12 SEO Tips to Help You in 2019
SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is an ever-changing field.
Industry-leading SEO publication and software provider, Moz, says that Google changes its algorithm between 500-600 times per year. Some of these changes are minor, some much more significant (like Panda and Penguin). Moz has a great article that lists the significant algorithm changes that have affected search results the most since 2000. It’s well worth checking out (once you’ve finished reading this, of course!): Google Algorithm Change History
However, there are certain fundamentals of SEO that endure and stand the test of time. The reason they do is that they ultimately support the goal of providing a great user experience and the most relevant results for a searchers query. There are many, many SEO techniques, and it’s become increasingly difficult to determine which ones you should focus on and which you can ignore.
For example: Does on-page SEO still work? Is link building dead? How do you write a title tag that will get rankings and click-through from the search engines? How much content do you need to write? How do you measure SEO performance effectively?
On and on it goes… The list is virtually endless.
Here’s twelve actionable SEO tips that will get you heading in the right direction:
SEO takes time. It’s not a quick win. You don’t get instant gratification from SEO. It’s like a tender plant you need to nurture and love that blossoms into a beautiful flower that brings joy, happiness and light. You need to talk to it, feed it and tend to it. It won’t happen overnight. But with the right amount of care, attention and patience your SEO will give back to you and repay the hard work you’ve put in. It’s a beautiful thing.
Make sure your website is fast. Speed is a major factor for ranking in the search engines. Get rid of anything that slows your site down. You can find out your current performance (and advice to fix issues) here: Google Speed Test and GT Metrix.
Make sure you’re targeting the right kinds of keywords. Your SEO campaign needs to start with Keyword Research. Why? Because if you don’t work out what people are actually searching for, you’ll be relying on guesswork (rather than facts and data), to inform your decisions. There are lots of tools out there you can use for this. We like Google Keyword Planning Tool and SEMRush.
Content, Content, Content! But write for people first, Google second. The days of cramming keywords into content are well behind us. Google is more than smart enough to suss that one out and realise you’re trying to game the system. Plus, it reads terribly. Instead, figure out topics and areas of interest around the products and services you offer. Your keyword research will help to inform this. Then, elegantly weave them into your content in an unforced, natural way.
Backlinks are still crucial. Backlinks act as recommendations that your site is trustworthy and authoritative in the eyes of the search engines. They are still hugely impactful on your website rankings. Gaining quality backlinks ethically and sustainably is hard. You need to focus on creating content that is so interesting and useful, people will link to it. You also need to build relationships with other websites in your niche so that you can write for them and provide value to their readers.
Write unique Page Titles and Meta Descriptions for each page. Page titles and meta descriptions are shown in the search engine results pages depending on the keyword used. Page titles are an excellent way to tell the search engines what the content of the page is, so try and use your top keyword as early as possible. Titles shouldn’t be any longer than 65 characters. Meta descriptions provide an excellent opportunity to write copy that will encourage CTR from the search results. Meta descriptions should be 155 characters max. Make sure every page on your site has a unique title tag and that your main keyword is included. I would also recommend doing the same for your meta description and H1 tags.
Link out to other websites that have relevant content and support your work. Rand Fishkin, founder of Moz (who I mentioned earlier), says “Linking out sends trackable traffic, it makes your site a more valuable and scalable resource.” When you link out to authority websites in your content, you are backing up what you say by providing proof and third-party validation. It’s the same as how you would reference studies etc. when you were writing essays at school. Don’t be afraid to link out of your website. It will help you. You never know, they may start linking back to your piece too! Only link out to content that gives real value. It’s good SEO practice.
Make sure your URL’s are short and descriptive. If you’re able to with your CMS, use short, descriptive URLs for your pages. They look better, and they’re more easily read by the search engines (and people!) They may also help with rankings if you include relevant keywords. A couple of other tips for this: use hyphens between words as Google can’t read underscores and don’t use CAPITAL LETTERS.
Block search engine spiders from web pages you don’t want them crawling with robots.txt. Banish and cast away Googlebot and the other crawlers from sensitive parts of your site (like admin and cart) by blocking them in your robots.txt file.
Use analytics data to inform your decisions and track performance. Once you’ve agreed on your goals and objectives for SEO, you need to make sure you measure against them. The beauty of digital is that so much is trackable. It’s easy to see what’s working and what’s not, and you should have analytics on your website before you launch any campaigns. We’re fans of Google Analytics and Google Search Console.
Use www or not www…. But don’t have both! You can have https://www.mywebsite.com or https://mywebsite.com but don’t have both versions live at the same time. The search engines will think you have two separate pages and are duplicating your content. Pick your favourite (based on data like traffic and backlinks rather than gut feeling), and 301 redirect the one you don’t want to the one you do.
Use 301 Permanent Redirects for Moved, or Deleted Pages. Always use 301 redirects to point old pages to new ones. It’s like telling the search engines that you’ve moved house and asking them to follow you to the new one (for house read website). It helps the search engines, the users and 301 redirects pass on the full link equity of the old page to the new one.
If you work through these 12 tips, you’ll find your SEO in a much better place than when you started. It’s far from an exhaustive list, but it’s where we start with our clients and build from there. Thanks for reading!
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