The process of optimizing a website to perform in search rankings is a long and difficult journey, and there’s practically no achievable end to what you can do to enhance your website, meaning there’s always room for improvement.
For anyone looking to inch ever closer to front-page positions for top keywords, this is a double-edged sword: on one hand, there’s always a way to do out-perform your competitors, but on the other hand, the work is never done.
Because of this, when you start getting deep into SEO strategy assessment, it can be really easy to feel overwhelmed — but the solution to this problem is to work smarter, not harder. You’ll likely not have the time to do everything — the key is to look out for the simple SEO changes that will bring the biggest results, ensuring a positive return on your SEO efforts.
Here are 7 minor SEO changes you can make that will punch above their weight:
For any given webpage, the page title is like the sign on the door. Even if someone is really confident they’re in the right place when they arrive, a weak title can leave them a little confused about the situation. A strong title, however, can make it crystal-clear to people and search algorithms alike what the purpose of the page is.
When you think about how long it takes to write a halfway-decent page title (a minute or two, perhaps), and how many pages the typical site has, you quickly realize that it doesn’t actually take up that much time to give page titles some much-needed polish — especially since a lot of titles automatically generated by old systems are often poorly written without proper keyword focus.
To find the title for a page, take the two or three most important keywords and put them together into a coherent string of enticing copy that encourages the user to click. For instance, this page might be “SEO Strategy: 7 Simple But Super-Effective Tips for Beginners” or similar.
2: Optimize your anchors
The importance of a link doesn’t just lie in where it directs you. There’s also a good deal of significance to the text used to hold the link, otherwise known as anchor text. Search engines will factor that text into their analysis of the link, trying to gauge the context of the link inclusion.
Whenever you want to share a resource through your content, try to ensure that the anchor text really reflects the destination of the link. If you link someone to a report, for example, use something like “read the report” as your anchor text instead of something generic like “here” — that way, when search engines crawl the page, they’ll be able to match the text to the destination.
The primary matter here, though, is how other sites link to yours. When you get a link, do you ask about the anchor text? The more closely links to your site reflect the nature of your site, the more likely you’ll be to rank well for relevant terms. Start asking for specific anchor texts (while keeping them mixed up) and it will eventually pay off.
A lot of website owners shy away from using internal links because they fear that every included link will somehow leech power from the page it’s on, but that simply isn’t true. And not only that, but internal links are both extremely useful for helping crawlers to interpret how your site fits together and handy for eliminating the need for duplicate content.
If you ever need to make reference to something elsewhere on your site, don’t copy it across — link to it. This will be very useful for visitors (thus keeping them on your site for longer durations), decrease bounce rate, and help your site get search engine recognition.
4: Use questions for headings
Headings and subheadings are very important for breaking up copy and making it clear how different sections relate to one another, and you can use any text featuring relevant keywords, but I strongly recommend going with questions for three major reasons:
- They make the value of the sections abundantly clear. People want to have their questions answered, and this way you make it obvious that they can do that by reading the following content.
- They make content a lot faster and easier to write. I know that when I’m trying to write something very quickly, it helps a great deal to first lay out the most important questions. After that, all I need to do is answer them.
- They can feature in search results. Since search engines are all about answering questions, formatting your content using questions gives your content a chance to be chosen by search algorithms to be featured in results pages.
5: Clean up your URL hierarchy
If you’ve never really paid any attention to your URL structure, you might find that it doesn’t make much sense (to users). Perhaps it was suitable to begin with but your content changed, or maybe it was always poorly optimized. Regardless, there’s a strong chance that whatever CMS you use for your site will allow you to change your URL hierarchy, and you should do just that.
Through looking at the steps in a page’s URL, a search crawler or a person should be able to figure out where it stands in relation to everything else on the site. “Store.com/BlueHat” isn’t very useful, for example, but “Store.com/Products/Clothing/Hats/BlueHat” is much more informative. You’ll need to redirect your old links to your new URLs, making sure you cover any missed redirects with google search console, and you might see a short-term drop in rankings, but it’s worth the gain potential in the long term.
6: Improve content with images & media
Images provide a lot of value to digital content, making text a lot easier to understand and digest through providing context and spacing things out. Many older websites will be extremely text-heavy with little regard for presentation, and UX standards have increased across the web such that visitors are unlikely to put up with bland content.
If you can create some great images to accompany your content, then do so, by all means. But since most people lack the time, skills and/or resources to handle that kind of in-house production, you’re best served relying on free-to-use photos and making occasional tweaks to suit aspect ratio requirements.
Not only do images make your content more appealing but the inclusion of media such as videos or social embeds with increase the odds of your visitors engaging with your content. User engagement is not only a primary ranking signal but this media also increases a user’s time on page.
We live in a world dominated by social media, and that dominance isn’t to be overlooked when it comes to regular website traffic. We may not yet know if search engines take social signals into account when determining rankings, but we do know that more shares result in more visits, which can improve on-page metrics and thus boost rankings.
And since it’s unlikely to take long to implement social sharing buttons on a website (usually through adding HTML code, but also achievable through CMS plugins and extensions), you can set them in place on every piece of content you provide in one fell swoop. You may not get all that many shares, but even if you get a handful, it will essentially be free traffic. Not bad!
Looking to give your SEO a nudge in the right direction without spending too much time or money on the project? Try these basic SEO tips to see if they bolster your results, and remember, there’s always room for improvement — so don’t give up — and contact us if you need any help!