5 Things You Aren’t Doing For SEO, Even Though You’ve Read Like A Billion SEO Posts
Man. SEO can seem like a big, dumb technical beast sometimes, huh? Well I’m here to help you out, friend!
If you landed on this post it probably means you’ve researched as much as you can possibly stand but still need easy, actionable steps to help you out with your SEO efforts.
Or maybe you know how important SEO is but this is your first stab at it, and you want to avoid mistakes and get it done right the first time.
OR perhaps you’ve already got a solid SEO strategy in place and just wanna do an audit to tighten up your SEO game.
Whatever the case, I’m excited to share 5 ways you can improve your SEO efforts and start seeing better results.
You aren’t keeping your site “active”, so Google assumes you don’t have up-to-date or relevant information on your website.
So what are some easy ways to keep your site active? You can....
Update your portfolio or add new galleries regularly (and before you give me an eye roll, check out these 6 tips to help you create + easily maintain your portfolio).
Add new products or services on a regular basis, or update the copy on these pages.
On that note, make sure your services are separated into their own pages for extra SEO power 💪🏽
Create landing pages for new "events" you put on throughout the year.
An idea for this is to do a monthly or quarterly challenge about something related to your industry.
Or you could host regular webinars and create a new sign up page on your website for each one.
Just make sure you keep the topics varied enough to avoid "duplicate content", which can hurt your search ranking.
Simply update your current pages on a regular basis.
Update your customer testimonials every month.
Create a resource page that you update regularly (like my free resource library for all things business, marketing, website + design).
Update or add to an existing page on your website. Don’t do this just for the heck of it, though. Make sure your edits and updates give more value. Quality is always going to be what we should aim for.
Or maybe your site is already “active”, but…...
You aren’t indexing your site when you add or update content.
When exactly can you index your site?
When you publish a new blog post.
When you add a new page (like that portfolio project or gallery you finally got around to*wink*).
When you update copy or imagery on any page.
Google will crawl and index the updates on your site eventually, but it can sometimes take weeks for search engine spiders to get to your site.
If you go into your Google Search Console (instructions here for setting this up) you can go to Crawl > Fetch as Google > then put the specific page address in the link field (or leave it blank if you want Google to crawl your home page).
You can have Google fetch the direct page or anything linked directly to it. I was doing my blog in the example below (click or zoom for larger view) so I opted for all direct links to be crawled, too.
Some important things to note:
You can “fetch as Google” up to 500x a month for single URLs and 10x a month for multiple URLs.
Submitting an index is actually just a request - Google may or may not index your site once you submit your request (check here for reasons why your site might not be indexed).
Once your site becomes active in Google’s eyes it will start indexing your site more regularly 🎉
PROBLEM #3 :
You’re not giving your website copy the respect it deserves.
Here are your website copy options:
You can invest money with a professional copywriter..
Or you can invest your time researching and crafting your own copy.
Either way, there’s gotta be some kind of investment on your part. I know time can be hard to come by for some people, and for others the money option might be the hardest part.
Once you know where you stand on the time/money issue you can either:
Start seeking out a baller copywriter
Find a copywriting course you can take
Or simply research as many tips and tricks as possible from free resources + blog posts.
(If you’re going the DIY route I suggest writing out a full list of all the pages on your site then head to Google or Pinterest to look for page-specific tips.)
Your keywords, page + site descriptions, page titles, on-page headers and alt text aren’t telling a story about the content of your site.
I see a lot of people reading SEO articles then Frankensteining the separate pieces together, without really thinking about how it all ties together from a holistic point of view (**raises a guilty hand**). No shame here, guys.
What I’d like to present to you is a way to use SEO elements like keywords, page descriptions, page titles and on-page headers to tell a story about your website and business...
How can we do this?
Here's one simple strategy:
First, think about 2-5 broad "umbrella" keywords you wanna start getting traffic for. Let’s call these your “top level words”.
These should be related to your industry, services, products and potentially your location. For me these might include: graphic design, brand design, Squarespace websites and Minneapolis.
On your site (Squarespace), you can use these top level keywords inside of your site wide SEO description (Settings > SEO).
Next you’ll break those down into more specific keywords. Let’s call these your “mid-level words”.
My mid-level keywords might include: brand identity, design systems, logo design, Minneapolis graphic designer, Squarespace website design, Squarespace customization, CSS customizations, Squarespace SEO, Squarespace expert and website strategy. These are all ways I can be a little more descriptive about what I do at MBD.
You’ll use your mid-level keywords to title your pages and write page descriptions (click the gear icon next to the page you wanna edit to access it's page settings + update these things). Mid-level words could also be helpful for crafting on-page headers and alt text.
Bonus: You can use these words for categories/tags to help you organize blog posts, events, products and gallery images - which can also cue what kind of content is on your website when search bots crawl your site.
So far we’ve got a great start to forming the base of your website’s story. However you might be like me and have just a bit more going on with your business.
Since I also help my clients and readers with business and marketing systems via my blog and free resource library (and because each of my sub-topics from above have so many moving parts to them) I need to flesh out keywords that will be relevant to all parts of my website. Let’s call these “supplemental keywords”.
