26No matter what industry you’re in, your online presence is an essential part of your marketing strategy. This is especially the case if you’re interested in generating organic traffic. However, there are still many Singapore businesses that don’t give much thought to their search engine optimization strategy until they have completely finished their website design. Their website may look great, but ultimately, it’s unable to compete with other businesses in the industry. And this results in a significant loss in time and money.
To be honest, the reason why businesses tend to overlook the search engine optimisation process is because it can be somewhat complex. In this article, we’ll discuss how search engine optimisation should fit into your design, ways in which you can make your site more friendly to social marketing and lead generation, as well as how Singapore businesses can keep both Google and users happy. We’ll also take a close look at some of the most common mistakes businesses tend to make.
The Most Common Scenario:
In many instances, Singapore business owners will get in touch with SEO agencies after their website has been built or redesigned. They will express that they have had a recent loss of traffic and that they are not ranking for the keywords that they used to rank for. These sites often notice that they’re getting little to no inquiries.
What these sites fail to realise is that SEO is not a quick fix solution. It needs to be something that websites consider while they are creating their design, not after the fact. In fact, SEO should be considered a fundamental part of web design.
Creating an SEO-friendly site
At its most basic level, a site that is SEO-friendly, is one that makes it easy for the search engines to crawl and read. This is the first step to being more visible online. The search engines use web crawlers and it’s the business’ job to work with them instead of against them. What makes this task challenging is that there are many ways in which you can create a website and not all of these methods are best suited for optimisation.
If you want to build a site that is SEO friendly, then you must plan very carefully so that your approach is structured. And this means that you need to ensure that your marketing plan is built on a solid foundation–one that includes a value proposition and business plan. So start by investigation this aspect of your business and make changes accordingly.
There are certain elements that help you to create the perfectly optimised site. And each had its own inner workings. Let’s discuss them:
One of the first steps to ensuring that your site it well optimised is considering your domain. Most Singapore businesses have a domain with the following structure: example.com. However, many of these businesses have other domains and subdomains that point to this one. So when creating additional domains, it’s crucial that they are related and make sense. Not only that, but all of your domains should ideally point to your main site so that they have a single canonical version to refer to.
Many Singapore businesses are under the impression that includes dashes in their domains will help with their ranking. This may work for local business, but for most others it just looks odd. When creating a domain, it needs to be short and sweet–something people don’t have to try to read. In others words, you need to be very sensible.
Not only is your domain important, but your host is as well. You see, when your website loads slowly, it makes users very unhappy. A good way to avoid this is to make sure that your host is located where your target audience is. It needs to be fast and, in some cases, platform-specific. WP Engine is a great example of a host that provides quality service and products. It’s specifically tailored to WordPress sites.
Your content management system, or CMS, is also an important part of your business. It can have a big impact on the success of your business. WordPress can be very helpful in this case as well, but there are several other quality options to choose from. However, it can be considered a great starting point. No matter which CMS you choose, just make sure that it suits your specific goals and preferences. Each company is different.
Crawling & accessibility
As discussed earlier, a site that is SEO friendly is one that can be easily crawled by the search engines. So this means that you need to do your best to ensure that your site can be understood. It needs to know what you do and where you do it.
The most important part of indexation is making sure that your content is readable. Your content needs to be text-based, especially behind the scenes. So avoid using images, flash, and video as your main source of content. While, videos, images, and PDFs can still be incredibly helpful they are not as discoverable and indexable as text. Web fonts is a great tool that can ensure that your site is well-branded, but you need to put much of your focus on speaking clearly about who you are.
If you want to make sure that your homepage isn’t the only page that’s indexed, then you need to create internal links–something else that the search engines can crawl. Search engines need all the help they can get and this includes great navigation, directives, and XML sitemaps. These elements will make it easier for your new pages to be discovered. Try using tools such as Screaming Frog which can help to ensure that your site is easily crawlable.
Structure and Information architecture
When it comes to the structure of your website, you can think of it like a file cabinet. All of your main categories can be considered as the drawers and your subcategories can be considered as the folders. Not only can the site itself offer context, but also the information on that site.
Viewing your site in this way gives you the ability to stay organised. And it will make you more conscious about the structure. All of your articles, blog posts, services, FAQ content, and locations will be seen as an entity within your company. Though how infinitely you structure your content will depend on your personal preference and niche. However, keep in mind, that the less your visitors have the click, the more easily the site is to navigate. Ideally, you should keep the clicks down to about four.
Another thing that gives your site context for both humans and search engines is the URL. The more simple the URLs are, the better. This means that they should make it clear what the pages are about. They shouldn’t include any random numbers or symbols. Create URLs that are easily identifiable.
