5 Simple SEO Fixes to Boost Your Site in Under an Hour

Written by

Michael Saly

Posted on January 30, 2021

Anyone with a website knows that SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is an important component of internet marketing, however far from everyone devotes enough attention to it. That’s understandable, given its sometimes complicated, technical and jargon-packed process. SEO can take years to master, and when you are leading a business – time is of the essence. At the same time, there are a number of relatively simple fixes that you can implement which will make a dent in your SEO progress. As SEO experts, we wanted to make this article as useful as we could, which is why we picked out the 5 most important aspects of SEO that affect search rankings, that you can implement within a few hours.

1. XML Sitemap Check

What is an XML sitemap?

A sitemap is a file containing the information needed for search crawlers to index your website content. As well as that, sitemaps inform the crawlers about which pages are most important to you.

Why do XML sitemaps matter?

  • they improve the indexability of your website and define the importance and priority of each page;
  • they show the date when each page was last updated;
  • they help avoid duplicate indexing by search crawlers.

Checking if you have XML sitemaps

If you are not sure if a sitemap exists on your website, just type your root domain into the address bar followed by “/sitemap.xml”. For example – aspiremedia.ie/sitemap.xml.
Checking XML sitemaps

How to create an XML sitemap?

If you are using WordPress as your website driver, you are in luck. WordPress allows you to easily implement a sitemap through a powerful plugin called Yoast SEO. Yoast has various practical applications specifically for Search Engine Optimisation, and we will even be using it again further on in this article.

One of Yoast’s biggest advantages is the ability to create a dynamic XML sitemap. This means that any page you create, whether it be a blog post, product page or just a regular page, will be automatically added to your XML sitemap.

Step 1

Log in to your WordPress website. Click on ‘SEO’ on the left-hand side.
Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress

Step 2

The ‘SEO’ settings will expand providing you with additional options. Click on ‘General’.
Yoast SEO plugin

Step 3

Click on the ‘Features’ tab and make sure ‘XML Sitemaps’ is switched on.
Yoast SEO - XML Sitemap

Step 4

Click ‘Save Changes’.

To open your new sitemap, return to the Features area and click on the question mark icon beside XML sitemap and then click “See the XML Sitemap”.

In the case that WordPress is not your CMS, there are other options available. You could use a third party sitemap generator tool. Using this tool you can generate an XML file which can be used for the next step of the process below.

Step 5

To submit your sitemap to Google’s crawler database, login to Google Search Console and find the “Sitemap” tab in the left sidebar.

Google Search Console - Sitemaps

If you had already submitted a sitemap before, it should be displayed as a list in this section.

Google Search Console - Submitted Sitemaps

To complete your submission, enter the URL of your sitemap XML file and click “Submit”

Add a new sitemap in Google Search Console

That’s it. You have submitted your website sitemap XML file and now all that’s left is to wait for Google to parse it.

To find out more about website sitemaps, check Google’s guide.

3. Check Your Meta Tags

What are Meta Tags?

Meta tags were designed to let search engines know the contents of a web page. When ranking algorithms became prevalent, meta tags become just one of the factors that determine page contents. There are different types of meta tags, and each one has its own unique purpose in defining a web page metadata.

In search results, meta tags are used by Google to display information about the target website.

Title and Meta Description example

Why do Meta Tags matter?

There are two primary functions of meta tags: Firstly they are used by search engines to partially determine the keywords that you would like your web page to rank for. As well as this, meta tags have an effect on the click-through rate of your website – as this is the text that searchers will see before making a decision to click on to your website or continue scrolling, it is vital that it catches users’ attention, projects your unique selling point in a few words, and stands out among the sea of competitor search results.

Checking if you have Meta Tags

To quickly check your website for Meta Tags, you can use a free tool called Screaming Frog.

Step 1

Open Screaming Frog, enter your site’s domain name for example, https://aspiremedia.ie/ and start the crawl.

Step 2

Once complete, find the two tabs “Page Titles” and “Meta Description”.

How to check Titles at Scream Frog

How to check Meta Description at Scream Frog

I don’t want to get into the details behind writing effective and keyword optimised meta tags, that would be for a whole other article, but a simple search for the topic can yield dozens of blog posts on this matter, such as this one.

Implementing Meta Tags

If you found that some or all your pages are missing title or description tags, or if you find you want to improve on your current ones you should know how to update them on your website. This can be done very easily through the Yoast SEO WordPress plugin.

Step 1

Log in to your WordPress admin page.
Navigate to the page you want to add the metadata to. Scroll down until you find the Yoast section.

ow to add the metadata

Step 2

Copy your title into the SEO Title box.

