I’m often asked how do you optimise websites?

That’s why I created this SEO for beginners guide

There are no secret ways to optimising and most of it can be done by yourself

8 minute read – Updated 26.1.19

Here are eleven of the most important steps I recommend (in order of priority).

  1. Mobile friendly and website speed
  2. Meta Data
  3. Content and keywords
  4. Analysis
  5. User experience (UX)
  6. SLL certificate
  7. Calls to action
  8. Links
  9. Technical
  10. Blog
  11. Reviews
mobile friendly and fast website

Test your website speed and make sure your site is mobile friendly

1. Is your website mobile friendly and fast?

  • If your site isn’t then not only will it not rank as high as it should but your visitors will leave if they can’t easily find what they want. The same applies to slow loading websites.
  • To test if your website is mobile friendly click Google’s mobile friendly test
  • To test your website speed click Pingdom
  • If you are using WordPress then installing WP Smush and W3 Fastest Cache will speed things up.
meta data and meta description

Top line is the HTML page title. Meta description is underneath.

2. Meta Data

  • This helps describe your page to search engines and without adding it, you are going to struggle to compete.
  • It needs to be unique for every page and make the searcher want to click.
  • An HTML page title is the line of text which should summarise your page but also grab attention (see above).
  • Meta description is the text you see under a listing visible in the search engines and this is effectively your advert for your page (see above).
  • If you have a WordPress website you can download a free plug in called Yoast which will help.
  • Optimising your images will help too. Use Alt text and describe the image but don’t stuff with lots of keywords. Use a maximum of five words. If you hover the image below you will see the Alt text is Split your text with headings
Split your text with headings

Add 250 words or more and split your text with headings

3. Content and keywords

  • Aim for around 250 words per page include attractive images, headings to split the text and bullet points to make it easier to read.
  • If you can’t afford images then you can use stock images. There are plenty of free stock image websites to choose from.
  • I’ve written a more detailed post on how to write content click website content writing guidelines for more details.
  • Be sure not to replicate content on your pages or copy it from elsewhere to avoid being penalised by Google for duplicate content. To check if you have duplicate content click visit siteliner
  • Finding the right keywords can be tricky but well worth the effort. I would recommend writing your text as you would normally speak to someone. This will make it appealing and personal. Once you’ve done this you can always go back and add or change keywords. It doesn’t have to be perfect first time, you can edit it later.
  • There are free keyword suggestion tools available here is one of my favourites by Neil Patel Ubersuggest Neil is very active on social media and a leading authority in SEO.
  • Once you’ve added all your text and images create a file of keywords (Excel if possible as this will allow you to sort your data). If you use Ubersuggest you can export your keywords in Excel format.
  • Select each keyword and then Google it. Scroll to the bottom of the page and it will say Searches related to add these phrases to your list and repeat the process.
  • Once you have your full list analyse your keywords.
  • They may not exist but you are looking for phrases with high search volume and low competition or keywords which are relevant to what you do but with low competition.
  • Include heading 1s, 2s, 3s, and 4s (heading 1s should only be used once). If possible include your target phrases and keywords in these headings. But try and make the headlines attention-grabbing. Focus more on the benefits than just providing information. Use the word you and focus on how you can make the visitor’s life easier and why they should choose you. Take care not to make your headings longer than 70 characters as they will be difficult to read and negatively affect your SEO efforts.
Analysis with Google Search Console

Use Google Search Console to find valuable information

4. Analysis

  • Create a Google account (if you don’t have one) and open a Google Analytics account. Add the code to your website to start tracking it.
  • Open a Google Search Console account too (you can verify this with your Google Analytics account). Both accounts are free.
  • After a few weeks log in to Google Search Console and visit the search analytics page. Here you will see what phrases people searched for to find your site.
  • These are the phrases I would concentrate on and focus on the words with the highest clicks. Don’t over do it by adding the keyword too many times and use similar phrases to your targetted one. This will help improve your rankings for the phrase you are targetting.
  • Monitoring how you rank is really important to check your progress.
  • I’ve used many different ways of monitoring keywords but I would recommend SE Ranking at the time of writing it costs £28.79 for the year and is well worth the investment. You can also use the free trial option, to begin with.
User experience test your website

Test your website with as many people as possible. Watch what they do and where they click. Ask them why they did click there first?

