You have spent a lot of time and effort getting your brand’s website up and running. The endless nights, countless meetings, stress and headaches were all worth it. Your new site looks amazing, but there is one major problem. Hardly anyone visits it, and your website might as well not exist. The lack of traffic is enough to freak out anyone and make them wonder what is going on. Why are Google and other search engines not showing your site any love?
Don’t worry, though, as this scenario is more common than you might think. Your site may need some SEO help to push it higher in search results and gain more traffic. The good news is that there are simple SEO fixes that work whether your site is brand new or has existed for some time. And while SEO is a highly complex subject, these are issues that can be handled without having to hire experts. If your site isn’t getting the traffic you think it should, the following eight DIY SEO fixes are great places to start.
SUBMIT YOUR SITE TO GOOGLE AND BE PATIENT
Some mistakenly think that once a new website is published, it will instantly appear in Google’s search results. That is not the case, as Google’s bots first must discover and then crawl and index your site (this also applies to new pages added to an existing site). Yes, the Google bots eventually find your page on their own. But you can significantly speed up this discovery process by manually submitting your new website or pages to Google. If you are working with an external developer, make sure that submitting your site is something they handle. For those on their own, this HubSpot article walks through the process. Most e-commerce platforms like Shopify will automatically generate a site index, but you still have to submit it to Google (check on the video for more details). It can take anywhere from four days to four weeks, even after submitting your site to Google, for it to appear in search results.
ALT TEXT FOR IMAGES
Alt text was originally conceived to make webpages more accessible for people with visual impairments using screen readers. The “alternative text” explains what an image is adding to the reader’s experience. It works the same way for the bots crawling your pages, as Google loves content with images. But those bots cannot technically see the images on your page. They function similarly to screen readers and rely on the alt text to determine what the images are. And if you don’t have any alt text, a Google bot will think your web page or site has no images and rank it lower in search results. Every image on your site should use alt text and follow the best practices of being descriptive, keeping the alt text under 12 words and incorporating keywords but avoiding stuffing them. Check out this article for a deeper dive into alt text best practices.
MAKE CONTENT READABLE
Google wants to deliver the best results to search inquiries so that people keep using it. Returning content in search results that is difficult to read, confusing or poorly written will make users go elsewhere. That is why readability affects how Google ranks your content in its search results. Google doesn’t present hard-and-fast rules for what makes a story easy to read. But generally, you want to keep most sentences below 20 words, write paragraphs less than 200 words and separate them with subheads. There is also some debate about writing to a specific reading level. Google doesn’t specifically rank reading level for SEO, but it does help act as a guide for keeping content easy to read. You want to write to a lower reading level without insulting your audience. That level will be entirely different for a travel website versus a medical one.
WORDPRESS AND YOAST INTEGRATION
Are you going to spend time counting words in sentences or trying to decipher what reading level you are writing for? Probably not, but that is where Yoast comes in handy. Any blog content should be on WordPress, which “plays well” with SEO. If you doubt us, check out this article from Search Engine Journal that lists 10 reasons why WordPress is the best CMS for SEO. Another reason for using WordPress is that Yoast is available as a plugin for it. Yoast operates as an SEO optimizer analyzing any content before you post it. It gives a detailed report on items like sentence length, reading ease, use of passive voice, redundant sentences, lack of transition words, paragraph length and other factors like keyword usage and meta descriptions that can affect SEO results. The reports are easy to understand, and it is clear what actions you need to take to rank better. This article explains how to get started with Yoast and its many features.
PERFORM AN SEO SITE AUDIT
Performing a site audit is always a good step, as other issues may affect your site and dent revenue. Our blog post here gives a holistic view of how to perform a site audit. But there are ways to zero in specifically on SEO when auditing your site. One of the best ways is to use an online tool or app to analyze your website for any issues. Some of these are free, while others are paid or a mix of both. The best ones are easy to use, where you input a URL, and the app or tool does the rest. Once an analysis is made, you get actionable intel on what steps to take to improve your site’s SEO. Remember, making those changes is your responsibility, as these tools or apps don’t change anything on your site. Here is an excellent list of the 32 best SEO tools for auditing your website from HubSpot.
USE KEYWORDS CORRECTLY
Most of us know the importance of using keywords to help rank in SEO. But some might not be aware that where you use keywords is just as important. Keywords should always be used in the first 100 words of your content. They should also appear in the URL of a web page. And keywords must be incorporated into any new web page title tag. It is important to avoid keyword stuffing as it is a practice that Google frowns upon. Plus, trying to follow these tactics with multiple keywords is almost impossible and can create content that is confusing to read. Stick with one main keyword with a few variations of it. This article is a great place to start, as it explains how keywords work, why they are essential and how to find them.
KILL ZOMBIE PAGES
Zombie pages are pages on your site that don’t bring in any traffic but are simply there. Whether they are old products that no longer exist, blog posts that never took off or orphans of a redesign, most sites have some zombie pages. And larger e-commerce sites can have hundreds of them. They can quietly kill your SEO rankings because Google doesn’t want to rank sites with lots of low-quality content. And that is precisely what the Google bots will think if your site has many pages that don’t generate any traffic. Going through your site and killing zombie pages will help improve your SEO rankings. Remember not to go overboard and delete necessary pages like legal statements or products still being sold.
SEO ISN’T THE ONLY GAME IN TOWN
SEO is a long, complicated process that takes effort and consistency. Realistically, you will not appear at the top of Google’s search results overnight. It is important not to rely solely on SEO to drive site traffic, as that tactic can take a lot of time. Instead, it should be part of a complete marketing effort incorporating social media, digital marketing, content development and influencer outreach. All of these should be working in concert to maximize site traffic and revenue along with your SEO efforts.
We can help if any of this is beyond your scope. At Kahn Media, we can audit your website to search for any issues. As a fully-integrated and full-service agency, our teams of digital marketing, social media, content creators and influencer specialists can create and execute a comprehensive marketing strategy for your brand. We can amplify the efforts of your existing marketing department or act as a turnkey one. Contact us to see what is possible for your brand today.
THE “OLD GUARD” STILL DOMINATES
Much has been made in the media lately about the supposed decline of Meta. Even Alphabet (the parent company of YouTube and Google) didn’t escape the media spotlight when its share of online advertising dipped below 50% for the first time since 2015. And everybody except for confused U.S. legislators loves TikTok and its meteoric rise. Believing in the negative hype and focusing your digital marketing efforts elsewhere might be tempting. That would be a serious mistake as, even with their declines, the sheer scale of Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Google makes them powerful marketing platforms. To put it in perspective, Meta’s 2022 fourth-quarter revenue of $32.17 billion is higher than TikTok’s entire yearly revenue. Bash on Zuck if you like, but Meta still raked in $116.1 billion in 2022. Alphabet’s revenue was even higher at $282.8 billion. It makes sense to keep an eye on other digital marketing platforms, but the “old guard” is still dominant. Read our blog post “The Shifting Digital Advertising Landscape and What It Means for 2023” for a deeper understanding.