The 5 Best Free methods of SEO to increase your online presence.

SEO and SEM can seem daunting, primarily because the “industry experts” speak in jargon talk that honestly, they don’t even fully understand themselves. In this article, I aim to bring some clarity to SEO and SEM, explain what they are and what the difference is. I will also give you 5 nice and easy tips that you can use to boost traffic to your website. You will require no programming experience, no extensive computer skills or website design skills – just some patience and a few hours from your normal day-to-day. Do it right once rather than twice wrong. 

What is SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)?

SEO is a collection of techniques that you can use for getting your website found online. It’s a (legal) manipulation of search engine algorithms that increases website rankings to drive more traffic. Some of these are really easy but take time to implement, whereas others are more complicated. Most out-of-the-box websites from developers or building tools such as Wix and Squarespace are not optimized for SEO. As much as they may have SEO tools or SEM management features – they don’t really work. This doesn’t mean that SEO is hard though. You don’t have to be a developer or write code most of the time – You just need to have some patience and be willing to dedicate a few hours per week to boosting your search engine ranking.

What is SEM (Search Engine Marketing)

Search engine marketing or SEM is using search engine tools to boost rankings. When I use the term “search engine tools, I am referring to Google Ads, Google Search Console, Bing Ads, etc” SEM usually costs money but again, with patience and willingness to work you can expect to slowly see the results creep up. Unlike SEO, you can fully optimize absolutely every aspect of a website for SEM without writing a single line of code. SEM is the most common form of boosting results online, and it’s costing businesses millions each year without generating the results they were expecting.

What’s the difference between front and back-end SEO?

Front-end is anything that is visible to people viewing your online content. Although at first, it may seem more trivial, front-end optimization can actually be more beneficial in driving results and bringing visitors to your site. When they are on your site, optimizing the content is the easiest way to drive them to get in touch – Is the content relevant to what they need, does it answer their pain-points and is it interesting? You need to find the right balance between search-optimized content and readability. The back-end is code words for all of the processes that go on behind the scenes, stuff that the user doesn’t see. This is the code that is applied to search engines and databases. Back-end SEO and SEM need’s to be left to the professionals – not DIY’ers. 

Method 1 – Using ALT (alternative) tags on images

This is very simple. Any web developer worth their salt will provide this out of the box with your website, but if you have built your own site then chances are you have overlooked it. The official reason that ALT tags are included is for screen readers to interpret the content of a flat image and read it aloud to people who have visual impairments, but at some point, a developer noticed that they can be used to your advantage. 

ALT tags are not visible on the front end, they sit behind each image. Let’s say you were an estate agent posting photos of a house, bad usage of an ALT tag may include “this is an image of a house”. You should change this to something more informative such as “5-bedroom semi-detached property on 0.5acres in the heart of Hertfordshire”. This way, if a user searches for a property like that internally on your website – this page will likely show. Also, if there is a local Google search for a similar property – Search engine crawlers can understand what is in the image and will rank your site based on relevance. There isn’t a particular length that is more effective – but easy on the keywords, as Google has been known to de-rank sites for over-doing it. More on this later.

Every image, even those that are for decorative purposes should have ALT tags. If an image is purely decorative – then you can get even more creative. 

We use ALT tags like this for decorative images on both our own site and work for clients. You can take a couple of hours and apply an ALT tag to any website after is has been developed and launched. Some SEO firms are even getting clever and changing these on a monthly basis to vary search engine terms. 

Method 2 – Keyword Optimisation

This is the most common DIY method of SEO that we see. Keyword optimization is easy. Keywords are special words and short phrases that relate to the field that you operate. People all too often over-doo this. Before I tell you how to properly implement keywords, it’s crucial that you understand how and why search engines like Google and Bing rank each website – what’s going on with these complex “algorithms” that you hear so much about? What makes them tick? The art of SEO is manipulating them to your advantage.

