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Small- and medium-sized businesses: 8 best practices for your site’s SEO

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As you would expect, the large majority of users never go beyond the first few results. According to Hubspot, 75% of users go no further than the first page of search results. It’s essential, then, that your website ranks in the top search results if you don’t want to be basically unfindable.

Numerous practical techniques make it possible for your site to rise in the search results, and these are collectively known as SEO (or Search Engine Optimization). Start by improving the ergonomics of your website and then move on to working on your website’s SEO.

In this article, we’ll talk about 8 easy-to-implement best practices that make it possible to improve your website’s Google ranking.

1. Modify your URLs to improve Google ranking

The structure of URLs (e.g. https://www.gandi.net/en/simple-hosting/wordpress) is often a forgotten aspect of SEO optimization. Yet, reworking your URLs is a simple and effective method for quickly improving your Google ranking. A well structured URL gives users and search engines an idea of the content of your pages.

Focus on short, efficient URLs

  • Avoid long series of numbers. Your URLs should be easy to understand for a human
  • Remove helping or linking words like “and,” “for,” and “so.” Concentrate on important words.
  • Shorten your URLs; the shorter the URL, the clearer it will be for your users as well as search engines
  • Including keywords in your URLs is very important: make sure that your URLs describe your pages’ content as well as possible. This will enable Google’s bots to easily understand the information

Warning: don’t modify already existing URLs unless absolutely necessary. Changing URLs can hurt your ranking and reduce your website’s traffic. If a user comes across an old link via a partner website or because they have it in their favorites, they’ll get a dead link: the famous 404 error.

2. Don’t forget metadata for better SEO auditing

Metadata are very important in terms of SEO optimization. These metadata are composed of the Meta title and Meta description of a webpage. This consists of a title and a description that appear in a search engine’s results page. The Meta title is the clickable part in blue below the URL, and the Meta description is the text below the Meta title. Here’s an example:

Exemple site URL

Optimizing your Meta title

Search engines display more or less the first 60 characters of your title in the search results. It’s important, then, to be concise and effecient.

  • Consider including a keyword in your Meta title
  • The Meta title should match user searches, it should also match the content on your pages
  • Be descriptive, but concise. Don’t exceed 60 characters or risk damaging your Google ranking and have Google truncate your Meta title
  • Avoid duplicating Meta titles on multiple pages so that you don’t disrupt Google’s bot

The same goes for your Meta description

The Meta description offers a more complete preview, consisting of a brief summary of what users will find on your page. The Meta description doesn’t directly affect your SEO ranking but will have a direct impact on users’ inclination to click (or not click) to view your website. You’ll want to optimize, then, your pages’ Meta descriptions as much as possible.

  • Each page should have a different Meta description
  • Insert keywords in your Meta descriptions
  • Provide a clear and concise summary of what content can be expected on your page
  • Just like with the Meta title, there is a maximum number of characters. Don’t exceed this number of characters, then, or run the risk of Google truncating your Meta description

If you use a CMS (Content Management System) like WordPress, your task is made easier. WordPress helps you to optimize your metadata by warning you if you haven’t used a keyword or if you’ve exceeded the maximum number of characters allowed.

Make your lives easy, then, with your SEO optimization of your website by opting for WordPress hosting with Gandi and create your WordPress site in just a few minutes.

3. Optimize your images and your SEO ranking

Images are some of the most popular searches on the internet, and they play a crucial role in your website visitors’ user experience. Optimizing your images strongly contributes to the improvement of your SEO ranking. Here’s how to optimize your images:

Compress your images

The larger the size of your image file, the longer the page will take to load. Compressing your images, then, makes it possible for you to improve your pages’ load times, a critical performance criteria Google takes into account for SEO (see point number 4).

You can compress your images yourself using Photoshop, but certain tools can do it for you, like TinyPNG, or the WordPress plugin: Short Pixel.

Use Lazy Load for images

The Lazy Load technique enables you to load certain videos and images only when necessary. The images are loaded when the user scrolls and reaches the part of the page where the image is displayed. This technique enables you to reduce the page’s initial load time.

Adding an alt-text to your images boosts your SEO

The alt-text (alternative text) helps search engines better understand what your website’s images represent. Search engines don’t see images the same way as humans do, but an explanatory text enables them to interpret the content of your images.

Add a simple, but complete description to each of your images. The number of characters is limited, so get straight to the point. Use relevant keywords to effectively describe your image. And prioritize simple sentences, avoiding superfluity.

