How to reboot your SEO strategy

It's time to pay attention to SEO again. Here's how.

2020 has been an unexpectedly eventful year. Almost everything has been affected by the global pandemic. We are all navigating our way through uncharted waters towards the new normal. Whatever that turns out to be.

So it is completely understandable if you have rather neglected your SEO strategy during these turbulent times. 

But that needs to change. 

Why you need an SEO strategy

Because SEO is critical now more than ever. It remains one of the key ways of getting your business, products and services in front of the people who really need them. More than that. SEO will not only benefit your customers, but also help to future proof your business.

Let’s be honest. Many of us are daunted by the concept of an SEO strategy. It can all just seem so complicated and time consuming. There is so much information – and jargon – out there. How do you wade through it all and actually get started with SEO?

Xcite Digital has cut to the chase to bring you our essential guide to SEO. This information will enable you to create or reboot a highly effective SEO strategy : bang up to date for 2020. 

And if after reading this, you really don’t want to do it yourself, then we’d be happy to help.

Remind me what SEO actually is?

Let’s start at the very beginning ….

SEO – Search Engine Optimisation – is how you give your website the best chance of being found and featured by Google. So that when people search for a product or service just like yours, it’s you that they find and not one of your competitors. 

SEO strategy can be split into “on-page” and “off-page”. 

On-page SEO refers to the things that you can do to each page of your website to make Google like it. 

Off-page SEO refers to any activity not on the website itself but that helps to increase traffic to your website and boost its search engine rankings.

Let’s take a look …..

On-page SEO

So what are the things that you can do to make Google like pages of your website? SEO has an air of mystery and can even feel a little like a dark art. But really it’s quite simple. 

Here are ten things that you can do to pages of your website to boost your search engine rankings.

  1. Keywords

A good place to start is to research what keywords people would use when asking Google to find a product or service like yours? If you as a consumer wanted to find your business, what questions would you ask? What words would you use? And what would your main intent be?

So one of the fundamentals of SEO is to develop a clear idea of what potential customers will be searching for and why. Then you need to make sure that you use those keywords in the titles and content of your website, and give clear answers to the questions that you anticipate they are likely to be asking.

You can also research which keywords are working for your competitors. You can start by experimenting with different search queries to see which are working well for them. There are also various SEO tools available that can enable you to analyse the specific keywords that they are using and tell you how effective they are at gaining traffic to their website.

But don’t overdo keywords, either in terms of the number you use or the frequency in which you use them. Just prioritise quality over quantity. You are better to focus on a small number of keywords at a time, and review them each month, rather than having a great long list. Also, when using keywords in your content, ensure they fit naturally into titles and text. Make sure your content flows and reads well, rather than fall into the trap of “keyword stuffing”. 

  1. Titles and descriptions

We just mentioned titles. Every web page has a title (aka meta title or title tag) that you see in the tab of the browser when you open the page. You can specify this title for each web page; and, even better, you can include a keyword in there too. 

You can also add a longer description (meta description) to the page. This will show up in search engine results, along with the title, so needs to be interesting and informative enough to coax searchers to visit your page. 

See the image below for an example of a meta title and meta description.

    1. URLs

Don’t confuse the title we have just looked at with the page URL. The URL is the web address of the page. It is used by browsers to find the web page and will display in the address bar of your browser. Ideally the URL should give a clear indication of the content of the page. This is important for both search engines and users. See the image above.

It is also a good idea to add something called a “canonical tag” to your homepage. There are likely to be various different ways that a browser can reach your homepage, and if Google interprets this as being several different pages – but with identical content – you could be penalised. A canonical tag clarifies which version of a URL you want to appear in search results. 

    1. Sitemap and robots.txt

It is very important to have an up to date sitemap on your website. A sitemap is a file which lists all the pages on your site. It shows search engines the overall structure of your site and how pages are connected. It therefore enables search engines to find your content more easily.

It is also important to set up a robots.txt file to provide instructions to search engines about any parts of your site that they don’t need to search. The time that search engine “crawlers” have to explore your site is limited. So by getting them to ignore the less important parts of your site, you will have more chance of getting relevant pages searched and displayed in search results.

    1. Headings and subheadings

When a website is designed, it has a “style sheet” that informs the browser how different parts of the page need to be displayed. This style sheet includes formatting for headings and subheadings on your page. When creating content, it’s important to apply the headings styles from the style sheet. Not only does this give your site a consistent format, but it also makes it easier for search engines to understand the structure of your page. 

There are usually six levels of headings, from H1 to H6. You should aim to use H1 for the main on-page heading. Then use H2 for subheadings, and H3-H6 for further nested subheadings if needed.

So, for the page and section you are reading now, our heading and subheadings structure is:

      • H1 Your SEO Strategy for 2020
      • H2 On-page SEO
      • H3 Headings and subheadings
    1. Content

We have mentioned titles and URLs, sitemaps, headings and subheadings. But these are all simply a framework for the key element of your site: content. Ensuring that your site has content that is high quality, relevant and is updated regularly is the central plank of any effective SEO strategy.