Navigation helps to further reinforce what each page is about. It works hand and hand with your structure, URLs XML sitemaps, and other crucial elements. Navigation is much more than a menu, it’s actually the signpost that directs users to your most relevant content as well as additional services.
Unfortunately, this is an element of a website that is one of the easiest to get wrong. So Singapore businesses owner should be especially careful and thoughtful about how they structure this menu. Consider the wants and needs of your target audience. Users shouldn’t have to think when reading your navigation. If your wording is too tricky, this could cause users to leave. ‘
When it comes to your content, there are several things that could end up working against you. Among them are orphaned content that cannot be found, content that can only be found through search, content that is split into subdomains rather than into actual sub-folders, embedded content from other websites, Java programs, Flash files, audio files, video files, and AJAX* site effects. Google has gotten significantly better at reading AJAX pages, however, pointless effects can still have a negative impact on your site.
When it comes to conducting online searches, one of the most popular devices on which to do it is the mobile phone. The truth is, we’re living in an age that is mobile-first. So if you want to ensure that your business is a success, then you need to make sure that your site is optimised for the phones. And this means that it needs to be more than simply responsive.
You see, while the responsive design was enough five years ago, it just won’t cut it right now, especially since Google has moved to mobile-first indexing. Mobile networks have advanced tremendously so many customers will never see your site outside of their phones. So consider the needs and wants of your target audience. What will users do on their phone differently that than would on their desktops? Even if most of your conversions come from the desktop, you should still make sure that your mobile setup is perfect.
Page speed is one of the most important elements of your web design. Most of the time, users are incredibly impatient. And even if they do have the time to wait for your site to load, their own data connection may be a bit slow. So you need to work on your speed.
Start by performing a speed test on Google’s mobile friendly test. This tool offers some valuable feedback on how mobile-friendly your site is, how fast the mobile speed is as well as how quickly your site loads on the desktop. And it presents all of this information in the form of a report so that you know what you need to spend your time working on. The speed of your site will often be dependant on how well-built the site is and the quality of your host.
Web usability involves several different factors. There’s the page speed, device-specific design, design conventions and intuitiveness of your approach. And all of these elements should come together to create something with the end user in mind.
Consider things such as the layout of your page and which elements are the most prominent. Think about visual hierarchy. Take into account your home page and website navigation, ensuring that each element is easy to read. Is your site search option visible? Your forms should be as lightweight and easy to fill out as possible.
These are just a few of the elements that you should be on the lookout for. In most cases, usability is simply a matter of using common sense. So keep this in mind when customising your site.
Content marketing funnel
Your website has a tremendous amount of responsibility. Not only should it help your brand to achieve the maximum visibility, but it should also engage and then convert your target audience. And what makes each of these stages easier is the content that you add to your site. The right combination of SEO and content can be the key ingredients that you need to get in front of your ideal audience.
The best way to figure out what type of content your website needs is to create a marketing funnel. Ideally, awareness should be at the top of your funnel. Awareness content will usually be your informational articles and blog posts. It helps your prospective customer to better understand all of the problems that they are facing and illustrates your level of experience and credibility with solving these types of issues. Awareness content can also come in the form of webinars, FAQs, and comprehensive guides.
The next phase of your funnel is consideration. This happens in the middle. This is the stage at which all of your prospective customers will compare you to the rest of your competition. This type of content is the most practical. It will give your customers the ability to make a decision. This content can come in the form of case studies, service or product information, product demo videos, and user guides.
The last phase of your funnel is conversion. This happens at the bottom. This is the stage at which the content starts to drive conversions and gently encourages sales or leads. This type of content comes in the form of reviews, free trials, testimonials, and free consultations. Keep in mind that customers are searching across this entire spectrum of content. So it’s very important that all of these areas are completely covered as this will help both users and search engines to discover your page.
The nuts & bolts of SEO
As you can see, there are several things that you need to think about before you even begin to work on the most basic parts of optimisation. You need only to consider keywords and the other fundamental elements of SEO after you have created a solid foundation for your website. If you’ve structured everything properly, then you’ll notice that optimisation is pretty straightforward.
It’s easier to execute a winning keyword strategy when your structure is solid and without duplication. As previously mentioned, your site needs a certain hierarchy to it. And part of this reasons is because it makes it easier to add on your keywords. The more structured your site is, the more defined your keyword strategy. However, you still need to perform research and write great copy.
HTML title tags
One of the best examples of a behind the scenes element that can make a big difference in your rankings is the title tag. In fact, your title tag is the only tag that will have a direct effect on your search engine visibility. This is why it’s a good idea to follow best practice.
For instance, you should always place your keywords at the very beginning of your tag. You need to make sure that its length is no less than 50 characters and does not exceed 60 characters. Your keywords and keyword phrases should be used in a natural manner. Consider using dividers in order to separate elements like brand and category. Focus on your click-through as well as the end user.
