Part Four - SEO
What is SEO and how does it work, we hear you ask. Search Engine Optimisation is focused on making your site appear as high as possible on search engines like Google or Bing. You may want to optimise for your business name or for specific keywords you want to be linked to. By using good SEO practice on your venue’s website and blog, they can appear higher in searches which can potentially increase the number of online bookings you receive.
The main part of SEO that you can influence is the optimisation of your website pages. Google has little bots called spiders that constantly crawl websites, deciding which ones should appear where on the search listings. These spiders look at your website’s tags, structure and keywords in older to define where your site should appear.
First up – HTTPS
Since January 2017 Google has began marking HTTP pages that collect passwords or credit cards as non-secure. Google is also now prioritising secure sites above non-secure sites on their search listings.
Therefore you need to get a HTTPS certificate for your site. If you don’t it may affect your spot in the search listings and will also clearly appear to potential customers that your site is insecure.
To see why Google are doing this and for information on how to get a HTTPS protocol for your site, take a look at this page.
- Title tag: Title is the tag most people read before clicking on search results. It’s important that you are succinct but descriptive here, explaining what the page is about.
- URL: Page URL is important to have your URL address to have descriptive keywords since they get highlighted based on the keywords that the user.
- Description tag: Description should explain in more detail what you were trying to say in your title tag.
Keywords are phrases in the content of your website that help tell Google what each page is about. Before filling your site with lots of keywords hoping to list for everything, bear in mind that this can actually decrease your position. Google want to send their customers to sites that are actually relevant to what they are looking for: if your site is confusing or misleading to the Google bots they won’t know what keywords to rank you for.
Some SEO tips and tricks:
- Do your research: Do a Google Search on terms similar to the keywords you’re thinking of using and check out what comes up in the search bar. You can also look at the bottom of the Google results page and see what appears there.
- Pick 3-5 words or phrases from your research: Make sure they’re related keywords. Eg: Best tiramisu in Cheshire, Best Italian desserts in Cheshire, Cheshire’s best tiramisu.
- Try and link pages together: For example, if you have a blog post about how you got voted the best lasagne in your area in 2016 and another post about being selected the best pizza in 2017, add links to the related pages in each blog. This gives your posts weight.
- Keep updating your keywords and posts: You may find that you were number one for a keyword search last month, but you no longer are. What’s up with that? Another site has overtaken you and you need to go back and do some more work. SEO is never “finished.”
Where can I change these elements?
Most businesses, restaurants included, usually have some type of CMS (Content Management System) for their website. This might be a programme like WordPress or Joomla which allows you to edit the content on your website easily without having to use a web designer. Your CMS system will also have a toolkit of handy functions to make your website work harder for you – these are better known as “plugins”. There are some great plugins that can aid your SEO efforts either downloadable or in the back-end of your website:
Some good choices:
Of course, you can pick any other plugins, as long as they let you edit title and description tags for each of the pages. This helps you become more relevant to the type of customers you want to target in online searches.
Common SEO mistakes that businesses make:
- A poorly designed website: This will make it difficult for search engines to understand the structure of your site and where pages should be ranked.
- Ignoring the small stuff: It may not seem like tags are hugely important compared to the actual content of your site, but in reality this is the only thing customers will see on a search page. The content of your tag can greatly influence whether they make a booking.
- Not focusing on the right keyword or keywords: See above. Do your research.
- Duplicating content from other sites: Google doesn’t like copied-over content and will try their best to identify the original source and not rank the imposters.
- Not having unique title and description tags throughout your site: Google also sees identical tags as “duplicate content” and finds it difficult to prioritise which pages to show to people searching on Google. It might end up that one of these pages will not be shown at all.
- Broken links: Returning a 404 error (page not found) when someone lands on your website is a killer for user experience and search engines don’t like bad customer experiences. Some free tools on the internet are available to scan your website for broken links. Our favourite, Moz.com Pro includes automatic weekly scans which provide any broken links.
So now you know what SEO is, how it works and how you can begin optimising your restaurant website you are well on your way to becoming an SEO pro. Next week we will be showing you what you can do off-page to make sure you hold that #1 listing on Google.