Some of these supplemental keywords might include: marketing strategy, business organization, business tools, bookkeeping systems, contracts for creatives, social media marketing, content marketing, email marketing, brand foundation, copywriting tips, commerce, online shops, etc.
These supplemental words are great to use for alt text, tags (blog posts, galleries, products, etc) and on-page headers.
As you can see, the more you dive into each segment of your business the more complete your website story becomes.
Here’s how these different elements look inside of Squarespace:
Site-wide SEO description - This is what will show up as a general description for your site in search engine results.
(click or zoom for larger view)
Page descriptions (or meta description) - This is what shows up when a specific page pops up in search results. The most important thing here is to craft descriptions that entice searchers to click through to your site. Because honestly....you can show up in search engine results, but what good is it if people just gloss over your site? If you need a place to start, I love these tips from Weidert on crafting great meta descriptions.
Page titles - This is the text that shows up in your browser tabs. Your page titles should be simple and descriptive of the page you’re on, and should avoid being similar to other pages on your site if at all possible.
URL slugs - This is what shows up in the URL box at the top of your website. Keep URL slugs clean + straightforward for easier indexing. For example, your about page should simply be “/about”; your contact page should be “/contact”; and your blog should simply be “/blog” (even if you have a crafty name for your blog).
(click or zoom for larger view)
On-page headers - Organized page headers make for a better user experience, but they also help search engines crawl your site quickly and organize your website content. The general rule is you only want one H1 heading on each page (this signals the most important, over-arching theme of the page), a few H2 headings (think of these as your headings for different sections on a page) and H3 headers can be used within the page sections (think of these as sub-headings).
(click or zoom for larger view)
Alt text (aka “filename”) - Since search bots can’t “read” images (yet!), you can give context to the image by including a descriptive filename (this does not need to include a file extension like .jpg or .png). Make sure you avoid keyword stuffing here, since search engines consider this bad SEO practice and will dock you for it.
Bonus tip - To save time, think about what each image’s alt text will be before uploading the image to Squarespace, and name your file as that instead of something nondescrip like “Photo123.jpg”. Squarespace will auto-fill the Filename box with that name then you can simply delete the file extension (.jpeg, .png, etc) and save. BOOM.
(click or zoom for larger view)
Please note: After you update any of the search-engine stuff (like SEO description, page titles + page descriptions), know that these won’t show up in search engines immediately. You can manually submit an index request (refer to #2 above for instructions) after you complete all of these updates, which will queue your site to be indexed.
You haven’t made a solid effort to build up backlinks.
Plain and simple, the more external places you have linking to your site the better your search ranking will be (quality backlinks are a great tool to let search engines know that your content is relevant/important to people).
Guys, this is a super solid place to invest your time.
Here are some ideas for how to build up backlinks to your site:
Make content on your website easy to share on social media so your site visitors can let their audience know about your fun content/services/products.
Create a long graphic about your newsletter opt-in, products and/or services and share on Pinterest. Email your business friends and ask them to help you share (attach your graphics to the email + consider including a few copy/paste captions that they can use - you’ll wanna make it as easy as possible for your friends)!
Write a blog post that includes multiple contributors (like I did with 40+ Squarespace Tips + Tricks from 10 Squarespace Experts). Your contributors will most likely share the post with their audiences on social media, and some might even include a mini post on their blogs that point to the full post on your site.
Host a giveaway where part of the entry requirement is to share an image on Pinterest that links back to your website.
Seek out podcast ventures where the podcaster shares “show notes” that include a link to your website. It’d be especially cool to see if the podcaster will let you plug one of your opt-ins or products (create a URL that will be easy for listeners to remember in case they aren’t at their computers when they hear about it) and see if you can include the product/opt-in link in the show notes, too.
Donate a product or service to someone with a large audience in exchange for a feature or review. You’ll want to make sure the person/company featuring you is super quality and has an audience that makes sense for your business.
Pitch a feature on a super big website or submit your work for an industry-related award on a larger site.
Write a great article with lots of value for a larger site’s readers. This will make your website look credible AF to search engines (just make sure you’re able to leave a link to your site in a bio link at the end of the post).
Comment on articles from blogs with a lot of traffic. I’ve gotten all kinds of accidental traffic from doing this. What’s even better is if it’s a high-performing blog post that you comment on. Those posts will most likely continue to get new traffic, which means people are still digging through the comments months (and sometimes years) after it’s posted.
It’s really important to remember that improving your search engine ranking and getting more organic traffic to your site takes time. And if you aren’t tracking your analytics, start doing it, friend. Otherwise how will you know if your SEO efforts are actually working?
PS - Wanna do one more quick thing to make sure you’re rocking your SEO? Go here, enter in your website (make sure to start it with https:// if your site is secure, and http:// if its not - so mine would be https://mybilliedesigns.com) and hit “run test” to see how mobile-friendly your website is. Once you get your results you can see what areas of your site could use improving, and if you get the all clear make sure you hit “Submit to Google” for quicker indexing :)
PPS - If your audience is 35+ years old (more specifically, if they fall between the ages of 55-64) and tend to have a larger income ($100K+), you should definitely set your site up with Bing Webmaster Tools since that search engine is growing in popularity with that demographic (source)