The main thing to remember is consistency. Sure, you should use your keywords in the title tags, but never sacrifice human readability. Yes, the search engines will rank the content, but the humans are the ones who must actually read and understand it. So consider your click-through rate.
Meta description tags
Unlike title tags, Meta descriptions don’t have a direct effect on your rankings. However, what you must keep in mind when crafting your meta descriptions is that this is what people will read in the search engines results. This description will essentially act as an advertisement for this particular page. It’s what compels people to click and learn more about the page. And ultimately, its what gets you more visibility.
When crafting a meta description, there are several things you need to do. Make sure that the description is truthful and that the page will actually deliver what it’s promising. Make sure that it reads somewhat like as an advertisement. Take time to think about your user’s thought process and the reason that they will likely click on the page. Only add keywords when they are most relevant.
There are a few things to remember when it comes to meta descriptions. First, the search engines will highlight all of the search terms in your title and meta description which will help the user to scan the page. You should never use this as an excuse to spam the description because it’s very likely that Google will ignore it. Second, there are times in which it will make sense not to include a meta description and just allow the search engines to pull content from your page to form its own description that is more accurate to the user’s search. This is particularly the case with long-form content.
Heading tags can add a bit of structure and indicate hierarchy within the content: H1, H2, H3 and etc. You can improve your rankings by including text in your heading tags. Granted, this improvement may not be huge, but it helps with overall behind the scenes optimisation just as is the case with titles and meta descriptions.
Your header tags should be aligned with the visual hierarchy of your site. This means that the most important headers on the page (usually the <h1>) need to feature the largest text element on your page. The content needs to be visually easy to understand. Design and content work hand and hand.
The most important element of any page is the actual content. But still, there are some Singapore businesses that insist on using old black hat tricks such as keyword stuffing. Their goal is to bump up the keyword density but the copy suffers. And the worst part is that it makes for a bad user experience.
You need to make sure that your page is understandable and has a lot of context. Sure, your URLS, navigation, headers, and page titles can be useful, but you still need to write naturally and use synonyms. Keep the user in mind when creating your content. Add keywords into your copy, but try not to overdo it.
When creating content, be mindful of your keyword density. Think about the structure of your page. Consider the position of your keywords; the earlier they appear in your copy the better. Add synonyms and other alternatives.
If you want to ensure a high click-through rate, then consider rich snippets. Users are drawn to search engine listings that stand out. So focus on improving your click-through rates. Try to increase engagement. Use schema.org to create snippets that relevant to your business and the products and services you offer.
Another great way to drive traffic to your website is with the use of image SEO. Of course, Google can’t “see” images, so what this means is that you’re going to have to give the images on your page a little context so that your page is fully optimised. Not only should you do this for the search engines, but also for the users as well. There are many users who use image results in order to drive them to the best website. So it’s a good idea to optimise your images and improve your visibility in the results.
Image optimisation is pretty simple. Make sure that your image has a name that clearly describes it. Use alt text that is descriptive enough to be able to help someone who can’t see the image. Add on Twitter Cards as well as OpenGraph so your image can be used in social shares. Make sure that your image is not too large so that it downloads quickly. Optimise the file size of your image and add it to an XML sitemap. Just make sure that you don’t overdo it on the use of keywords.
Every business and niche is different. And this means that each of them will operate in a different fashion. However, when it comes to SEO, many businesses do make some of the same mistakes. Let’s discuss a few.
There are two types of duplicate content. One is true duplicate content and the other is near duplicate content. True duplicates describe content that exists in several different places. Near-duplicates describes content that is thin or extremely similar to other content. For example, a t-shirt website may have unique product pages but in different sizes.
Keyword Cannibalisation is a term that refers to a situation in which there are multiple pages that target the exact same keywords. This will have a significant impact on the ability of your website to have a page that targets a certain term. It’s best of this is eliminated from the very beginning–namely in the planning stages.
Domains, protocols, and subdomains
Duplicate content is also an issue when your website is accessible on several domains, protocols, and subdomains. For example, this can happen when a business name has two domains. In some cases, this site may have as many as eight variations. The good news is that this is an easy fix. You solve it with URL redirect. However, design agencies need to carefully consider this.
Flawed canonical URLs
Another problem that Singapore businesses tend to face the incorrect implementation of their canonical URLs. In most cases, the individual who is building the site views the canonical URLs as apart of their SEO checklist. So they’re typically implemented by dynamically inserting URLs into the address bar into canonical URLs. The problem is that your site could run on various URLs, each with canonical URLs claiming that they are the one that has the most authority. This is why they should be used wisely and with a lot of forethought.
Every Singapore business can have a beautiful website. That’s easy. The hard part of operating a great looking site that is actually optimised. So before starting your new website or redesigning an old one, you need to first consider your SEO strategy.