4. Optimize the speed of your pages for SEO

The load speed of your pages is an essential element in improving your SEO ranking. A site that takes too long to load will frustrate users and risks driving them away from your site.

Some tools make it possible to measure the load speed of your pages like GTMetrix. The tool also gives recommendations for improving your pages’ load speeds.

As previously stated, compressing your images helps you to improve the load times of your pages. But that’s not all, there’s more you can do to make your pages load more quickly. In particular, you can:

  • Delete obsolete plugins
  • Reduce the number of redirections
  • Minimize CSS files and Javascript
  • Activate browser caching
  • Reduce server response times

5. Add a sitemap to improve your ranking

The sitemap is an XML file that includes all the URLs in your website as well as some information related to these URLs. Each URL is accompanied by its update frequency, the date of its last update and the priority of this URL compared to other pages.

The sitemap allows search engines to quickly see the contents of a website. Once you have created your sitemap, you only need to provide it to Google. For that, log in to your Google Search Console account, click your domain name, and click Send.

6. How to optimize your pages’ content

This may seem obvious, but your website’s SEO optimization requires relevant, quality content. You should provide useful information to your users by implementing a content strategy.

To more effectively rank your pages, work extensively on keywords in your pages’ contents. Also think about how to register conversions. Showcase your expertise by using CTAs (Calls to action). CTAs are buttons or links a user clicks on to reach your product pages or sales contact forms.

As part of your pages’ SEO optimization, the length of your CTAs is important. The standrad website page should be between 300 and 800 words. An e-commerce product page is shorter and focused on the product, and should generally be between 120 and 220 words. Your pages should be complete but avoid having too much information. The key is finding a balance between a page that’s too empty and a page that’s too full, both of which may cause a user to leave a page and will likely lower your Google ranking.

Consider publishing regularly, Google’s bots like optimized content, but they also value recent content. An effective way to provide regular content that boosts your SEO ranking is to start a blog. You can hence publish articles regularly, using keywords, all while demonstrating your expertise.

7. List your business on Google My Business to improve your Google ranking

Google My Business is a free and easy to use tool that makes it possible for businesses to manage their online presence on Google. This local ranking tool helps customers find your business or evaluate it.

Creating a Google My Business listing for your business or brand has a direct effect over your Google ranking. This makes it possible, on the one hand, to make your site rise in search rankings, and on the other hand, to list yourself on Google Maps while providing users with practical and useful information about your brand.

In other words, your Google My Business listing offers a business the possibility of having a customized profile on Google that appears each time a user does a search for businesses in your sector in their area. This profile includes your website’s URL, photos of your business or products, customer opinions, news, promotional offers, and more.

Creating your Google My Business profile is no longer sufficient, and you should consider optimizing it by filling out all of its fields: your brand’s name (you can even add an important keyword here), your business’s address, your company’s line of business, your telephone number, hours of business, your website’s URL, and high-quality, relevant images.

8. Measure your SEO optimization performances

Finally, our last recommendation in terms of SEO optimization has to do with monitoring the progress of your work on natural website ranking. To see if you’re on the right path and your work is bearing fruit, tracking your performances is essential. There are several dedicated tools for this, including Google Analytics, the most widely used, but Matamo is also a great, open source alternative.

Google Analytics (GA) is a free tool you can use to measure a website’s traffic. It’s used by many marketing specialists to gather information about target audiences, website performance, and ad campaigns. This tool helps you visualize user behaviors and actions taken. At first glance, GA can seem a bit confusing since this tool contains a wide panel of reports and data. Google Analytics requires time to master, but it’s a real benefit for measuring your SEO optimization work.

The alternative to Google Analytics—Matamo—enables you to measure your SEO optimization performances, without using a tool owned by Google. With 1 million users, Matamo can be installedin one click on your hosting.

Another useful tool for tracking your SEO ranking is Google Search Console. This tool enables you above all to see how your site appears in search engines and to optimize it for ranking higher by providing you with many different statistics and personalized tips. Google Search Console gives you information on indicators like the number of clicks or the most relevant keywords for your site in searches.

Conclusion

It’s never too late to take charge of your SEO optimization strategy and boost the visiblity of your business. The SEO ranking practices in this article give you what you need to improve your website’s ranking on search engines in the long run.

The results from working on optimizing your SEO can take several months before they’re visible. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Consistency and authenticity are what pay off in the end, so this work is worth it in the long run!