Guest Post, Author Martin Bailey: Tips to Boost Your SEO

An Introduction to SEO

If you’re a blogger or own any kind of website, then you’ll already know the importance of Search Engine Optimization, which is the process of affecting the online visibility of a website or page in a web search engine’s organic results. Basically, improving your SEO ranking is key to generating more traffic to your site, so if your site isn’t just a hobby, then its advisable you work on it!

About the Author, Martin Bailey

This guest post has been written by Martin Bailey, an established author who has generously allowed me exclusive content: his tips on how to boost SEO. Martin shares his knowledge about both marketing and tech through his own website and various dedicated books such as The Useful Book of Gadgets, Gizmos and AppsWithout any further ado.. I introduce Martin’s article, which I’m sure you’ll find extremely helpful!

seo_gtmetrix_screenshot

Tips to Boost Your SEO

There are many companies that charge a small fortune to get your company listed higher in the search engine rankings, but this is something that anyone with basic HTML knowledge can do themselves. Furthermore, if you have a website built with a content management system then you can do most of it without additional assistance. So what are the key issues to consider?

Optimise per page, not per site

How many times have you done a search and landed on a page of a website that is not the home page? You need to get into the mindset that you are optimising a specific page for a target audience, not just the overall website. For example, if you sell sporting goods you may have a section on golf, and pages dedicated to clubs, clothing, tees etc. Each of those pages should be optimised only for the products on them – that way people are more likely to land on the page that they are interested in.

Content is king

Make sure that you have engaging content. If your website consists of about 5 pages, all with pictures and limited text, then you don’t have anything of value for search engines to find. Ensure that your products/services pages include relevant content, breaking it down into sub-pages if relevant. Another great way of generating content is to write case studies of existing customers. Not only do these add valuable content to your site, but they can also be used as press releases for submission to magazines. Upload product brochures and technical information as well, if relevant, as search engines can also read inside most PDFs. Google likes fresh content, so by regularly adding new and unique pages to your site you are increasing the keywords that you are likely to be found against.

Titles and meta tags

Every page has a title, which appears in the bar at the top of the web browser. This is very important in telling both users and search engines what that page is about. Keep this down to 5-8 words, and put more important keywords closer to the front. Avoid using what is known as ‘stop’ words or characters, such as and, – , & etc.

Meta tags are also a factor, although not as important as they were ten years ago. There are two main Meta tags – keywords and description. Keywords are no longer considered important by Google and only serve to let your competitors see what keywords you are optimising for. The description tag should be a one or two line description of the page contents. These would appear within the <HEAD> section and would be unique to each page.

They would generally look something like this:

<meta name=”description” content=”A range of golf clubs, including putters, wood, wedge and iron.” />

File names and hyperlinks

When you save a file – be it a web page or image – always add in a relevant keyword. If the page is about golf clubs don’t call it product1.htm – call it golf-clubs.htm. Any images on the page should have relevant keywords in as well. If you sell consumer products then it is also a good idea to add in product codes e.g. pt5412_golf_club_putter.jpg would be better than image1.jpg. As internet users are becoming more ‘net-savvy’ they will now often search for a specific product code.

When linking to other pages on the site ensure that the text within the hyperlink is relevant. So, if you’ve done your job right so far the home page will have the words Golf Clubs as a hyperlink through to a page called golf-clubs.htm, which in turn has images with filenames relating to golf clubs.

Image ALT tags

Every image on your page should have ‘alternative’ text, which is displayed initially as the page is loading or if the user has disabled the loading of images, perhaps if they are on a slow connection. Search engines also use this text to identify page content, so again make sure that you put text relevant to the image. The HTML for an image would look something like this:

<img src=”/images/golf-clubs.jpg” alt=”Golf Clubs” />

fullsizeoutput_af0.jpegHeaders

In HTML there are six ‘header’ tags – <H1> to <h6>. These are used to break down and structure your content. The top title of your page should have a H1 tag, and this tag should only be used once. Then, subtitles would have H2 tags and so forth.  Word processors such as Microsoft Word give you the ability to apply these styles automatically. There is a further benefit (in terms of design styling) in that you can specify the font, colour and size of each header tag in the website’s style sheet – you specify this only once and every page will confirm to the style. This not only makes your HTML code cleaner but allows you to make site-wide design changes by just amending the style sheet. A good content management system such as WordPress or Joomla will take care of this for you.

seo_header_tags

Keep ‘em lean to keep Google keen

Google is placing more importance on page loading time, especially for mobile devices, so spending time to ensure that your pages are optimised for speed is beneficial. It gives your site visitors a better experience and as a direct result Google is more likely to favour your pages. There is also less impact on your server, which is important for busy sites. I could dedicate several articles on the various processes that you could go through to make your site faster, but the key areas are:

  • Ensure that GZIP compression is enabled on your web server – this can often reduce the file size of HTML, JavaScript and CSS pages by 80%. The methods of enabling this will differ depending on whether you are running a Windows or Linux server, and what scripting language your website is written with (e.g. PHP, ASP, ColdFusion etc)
  • Optimise all of your images to make sure that you are using the best file format for each image – JPG is best for images, while GIF is better for icons. PNG can also be useful if you need a transparent background
  • If you build the site yourself, use CSS instead of images where possible. For example, don’t use a background box image when you can draw a box with CSS and put a border/shading around it. Again, a CMS will take care of this
  • Combine CSS and JavaScript objects into as few files as possible. Think about your current home page – in additional to the HTML page itself how many other files are you having to call in order to display it? Try to keep the overall ‘object’ count to around 20
  • Check your HTML and CSS for redundant code. If yours is a website that has been developed for some time you may be surprised by the amount of code that has simply been remarked out – the web browser won’t render the content but the user still has to download it before the page displays.

