clive-02-02Meet Clive. He runs Roller Skate Repair (www.rollerskaterepair.co.uk). He has a store in London where he’ll repair your skates, and his website has loads of valuable information for the skating aficionado about roller skate cleaning, repair, upkeep and general maintenance.

Unfortunately, Clive is not clever. No offense, Clive, but it’s true. He’s good with skates, but not so savvy with search engine optimisation…

You see, Clive didn’t do his research when he created his website. He didn’t employ the services of an SEO specialist or even Google ‘how do I make my website not suck?’ As a result, Clive’s website is not ranking on the first page of Google. In fact, it’s nowhere to be seen at all. What happened, Clive!?

The Basics

SEO – or Search Engine Optimisation – is a digital marketing technique which focuses on growing a website’s visibility in organic (i.e. non-paid) search engine results. In a nutshell, it means to set up your website perfectly so that Google and other search engines know exactly what it’s about and know precisely that when a user searches for ‘roller skate repair uk’ your site, www.rollerskaterepair.co.uk, is the most relevant site, and so they’ll rank it more highly on search engine results pages (SERP).

SEO is a complicated fiend. It’s incredibly easy to get bogged down in technical terms and it may seem that the intricacies are too complex for the websites of small companies like Clive’s. But that’s not true. If Clive had only paid attention and done his homework, he could have made his website spectacular, instead of fading into obscurity… Idiot.

See, once you get it right, SEO can really boost your business. Let’s see what Clive’s first mistake was.

“Great! My website is complete. Now, how do I get it to rank on Google?”

Uh-oh. Alarm bells are ringing already! Keywords? Meta tags? Unique page titles? Clive, you really should have thought about SEO in the brainstorming stage, before building your website. Now it’ll be much more complicated to make it SEO-ready. Not impossible – there are specialists who are really quite good in precisely this situation – but laying the groundwork by going through a basic SEO checklist and budgeting for it all before building the website makes the whole SEO process much easier. What a plonker.

“Ooh. Keywords. I get it! I just need to add lots of keywords! The more the merrier, right?”

In some instances, Clive, you’d be right. More chocolate is better, for example. More sunshine. More presents. More time on the Xbox. More peace in the world. More RAM in your computer. More money in the bank.

But when it comes to keywords on websites, more keywords on websites aren’t always better. More keywords on websites can get repetitive; more keywords on websites can turn the user off; and more keywords on websites will seriously rub Google up the wrong way.

See what I did there, Clive? If ‘keywords on websites’ was my keyphraseword, then of course it’s a good idea to get in a few mentions on my website… but not all in one paragraph! This is known as ‘keyword stuffing’ and it’ll will get you kicked down the search engine rankings faster than you can say ‘keywords on websites’. *shudder*

“Ok… Keyword stuffing is bad… I’ll just hide the text!”clive2-03

No. Bad Clive. Do not, under any circumstances, think you can trick Google by typing out your keyword hundreds of times and then hiding it by blending it with the background or putting it behind an image. No! Google is magic. Google knows. And Google judges.

“Why do I need a unique page title? Shouldn’t every page be my company name?”

Oh Clive. Page titles are really quite important. Not only do they help to tell Google and other search engines what your website and each page is about, but they also appear when shared in tweets or when a reader bookmarks your page. Making sure the title is relevant and accurate is pretty vital. But what’s even more important is making sure each page has a unique title!

See, Clive, rather than each page on your site being a default title (Roller Skate Repair – Get Your Roller Skates Repaired in London), each page should be specific to what it contains. Let’s see:

Weekly Maintenance – Roller Skate Repair London
Wheels and Bearings – Roller Skate Repair London
Cleaning Products – Roller Skate Repair London

This way, Clive, when people visit each page they’ll see a different page title, and it’ll also show up on Google.

Meta descriptions are also important. They’re little mini sales pitches to search engines – if you get the pitch right, you’ll get a higher ranking on search engines. Each meta description needs to be unique, persuasive and make people want to click on your search engine result.

Homepage description: Roller Skate Repair is the UK’s #1 roller skate repair company. Visit our shop in London or use our reference guides to keep your skates in tip-top condition.
Weekly maintenance page description: Download Roller Skate Repair’s Weekly Maintenance Plan to prevent the worst happening to your skates.

