Doing your SEO correctly from the start will help the search engines index your pages, products, classes, events, and other content more rapidly and in more relevant areas. What that means is, if you're doing the steps listed below, you'll get better web search results.
SEO Titles and Descriptions for Pages
Each of your pages under Website > Pages needs an SEO Title and SEO Description. For other pages in the system, such as those created for products and classes, the system will use the item Title and the Short Description as the SEO Title and SEO Description.
The SEO Title should read like a headline about the page, and should have the geographic area you serve and the topic of the page. The SEO Description should be a call to action encouraging someone to click on the page link. Why would they want to go to the page? What will they find there that is interesting? The description should give them a persuasive reason to click on the page link.
Here is how to put in your SEO Titles and Descriptions:
- Go to Website > Pages, find the page with which you want to work and click on the Gear Button on the right.
- Enter your SEO Title. It should be about 7 - 10 words long. You can hover your mouse over the ? help tip for suggestions on what to include.
- Enter your SEO Description. It should be about 20 - 25 words long. You can hover your mouse over the ? help tip for suggestions on what to include.
- Click Save.
Alternative Text in Images and Image File Names
Visually-impaired visitors to your pages have no way of knowing what your images are about unless you enter Alternative Text into them. This term is commonly called 'alt text' for short. It can also help to title your image files with descriptive names. Similarly, search engines cannot 'see' your images, so adding alt text gives them a description so they can properly index the image. You should be adding alt text to every image possible on your website. Any image you manually add to a module through the Content Editor can have alt text.
For images you add to products, classes, categories, etc., it is important to have the image file name be a brief description of what the image displays. The system will use that file name as the alt text for such images.
Here is how you can add Alternative Text to an image:
- Log into the system and click the Laptop button on the far left side of the blue Admin Toolbar to go to the website.
- Go to the page that has the image that needs alt text.
- Click the Edit button (the small pencil) on the gray Module Toolbar that contains the image. Please note: this will work only for modules that use the Content Editor. If the module has a dedicated Image area, the system will use the image file name as alt text for you.
- Choose one (both methods go to the same place):
a) Click on the image to highlight it, then click on the Insert / Edit Image button in the Content Editor, or,
b) Right-click on the image and in the popup menu, click Insert Image.
- In the Insert / Edit Image window, you'll see the Alternative Text field below the URL for the image Source. Add your text there.
- Click OK once you have finished.
- Click Save at the bottom of the screen to save your work.
Best Practices for Alt Text for Your Images
Here is one of the best overviews of the importance of alt text we've seen, provided by Moz.com. In that article, they provide the following guidelines for best practices with alt text:
Describe the image as specifically as possible. Alt text is, first and foremost, designed to provide text explanations of images for users who are unable to see them. If an image truly doesn't convey any meaning/value and is just there for design purposes, it should live within the CSS, not HTML.
Keep it (relatively) short. The most popular screen readers cut off alt text at around 125 characters, so it's advisable to keep it to that character count or less. Editor's note: This is around 15 to 20 words. You can write longer alt text descriptions, just make sure your important stuff is at the beginning.
Use your keywords Alt text provides you another opportunity to include your target keyword on a page, and thus another opportunity to signal to search engines that your page is highly relevant to a particular search query. While your first priority should be describing and providing context to the image, if it makes sense to do so, include your keyword in the alt text of at least one image on the page.
Avoid keyword stuffing. Google won't dock you points for poorly written alt text, but you'll be in trouble if you use your alt text as an opportunity to stuff as many relevant keywords as you can think of into it. Focus on writing descriptive alt text that provides context to the image and if possible, includes your target keyword, and leave it at that.
Don't use images as text. This is less of an alt text-specific best practice and more of a general SEO-friendly web development tenet. Because search engines can't read text within your images, you should avoid using images in place of words. If you must do so, explain what your photo says within your alt text.
Don't include "image of," "picture of," etc. in your alt text. It's already assumed your alt text is referring to an image, so there's no need to specify it.
In the example image above, the image is of a snowboarder in the middle of an epic jump, with mountains in the background. This would have made a good alt text description. I chose to add a little marketing to the description, so mine reads Utah snowboarder soaring over powder snow on his Alpine snowboard with the beautiful Wasatch Mountains as background. Think about the kind of description you would want to hear if you couldn't see the image. The second description has seventeen words, and 117 characters, including spaces, so it would work just fine for any reader.
Please Note: The pros at Moz.com include a couple more guidelines than those listed above that are more technical, along with a ton of other excellent information, so if you want to explore the full list, please click on the link above!
What makes a web page compelling and interesting for you? Is it engaging images? Relevant videos? Helpful information? Perhaps a download that would be useful? Guess what: That stuff is interesting to everyone, and the search engines keep getting better at finding content that people actually want to see.
You shouldn't be asking yourself if Google will like what you're doing. You should be asking yourself if your target customer will like the content you're making.
