When a potential customer searches for your product or service, you want to be as high up in the search results as possible. Ideally on the first page, or even better, right at the top. That comes down to a process known as Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).
The good news is that you are in control of most of the factors that impact how high your business appears in the rankings of major search engines like Google.
Keep in mind committing to SEO doesn’t yield overnight results and improving your rankings takes time, effort, consistency and knowledge.
So how much does your business depend on organic traffic from search engines? If the answer is more than just-a-little, determine how much time and effort you’re willing to invest identifying and improving content and the structure of your websites code.
As a digital agency who has specialised in website development and SEO since 2004, we believe most businesses get the best results when they focus on the quality of their content and work with an SEO agency to optimise the structure of the site and the code behind the scenes. An agency can also be beneficial in helping provide expert advice on how to best structure your content for optimal results.
After improving clients search rankings for so long, we thought it would be good to share with you some of the most common problems we see on businesses websites.
The most common website problems that affect SEO
It might seem like common sense that websites are built to be as easy as possible for visitors to find what they are looking for, however lack of structure with a site’s navigation is a common problem. Generally, what happens, is that over time people and processes change and old rules are forgotten leading to the hierarchy of content changing over time. When Google reviews the site content it views the content as more difficult to navigate and penalises search rankings as a result.
Over time it may make sense to move website content to a different area of the site or delete files that are no longer relevant. Sometimes when this occurs, links that pointed to the old location of the content are not updated and Google identifies them as dead or broken links. These have a negative impact on the user experience and are regarded negatively.
Large Images or Media
Beautiful images and video content can add depth to your visitor experience. However, if they are not optimised and are too large, they may increase your page load speed. The slower a website loads, the more traffic abandons the site, so Google pays close attention to page load speed and penalises websites that are not up to scratch.
Poor Mobile Experience
More than half of web traffic occurs on mobile devices, yet many websites are either not optimised for mobile or have not considered the mobile experience effectively during development. A poor mobile experience is a common reason why site visitors disappear quickly, and search engines are well aware of this. As a result, websites that perform well for mobile browsing are ranked higher.
Lack of heading structure and site tags
Headings must be consistent across a website and well-structured in terms of the html, so that Google can understand the content effectively. Our seo team often find that when staff add or edit content, they aren’t aware of this and don’t assign headings the correct hierarchy (H1 through H4).
Hidden meta tags are often missing too, including meta title and meta description which search engines use to display search results. The clearer the title and description, the more likely people are to click through. When we review an existing website, on many occasions the meta tags are either left blank or are pre-populated with content that doesn’t promote the business well.
Finally, we often find that alt tags with a meaningful description of images are not populated. Alt tags help search engines identify the relevancy of images, as the automated crawlers that Google and other search engines use to review your site don’t see the images for themselves.
Text in Images
We often see website images that have text superimposed onto the image itself.
Using text in images may look great, however Google doesn't read images and you miss out on the opportunity to include keywords that might help your search rankings. The alternative is to use html to apply suitable heading copy, that sits on top of the image, but is not a part of the jpg or png.
As an agency that builds websites as well as focuses on search engine optimisation, text within an image is terrible for responsive design. When the image with text is designed, in nearly all cases the designer doesn’t consider how it will look on a smaller display or mobile device. The result is the text never displays correctly for a majority of site visitors.
Poor or Thin Content
Search engines are a lot smarter than they used to be. Long gone are the days of stuffing keywords on a page and getting high search rankings. Avoiding thin and poor content means producing well-written, relevant content.
Each page should be focused on one product or service and be optimised around one keyword. This will make for a better user experience and a better search engine ranking.
The mistake our agency commonly sees around content, is that there isn’t enough on the page, it is disjointed or not focused enough on the particular subject it should be ranking for.
Simple things you can do to improve SEO
Meta and Alt Tags
An easy place to start improving your sites search engine optimisation is to spend some time updating the tags. Ensure that every page has a meta title and meta description and that they include your target keyword.
Second, update images on the website with a meaningful description for the alt tag, and where appropriate, make sure the description contains keywords that you want to rank for.
Links to Authority Sites
When writing or editing content, where possible, reference any useful information by linking to external source content that you believe to be high quality i.e. highly regarded businesses, high trafficked websites.
It may also help your search engine rankings as Google can take that as a signal that your site offers quality information.
Linking to other pages within your website makes it easier for visitors to find relevant content and also helps search engines better understand the structure and content of your site
Search engines are getting smarter every day and can work out if your content is high-quality and useful to your audience, based on the writing style, page structure and wording used.
When writing content, write fluidly as if you are talking to a human. Write in short sentences and avoid using complex language.
While it seems intuitive to keep copy to a minimum, the reverse is true. Write copy as long as necessary for the subject, as we see pages with between 1,000 to 2,000 words ranking best.
To ensure maximum readability with long content, think about the page structure and how you can break up the words with white space, imagery, video or infographics.
What an SEO agency can help you with
Examples of some of the technical work which improves SEO includes:
Site Hierarchy and URL Structure
A well-crafted site hierarchy and URL structure requires a big picture view of the website's content and purpose.
A site that is well structured from the top to the bottom creates a better user experience and is reflected in search engine rankings. When the site makes sense to visitors, they can logically understand how to use the site and view your content.
Site structure, along with rules on how to name URL’s correctly, help to simplify the process for web crawlers to discover and adequately understand your content.
While most human visitors don’t necessarily spend anytime viewing the footer of a website, making sure to include as many links to internal pages and business pages on social media networks helps to improve search engine crawlers opinion of the website.
Usually updates to a websites footer requires a change to the design of the website template, which is where a Melbourne based SEO agency can help.
While a rich content strategy is great for improving SEO in itself, as an agency we also look at how the content is clustered.
For example if you have a blog with a lot of articles, there is the opportunity to cluster them together based on topic.
In addition to giving content additional structure, we look to find ways to cross-link related content to further strengthen the relationship. In addition to cross-linking related content, there is the possibility to create customised calls-to-action based on the topic. As users are more likely to convert based on content that is specific to the topic they are interested in, search engines are more likely to notice that these pages get better engagement and rank them better.
A single non-optimised image or video on a highly frequented page, can slow down page load speed significantly. Multiply that across many pages on the site and you may be facing significant load time issues.
While optimising images can be done manually, it can be quite a mission to do this in bulk which is something that can be automated by an agency. In addition to optimising image formats and file sizes, we can also introduce code to improve the way images and video load across the site. This can significantly improve page load speed.
When agencies begin work with new clients on website design, it is common to find clients focus on how the design looks on their desktop monitor and ignore that their desktop computer screen isn’t representative of the wide range of devices and browser sizes that will view the site when in use.
As a result many existing websites look great on desktop and are a terrible experience on smaller devices. This is punished by search engines and absolutely negatively affects a site’s ranking.
The idea of responsive design is that the website should look and feel the same across devices, while ensuring the user experience remains optimised. In addition to traditional SEO work, our website development team in Melbourne can also reskin an existing website to make a site responsive in order to improve SEO.
It can be overwhelming for a typical business who wants to organically rank highly in search engines, to run their own successful SEO program without considerable resources and knowledge.
As clients are often the experts in their industry, our recommendation is that businesses should use the limited resources available to produce great content and publish it to the website with basic SEO principals in mind, to ensure it is setup correctly for search engines to easily read.
For everything else, you are better served by partnering with an SEO agency (we know of a great one in Melbourne) that can take care of all the behind the scenes work critical to ranking on the first page of Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo and other major search engines.
If you’d like a free assessment of what is required to get better search engine rankings from your businesses website, click here to send us a message.