Our previous blog dealt with how to know whether or not you’re ready for SEO when considering engaging an agency.
But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t things that you’re able to do yourself in the meantime to ensure that once you’re financially able to engage a professional your website is primed for just such an activity. It’s also not impossible that you might see results with the right approach depending on how realistic you are with target keywords and the industry that you’re in. But even if you’re in a highly competitive industry for this channel and can’t expect results without professional help, it certainly doesn’t hurt to have all of your “i’s” dotted and your “t’s” crossed.
So without any fuss, here is a free practical guide to getting connected to Google and onsite SEO for those who tend to manage the content on their website themselves, or to pass along to your web team.
1. Get connected to Google
Ok, so you can skip this section if you know all about Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager , Google my Business and Search Console. But if any or all of these words mean little to nothing to you it is essential you read on.
Without these employing these tools, you are missing the fundamental foundations that connect your website to Google and allowing your customers to easily find information about your business in Google Search, Google Maps and by Google Voice searches too!
Step 1 – Get a google analytics account and install it in your website
While you’re at it, if you have plans to grow your business and advertise on Facebook, Adwords and other places and use more advanced marking tools and tracking you might want to install Google Tag Manager in your website. This tool allows you to manage and configure all of the tracking codes in Google Tag Manager without having to re-install code in your website. As you advance in your digital marketing managing all the tracking codes etc. becomes quite the task, this tool can help you and the team tame this unruly beast.
It’s available here: https://www.google.com/analytics/tag-manager/
Step 2 – Connect your website to Google Search console and submit a sitemap
Google search console allows you to view and manage the way that Google crawls your website. It has helpful tools to allow you to improve the way your website appears on Google searches and alerts you to issues it finds. Once you have a Google Analytics account and have installed it on your website you can easily add your website to Search Console.
Step 3 – Register with Google my Business and verify your location
Location, location, location, oh and also being seen when searched for easily. Ever wondered how businesses get a search result for their business that looks like this?
These listings showcase your business and provide a snapshot of all of the essential details a customer may want to know like location, opening hours, website, contact number and reviews.
It’s all configured in your Google My Business Listing. When Google made the decision to slowly transition away from Google+ they moved a lot of features for businesses to the Google My Business platform. New features and options are being made available all the time. For example, some of the things you can post include:
- News and updates
- Promotions (time based with codes)
- Previews of your products
- Offers with images and buttons
Once it is up and running don’t forget to update it and ask for reviews!
You can make a link for your customers to directly launch a review window for your Google Business listing that you can use to make it easy for people to leave feedback for you.
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If you want to know how to implement this pro tip, send us a message on our contact page.
Step 4 – Maintain your Google touch points and make use of new features!
It sounds obvious, but we know running a business and servicing customers often gets in the way of housekeeping. It pays to keep on top of these tools because they are your essential link to Google and ultimately your customers.
Set reminders, or delegate it to a staff member or your digital provider.
2. Check Your On page (website) Content
While there is no hard and fast rule with keyword density given the ever changing nature of search engines, a lot of research from various companies such as HubSpot and Moz does give us a good amount to go on. We have a blog here on content marketing that covers off the keyword assignment side of things, meaning how to be exact about what each individual URL is targeting in SEO terms, so we recommend you read that and assign keywords first, but long story short you should be aiming for minimum 800 words worth of content per page wherever this is possible and once you have this done:
Requirements are that you include the main keyword 3 times, and each secondary keyword 1-2 times each. All of these instances are per 800 words, however once you reach the second instance of 800 words this can be less (1-2 instances of the main keyword and 1 instance of each related keyword). Beyond this try to use your best judgement so long as you don’t go over these recommendations.
How to naturally fit keywords into copy
It is not always possible make a keyword fit naturally if it’s something along the lines of “property east burpengary”. In instances like this it is okay to use terms like “property in east burpengary” or “property around east burpengary”.