One of the best things you can do for your site's search engine optimization is to put in extra effort into adding compelling content. You shouldn't be asking yourself if Google will like what you're doing. You should be asking yourself if your target customer will like the content you're making. If you're doing that, Google will be finding you and sending those people your way. Here are some content ideas that can help add SEO punch to your pages:
- Hit Your Keywords - Don't make a huge list, just focus on one or two keywords that are important for each page, and make sure the keywords are on the page at the beginning of the first paragraph (often only the first 75 to 100 characters of text on the page get priority indexing) and that the content centers around those ideas. The search engines will perk up and take notice.
- Add Video - Even if you don't want to start your own YouTube channel (and for the record, that's easy to do, and good for your site traffic!) you can record your own videos and upload them easily to YouTube, then in the description for the video, you can add links going back to your website. This can be a great way to add to your marketing returns: provide a video for something useful to your target audience, feature products and/or services in the video, then link back to those pages on your site. It's much better to use your own videos, but if you're just starting out, embedding a video from a manufacturer of something you sell or a video of something informational from a third-party in your industry will have a smaller positive effect.
- Free Stuff Makes the Internet Go 'Round - I imagine you like free stuff of good quality? So do your potential customers. One of the most-used words in searches is 'free': whatever you're looking for, you want it for free, if it's available. Do you know a special technique for something that's useful in your industry? Record a video and put it up on YouTube, then embed it on your website! Are you knowledgeable about your industry? Perhaps knowledgeable enough to write up a booklet-sized document, save it as a PDF, and provide it as a free download on your site? Or perhaps there's something you sell that you make yourself, such as an electronic file of some kind; audio, video, or maybe an e-book? Offer one of those files for free and let people try out your products that way. If they love what you do, they'll be willing to vote with their dollars for you. Find ways wherever you can to add free stuff to your site, and the search engines will pass that on to your target audience.
Seven SEO Best Practices You Need to Do Now
How do you get ranked so you'll appear on the first page of search results? What is the competition doing that makes them show up there? Here are some important things you can and should be doing to improve your SEO over time in order to get to that first page:
- Keep Your Content Fresh - Update your Home page multiple times a week with fresh content; feature new products and categories, swap out a slideshow image periodically, adjust your welcome message or other text on the page. For other pages on the site, update them as often as is practical, monthly at the least. Your website visitors will appreciate the fresh content, and the search engines won't flag you as a stagnant website.
- Build Backlinks - Backlinks are links from other sites that go to yours, and they are extremely helpful in increasing your search relevancy. You can build your backlinks by being active on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media and linking back to your products, services, and events. Another helpful source of backlinks is having your own external blog (see below). You can check how you're doing with this free backlink checker from NeilPatel.com.
- Start a Blog - It's recommended to start a blog using one of the big providers such as WordPress or Blogger. They have amazing tools for facilitating your blog features and organizing your posts. If you can blog weekly or more, you're on the right track, and you should be linking back to products and other pages on your website often. You'll start building a following if you offer great content, interesting perspectives and commentary, and free stuff.
- Use Online Tools to Find the Keywords You Should Be Focusing On - There are a ton of tools out there that are made to help you research keywords that you should be using: many of them can be tricky, and some can be expensive. A good place to start is this list of free keyword research tools. Use tools such as these to find what your target audience is actually searching for, and then focus your content and marketing on those things. The keywords will change organically over time, so it's good to do these searches periodically.
- Track Your Traffic with Analytics - When your Account Manager takes your Rain system website live for you, we set up Google Analytics for you so that from day one, your website traffic data is being tracked. There is a LOT to Analytics, and learning how to use it can seem like a monstrous task. We recommend that you go through the easy steps of the Google Analytics Academy, a free tool to walk you through how to use the amazing tool set offered by Analytics. If you do not yet know how to log into your analytics, call in to our support team at 385-404-6200 and we'll make sure to get you your login info.
- Submit Your Website to Search Engines - One thing that can help the process along is to submit your sitemap to the various search engines. They will find and index your site anyway, but submitting your sitemap helps them get moving in the right direction. Here is a great article by Joshua Hardwick of AHREF that details how to do this for the top engines, and the pros and cons of the whole process. Great stuff!
- List Your Company with Google My Business - Google My Business (formerly Google Places) is the dedicated index for company details and locations used by Google. Being listed here will offer the best possible information whenever your business comes up in a Google search, including primary areas of your website, business hours, location map, etc. Companies not registered and verified with Google My Business have minimal information provided when they come up in searches, and have lower relevancy. Here is how to get started. It can also be valuable to list your business with Bing and Yahoo.
Wait, What About Metatags?
There ARE some meta tags that are critically important, and fortunately, the Rain system has you covered on these. Remember up above where we talked about entering your SEO Title and SEO Description? The data you put into those areas goes directly into page header tags for those two critical things. If you're wondering about keyword metatags, don't bother: search engines almost completely ignore them. You can still include them, but the engines will be indexing the actual words on your pages, so if your keyword metatags don't match exactly with what's actually on the page, it can hurt you. It is seriously not worth any effort on your part because it has been so badly abused in the past. Here is a great overview from Moz.com on metatags and which ones you might want to consider. If you choose to put any additional tags into your pages, you can do so by going to the page in the admin view, clicking on Website > Page Settings, then going to the Advanced tab.