Search engine optimization (SEO) consists of the activities you do to increase non-paid traffic from search engines (primarily Google), which is known as organic traffic.
And while it is a comprehensive discipline with lots of nuance, here are 13 tactics you can implement right now to increase the amount of free, relevant traffic you’re getting from Google.
1. Create content
The best way to show up when people are searching is to create unique, original and authoritative content that answers their questions.
There are ways to optimize your site if you’re not regularly creating content. Those are harder, take longer and have less potential.
If you want to rank better, publish more content.
2. Improve your titles
Page titles show up on search results.
They also appear when you hover over a page’s tab in your browser.
To improve your page titles, make sure they’re clear about what the page is about and that they give a searcher a reason to click.
Should you optimize your site for your theatre company’s name?
Yes, is the short answer. It’s important that when people Google your name, your website shows up (don’t expect this if your theatre’s in Vancouver and you’re Googling from London). This is called optimizing your brand SERP and it’s a post for a different day.
For our purposes: make it easier by adding your company name to your title tags, kinda like National Theatre did: “Welcome to National Theatre | National Theatre”.
3. Simplify URLs
URLs should be:
Once you publish a page, you don’t want to repeatedly change your URL. Keep your URLs evergreen by not including numbers or dates (there are a few exceptions but this does make for a good general rule).
Related reading: Tips to improve your theatre company’s website.
4. Write compelling meta descriptions
Meta descriptions are the short blurbs that appear below your page’s title in a Google result.
Meta descriptions are not a ranking factor but do directly affect whether a searcher clicks on your page so don’t ignore them!
Keep meta descriptions under 160 characters and use them to describe what the page is about.
One more tip: start your meta descriptions with a verb — even if you eventually rewrite it without the verb, it’ll set you in the right direction.
5. Write better headings
Headings make sense of the content on your page. They’re the bullets of your page outline and work the same way to show the relationship between your points.
They also help users with screen devices better navigate the content of your page.
With better heading tags, somebody scanning your page should be able to understand what it’s about.
6. Include images
Images are content that rank and bring traffic to your site too. Often, they’re vital elements to help make sense of your topic.
Give them meaningful titles and don’t forget to add descriptive alt text so people using screen readers can also understand the content.
7. Back up claims
If you’re quoting research or something somebody said, link to the original source.
If you’re featuring artists in your shows, link to their websites.
It’s good internet citizenship but also helps search engines better understand your content.
8. Boost page speed
How quickly your page loads is a ranking factor. Make sure you optimize it.
👉 Upload your images at the size you’re displaying them and compress them. If they’re photos, save them as JPGs, not PNG (even better: use a next-gen format to display your images, like WebP).
To check your page speed, visit PageSpeed Insights
9. Link internally
Build a web of relevant, interconnected pages. Links help people and search engines discover your content.
Make sure your important pages (like your show pages) get lots of links from the rest of your site.
It helps if you create content (see item 1 😆).
10. Add authors
This is only really relevant if you’re writing blogs. Which, you should be. (Again, see item 1 🙃)
You’re not just building your website’s authority, but also that of the authors.
As they create content, they become seen as trusted experts and that boosts your website.
11. Use structured data
If your website is on WordPress, use the Yoast plug-in to add basic structured (or Schema.org) to your page.
Structured data provides more contextual information to machines (like search engines) about the content on a page.
Imagine you have a page about The Rock. Google can guess via contextual clues whether you’re talking about Dwayne The Rock Johnson, the movie The Rock, a specific geological formation locally known as The Rock, or a new play about a game of rock-paper-scissors gone bad.
But Google doesn’t like guessing. Structured data will tell Google exactly what you’re talking about.
You can add structured data for events, shows, people, organizations, jobs, products, even FAQs and reviews.
12. Optimize local SEO
If you want to show up for local searches (which you should), local SEO is important to consider.
- Make sure you claim your listing on Google Business, Bing Places and Apple Business Register.
- Select the right category and build your profile.
- Make sure your name, address and phone number (NAP) are consistent everywhere, including socials and any other directory you might be on.
- Gather reviews from your audience.
- Post content (you don’t need anything new, just repurpose your social media, website or email content).
13. Monitor your performance
While Google Analytics is still the best tool out there to understand how users are engaging with your website overall, there’s another free tool few people know about. And this one is designed for SEO.
It’s called Google Search Console.
Google Search Console gives you data about:
- what search terms your site showed up for in Google (and in what position)
- which pages are ranking well (and which ones are struggling)
- whether Google has indexed your pages
- other information about your pages, like broken links, redirects, etc…
Need some help? I’ve got you. Learn how to set up your free Google Search Console account.
Doing a little bit imperfectly is better than doing nothing perfectly.
Optimizing your content for SEO is never going to be a one-and-done activity. And it’s not something you can hack: it’s about providing relevant content for the searches you want to show up for.
But if you read this post and just update one page title, you’re in a better place than you were yesterday. It cannot be all or nothing. You’ll never win and end up with nothing.
So pick one of these and go optimize your website.