Search engines are fickle things – and that’s the way that they are designed. They favour sites with the highest domain authority. These are the sites that are most relevant to most people. For instance, Amazon is the most relevant online retailer for most things that you may want to buy; which is why you see it at the top of the ranks most of the time. After domain authority is considered, search engines next favour PPC or pay-per-click advertisements. These are when the web hosts pay search engines to promote them and are billed for each click that a specific advertisement generates. You will find out more about PPC later in this article. After PPC, search engines begin to favour the sites that are most relevant based on content. They deploy crawlers that Scower the web for the most relevant content and bring it to the user. These crawlers interpret the content of your site and display them based on relevance, so including keywords helps to boost the relevance and in-turn, drive more traffic. The top 3 website search results found in organic (genuine) search get 68% of all traffic, so being one of them can be fundamental in driving conversions or website visitors. The tricky bit is, Google will actually de-rank your website if it detects too many keywords and too much helpful content. This is because it deems those web pages as people trying to cheat the system rather than an honest business like your own. 

Nailing these keywords is much harder than you may think. A guide may tell you to use between 4-7 per 100 words, but the actual amount you should include will vary based on your work. For instance, you can use more if you are a specialist like a doctor, dentist or optician but less if you are a software developer or computer repair shop. The handy thing is, you can change this and see what works best – but don’t change it too much as this can confuse search engines. You can use neilpatel.com/ubersuggest to find out which keywords are most relevant to your sector and then use them on your site – it’s a completely free tool that more people should learn about. 

Method 2 – Keyword Optimisation

This is the most common DIY method of SEO that we see. Keyword optimization is easy. Keywords are special words and short phrases that relate to the field that you operate. People all too often over-doo this. Before I tell you how to properly implement keywords, it’s crucial that you understand how and why search engines like Google and Bing rank each website – what’s going on with these complex “algorithms” that you hear so much about? What makes them tick? The art of SEO is manipulating them to your advantage.

Search engines are fickle things – and that’s the way that they are designed. They favour sites with the highest domain authority. These are the sites that are most relevant to most people. For instance, Amazon is the most relevant online retailer for most things that you may want to buy; which is why you see it at the top of the ranks most of the time. After domain authority is considered, search engines next favour PPC or pay-per-click advertisements. These are when the web hosts pay search engines to promote them and are billed for each click that a specific advertisement generates. You will find out more about PPC later in this article. After PPC, search engines begin to favour the sites that are most relevant based on content. They deploy crawlers that Scower the web for the most relevant content and bring it to the user. These crawlers interpret the content of your site and display them based on relevance, so including keywords helps to boost the relevance and in-turn, drive more traffic. The top 3 website search results found in organic (genuine) search get 68% of all traffic, so being one of them can be fundamental in driving conversions or website visitors. The tricky bit is, Google will actually de-rank your website if it detects too many keywords and too much helpful content. This is because it deems those web pages as people trying to cheat the system rather than an honest business like your own. 

Nailing these keywords is much harder than you may think. A guide may tell you to use between 4-7 per 100 words, but the actual amount you should include will vary based on your work. For instance, you can use more if you are a specialist like a doctor, dentist or optician but less if you are a software developer or computer repair shop. The handy thing is, you can change this and see what works best – but don’t change it too much as this can confuse search engines. You can use neilpatel.com/ubersuggest to find out which keywords are most relevant to your sector and then use them on your site – it’s a completely free tool that more people should learn about. 

Method 3 – Start a blog

This is always a hard sell when I present the idea to business owners and clients. Most of them think that blogging is a waste of employees time when they should be working on something else. Believe me – it’s not. Search engines really like websites that are updated frequently with really useful content as this increases domain authority. If you have a talented writer on your team, put them to work writing free blogs that remove pain-points for your potential clientele and help them with issues that they may have. You can then use Google Analytics to understand how your users are interacting with the content that you post. Right now, I am writing free advice on SEO and SEM rather than producing work for clients. If your reading this, chances are your not in any position to invest fully in SEO with a digital agency like mine. You are here because you want to drive more traffic to your site without having to spend any money. You’re probably not going to become a customer, but posting a blog like this one will help solidify your website as a reliable source of expert knowledge that your customers can feed off at any point. It establishes both a domain authority digitally and physically. A really good way to generate revenue on blogging is affiliate marketing. With the FREE amazon affiliates program, you can provide links to products that are relevant to your sector or what your blogging about. Every time someone uses one of your links for a purchase, you will receive a small kickback.