How to add Title in WordPress

Step 3

Copy your description into the Meta Description box.

How to add Meta Description in WordPress

Step 4

Save the page.

4. Check Your Headings (H1’s)

What are page headings?

Page headings are a range (technically named H1 to H6) of different sized title texts – with H1 usually being the largest, most important heading on the web page and H6, the smallest & least important. By this logic it can be safe to say that H1 should be the title of the page, much like the title of a book on its cover. Further to that, it is therefore most practical to only have one H1 on each individual page, as a page can have one title.

Why do H1 tags matter?

The page heading, namely H1, plays a large role in the page appeal and can be an attention-grabber for website visitors. They also have an influence on your search rankings, as crawlers use this text in their process of determining the general topic of the page, and therefore the keywords that you are trying to rank for, similarly to the meta title tag.

How to edit Headings?

It’s important to note that the H1 tag should only be used once to ensure that search crawlers know exactly where to look when determining the title of your web page.

First note the headings that will suit each of the web pages on your site. It is strongly recommended to keep your H1 heading near the top of your page, and include your target keywords in a sensible manner. If you find that you have more than one H1 tag on a page, make a note to change them to a heading of lower importance (H2 – H6).

Step 1

Log in to your WordPress admin page.

Step 2

Head over to the Pages area and choose a page to edit.

Inside your page editor, find or write the text that you want as your H1 heading.

Making sure that the text is highlighted, click on the text size drop down menu in the top left corner of the editor, and choose “Heading 1”.

Editing H1 tags

The page now has a H1 tag, and search engine crawlers can easily determine the topic of your content.

Step 3

Save or Update the page.

5. Check Image Sizes

Page loading time has become an increasingly important factor in search engine optimisation. While it’s important to fill your website with valuable content, you must be wary of the toll it takes on the load time of your pages. The heavier a web page is in its size (megabytes) the longer it will take your device to load it from its server.

As users’ attention spans have been decreasing, Google began valuing websites that load as quickly so that the visitor does not have to wait long to find what they are looking for. This especially applies to users browsing from a mobile device. From Google’s perspective, mobile data is more expensive than a home broadband, and so it prioritises and rewards websites which accommodate this nuance. In fact, as of 2021 Google is moving to a ‘mobile-first’ indexing approach meaning that rankings will be affected by the condition and quality of the mobile version of your website.

As I mentioned earlier, one way to significantly improve page load speed is to make it as lightweight as possible. This means decreasing the transfer size of your web pages, and optimising your images are just the way to do that.

How to optimise an image

There are many free tools out there that can help you optimise and resize an image for the web.

Step 1: Image dimension optimisation

The first thing you need to determine is the minimum permissible dimensions that your image can be scaled down to. A common screen width of a desktop version of a website is 1200px. Compare your image width requirements relative to this number. For example, if you intend for an image to take up half of the width of your website, then it’s quite needless to have it be more than 600px in width (half of 1200px).

A free tool you can use to resize images is PicResize

Step 2: Image size optimisation

You probably don’t need your website imagery to be the highest quality in terms of pixel density. They most likely will not be used for large scale canvas printing! This means you can comfortably sacrifice at least 20% of the image’s quality for the good of SEO, and it won’t even be noticeable in 99% of cases.

You can use a free online tool like Online Image Compressor to bring your image sizes down.

You should aim to keep the size of images up to 100kb.

How to check images sizes on your WordPress website
Checking the size of your images requires a few simple steps:

Step 1

Login to your WordPress admin dashboard.

Step 2

Navigate to the Media page and choose an image for analysis.

wordpress-dashboard

Step 3

The image size will be displayed within the information area of the media file.

Checking image size

Bonus Tip

Improve your website’s content! It sounds obvious I know, but it’s one of the most important aspects of search engine marketing. Imagine you are looking for something and find the website which answers your questions. What do you expect for that website? How did it help you solve your issue?

Here are a few tips and suggestions for improving your content:

  • Validate your contact from different points of view. Does it provide the necessary information to solve a visitor’s issue?
  • Google often displays answers to frequently asked questions within the results page. Does your page answer these questions?
  • Avoid blank areas – liven up your page with pictures, graphical elements and videos.

We have outlined 5 fixes which can be easily implemented within a couple of hours and improve the search optimisation of your website. By making these relatively quick and simple changes to your site, you are making the first step to gaining exposure on search engines. If and when you have carried out these tips and would like to do more for your web presence, you can submit your site for a FREE review by reaching out to our experts. We can show you exactly what you can achieve by partnering with a professional SEO team.

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