Most people use Google as their preferred search engine, it is estimated that around three quarters of searches are done using Google. Getting your website to retain a prominent position on the search engines is a huge challenge and they know this, with Google in particular, making use of its algorithms to sort the wheat from the chaff – at least that’s the theory! For the most part, it has worked in clearing out the lesser quality sites and has evolved to try to understand what the searcher is looking for, it tries to provide the right answer every time.
It is getting sites ranked highly on the search engines that is the goal of SEO, but there is no one clear path to success, there are many different ways and combination of tactics that will work. This is why there is no guaranteed method and nobody will say ‘this works every time’ because the method they have used might work several times but then not work for the next attempt. For most, it is a case of trial and error, using strategies that have worked in the past and ensuring that content is high quality and is updated on a regular basis. It is a good idea to make sure that any images or videos on your site are properly optimized as well, this can give your site a huge boost so should not be neglected.
Regular maintenance of your website should also be carried out. This is to make sure that there are no broken links, that all images and videos are viewable and that your new content is in the right place. Check the site map so that you can see that all the pages that should be there, are. If you have a blog page, make sure that the individual pieces of content have titles that contain relevant keywords and are descriptive regarding the piece. This is how the search engines find and sort the information on websites so that they can then categorize it and provide it when a search for those particular keywords are searched for.
If you are an expert in your field, make use of this gift, get yourself known as an expert through forums, social media platforms and professional sites. This can give your own website a lot of kudos and will increase the credibility and authority of it. Another benefit of gaining such status, is that other website owners will be delighted to be linked with yours, so choose these carefully so that you are increasing your own site’s authority and not just theirs.
Successful SEO has many threads that must meet and weave together in order to create a strong fabric that does not infringe any rules that the search engines set. The key is finding the threads that work for your site and weaving them together so that you rise up the rankings and stay there.
Perhaps you believe that you already found the easy stuff, the “low-hanging fruit,” as it were: good keywords for your niche, optimized titles and body copy, an XML sitemap. Nevertheless, you can’t seem to break past your competitors in the Google SERPs for your most coveted keywords.
You may not have the time or resources right now to do an expensive site overhaul or to even commit to SEO long-term. You may only want a few simple tweaks that will help move the needle.
Well, look no further. You are in luck, because you won’t need years of SEO training for the following hacks. And these hacks also won’t cost you a lot of time or money to implement. You won’t even need to change significant parts of your site. Intrigued? Then let’s continue.
1. Distribute your home page’s link authority to your most important pages
You’ve probably already ensured that your most important category pages are included in the top nav. But how about including links to your most important products (or the ones that you most want to rank) in the body of the home page? If you don’t have product pages, then feature things like articles and landing pages in the body. Links in the body of a page will typically pass more link authority than navigational links, especially footer links.
Creating clear, prominent links is useful from a user experience standpoint as well, because it ensures people can easily find your best stuff quickly.
2. Stop using such huge images
At least half of the sites I audit have issues with very large images on the home page. Often, designers or content creators don’t consider the file size or resolution of an image before adding it to a page. They won’t reduce an image to the maximum size needed on the page, nor will they save it at an appropriate resolution.
A 600 dpi image that was “resized” to be tiny using the width and height attributes in an IMG tag isn’t merely lazy, it’s an affront to website visitors. A huge image (I’ve seen single images as large as 6 MB on a home page) can substantially slow down the time it takes for the page to load, hurting both your rankings and the user experience (and consequently, the site’s conversion rate).
It is incredibly easy to optimize that image to a more reasonable size and then re-upload it. This is probably the number one “quick hack” for improving your site speed.
Use a tool like WebPageTest to check the file sizes of all the elements on a page. (Or you can use the Developer Tools built into the Chrome browser if you’re a geek like me.) Check your images, and have your designers optimize them. Train the people who create and upload your content to get into the habit of checking image sizes before they publish anything.
3. Check that people aren’t linking to pages that 404
Look for URLs that are returning a 404 on your site and have external links pointed at them. Google Search Console gives you the ability to check the 404 pages on your site and see whether they are being linked to (and from where). If you have a externally linked page which returns a 404, prioritize fixing it ASAP, as you are squandering link authority every minute that remains unfixed. Recovering that link equity and/or traffic is a very easy “quick win.”
To do this in Google Search Console, go to Crawl > Crawl Errors > Not Found and click on each URL returning a 404. Google will usually sort the errors by the most to least important and the most important include the ones with external links. After clicking on a URL, select the “Linked From” tab and it will show you the URLs linking to the page in question. Make sure these 404 URLs are 301 redirected to the next most relevant URL on your site.