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Making your website show up in search engine results is a key part of the digital strategy of any business.

A strong presence in search will make it easier for people to find you, which can relieve the pressure on some of your other marketing channels (such as social media).

Unless your business is super niche, chances are you’ll need to put a bit of work into your website before you’ll start showing up.

Google remains the top dog of search engines in the UK with nearly 86 per cent of the market share, so when I say “show up in search”, generally this means appearing in Google search results (though I’m personally hoping to see a shift towards more privacy-focussed search engines such as DuckDuckGo in the future).

If you’re looking to rank higher in search, read on! I’m going to highlight some of the most common mistakes businesses make which will have a negative impact on their site’s search performance.

You don’t have enough keywords on the page

When people ask me why is their website not showing up on Google, it’s normally because they have not included many keywords on the page.

But even before that step, it’s important to understand which keywords you actually want your website to show up for. Is it:

  • Your business name?
  • The products or services you provide?
  • Your location?

In many cases, the answer to that question is probably “all of them”! So make sure you make sure to get those keywords onto your web pages.

You don’t have to get them all on every page; different pages can be optimised for different phrases.

If all this sounds like hard work, then consider working with a professional copywriter who has an understanding both of your business and objectives, and of including keywords in a natural way.

Your keywords aren’t in the right place

It’s no good just popping your keywords in the final paragraph of a page (or anywhere else random). Your keywords need to be put in strategic places that can easily be read by search engine robots (in coding terms, these are referred to as semantic tags).

The most important places to put your keywords are:

  • Headings – both your main page heading and subheading
  • Page title and meta description
  • Link text
  • Alt text on images (as long as this isn’t detrimental to accessibility)

You can also use design to highlight keywords to search engine robots – bolding and emphasising keywords on the page can give them a little bump.

Your keywords are too competitive

If the first page of search results for a key phrase is taken up by large and established websites, you probably won’t realistically be able to topple them.

If this is the case for your site, think about adding niche words to your key phrases to help you cut through the noise and reach the people who need you.

You’ll need to do a bit of research and think what might work for your business. It can start with a simple search for a phrase, considering the results, and trying that for your site.

People aren’t searching for your keywords

Alternatively, perhaps you are showing up on Google for a phrase but you’re still not driving any traffic to your website. It might be that people just aren’t searching for that phrase.

For example, in my case the phrase Web Design Stockport tends to be more commonly searched than Web Designer Stockport.

You can use tools such as Google Search Console to help you identify what key phrases you show up for and how many people search for those phrases, and then you can shape your SEO (search engine optimisation) strategy accordingly.

Using variations of your keywords throughout your website can help cast a wider net.

Your website is too slow

While I’m a firm believer that well-written content is the key contributor to good SEO, the technical quality of your website also plays an important role.

A well-coded website will give you a massive advantage over your competitors. Google especially likes fast-loading websites and actively uses page speed as part of its algorithm on both desktop and mobile.

If you want to impress visitors while your website loads slowly, it’s like trying to run a race wearing lead boots.

In addition to it being beneficial for search performance, there are plenty of other benefits of a fast-loading website. Your visitors will be much happier if they don’t have to wait around for the page to load and you will also reduce your website’s carbon footprint.

Tips for showing up higher on search engines

In summary, if you want your site to perform better in search, start by addressing these three action points.

  1. Get your keywords on the page and in the right places.
  2. Do your research and makes sure you’re optimising your website for phrases you can can compete for and that people are searching for.
  3. Speed up your website!

If you want to learn more about SEO and find out how you can make your site perform better in search, keep an eye out for my new online SEO video course. Subscribers to the monthly PJWD newsletter will be first to find out about the course – sign up here for updates.

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