10 beginner friendly steps to improve your SEO

Learn how to improve your website's SEO with the simple steps outlined in this blog. All steps are 100% beginner friendly.

In this blog, we will look at some beginner-friendly steps you can undertake for your own business to increase visibility on Google & Co. I have examined the most common mistakes I see when auditing websites, and many of these issues are not only important for SEO but also for the general accessibility of your site. They are easy to fix, and anyone can implement them.

1. Optimise images for search

Images are great for enhancing website content thus improving the user experience which is key to good SEO. But often those images are not optimised before and after they are uploaded. This includes

  • Files sized optimisation
  • File format optimisation
  • Appropriate file name
  • appropriate alt text

File size and format optimisation

Avoid uploading .png files to your database and make sure your file is not wider than 1900px (exceptions apply). The best file format to use is the .WebP file format, but .jpg also does the job, try to make sure your files are less than 200kb file size, I usually try to keep mine below 100kb.  Free tools like PhotoScape X are available for Windows and Mac and easily allow you to convert image files in bulk and amend their dimensions.

Naming you images files for SEO

Give your file a descriptive file name, and ideally include your main keyword (from you page title) in the image name. Do not try to stuff keywords in you image file name and keep it as short as possible - below 5 characters.

Adding an alt text for SEO

The alt text is displayed when the image cannot be loaded and it helps individuals who use screen readers to understand what can be seen in the image. The alt attribute is important for your SEO because it also tells the crawlers (robots that review your website content) what is going on in your images, and therefore increases the possibility to get indexed for a certain topic.

The alt text for your image should be more descriptive of what can be seen in the image. It should focus on the specifics rather than giving a general description.

improving your image seo

Bad alt text example: "2 women writing on a white board"

Good alt text example:  "A business lecturer explaining a graph on a whiteboard to a student"

2. Social Media

Social media plays an important role in SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) as it is enhancing your brands online visibility and drives traffic to your website (creating backlinks).

If you are getting started with social media accounts it is probably easiest to start of with the two Meta platforms Facebook and Instagram - which can also be classified as search engines. An often overlooked social media platform that is great to include in your SEO strategy is Pinterest.

You can check out this article to learn more about social media channels and their demographic.

Pro tip:

Keep all your social media handles the same and if possible align them with your websites domain name.

3. Google Business Profile (local SEO)

A Google Business Profile is a great opportunity to stand our with your business locally. You could also consider creating a Bing Places and get your business listed on Apple Connect (for visibility on Apple Maps). Since Google's market share is currently at 82% you should definitely get started with adding your business profile on there and if you have a physical shop location you should also get started with the remaining two services.

Setting up your Google Business Profile

The setup of your profile is pretty straight forward, you will be guided through a questionnaire filling in your most important information. You may have to verify your business before if becomes visible online. Also be aware that if you own a local business that has existed for a longer time you may already have a business profile, which you want to claim.

After the initial setup you should get started adding your work, services and images to your profile. Basically fill in as much information as you can to breath life in your profile and lastly get started collecting reviews/testimonials from your customers for the profile.

Maintaining your Google Business Profile

The probably most important part of your business profile is to keep it up to date and post on it regularly. An actively maintained business profile shows that Google that the information is up to date and therefore is more likely to be shown in Google searches than profiles that are not maintained and basically run on autopilot.

Bonus tip

Do not ignore negative reviews if they come up. Reply to them and explain the situation from your perspective. Nothing looks worse than if a negative review is ignored by the business.

If someone leaves fake reviews to harm your business your can report those reviews. Sometimes your have to reports them more than once for Google to identify them correctly and remove them.

4. Create separate landing pages for your services

To effectively rank your services in the search engine you should create individual pages for your services. Each of those pages should have a main keyword (in the title tag and h1 heading) as well as multiple keyword variants in the h2 headings on the page.

Example - tree trimming service

  1. Page title and h1 heading - Tree Trimming Services Glasgow
  2. h2 heading - Areas in Glasgow we offer tree trimming in
  3. h2 heading - Cost of tree trimming services in Glasgow
  4. h2 heading - Our Glasgow tree trimming team
  5. etc... of you can add as many sections as you want on the page (as long as they contain useful information for the customer).

