SEO – What to Do and What to Avoid
Search engine optimisation is a key aspect of any website. Needless to say, there is a good way and a bad way of doing SEO. We’ll discuss the two types of SEO, top methods of SEO and how they impact your search engine ranking, and what to avoid when it comes to SEO.
Black Hat SEO
Black hat SEO is the use of aggressive and exploitative SEO strategies. Black hat strategies focus on pleasing the search engine crawler and disregards the user. Black hat SEO strategies are usually against search engine guidelines and as a result a webpage or entire website can be banned from a search engine. Some of these strategies can be done accidentally and without malicious intent, such as keyword stuffing, while others are done on purpose by people who are looking for quick financial return. These strategies include doorway pages, page-swapping and invisible text.
White Hat SEO
White hat SEO is the opposite of black hat. It’s the use of legal and ethical SEO strategies which remain in the guidelines of search engines. This is the type of SEO you want. Examples of white hat SEO strategies include easy navigation, descriptive and keyword-rich meta tags, fast loading times and mobile compatibility. As Yoast says: “just make an awesome website!” You can rank well in search engines just by creating a good website and avoiding black hat tricks. High-quality content, user experience, web security and accessibility should all be priorities when designing a website even without any SEO concerns. This way of thinking is called holistic SEO.
What to Avoid
- Choosing The Wrong Keywords
A simple and very common mistake when it comes to SEO is choosing the wrong keywords. It is important to understand what a focus keyword is not what you use to define your product/content, but it is what your audience will be using to find your product/content. Therefore, choosing the right keywords can take a lot of research and consist more of simply describing your product/content.
- Keyword Stuffing
The more you use your keywords in your content, the higher you’ll rank in search engines, right? This isn’t true in a lot of cases and is actually a black-hat strategy when done intentionally. Keyword stuffing is over-using your keywords in a way to increase your search engine ranking. If you go overboard, your content can be registered as spam, which will actually hurt your SEO instead of helping it.
- Content Doesn’t Compliment Keywords
On the other hand of keyword stuffing, you should be careful not to have a disconnection between your chosen keywords and your content. As mentioned before, having your keywords mentioned in your content is great for SEO – as long as you don’t go overboard. It is important to get the balance right.
- Content Quality
The quality of your content is important when search engines rank your website. If there is too little content your SEO will suffer. Duplicate/copied content will also have negative impacts on your SEO. This means content must be original and meaningful to score high with search engines.
- Lack of Links
The importance of links to SEO cannot be stressed enough. The only way to get your website indexed by a search engine in the first place is through an external link. Search engine crawlers rank the importance of your webpages by how many times it is externally linked. The more external links, the importance, the higher the ranking. It is also important to ensure these links have quality. Avoid things such as “Click here! [link]” as this does not unlock the full SEO potential of the link. The anchor text can be used to signify to the reader and search engine crawlers what the link is about, which helps SEO. Internal linking should also be used as it helps search engine crawlers understand the structure of the website. Having a clean site structure, and allowing the crawler to understand this structure, is incredibly helpful for SEO. However, just like keywords, it is important you do not go overboard with internal linking.
- Lack of Mobile Compatibility
As of 2015, over 50% of Google surfing was done on a mobile device. This is an incredibly high figure and has no doubt increased over the last three years. It is so important that Google has released two updates since 2015 focusing on improving their search engine rankings of mobile-friendly websites. Even if you have a separate website for mobiles, your desktop version will still be ranked by how mobile-compatible it is. It is also important to remember compatibility for other things, such as different browsers.
- Not Using Social Media
Social media is such a huge part of external linking that it gets its own section on this list. Successful digital and social media marketing can prove invaluable to SEO. As your content is shared, that means external links are being created and boosting SEO and it’s not even being done by you! This makes search engine crawlers think of your content as more important as it is being shared so much across social media channels. It is a common mistake as not many people would associate social media with search engine optimisation.
What to Do
- Choosing The Right Keywords
Choosing the right keywords can become a lot more complex than it sounds. Businesses can do a lot of research before finally choosing their keywords. Useful research can include researching competition and what types of keywords your audience use. Competition can be researched by simply Googling your keyword and see what type of results come on, how many results are found etc. To find out what keywords are used by your audience, you can use Google Ngram. With this, you can compare your keyword and a set of alternative keywords to see which ones are used the most. An example of a comparison can be “organic tea” and “natural tea”.
When it comes to making content suitable for SEO, there are three main points: make sure your content is original, readable and findable. When you use your keywords in your content you should make sure they are easy to read, they are in different locations of the content and represent around 1-2% of your content. Remember not to go overboard with inserting your keywords into your content!
- Use Links
Using links is great for SEO. Internal links make it easier for your readers to navigate your website for related content and allows search engine crawlers to map out your site navigation, which improves SEO. Using external links, such as sharing your content on social media, makes your content look more important to these crawlers. The more important they think it is, the higher it will rank in search engines.
- Make Sure Your Website is Mobile Compatible
As mentioned earlier, search engines such as Google are starting to put a huge emphasis on mobile compatibility when displaying search results. Your website and webpages should be as compatible as possible for mobile users, even if you have a separate website for mobile users.
- Use Schema Markup Code
Schema markup is code which can be added to the HTML of your webpage to allow search engines to display extra information in their result snippets. These are called “rich snippets” and allows you to stand out from the rest of the results and easily catch people’s attention. Rich snippets can be used to display extra information such as reviews, product cost etc. Schema markup is incredibly useful and great at grabbing people’s attention as their eyes scroll through the search engine results.
- Use Yoast
Yoast is a fantastic SEO plugin for WordPress websites which is both free and premium. Yoast is used to manage focus keywords, set meta-descriptions, result titles and preview the result snippet. Yoast also offers a readability and keyword analysis of your content, suggests keywords, suggests internal links and has a redirect manager.
Blue Whale Media
Here at Blue Whale Media, we ensure your SEO is operating at its maximum potential, so your audience can quickly and easily find you! Whether it’s writing content which compliments the keywords, researching keywords or auditing your website, we cover all things SEO!
For all your SEO and other web design needs, don’t hesitate to give Blue Whale Media a call on 01925 552050!