The internet is a crowded place.
It’s estimated that globally, we gain 380 new websites every minute, or around 547,200 new sites every 24 hours.
So what does that mean for businesses wanting to be found online? It means there’s lots of competition in search engine results. Even if you think you’re in a small niche; chances are, there’s another site out there looking to drive traffic for the same searches. And when it comes to being invisible online; as the saying goes, the best place to hide a dead body is on page two of the results. To be found organically (via a search engine), you’ll need to be on page one.
So the burning question is – how do I make my site more visible? How do I get to that coveted first page of results? While there are many facets to Search Engine Optimisation, we’re here to show you the top four ways you make your site more visible for the long run.
Optimising for keywords
When your audience types a search into Google, that search is formed on keywords. As such, knowing and optimising for the keywords your audience is searching for is the crucial foundation.
Start by building a profile of your audience segments and considering what topics you think they would be searching for. While you are doing this, consider your site’s navigation and what pages best answer these searches. You’ll want to assign a ‘focus keyword’ as well as 2-3 related keywords for each page. To qualify the keywords you are considering, use a free tool like the Google Ads keyword planner to get estimates of monthly keyword volumes per your location (you’ll need to create a Google Ads account – but you don’t need to advertise to use the tool).
Meta titles and descriptions
Once you’ve built out your keyword list, it’s time to start optimising your site for them! Start by working on meta titles and descriptions for each page – these are the titles and descriptions that appear in search results. Best practice is to place the focus keyword for that page as close to the start of the title and description as possible, and ensure you meet character count limits (60 characters for titles, 155-160 for descriptions).
Optimising on page content
Additionally you’ll want to use the focus keyword and related keywords within each page’s content. Don’t keyword stuff (overly using keywords in an unnatural way), site crawlers are smart and will penalise you, and your readers won’t be too happy either. Best practice is to use your keywords in headings, in the first body paragraph (to establish relevance), in link text, and within the alt text of images (to assist screen readers).
Do all these things, and you’ll be creating a solid foundation for being found!
Growing your backlink profile
The more people that vouch for your site, the more popular it makes you. When another site links back to yours, your site authority increases and in turn, improves your rankings in search results.
Proactively growing your backlink profile is a slow burner, but with effort it can really pay off. Depending on your service niche, you can make some quick wins by submitting your business to relevant niche directories (e.g. if you are a dentist, look for dental directories) – these will help bring authority to your site as they will carry good relevance. While there’s less SEO value in targeting more generic directories (e.g. truelocal.com.au), it’s still worth adding your site to these for any brand awareness they can generate. Be sure to work on the keywords you use in your listings, because these directories are search engines as well.
PR and guest blogging
Next, if you’ve had any big business advancements (e.g. the launch of a new initiative, any wins) seek out the bloggers and writers in your niche and submit this news for PR mentions on their channels. Additionally, seek out opportunities to guest blog on industry sites and be sure to include a link back to your site.
Finally, the best method in the long run is to ensure you are crafting great, evergreen content that is highly readable and shareable. If possible, try to video or imagery to help deliver the content in a more consumable manner. If the content is strong and optimised, it will rank well, and readers may link to it and share, increasing your audience.
While you may not know what structured markup is by its name, you likely have seen sites with structured markup in results pages. These can display as cards with imagery, calendar listings, or a block of text above the standard results that directly answers a question you searched. For this information to display this way, the content that they point to has been marked up using ‘schema’ which is code that helps information display in more helpful ways. While it seems intimidating, in practice it is straightforward and can create powerful results for visibility. Be sure to check out the industry standards and guidelines at schema.org
Continue to optimise
Optimising your site’s visibility isn’t something that you can set and forget – it’s a continual process of testing new things, learning and improving.
To be able to test and improve, you’ll need to make sure that you are tracking how traffic is getting to your site, and how they are interacting with your content. The two crucial tools that we’d recommend using are Google Analytics and Google Search Console. Google Analytics will give you visibility of how users are moving through your site, including your top pages and the pages that they didn’t spend a great deal of time on. Search Console will show you the search queries that were made that your site appeared for, and whether or not someone clicked through. It will also show you the terms you are ranking for and their positions so you can keep track of changes.
Pro tip: check your CTR report so you can see what pages are getting good impressions but may be failing to get clicks. In this case, you’ll want to work on improving the quality of your titles and descriptions to make them more appealing.
There are a large number of factors that impact SEO, and while the above are really just scratching the surface, they will help provide a good foundation for moving you up in the rankings. Remember, it takes time to improve your site’s visibility – if you’re wanting to build awareness overnight, we’d recommend using paid media instead – but by working to SEO best practices, you’ll be able to sustain your traffic and more importantly, get it for free.
Interested in improving your site’s visibility online or have any questions about SEO? Get in touch, we’d be happy to help!