5. Google Search Console

Setting up a property in Google Search Console is one of the most important steps when getting started with SEO. The service provides you with valuable insights on your website's search appearance and keywords your website's pages rank for.

Most important analytics available:

  • Performance - Clicks, Impressions CTR & position of each page.
  • Keywords for each page
  • Indexed pages (pages accessible through Google Search)
  • Page experience - mainly core web vitals & proper HTTPS
  • Product & merchant snippets - relevant for Ecommerce sites
  • Rich results - schema mark-ups that show as rich results in Google search

Make sure you submit your XML sitemap to Google. This helps Google understand you pages structure better and they can crawl your site more efficiently.

Submitting your sitemap with:

How to set up your property:

6. SEO Plugin (WordPress)

While content management system's like WIX & Squarespace come with built in SEO (technical) SEO features, self hosted WordPress sites are more or less plain in regards to their technical SEO set-up and require a plugin that enables more advanced SEO features. I use SEO Press Pro on all my project and offer an activation for your website as part of my managed WordPress hosting services.

While using SEO Press is a personal preference there are other solutions like Yoast SEO, Rank Math and others that are also sufficient solutions, providing basic features such as XML site maps, breadcrumbs, local business schema mark-up and more.

They are all straight forward to use - you will just need to follow the set-up instructions in the dialogue window that opens after activation.

Bonus tip

The SEO plugin does not determine the quality of your SEO; it is simply a tool for users. Your SEO success depends on how effectively you implement the measures - WordPress SEO involves more than just using a plugin.

7. Mobile friendly website

A responsive web design is crucial for SEO, as approximately 60% of users worldwide access the web via mobile devices. Consequently, search engines are increasingly prioritising performance and responsiveness as ranking factors because they enhance the user experience.

You can run Google's Page Speed Insights test to check you site for potential performance improvements and you can check 'Am I Responsive' to view you website on multiple device sizes.

8. Regular content updates

Content is becoming increasingly important for Google and other search engines. A simple signal to them that your content is up-to-date is regular updates. These changes don't need to be significant. You can simply change an image or extend a paragraph on your page.

Updating your content once a month can help increase your visibility and relevance, improving your chances of appearing at the top of search results.

9. follow the semantic hierarchy of the html heading tags

When structuring content for SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), it's essential to follow the semantic hierarchy of HTML heading tags. This hierarchy helps search engines understand the structure and importance of the content on your page. Here’s how to properly use HTML heading tags to enhance SEO:

Use a Single <h1> tag for the main title

The <h1> tag is the most important heading and should be used for the main title of your page. It should clearly describe the primary topic of the page.

Use <h2> tags for major sections

Use <h2> tags for the main sections of your content. These should break down the primary topic into major points or sections.

Use <h3> tags for subsections

If you have subsections within the main sections, use <h3> tags. These help to further organise the content and make it more readable.

Use <h4> to <h6> tags for further subdivisions

For more detailed content, you can use <h4> to <h6> tags to create deeper levels of hierarchy. However, it's important to use these sparingly and only when necessary to maintain clarity.

10. internal and external linking

acklinks are a critical component of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), playing a significant role in determining a website's authority, relevance, and ranking in search engine results. Both external and internal backlinks contribute to SEO in distinct ways:

External Backlinks

External backlinks, also known as inbound links, are links from other websites that point to your site. These are crucial for SEO for several reasons:

  1. Authority and Trust: External backlinks from reputable and authoritative sites signal to search engines that your content is valuable and trustworthy. High-quality backlinks act as endorsements, boosting your site's credibility and authority.
  2. Improved Rankings: Search engines, particularly Google, consider the quantity and quality of external backlinks as a significant ranking factor. Websites with numerous high-quality backlinks are more likely to rank higher in search results.
  3. Referral Traffic: External backlinks can drive significant referral traffic to your site. When users click on these links from other websites, they are directed to your content, increasing your site's visibility and potential customer base.
  4. Indexing: Backlinks help search engines discover new pages on your site. When a search engine bot follows a backlink to your site, it can lead to faster indexing and inclusion in search results.