A simple guide to ensuring content quality is by using Google’s “E-A-T” criteria:

        • Expertise – The level of expertise required to create content varies according to the subject matter of the web page. But at the very least you need to ensure that content is correct, reliable and helpful for the reader. It also needs to engage the reader and address their questions and needs.
    1. Links

Following on from the above is the importance of links to, from and within your site. Incoming links from other relevant and high quality websites are particularly valuable, and we will explore this in more detail in the off-page SEO section. 

It is good to add outgoing links from your site to other sites with whom you are happy to be associated. These links could either be incorporated into relevant sections of your content or listed on a separate links page.

You can also set up any number of internal links to other pages on your site. These can be extremely effective at providing further information to consumers browsing your site, and they also help to keep them on your site for longer. The longer someone stays on your site, the greater the chance that they might decide to do business with you.

All the above links need to be checked regularly. You don’t want any bad (eg irrelevant or disreputable) links either coming into or going out of your site. You also need to identify and fix any broken internal links, as these can be very off putting to readers and give a poor impression of the robustness of your site. 

    1. Optimise images

There are two things that you need to do with your images to help Google understand them. The first is to give images a relevant name, ideally including the page title and/or keyword. If the name is more than one word you should insert a hyphen between words; Google will recognise this as a word separator. 

The second thing to do is ensure that each image has “alternative text” – also known as an alt tag. This text should contain an explanation of the image, and will be displayed if for any reason the image cannot be loaded. But alternative text also provides more details of the image to search engines, enabling the image to add value to your SEO.

    1. Load time

There is no point having the most wonderful content, relevant titles, and well-named images on your site if it takes too long to load. It’s estimated that around 40% of people are likely to abandon a site if it does not load within 3 seconds. You can check your page load speed with Google’s Page Speed Insights tool. If it is too slow, there are various actions that you can take, including reducing page size, compressing images and ensuring that there are no unnecessary or broken links.

Also bear in mind that over 60% of searches are now from mobile devices, so it is important to ensure that your site is mobile friendly. You can use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool to check how mobile friendly your website is, and take action as needed.

    1. SSL certificate

Security is an increasingly important ranking factor for Google. So the best thing to do is to use the secure internet communication protocol HTTPS in order to guarantee users a secure online experience. This is indicated to users by HTTPS and/or a padlock sign appearing at the start of the  browser address bar when your website is loaded.

HTTPS ensures that any communication is encrypted by an SSL (Secure Socket Layer) certificate. An SSL certificate is particularly important to protect personal or financial data on your site, for example if you have an ecommerce section or are using form submissions. 

Off-page SEO

So there is a lot that you can do to improve the on-page SEO of your site. But what about off-page?

Off-page SEO relates to any other marketing activity that drives traffic to your website. We have selected five activities that could make your off-page SEO a resounding success.

    1. Building backlinks

One of the key aims of off-page SEO is to build good quality links back to your site. Backlinks act as an endorsement of your site, and are viewed by search engines as reliable indicators of site quality. So you need to work towards getting good quality backlinks from popular high ranking sites.

But how do you do this? 

Sometimes you just get lucky. For some reason you catch the attention of another site and they link to you. Perhaps a blogger likes one of your products, or a website owner has used your services and is impressed. A lot of this is a case of being in the right place at the right time, but it’s your job to ensure that you are putting yourself out there and increasing the likelihood of this happening.

You can also put in the effort to build links manually. Use the power of networking and ask people to link to you. Customers, peers, influencers, LinkedIn contacts: if you put in the effort to build backlinks, it will eventually pay off and reap benefits.

    1. Social media

Of course one key way of networking is via social media. As well as this being useful in its own right, social media can gain you a lot of additional exposure and backlinks to your site through followers sharing your posts and content with others. 

So a coherent social policy is vital. Whichever platforms you use, make sure that your website is connected to your social media accounts, and that your social media profiles link back to your website. Make it easy for website readers to share your content onto social media – for example by including Share buttons – and always link back to your website from social media posts where possible. Anything you can do that can generate valuable backlinks is well worth the effort.

    1. Guest blogging and articles

Guest blogging is a great opportunity to write content for another website. It can help you or your brand to become recognised as an authority on particular topics and can therefore generate interest in your business and site. It can also enable you to include specific links back to your site.

Another variation on this theme is to post authoritative and topical articles on networking sites such as LinkedIn, with links back to your site. 

    1. Influencer marketing

Influencer marketing is working together with key people that can influence others to buy your products or services. An estimated 92% of consumers trust reviews and recommendations from other people rather than brand advertising.

Effective influencers should have a certain level of following but need not necessarily be major celebrities. Look for people who have some kind of logical connection with your brand and who have built up a reputation and following through the power of the Internet and social media. See if you can form a mutually beneficial relationship that will help to spread the word about your brand whilst also strengthening their position.

    1. Business directories

Online business directories can help your SEO strategy to some extent, and are particularly valuable for increasing website traffic. They can also help to establish and grow your credibility as a trustworthy brand. 

Some of the main UK business directories to ensure that you are listed on are:

Make sure that you keep your directory information up to date, and also include backlinks to the relevant pages of your site.



So, 2020. Not the flying start to the next decade that we hoped for. But to ensure that your business not only survives, but thrives, you need to get your SEO sorted. Now.

We hope that the above information will help you to do just that. And if you need further help or advice on SEO – or any aspect of digital marketing – then do get in touch with us at Xcite Digital.