Blogging is also a really good way to boost the number of keywords and ALT tags that your site can have, so you will be ranked higher based on relevance. So far, this blog is 1800 words long, so using my general guide before I should have included roughly 90 keywords which can be crawled by search engines. If I have included one or two pictures per section, I can have included up to 10 ALT tags. It’s really good to practise to get into a regular schedule, but be realistic. It’s more effective for search engines, and engaging for readers if you were to blog once per month than try every week and fail to deliver. A regular schedule helps to create urgency and demand for the content you produce, so take time to make sure you have accurately conveyed information in a way that in-keeps with your brand. Blogging can really boost your search engine performance and the overall traffic to your website, it’s worth investing a couple of hours a week into because if you do it properly – it really does pay off. If you need some help, check out our Ultimate Guide to Blogging.

Method 4 – Exit Intent

Exit-intent is slightly more “techy” than the ideas I have already put forward to you, but in essence, it does exactly what it says on the tin. It is much easier to implement exit intent on a WordPress website, but proceed with caution as this can break your website. Always use a demo site or backup before publishing any pop-ups. The idea is to keep people from leaving your website. When a user navigates the mouse to leave the screen, a pop-up appears with a strong and compelling call to action. As a digital agency – we have run one that says “Your here because you want more business, right?” Then, we offer a free SEO and Website Audit “normally worth £150”. 

This really does keep people looking around your site and likely influences them to get in touch or take you up on the free offer. With Exit Intent, some businesses morals will not allow them to issue pop-ups that are deemed annoying – but it really does work. 96% of all people viewing a web page, are “window-shopping” and are not looking to finalise a purchase or get in touch. They are likely also shopping around with your competitors who could be using Exit Intent and therefore stealing your business. Exit intent drastically increases the number of “window-shoppers” who become customers and actually has the highest rate of conversion of anything in this blog. If you can flex your morals, you can increase your website traffic. I am not comfortable endorsing one particular EI software, so a quick Google search may resolve this for you. 

Method 5 – Remarketing

Re-marketing is perhaps the most complex form of digital marketing that I am telling you about today, but I am saving the best (as in most effective) until last. If you’re not using Google Analytics to monitor your website traffic, or how users engage with your website; you’re missing the trick. Analytics tells you all about who visits your site, how they get there, what device they are using and what they do when they are on there. You can edit and change content based on the results in Analytics. It’s easy to set-up and I will be covering the Do’s and Dont’s in a future blog – so look out for that. 

Using Google Analytics, we can understand who visits your site, why they visit and why they don’t go over the line. If the same user visits again (we know this based on geographical location monitoring and IP address tracing), then they must have a genuine interest in your products and services. So, we tailor ads and content to them. Knowing that they genuinely have an interest in what you are offering, why not embrace it – you are more than likely able to get them over the line. If you notice a large amount of web traffic for “driving lessons in Edinburgh” then create a landing page that reflects that location. If it begins to pay off, perhaps invest a small amount in a virtual office or a VOIP phone number with that area code. This adds credibility for your brand in that area and really helps to boost sales. I have built over 100 landing pages on single websites just for this purpose, that has generated thousands in revenue. 

Apple finds it way easier to sell their new products to existing customers, than they do to new ones. Apple is a fantastic example of mass re-marketing. Tailor content to those who care about it. That’s why Apple very rarely discredit a competitor to sell products, as they are not interested in converting people to their eco-system. Google, on the other hand, do everything they can to make iPhone customers buy their pixel – and on the hardware front, they don’t enjoy even 10% of Apple’s marketing successes. 

Summary

It’s easy for you to feel inspired to go out and implement these techniques on your website – but hold your horses. SEO and SEM should never be rushed, use my advice as a guide to building the foundations for optimising your site. Before you go ahead and implement any SEO on your website, please remember that these free methods will not boost your traffic right out of the gate – it takes time. If you are looking at getting fast returns, you will need to invest considerably more and use methods like PPC and social media adverts. 

Written by Luke Tarbuck, Managing Director.

“I have worked in the general technology sector, as a consultant, since 2016. I love working with such a diverse range of companies to help them grow. I am passionate about emerging technologies, new legislation and drinking copius amounts of tea.”

If you want to learn how I can help your business grow, email luke@tarbuck.digital

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