Internal Backlinks

Internal backlinks are links within your website that point to other pages on the same site. They are essential for SEO for the following reasons:

  1. Improved Navigation: Internal links enhance the user experience by making it easier for visitors to navigate through your site. They help users find relevant content and stay engaged longer, reducing bounce rates.
  2. Page Authority Distribution: Internal linking helps distribute page authority (link juice) throughout your site. By linking to less prominent pages from more authoritative ones, you can help improve the ranking of those pages.
  3. Content Relevance and Context: Internal links provide context and relevance to search engines about the relationship between different pages on your site. This helps search engines understand your site's structure and content hierarchy.
  4. Increased Crawlability: Internal links help search engine bots crawl and index your site more efficiently. A well-structured internal linking strategy ensures that all important pages are easily accessible to search engines.
  5. User Engagement: By guiding users to related content, internal links keep visitors on your site longer, increasing the chances of conversions and providing a better overall user experience.

Example of Effective Use of Backlinks

Here’s an example of how external and internal backlinks can be effectively utilised:

External Backlinks:

  • A reputable tech blog links to your article about the latest software development trends.
  • A local news website references your business in a piece about successful local startups.

Internal Backlinks:

  • Your homepage links to a detailed service page, helping users find more information about what you offer.
  • A blog post about content marketing links to another post about SEO strategies, providing additional value to the reader.

11. optimise your urls 

Optimising URLs is an essential aspect of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). Well-structured URLs improve user experience, enhance search engine readability, and contribute to better rankings. Here’s how to optimise your URLs for SEO:

1. Keep URLs Short and Simple

  • Concise and Clear: URLs should be short, easy to read, and understand. Avoid long strings of numbers and unnecessary characters. Clear URLs are more user-friendly and shareable.
  • Example: Instead of www.example.com/articles/2024/05/20/123456, use www.example.com/seo-tips.

2. Use Keywords

  • Include Relevant Keywords: Incorporate primary keywords that reflect the page’s content. This helps search engines understand the topic of the page and can improve its ranking for those keywords.
  • Example: www.example.com/optimising-urls-for-seo.

3. Avoid Special Characters

  • Clean URLs: Avoid using special characters (e.g., ?, &, %, =, @) as they can complicate the URL structure and hinder search engine crawling.
  • Example: Instead of www.example.com/page?id=123&category=seo, use www.example.com/seo-tips.

4. Use Hyphens to Separate Words

  • Hyphens for Readability: Use hyphens (-) to separate words in a URL. Avoid using underscores (_), as search engines may not interpret them correctly as word separators.
  • Example: www.example.com/seo-tips-and-tricks.

5. Maintain a Consistent Structure

  • Consistency: Maintain a consistent URL structure throughout your site. This helps users and search engines navigate your site more efficiently.
  • Example: If you use categories, keep them uniform: www.example.com/blog/seo-tips.

6. Avoid Stop Words

  • Remove Unnecessary Words: Remove common stop words like "and," "the," "of," and "in" unless they are essential for understanding the content.
  • Example: Instead of www.example.com/the-best-seo-tips, use www.example.com/best-seo-tips.

7. Use Lowercase Letters

  • Consistency in Case: Always use lowercase letters in URLs. Mixed-case URLs can lead to duplicate content issues since some servers treat them as different URLs.
  • Example: Instead of www.example.com/SEO-Tips, use www.example.com/seo-tips.

8. Create a Logical Hierarchy

  • Breadcrumbs and Hierarchy: Reflect the site’s structure in the URL hierarchy, making it easy for users and search engines to understand the page’s location within the site.
  • Example: www.example.com/blog/seo/optimising-urls.

9. Remove Unnecessary Parameters

  • Clean Parameters: Eliminate unnecessary URL parameters, which can make URLs complex and confusing. Use URL rewriting if necessary.
  • Example: Instead of www.example.com/index.php?id=123&article=456, use www.example.com/seo-tips.

Example of an Optimised URL

Here’s an example of transforming a non-optimised URL into an optimised one:

Before: www.example.com/page.php?id=25&category=articles&article=optimising-urls-for-seo

After: www.example.com/blog/optimising-urls-for-seo

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