There are a variety of website speed checkers, such as gtmetrix.com, which will grade your site and tell you explicitly how you can improve it.

Test for code accuracy

Use the free W3C HTML and CSS code validators to check your site for accuracy. Google states that they like accurately coded sites because they are more likely to display correctly across different browsers. In addition to this do your own testing with IE, Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Opera, and, if possible, across mobile devices. Quite often where one browser is forgiving of a minor code error it can cause considerable display issues in another browser. Google also provide many tools for checking the quality of your site – check out their Webmaster tools to get an idea of how they see your site and any problems that they’ve found.

Get linked

Although this appears at the bottom of the article do not underestimate its importance. Building a content rich, accurately coded and optimised website is only half the battle. Getting people to find it is the other half, and this is where inbound links come in. A good place to start is your competitors. Find out who is linking to them by typing link: followed by their URL into Google. There are various online tools such as WEBCEO or SEMRush (most of which are paid-for with free trials) that will also trawl competitors’ links for you. The best places, however, are the ones relevant to your industry – news sites and online forums. Ensure that you submit press releases to all relevant magazines and website and visit industry forums so that you can provide answers to questions, each of which can have a valuable link back to your site. Social networks are playing an increasing part and adding the ability for people to ‘Google +1’ or ‘Like’ you on Facebook can also be beneficial.

Summary

Anyone who says that they can guarantee you first page on Google is most probably lying, as Google do not publish specific information on how their results are ranked, and therefore it can only be guesswork on their part. You can also be penalised for what is known as ‘black hat SEO’, such as extremely small text, keyword stuffing or white text on a white background.

A good Google ranking does not happen overnight, but by applying the above to your website you stand a good change of receiving more quality traffic directly to individual pages. Remember – give people what they want and they will come back for more.

56 thoughts on “Guest Post, Author Martin Bailey: Tips to Boost Your SEO

  1. Even though I don’t really focus on my SEO due to privacy reasons, it’s important to up your SEO game if you want to expand! I totally agree about content being king. What’s the point of having everything prepped up if the content isn’t all that great? Thanks for these great tips ♥

    Nancy ♥ exquisitely.me

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow, what a thorough and informative post! Thank you so much for sharing this! SEO is such an important aspect of blogging in terms of making sure you’re content is seen! I found this so helpful! I’m definitely taking a lot away from this post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There are a lot of little tweaks that you can do to a page to optimise it. Quite often, you can publish a page and, if done correctly, it can be on the first page of Google within a few days for a chosen key phrase. Images and file names do play an important part in that.

      Like

    1. Yes, a lot of this is down to methodology. If you are thinking about SEO from the start and apply your keywords to titles, bold text, images and filenames, then the rest of it will fall into place and the process becomes easier.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow, this is so informative and I learned quite a lot! I’m going to make sure I add Alt text to my images from now on, I just inserted them into the post without doing anything else. I need to bookmark this page for reading again in the future. Thanks Martin & Sophie! ☺️ xx

    Bexa | http://www.hellobexa.com

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What an interesting post. I really like the suggestion of posting case studies and PDFs – not so much for my blog but it’s something I can offer my private social media clients. And the bit about inbound links was useful too. Great guest post, Sophie, thank you for sharing! x

    Lisa | http://www.lisasnotebook.com

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This post was super helpful and I’m sure anyone with a website of any kind will find it useful for boosting their SEO 🙂 I didn’t know about any of these when I first started blogging but over the last year or so I’ve been putting a lot more effort into it all and have really seen a difference! x x
    Ellis // http://www.elliswoolley.co.uk

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was the same when I first started! You get to learn so much, and its all more complicated than you’d first think isn’t it! Making the effort with it does make such a difference though, I’ve found that too! x

      Like

      1. There are some elements of SEO that are complex, admittedly. However, if you are using something like WordPress or Joomla then you are halfway there, as any decent CMS will be generating good, solid HTML, and providing you with a navigation framework that Google will understand. If the only thing that you do from there is write a good title for your page, and ensuring that you use the keywords you want the page to be found within the title and main body of the article then you’re halfway there. It’s all the other little tweaks like image alt tags, filenames, etc. that’ll push you just that little bit above everyone else that isn’t doing it…

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Really good post, love a guest post! I have to say, when I first started blogging I had no idea what SEO was and I was quite struggling at first. Now it completely changed my blogging game and I’m so grateful😊🙌🏻

    Liked by 1 person

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