It’s much more valuable to explain what each page is about than to leave users (and Google) guessing.

clive3-04
“Err, help! I think I broke something…” aka the hell that is 404 Errors

Broken links make your website more useless than a chocolate teapot (because at least you get melted chocolate out of that mistake. Mmmm).

Sites accumulate broken links. It’s an unfortunate fact of life, like losing car keys, needing to sneeze once you’ve finally got the baby to sleep in your arms, or seeing the expensive coat you bought down to half price in the sale one week later. It always happens, doesn’t it, Clive?

Yes you may have broken something, but it’s nothing that can’t be fixed with a bit of TLC (Tender Linking Care). There are a few reasons why broken links occur:

External sites you link to have gone offline. I know, who’d have thought that www.its1999letsbuysomerollerskates.com would ever cease to exist!
Errors in the link – typing ‘www.rollerstake…’ instead of ‘www.rollerskate…’, for instance (Clive, you buffoon!).
Human error – the person maintaining the website made a mistake, like changing a file name or slug and not amending all relevant links. Are you guilty of this, Clive?

It’s not only your website’s SEO which will be affected by broken links. Users hate broken links too! Think about how you’d react if you were happily surfing a website, click ‘View Product’ and get that evil, demonic, scream-inducing 404 error. Raarrrrrghh!!

We’re busy people, us internet users. And fickle; when a website works, we don’t notice because we expect it to run smoothly. But short attention spans coupled with the world at our fingertips mean we won’t bother to report a broken link and then wait around until it’s fixed before we make a purchase or find out more information. Instead, we’ll high-tail it out of there and click on the next search engine result to see if we get more luck.

And that, my friend, is bad news for your business – but good news for www.repairingrollerskates.com.

The solution? Double check spellings, for one thing. You can also get your web developer to regularly check the links on your website to make sure things haven’t gone awry (and correct anything you’ve been tinkering with). It’s a good idea to include it in a regular maintenance schedule so you know every few weeks your links will be checked and tidied up. Alternatively you can get free programs to check links – and as a bonus they’ll often report on search engine ranking and load times too.

Oh, and for pete’s sake, edit your 404 message, just in case you miss a link and it does crop up. Give it some personality:

Oops! The page you’re looking for has disappeared off down the skate park…

“A link is a link is a link, right?”

Wrong again, Clive. This next section is about internal anchor text. You may not know this, but ‘click here’, ‘this post’, ‘research shows’ links are pretty useless, SEO-wise. It’s a waste of a perfectly good link!

Compare:

1. Find out how to clean your wheels by clicking here.
2. Watch our video, How to Clean Roller Skate Wheels.

Which link do you reckon search engines will like more? The one that says absolutely nothing or the one which reflects what’s behind the link? Exactly.

But…

Sorry. There’s always a ‘but’, isn’t there? You should know that, being the butt of most jokes, Clive.

Here’s the but: don’t repeat the same anchor text over and over! Yes, optimising it is important, but repeating the same text looks strange to visitors and some people argue it can hurt your ranking as it looks like you’re trying to trick search engines. It’s a bit like keyword stuffing.

Instead, use variations of a phrase to make it look more natural and less contrived. Here are some examples you could use for the video:

Watch: Roller Skate Wheel Cleaning
Keeping Roller Skate Wheels Clean
Maintaining Cleanliness of Roller Skate Wheels [Video]

These all link to the same video, but they don’t all say exactly the same thing. See?

clive 5-05“I just read a great article on wheel cleaning… I’m going to copy it and put it on my website too!”

For the love of… Clive! You idiot.

Aside from the issues of, y’know, stealing, when there is duplicate content on the internet search engines don’t know which one is most important, which one it should rank for each query, or whether to direct metrics to one page or another. When there is duplicate content all websites involved suffer with poor ranking and loss of traffic, and search engines provide less relevant results. Which sucks for everyone.

It can be surprisingly easy to duplicate content within big sites. Products could fall into more than one category, for example, or a post might be relevant in more that one section of your site – a page on HTML Shortcuts would be relevant for web design, blogging and email marketing, for instance. It’s tempting to post it under each section, but this is bad news SEO-wise. Instead, a better tactic would be to give the post its own page and link to it rather than duplicate the post in each section.

