March 11, 2013 8.00 am This story is over 134 months old

5 techniques to improve your SEO and website traffic

Crash course: To key to SEO success is to have a plan of action, and Phil Kelsey shares his experience with five steps you can implement to improve your business website.

Many websites seem to fall short of consistency and focus when it comes to their search engine optimisation (SEO) techniques, regardless of business size and industry. Why should you care about this? A significant proportion of traffic comes to your website through search referrals, most likely from Google, which covers almost 90% of the UK market. So any improvements you will make to your SEO will help your website rank better in search results, bringing more people to your website, all potential customers or people interested in what you do.

The key to SEO success is to have a plan of action, so I’ve put together five steps you can implement for your business website that, if followed consistently, will bring results. I’m also looking to make sure you have a better understanding of the things that you can do in-house to improve the performance of your website.

1. Don’t guess, do your keyword research

To improve your website traffic, you need to help search engines understand what your web pages are relevant for. For this, we use keywords, which are the short string of words (maybe one, two, three words) that a person types into the search box of a search engine. For example, if you look for a web design company you may type “web design Lincoln” into Google, and that phrase is the keyword. By using Google’s free Keyword Tool you can get an idea of what people are searching for within your niche.

Search engines give users two kinds of results: organic, results that most closely match the search query, also known as natural results; and paid results, which usually appear highlighted at the top of the page. Depending on the keyword, around 50% of users click the first organic result of a search, with the rest split between the paid results and other natural results.

You’re looking for the search terms that are less competitive but have respectable search volumes. You don’t have to always target the most popular search terms. It’s about choosing logically and not always gunning for the most popular search terms. I’ve written more about researching keywords on my website.

2. Keep your pages focused

From the research above, you should now have a list of keywords for each page. Now, choose one or two focus keyword(s), but no more than that. Remember, this is all about focus and making it crystal clear to both your reader and search engine what your page is all about.

Once you have your focus keywords identified, log into your content management system admin area and start changing the following areas to increase that relevancy of your page. There are a range of plugins for each content management system, if you use WordPress, then I recommend the SEO Yoast plugin.

  • Meta page titles: this is the blue title seen in the search engine, keep this less than 65 characters and go for this format [Keyword One, Keyword Two, Brand].
  • Meta page description: this is the short description seen in the search engine, under the page title. It helps the user decide which listing to click on. Keep these less than 160 characters.
  • Content headers: Put your keywords within your content headers, and use the Header 1 or H1 style from your text editor options.
  • Content text: Within your content, make sure you work your keyword in seamlessly. You ideally want to mention the keyword 4 times, so it would be good to include them within 200 words to avoid “stuffing”.
  • Images: If you’re using images, make sure you give them a clear title and fill in the ALT field. It adds another string to the bow to help the search engine understand what the page and its data are relevant for.

3. Amplify your message

So, you’ve got this great website with all this really useful content – while waiting for the search engines to do their bit, you need it to be seen. You need to proactively draw attention to your site with the aim of getting linked to in order to build its authority and trust to help overall rankings.

You can start by being social. Share your blog posts within all your social networks and engage with those who respond. Also, be proactive and interact with those who are talking about your niche and offer a helping hand by referring them back to the most suitable and helpful content within your website.

Emails and newsletters still have their place – but you have to be clever with your techniques, content and selective about whom you send it to. Think about the message you’re trying to get across, don’t send it to everyone – just those who will benefit from knowing. This way you increase the likeliness of click-troughs as well as sustained subscriber numbers. Using a self-service like Mailchimp you can send some emails for free and then use their reporting tools to measure the success.

4. Encourage visits to your site

If you have something newsworthy, then you could use a press release to draw attention to your business. For example you may have moved or developed new premises, you may have just won an award for your work, or you may be holding a unique event that you want to talk about. Whatever you write about, make sure you have a detailed account of it on your website (normally within your blog). From this, write and send a unique, summarised and snappy overview to carefully targeted bloggers and journalists from within your niche. If they feel it will be of value to their readers, then there’s a good chance they will want to publish it on their sites. There’s certainly a skill to writing and managing a press release, but you can give it a go by using a service like PRWeb.

5. Comment marketing

This can be a great little trick – if you’re consistent with it. Read a few forums that cover topics within your niche (look at UK Business Forums for a start) and then find things that you feel you can contribute to. If you have content published on your site around a specific question already, you can always refer people to it. This technique can also be used within LinkedIn discussion groups. Just don’t be too self promotional and make sure you offer genuine advice.

When marketing your website, the goal is to increase the relevance of each page and then build your site’s trust and authority within your niche. Being consistent and focused with this plan will give a lot of positive signals to the search engines that will help your traffic increase, as well as your background rankings.

Phil Kelsey is the Managing Director of Spiral Media, a Lincoln-based website and online marketing consultancy. Phil and his creative team create online strategies for their clients by combining their design, development and online marketing skills, which involves search engine optimisation to increase traffic and conversions.