SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. Basically, it’s marketing for the search engine. It’s how you can organically grow your search engine results.
There are a lot of different elements to SEO including:
- how your website is structured
- the content within pages and posts
- links back to your website
- And much more!
The goal: Making sure your website is user-friendly to search engines
The search engines need to be able to understand what your website is all about in order to effectively relate your content to the keywords a user is searching for.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
There are a few things you can be doing every day to help with your website SEO.
Website Structure & Security
Making sure you’re using a solid backend for your website. Having a well structured theme in place, as well as purposeful plugins, and great hosting is key. By hiring a reputable designer and/or developer, you’ll be off to a great start.
Pro Tip: Starting with WordPress or Squarespace is highly recommended. Some of the DIY websites like Wix or Weebly won’t help you achieve your SEO goals. As for hosting, starting with Flywheel, Siteground, or Bluehost is recommended.
Also implementing an SSL certificate (so your website loads with https) will give you a nudge in search results. Google recently stated it would be giving a small priority to websites that are secured.
Titles & Meta Description tags
Spending the extra five minutes to be sure you have a title and site meta description tags is worth it! Search engines use these to better understand what your pages are about and to display content within the search results. Don’t confuse this with a meta keywords tag, which is outdated and basically ignored by all major search engines now.
Pro Tip: If using WordPress download the SEO by Yoast plugin. It makes it really simple to add this information on posts and pages. They even have video tutorials walking you through every step.
Be sure all your images have readable image names and alt tags. These are indexed by search engines as well. If your image name is image0001-edit.jpg, search engines have no idea what that’s related to. Be sure they relate to your content. Ex. “basics-of-seo.jpg”
Also make sure images are properly sized and optimized so they don’t slow down your site. Site speed can also contribute to SEO and images are usually the first culprit when it comes to a slow site.
When a search engine is crawling your website, it’ll follow links within your content. By linking to other pages and posts, it’ll know your content is connected. Don’t go overboard, though. These links should be intentional.
Content is the heart of SEO. Making sure you have content that is valuable to the reader, is unique, and useful is important.
Fresh content is also important. If there’s a search term that suddenly gains in popularity, search engines will look for new/fresh content to boost in the search results.
Think about it this way. When you’re searching for something in Google, do you want outdated content? Do you want an entire page of the exact same results? Do you want an article that is blatantly “stuffed” with keywords and has no value to you? Nope, didn’t think so. Search engines want to deliver you the best result it possibly can because it knows that’s what you want.
Content can also be thought of in terms of your content on other websites, with an attribution link (typically called a backlink) to your website. This is important too because search engines will recognize that other websites are essentially vouching for you and saying “this person is credible!”. Don’t go picking any website to add content to though. Search engines much view the source of the content as credible first before they will even give any credit to the website they link to.
How do you know what keywords to use in your posts?
Think about what users are searching for, but be specific. Broad keywords like “clothing” or “planners” won’t work. It’ll be almost impossible to rank for single keywords.
Instead, think about the questions users are asking or the ideas surrounding the focus keyword. Using multiple keywords (called long tail keywords) will help tremendously.
Pro Tip: When you type your subject into Google, you’ll see the autocomplete “suggested” answers come up. That’s a good indication of what users are searching for and can get you started on what to write about.
Another resource: answerthepublic.com. It gives you ideas on questions users are searching for related to your topic.
Finally, one item to keep in mind is that SEO takes time. There’s no overnight solution, no button to press getting you on the front page of Google and there are no guarantees. Google (and other search engines) have very finely tuned algorithms. They are tweaked multiple times a day! Big changes, that will affect lots of users, usually come with warning, but if you are continuously implementing the basics, you shouldn’t need to worry about those changes affecting you.