Search engine optimisation (SEO) is one of the most talked about topics by people who run websites. That’s no surprise, seeing as it is so important in helping your website rank well in search engine results. If SEO is something on your mind right now, then here are some of the most common questions we get asked about it – and the answers.
1. What’s the easiest thing to do to improve my ranking?
Some aspects of SEO can be technically challenging while others are time-consuming. If you are looking for something that’s quite simple to do but which can have a significant impact on how well your site ranks, then it is probably signing up with Google My Business. Google My Business is, essentially, a free business listing with Google. The information you provide to Google when you register will help your site perform better in relevant searches and enable users to find out more about the products and services you offer. It also helps people local to your business find you, even if you only trade online.
2. What are sitemaps and should I create one?
There are two kinds of sitemap. HTML sitemaps you create yourself for the benefit of your customers. They are web pages designed for navigation purposes and contain a list of links to your posts and pages.
The others are XML sitemaps which are often generated automatically by your website software or by the use of a plugin. These contain a list of links to your entire website: categories, posts, pages, products, images and other media. Their purpose is to help search engines discover everything on your site so that it can be indexed. Unless it is indexed by the search engine, it won’t turn up in search results and so cannot be found by users.
Ideally, you should create a Google Search Console account for your website and submit your sitemap.xml file to it. This way, you can direct Google to search all your site and find all of your content.
3. My business information rarely changes, do I still need to add new content to my website?
Many small businesses rarely need to update the information on their website because the services they offer don’t change. In contrast, search engines prefer to offer their users information that is fresh as they consider it to be more relevant. You wouldn’t be happy doing a ‘what’s on in my area?’ search if you were supplied with details of events which had already happened. For this reason, search engines take the dates that pages were published and updated into account when ranking them. If you have old content, you should update it occasionally, even if it’s only minimal or cosmetic. Even better, create a blog for your website so that new and genuinely fresh content is regularly being added.
4. How important are keywords and where do I use them?
Keywords still remain an important element of SEO though search engine algorithms have become so sophisticated they can accurately understand the topic and relevancy of your content without having to rely solely on them.
The keywords you do use should include the names of any products you sell, the services you offer and if you are a local business, the locations in which you operate. Terms like ‘decorator Leeds’, ‘dog walking Bristol’, ‘furniture restorer’, etc., are typical of the keywords that a business might choose to focus on.
Ideally, each page should have a different keyword focus and the keywords should be used in the page title, headings and subheadings, main text, image alt-text and meta descriptions. However, do not saturate your content with the same keywords as this can have a negative impact on SEO. Overall, look to have a maximum keyword density of around 1% to 2%.
5. How important are backlinks and what’s the best way to get them?
Backlinks from high ranking, reputable websites can have a massive impact on your SEO as they are seen as improving your website’s domain authority. If you write an article on something and a university or the BBC links to it, it is a sign that what you have written is of high quality and this makes it appealing to search engines. Similarly, if one of your products is so good that it gets linked to by a major newspaper, the same can happen. The only way to get these types of backlinks is to earn them – either through the quality of your content or the work of your business.
Do be careful, however; if you deliberately try to get lots of backlinks to trick search engines into thinking you are a high-quality site, e.g. by link farming, link swapping or paying for other sites to link to you, you will be penalised and your site may be removed from search engine results completely.
6. What are SSL certificates and do they help with SEO?
An SSL certificate is used to encrypt information sent by your customers to your website. Doing this prevents hackers from stealing credit card numbers, etc., when customers pay for goods. When you have an SSL certificate, search engines label your site as secure on web browsers. This form of commendation is useful as it increases the likelihood that customers will buy from you.
From an SEO perspective, SSL certificates can be very beneficial. Search engines want to protect their users and would much rather provide them with a list of secure websites than those considered not secure. A site with an SSL certificate, therefore, is far more likely to rank better than a site without one.
While these may not have been the questions you expected to see, they are some of the most frequently asked. Hopefully, they may have addressed some of the SEO issues you have been considering. If you are looking for SEO friendly hosting check out our range of affordable hosting solutions.