In this guide we are going to go through all the ways you can improve your website and potentially get it ranking higher on search engines such as Google. We've listed the most important factors when optimising your website below with an easy to use guide.
Ok first things first and probably one of the most important parts is researching your domain as its your brand. If you've already got a domain other factors in terms of SERP (Search Engine Rank Position) include the domain name, your domain age and domain authority have a big impact on your overall ranking. You can check your current ranking using Moz Analytics.
Choosing a local web hosting provider in the same country can not only help your ranking but also lower page loading times for you and potential customers, consider choosing a provider within the same country. Ask your hosting provider for the IP address as some can be flagged as spam which you can test by using MX Toolbox.
Security is very important when it comes to your own website as you may be handling sensitive checkout information for clients or customers, therefore an SSL is required. Google also has plans to eventually have all websites running an SSL certificate on their website to encrypt the site owners information and has made it a ranking factor within its search engines algorithms. Further steps such as cPanel and DirectAdmin offering a free SSL have recently been introduced and Lets Encrypt also providing free SSL's too! It's become a big deal which is why we also offer a a free SSL with all our hosting plans.
Google has recently updated its search algorithms to include a ranking for mobile websites. If you currently have a website which is not mobile responsive this will be having a big impact on your ranking. We would suggest buying a professional theme which is mobile friendly or a free theme from the WordPress free themes section.
Very important should you want to rank your website correctly. Your page title should be made clear for Google, Bing and other search engines to correctly identify the topic and keywords for ranking accordingly. You can also set your URL structure if you are using the WordPress content management system by going to settings >> permalinks >> post name.
Keep your title under 60 characters so the full length is shown on Google search results. Put your keyword in the title but don't use it more than several times, if possible only once as Google doesn't like keyword stuffing as it can damage your ranking.
Try to make your description engaging, content that will pull in potential customers and is related to the page such as offers or unique selling points. Try once again to include your keyword within your description and keep it under 160 characters so the full content is shown on Google search results.
Without proper heading tags search engines cant identify your topic, heading tags are one of the most important search engine optimisation (SEO) requirements. HTML tags range from h1 which is your page title through to h6 which is least important.
Your content is how your readers see you so its best to try and keep your content easy to read, steps such drafting down your content ideas can help keep a clear mind including topics of discussion, include images to break up your text as potential readers don't like to see endless pages of unbroken content and add paragraphs for easy reading. Google loves content and in a nutshell the more the better, as a minimum requirement try and add 500-1000 plus words of quality content as this can have a positive impact on your ranking position. You can also use Word Counter by pasting in your text to check how many words are on your page.
As mentioned in the contents section images help break down your content and make it more interesting for the reader. Optimising your images helps reduce page load time using plugins such as WP Smush, resizing your images if they are too big and changing the format of your images in a simple application such as paint and exporting as PNG/JPEG can speed up your page load time.
These help Google and other search engines describe you images and rank your images under Google's image tab. Alt tags also help improve your SEO score and rank your images which can potentially increase traffic to your website.
Ok now that you've completed your website you now want to get it onto search engines for potential customers and more traffic to come to your website. A sitemap or sitemap.xml file tells search engines what pages are on your site and the location (URL). You can add a sitemap to your website in several ways using either a sitemap generator, following the steps and then uploading to your websites home directory or downloading the XML Sitemap plugin if you are using the WordPress CMS, activate the plugin then make any necessary changes to the plugin as required.
This is usually added along with your sitemap.xml file and uploaded to the same location as your sitemap.xml file which is in your home directory of your website. With this file you can set the crawl rate and exclude pages from search engine bots if you don't want them to be seen. Your robots.txt has advantages and disadvantages as potential hackers may look at this file if you are trying to hide sensitive information and gain access, so be careful what you want to hide!
Your website is effectively useless unless you add it to all the relevant search engines. The easiest and most simplest way is to use Free Web Submission as this automatically allows you to add your site to 50 search engines and directories in minutes! Alternatively you can use Google webmaster tools and Bing webmaster tools to add your website manually which also allows you to add a code to your website and track traffic amounts.
Backlinks help increase your domain authority (DA) and by doing so will start increasing your domains ranking. Back linking is also a long-term commitment to get your domain to the top of search engines. You can also create your own free account with SEMrush which includes free helpful backlink statistics for your domain(s) and loads of other tools including tracking and project analysis.
The difference between these two can determine whether you get "link juice" or not. Do-follow links passes on the link juice to your domain, whereas no-follow links do not. You can check which of your backlinks have do-follow and no-follow again with a SEMrush account, simply go to the homepage, type your domain and scroll down to the do-follow and no-follow links chart. You can also click on the chart to show more information and which links are pointing to your domain.
Bad backlinks wont do your website any good, in fact it can harm your SERP (Search Engine Ranking Position) so its always good to research any websites first before adding a backlink to your site using any the tools we've mentioned, you can check if a website has a high spam score by using Moz. Look for websites which are HTTPS encrypted or show a trust badge on their site. You can also try and get valuable links from the same type of websites as yourself which can lead to focused traffic coming to your site.
Adding anchors to your site help rank specific keywords, pages though with empty anchors can still give you link juice so its optional if you want to add an anchor with your backlink. A good idea would be to use SEMrush or another back tool to find other websites which are ranking on page one of Google such as a competitor then research that with SEMrush to see how their anchors show on their website.
So now that you've probably implemented some of the features outlined above you should notice a definite increase in your rankings overtime which usually takes around 30 days for Google to crawl and update. They is some great free tools out there to give you a helping hand, here's some of our favourites.
Using all of the information above and integrating them into your website you'll notice a definite increase over time. Remember to update your website regularly with new content to keep users coming back such as offers or regular business and website updates.