A good way to check that this is the right approach is to do a quick Google search of the keyword you’re planning to supplant the original with to see if the search results are wildly different. If so then you may need to try a different variation or go back to the drawing board on how to include the original. But if the search results are largely the same or identical then you’re safe to use this variation.
Speaking in general terms, people don’t tend to use the same word over and over again when speaking about a particular topic, so having a main keyword and two related keywords should make it relatively easy to write naturally.
3. Maintain Your Metadata
Almost all metadata should be editable via your CMS (Content Management System), meaning Wordpress, SquareSpace, etc. Usually, these fields are clearly marked, however you may need to ask your web company for help in locating them in your particular CMS if you’re having trouble. It’s not always possible depending on your platform, but the vast majority do offer the ability to manually enter the details.
These are the tags which dictate both what you see in the tab at the top of your browser for the page you’re currently viewing along with what will appear as the title of your search result when you do show up in search engines.
These are to be no longer than 70 characters to avoid being truncated in search results (which is frowned upon by search engines). An example of best practice titles would be: “keyword – business name”. Short and to the point is fine with Title Tags.
It is best if the Title Tag can contain the main keyword, however related keywords are acceptable if this proves difficult.
Meta descriptions appear nowhere onsite, but they do appear below your title tag in search results. While they do not directly affect your rankings purely by containing keywords, they do affect rankings in that they can affect your CTR (Click Through Rate), meaning the percentage of people who click on your listing when it is presented to them. When you include the keyword in the description, it is bolded in search results, which reassures users that you are offering the information they seek.
Meta Descriptions should be no longer than 160 characters and no shorter than 100 characters.
URL’s should always contain either the main keyword (which is preferable) or one of the related keywords. For instance “businessname.com.au/blog/xkeyword”. It’s also important that URL’s reflect the navigation path you have taken, as this example shows (homepage, to blog, to “xkeyword”).
Headings do not have a particular character length requirement, however it is preferable that the H1 heading tag contains one of the related keywords. The main keyword is acceptable, however research has recently shown related keywords to be more effective. H2 tags are best if they contain the main keyword. This does not have to be every H2 tag, but the first instance of it would be best.
It’s important to note that the way some CMS’ present H Tags makes it look as though they serve a design purpose, such as in Wordpress where you edit them with a drop down menu that automatically changes the size of the heading you’re trying to edit. However these tags actually serve a structural purpose and inform search engines how the information flows. For this reason H tags should always run in numerical order wherever possible.
Both the image and alt tags on an image should contain either the main or related keywords. Usually you can edit these when uploading images to the CMS. Again be sure to ask your web company if you have trouble finding these fields.
4. General SEO Guidelines
All of the above is a “rough guideline”. It’s generally understood by search engines that not everything within these rules can be adhered to 100% of the time. However, it’s imperative that they not be ignored. This advice has been established in line with best SEO Content Marketing practice as implemented by many of the world’s leading “rankers” along with Research & Development conducted by authorities on the subject such as Moz.com, HubSpot, Content Marketing World & many others. Whilst it might not always seem intuitive, this is because Google has not yet mastered their understanding of “natural human language” despite having made a large amount of progress in the field. They are simply trying to provide their customers with the best possible results utilising the best possible methods according to the technology as it currently stands.
As a last (and very important) note: Duplication is to be avoided wherever possible. Whilst quotations are very likely to be taken into account by search engines (in instances where you might quote a previous page or blog or statement from your industry), this doesn’t change the fact that unique content is valued above all else. Search engines are very focused on providing unique, informative, relevant content to end users. This means that the more unique content a website can provide, the better. Be sure to use tools such as (matt can you please advise your favourite tool here) to make sure that you are not unintentionally plagiarising anyone else’s content.
There is a lot more to SEO as we’ve covered and will continue to cover in detail, but if you follow the above guidelines then you should be in good stead when it comes time to engage a professional and take your SEO to the next level. And as we said, it’s not impossible that you might see results purely through implementing this kind of best practice, but assessing your level of competition is a blog for another time!
If you need help navigating any of these SEO fundamentals feel free to get in touch.