This’ll also improve the ranking of that page, since it’ll be seen as an authority on that topic.

www.rollerskaterepair.co.uk/cleaning/wheel-cleaning
www.rollerskaterepair.co.uk/weeklymaintenance/wheel-cleaning
www.rollerskaterepair.co.uk/products/wheel-cleaning

Rather than wheel cleaning content appearing once in each category, a better plan of attack would be to use the wheel cleaning information as a separate page and link to it: www.rollerskaterepair.co.uk/wheel-cleaning
In this instance, Clive, you’d pop a link to the above page in each section (cleaning, weekly maintenance and products), so it only appears once on the website. This will grant that page much more authority and will rank more highly when users search for ‘roller skate wheel cleaning’.

As we already told you, Clive, it’s also important that your page titles and meta descriptions are unique so that search engine crawlers can correctly identify them and users know exactly what they’ll find on the page.

“So if I can’t steal borrow content, what SHOULD I write about?”

From an SEO point of view, it’s really important that the content you put up on your website for the entire world to see is interesting, accurate, correct and addresses the needs of the readers, whether that’s finding out information about your niche, buying products or researching services.

Linked to this is the need to brainstorm some keywords that you want to rank for, Clive. ‘Roller skate repair’ is one; others could be ‘how to clean roller skates’, ‘roller skate maintenance’, ‘fixing roller skates’ or ‘mend roller skate bearings’.

Creating content for your site really is as simple as writing about your keywords. Blogs on fixing skates, cleaning them, mending them, how to take them apart and put them back together, and what a good maintenance schedule looks like will be fabulous topics, Clive. Your readers will find them invaluable, they’re relevant to your website and the keywords, and they’ll bring people to your website who will find what you say valuable and might even visit your physical shop to get take advantage of your hands-on service.

“Thanks, guys! What else do I need to watch out for?”

We’re happy you asked, Clive. Here are some other bits and bobs you’ll need to work on to get your website moving on up the SERPs. Don’t say we never do anything nice for you:

Local SEO

Since your company has a physical address, you can start ranking your local business. Firstly, you’ll need to go to Google My Business where you can add your address, hours and contact details. It’ll allow your business and website to show up in this format:

Really useful, isn’t it, Clive? If someone searches for ‘roller skate shop London’ yours will show up just like this. Smashing.

Another way to boost your Local SEO is to include your location (London) in page titles, tags, URLs and descriptions.

Of course, Local SEO is only necessary if your business is specific to a certain area – say, a physical shop, or a service offered within an area of the country, like ‘dog walking in West Sussex’. If the location isn’t a factor, don’t worry about Local SEO.

Be Personal

Engaging with your customers on social media can be a good way to increase your SERP ranking. This is because users will share your URLs, link to your pages, share your content and increase the awareness of your brand.

Keep Updating

Don’t let your website slip into oblivion. Keep it updated with regular content, advice, photos – perhaps even a competition or two, Clive? – in order for it to stay relevant and rank highly in searches.

Be a Professional

You might not think your customers care about your privacy policy, but it’s always a good idea to have a complete website. You’ll need an About Us page, a Privacy Policy, T&Cs, FAQs and any other acronyms you think will be handy. A well-rounded website will look professional, answer your customers’ queries and save you time (and lawsuits) in the long run.

Call to Action

Ultimately, Clive, you want your customers to do something once they land on your website. We all need cash in the bank, so think about how you’ll achieve that and create a ‘call to action’ that will guide users in the right direction. For an eCommerce website that’ll be clear, bold, obvious ‘Add to Basket’ and ‘Checkout’ buttons; for a physical shop like yours it could be a booking form for customers to book a roller skate repair service, or a contact form so they can get in touch with any questions. For a blog or information website, the ‘money’ is in getting a return audience, so ‘Join our mailing list’ or ‘Get weekly updates’ calls to action are the obvious bet.

clive 6-06Go Mobile

Our final piece of advice to you, our dear Clive, is to make sure your website is responsive. That means it’ll need to look and work just as beautifully on laptops, tablets and mobiles. Google favours mobile-friendly websites in its search results, but that’s not the only reason you should embrace responsiveness; the smartphone conversion rate (i.e. those visits which become a purchase or lead) is 60% when the website is mobile-friendly, yet that drops to just 23% when it’s not mobile-friendly!

So if you want to get ahead of the competition, be the one with a mobile-friendly website. What have you got to lose?

Well, Clive. You’re armed with all the SEO knowledge you need to get your website ranking on search engines. Now it’s up to you to implement it all. Go on; get your SEO skates on.

 

If you are like Clive and need help with your SEO, get in touch with us today!

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Author Greg Painter

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