5. User experience (UX)

  • Put yourself in the mind of your website visitor or even better ask people to use your website and watch what they do. Ask them to view your mobile website too.
  • It should take seconds for people to find what they need and if they don’t they’ll leave.
  • Put the important information at the top and make it easy for them to request a call back or make contact.
  • Your website menu should be logical and be easy to navigate.

6. SSL Certificate

  • SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) should be installed. SSLs have been around for a while now and were mainly used for sites which took payment online.
  • Google is giving prominence to websites which have one and the rumours are it will increase this in an effort to make all websites follow suit.
  • It is already marking some websites as insecure in its browser Chrome which will only make someone think twice about clicking.
  • Ask your hosting company to provide one and make sure that your old website URLs re-direct to the new secure ones, they should be able to do this for you too. If not and you are using WordPress you can do this using a plug in.
add a call to action

Add calls to action one near the top and one near the bottom.

7. Calls to action

  • What do you want your visitor to do? How can you make it easier for them to do it?
  • Provide reasons for people to get in touch, buy, download or share your information.
  • Make sure your calls to action are prominent and not in tiny text at the bottom of the page. Add one (or two) to every page.
  • Use a photo as people ‘buy from faces’ and ask for phone calls. Add buttons instead of text links as website visitors are more likely to press buttons. Be creative with your button text, avoid submit and enter. Give a reason to click.
how to get back links

Without back links you will struggle to rank at all unless it is a niche phrase

8. Links

  • Still a major factor in how a website ranks and without them you can have a perfect website with brilliant content and it may still not rank highly.
  • You can link internally too but only add a link if it is relevant and only if you want your visitor to go there. Use a target phrase if it reads properly.
  • Linking the phrase will help so using this page as an example we would like readers of this page to contact us for a free SEO audit (which is also a good call to action).
  • Linking out to other websites is a good idea but only link to quality websites or sites which are relevant and are of benefit to your visitor (I’ve done it throughout this guide). Be careful not to take people away though so adding these links in a less prominent area is advised (I haven’t done that on this occasion because without the links this article wouldn’t make sense).
  • The hardest part is to get links from other websites to yours. Start with customers and suppliers. Which ones sell a similar product or service? Suggest a link swap and remember to link the phrase you are targetting for your specific page. Avoid submitting to low-quality website directories as these may damage your search engine positions.
  • If you belong to an association or group check your website is mentioned on theirs.
  • If you sell a particular brand or you are a re-seller check that they link to you and if they do make sure it is not just to your home page but to the relevant brand page.
check for broken links

Check your website doesn’t have any broken links. Google hates them.

9. Technical

  • Checking your website is technically perfect is important as sites with lots of missing pages and broken links will be penalised by Google.
  • To check if your website has any broken links click broken link checker
  • To check if you have pages which aren’t being found visit your Google Search Console account.
  • For pages that can’t be found create 301 re-directs, this can easily be done in WordPress using Yoast.
  • Re-direct your missing page to the most relevant existing one on your site. If there aren’t any you can use Google Search Console to remove the web page from its search results.
get blogging!

Blogs are a brilliant way to increase website traffic

10. Blog

  • Not everyone wants to write but blogging can be worthwhile. It gives you the opportunity to attract search engine traffic for the latest trends or you can provide in-depth information on a particular subject.
  • Your blog can link to other relevant pages on your site (this blog post does) and be used to provide your visitors with useful information. If it provides useful information (like I hope you think this page does) then people may link to it.
  • It can also be used as a link bartering tool and promoted using social media.
  • Re-visit your most popular blog posts and update (I update this post often). Use your Google Search Console account to see which are your most popular posts.
ask for Google reviews

Ask for Google reviews they will really help with local search and increase enquiries

11. Reviews

  • If your business relies on local enquiries then reviews can really help.
  • Use Google and many searchers will search for something and be shown results based on Google Maps listings (especially on mobile devices).
  • If your business has positive reviews it will give the searcher confidence.
  • I’ve written a post about this which goes into more detail called How do I get Google reviews for my business? This is free to do and well worth doing.
  • Once you’ve completed the eleven steps, go back to step 4. Analysis and repeat.

Dan the SEO man

If you have any questions on the above, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Happy optimising!


For more on our SEO services visit SEO with no contracts, just results.

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