bounces away as swiftly as it landed!
If you’re a dog trainer, I’ve done your high level keyword research for you. Swipe the top 80 keywords for dog trainers here.
2. Page Titles
Every page on your website should have a page title, and it should be formatted as an H1 and include your target keyword.
Depending on the platform you use, this may happen automatically or you may need to format it this way yourself.
If you’re not sure how your titles are formatted, download SEO Minion. It’s a free SEO tool that can show you the SEO details for every page, on every website.
You’ll find your headings just below your metadata on the on-page SEO report.
3. Meta Titles and Descriptions
Meta Titles and descriptions are the snippets that appear on search engine results. They impact on your SEO but also on people’s desire to click through and view your website.
Your meta title should include your target keyword as it’s used as a ranking factor.
Your meta description’s job is to encourage people to choose your content to click through to.
Here is a format to follow:
Meta Title: Target Keyword | Area or USP | Business name (up to 60 characters)
Meta description: Make this compelling and highlight benefits to encourage click throughs. (up to 160 characters)
It’s important that every meta title and description on your site is unique, duplications can impact negatively on SEO.
GRAB YOUR FREE SEO CHECKLIST HERE 👇
Subheaders on your website help to break up blocks of text and to help people skim reading to find the content on the page they’re interested in.
Including keywords and long-tail keywords in these can assist with your SEO.
Formatting your subheaders as H2s, H3s, and so on, helps to communicate your on page content easily. They’re like a hierarchical table of contents for what’s on your page.
Use them wisely on your pages and within your blogs to help signpost site visitors and search engines to the topic of the following paragraphs.
5. Optimising URLs
Ideally, your URLs for each page should include your target keyword. BUT…..
Don’t change existing URLs without setting up redirects for them – or you’ll wind up with a load of broken links.
If this is too techy, leave the ones you have as they are and follow best practice going forwards with any new pages.
6. Internal Linking
Internal links are links from one page on your website to another. They help retain site visitors, direct them to further content, and they help Google understand your website structure.
Adding contextual links within your content helps both visitors and search engines to find content on your site. The more links to a page on your website, the more valuable and important that page is seen to search engines. And the more traffic it’s likely to get.
Use internal links to signpost people to the most important pages on your website. Linking related services, products and articles helps both Google and your users to navigate your website.
7. Getting Anchor Text Right
Anchor text is the visible and clickable text that accompanies your internal and external links. So often, people use terms such as ‘click here’ as their anchor text which is not only unhelpful in terms of accessibility but also for SEO.
Accurately describe where the link is taking your reader and use that as your anchor text. If you can use keywords within this, all the better!
For example, in the below screenshot the links are formatted with anchor text ‘interactive tug toy and ‘learn more about getting started with dog parkour here.’
8. Image optimisation
Every image on your website has the potential to boost your SEO. Saving your images with file names that incorporate keywords can help with your onsite SEO.
For example, saving an image as ‘labrador-at-dog-training-class-brixton’ is far better than saving it as ‘image1’.
Every image should also have alt text accompanying it. This is to assist visually impaired site visitors so their screen readers can identify what’s in the image. It’s not always possible to include keywords here, but where you can it’s a good idea to do so.
For example, ‘happy black labrador with owner at dog training class in Brixton’
To see what your images are currently saved as, simply visit your website and right click to download them. The file name will appear.
I am not a web developer or tech geek. I have broadly covered the elements you need to focus on so that your website is optimised for basic SEO.
That being said, you need to ensure your website is optimised for mobile, that it loads fast on all devices, and that it’s actually visible to search engines.
Is your site visible to search engines?
Ensuring your content is crawlable and indexable by search engines is ESSENTIAL. If it’s not, it doesn’t matter what you do on your website – Google will never see it.
To check this, type ‘site:yourdomain.com’ into Google and check out the results. Most pages that are visible to Google will appear below.
Or set up Google Search Console for your website, and you can easily check any issues with indexing and crawlability. To fix them, you may need support from your web developer.
Note: You might not want some pages on your website to appear on search engines. You can set these pages not to be indexed. Again, this is techy, so ask your web developer for help with this.
A little at a time
I appreciate all of these SEO optimisation tasks might feel overwhelming. You do not need to do all of these at once!
I have listed them in order of priority (and ease), so that you can work through them bit by bit.
When I work with new clients on SEO, we handle a little each month. Nobody is going through all of their website pages, all of their images, and all of their content in one big swoop.
It’d be a super fast way to ensure you do nothing! Start with your page titles and metadata, and slowly build from there each month.
You can book in for a personalised copy and SEO audit with me here, which delivers you a speedy step by step guide of what to do to optimise your website for SEO yourself.
Or grab your free SEO checklist and webinar to help you DIY – just pop your email addy below and it’ll whizz right into your inbox. 🙌