SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization which is the process of adjusting your website to rank higher in search engine queries. It’s common for people to feel intimidated by SEO and rightly so; SEO can be tricky! It’s constantly evolving as Google and other search engines change their algorithms (calculations and criteria) for online visibility. However, there are a few basic SEO tricks you can do yourself to help bring more traffic to your website and increase your opportunity to gain new clients!
Why is SEO important?
As we’ve mentioned, SEO is about optimizing the visibility of your website to people who search for related topics to your business. Having a strong SEO strategy makes the difference between ranking on the first page or seventh, however, ranking high on search engine results pages (SERPs) isn’t the only crucial objective your business should have its eye on.
SEO can feel a lot like a moving target as search engines (mainly Google, as this is the most popular one) are continuously changing their algorithms, but this isn’t because Google is deliberately trying to make SEO harder for businesses. Their objective is to provide quality answers to their searchers' questions! This is why creating relevant and quality content is just as important as on-page SEO. The good news is that this makes your SEO strategy more focused on sharing what you do best, instead of fitting your content into a box to fit search criteria. Let's break down some basic best practices for SEO.
The Basics of On-Page SEO
Meta tags are added to the <head> section of your HTML page, this is where things start to sound complicated. Meta tags are a part of your website's code which Google uses to understand information about your site. However, at Advisor Websites, there are some meta tags that you’re able to take advantage of without knowing any code! We have text fields for you to fill in (check out the example below) and we do the coding side of it for you.
A clear and relevant title tag seems obvious but it’s vital to your SEO strategy. Your title tag not only provides Google information about your website but is the first thing searchers will read on the SERPs.
Your title tag is setting up expectations for what information searchers can find on your page, which is why being descriptive and branded is essential for influencing click-through rate.
Best practices for title tags:
- Be specific and descriptive (vague titles will cause to you get lost in the endless amount of search results)
- Branded - add your company name to the beginning or end of your title tag
- Relevancy is more effective than Keyword Stuffing - use keyword variants in place
Meta descriptions are also an important part of your SEO strategy because it a) allows Google to more easily understand what information your page offers, and b) also gives Google an option to use your meta description as your snippet. Google determines if your website text or meta description is a better match for the searcher’s query, and decides which option will appear as your snippet.
Your snippet is the few sentences that appear under your title in search results. You can think of your snippet (and your meta description) as your pitch; your chance to convince the searcher to stop scrolling and click on your page. You can see an example here:
Your meta description is written as a brief summary that communicates what your page has to offer, which is setting up your searchers expectations. There a few best practices you should know for your meta descriptions. First, is that every page of your website should have its own unique and descriptive meta tag (This can be a large task to take on, start by prioritizing the pages that are most important). It’s important to differentiate between pages because we know Google values relevancy. Which is why avoiding vague descriptions and including as much company-specific information in your description will distinguish you in the rankings.
Keywords have become a controversial SEO tactic. They’re still very important, however, not if it takes away from the relevancy of information. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, keyword stuffing is overusing keywords in your content, to the point that the copy may not even read properly. It can be very obvious to the reader that your objective was to bring traffic to your website and not to provide quality information. In fact, Google can actually penalize your website for keyword stuffing and hurt your SEO as it can make your content seem spammy.
For this reason, in the past having a keyword in your meta description was essential, however, today having a description that matches the searchers intent. This not only increases traffic but also increases the quality of traffic coming to your site, as searchers are more likely to stay on your webpage longer (reduce bounce rate) and continue to reference your site in the future.
Best practices for meta descriptions:
Shorter is always better! Google doesn’t specify the ideal length for meta description and there is no character limit, however, it’s important to keep in mind that only the first few sentences will appear as your snippet. If your description is too long, Google will not use it at all. It can be tricky, but your goal is to inform and interest users in the most condensed description possible. Using these best practices can make it easier!
- Meta Description for every page (prioritizing most important pages)
- Differentiate just like your titles - you don't want to blend in and get lost in SERPs
- You can be as specific as pricing and author of works, all information that makes your description specific your company and relevant
- Keywords in your meta description are great, but again, relevancy is key! It not only increases your traffic but the quality of traffic that's coming through your site.
- Descriptive language is more important than keywords if you can use both, great!
Earlier we mentioned that your snippet is a lot like your pitch to searchers. It needs to be informative and enticing to get the viewer to stop scrolling through their search results and click your webpage. Although this is a more advanced SEO tactic, it’s worth mentioning that there is a way to advance your snippet into rich snippets. A rich snippet offers more than just the page title, URL and description. Rich snippets have additional information and features like images, ratings, lists, directions, time, dates, authors, etc (See the example below). Rich snippets often have a substantial impact on click-through rates, which is understandable as they offer more opportunity to answer searchers questions.
An SEO best practice which is often overlooked is optimizing your images. Yes, your images can be used to boost your SEO! Starting with the file name of your image, instead of saving as the sequence number automatically generated for your photo, usually something that looks like DSC3241.jpg. Save the image to something that is relevant and specific to your page (you’re probably catching onto this pattern by now). For example, if the image is your headshot for your Advisors Biography, save the image as your name, role and company. Secondly, before uploading your image, sure that it’s in the correct format, as Google only indexes JPEG, PNG, BMP, GIF, WebP and SVG. Once you’ve uploaded your image, creating an on-page caption is an easy SEO tactic. The more text you can add to your page, the more Google has to index. It’s also important to keep in mind what the visitor might see if the image doesn’t load. The caption can create a better experience in this sense, but another option is using Alt Text. Alt text is essentially an additional caption that will appear if the image is unavailable.
Best practices for optimizing images:
- Save your image with a relevant name.
- Make sure your photo is in the right format (JPEG, PNG, BMP, GIF, WebP and SVG)
- Add an on page caption to your image (this creates more on page text for Google to index)
- Keep in mind, if an image doesn’t load what do customers see (use alt text)
Hopefully, this article was able to break down some of the basics of SEO and make tackling your strategy less intimidating. A good rule of thumb is to always optimize for the sake of creating a greater viewing experience. Throughout all our SEO best practices, the common thread is always keeping elements on your page relevant and high value for search queries and your potential customers. Your goal is to increase traffic, but beyond that, it’s attracting high-quality traffic that has a high chance of converting into new customers.
If you’re still finding SEO a tad intimidating or feel like you may not have time yourself to implement a strategy, Advisor Websites offers a SEO Package that may be your perfect fit!
The SEO Package includes a 30-minute consultation to review your current site, identify optimization opportunities within your site's structure and content, and create an implementation roadmap. The timeline for this package is roughly 2 weeks (10 business days) and includes:
- Register and optimize your Google Business listing
- Configure your Google Maps Identification for high visibility
- Submitting your custom sitemap to Google
- Implement title tags for each individual site page
- Create meta descriptions for site pages to increase visibility
- Build internal page aliases with SEO friendly keywords
- Optimize images and additional content to decrease page loading time
- Integration with social media platforms to automate publishing to those accounts
Analytics & Reporting
- Creating a Google Analytics account to collect your specific site data
- Configuring Google Analytics with custom reports to identify trends
- Identifying key metrics to analyze results
- A customized editorial calendar to simplify publishing dates and times
If you’re interested in learning more about our SEO Package, click here for our Website Add-Ons Page.