If you’re a beginner to search engine optimization (SEO), then you’ve come to the right place. The first thing to know is that there is no magic formula to end up at the top of an internet search. There are certain rules that you can follow, though, to make sure your website is optimized and will give the search engine algorithms the necessary information to rank you higher. This list is a compilation of suggestions that really work if applied correctly.
- Find the right keywords to use.
The thing you’ll hear the most in SEO discussions is the use of relevant keywords. Keywords are at the core of a successful SEO strategy. You need to research and think about what keywords are most relevant to your business. For this step, write down every word that is relevant to your business, like what you do, the services offered, and the locations. Then, you can use a keyword research tool like Google AdWords to discover new related keywords.
Once you’ve got your list, search for those keywords and you’ll see a suggestion in the search bar when you type, as well as suggested keywords at the bottom of the page. Add these variations (if appropriate) to your list and keep searching them. You’ll ideally end up with groups of similar keywords, and optimize your content with these terms. This will rank your article for the biggest range of terms.
- Optimize your page titles and descriptions.
This is also an important part of SEO and you should focus on this optimization, especially for Google SEO. Page titles need to be unique to each page and it absolutely needs to be an accurate description of the contents of the page. They should be brief but also descriptive and allow the user to know what the page will be about. In terms of your title for your home page, it should include your business or website name and a few key pieces of information like the location or main focus.
The description of the page is also just as important. The page description meta tag tells users and search engines a short explanation of the page’s topic. For Google, a portion of what you put in the description may be used as a snippet in the search result, or they might use content from your page. Similarly to the page title, the description must be unique to each page, post, or product. Other guidelines for page descriptions, shared by Hugh Sands, a marketer at Draft Beyond and Research Papers UK, are that “it should be under 140-150 characters, and the title should not be included in the description. You also shouldn’t be putting too many keywords in this section. This blurb is a way to sell your page to viewers so that they want to visit the page.”
- Keep your content fresh.
Your content should be new and fresh because Google will take from it that you’re still active, and your content might be more relevant to readers. It’s difficult to always have new content that is of high-quality, so there are other ways you can do this. A suggestion from Joshua Freedman, a tech blogger at Last Minute Writing and Writinity, is that “you can re-purpose existing content, such as a popular older post. Add any updated information to the post and re-post it on your site with today’s date. This is really easy to do and will read as new, fresh content.”
- Add links that are relevant.
Link building is tough because it can either really help your visibility or hurt it. You need to have the right type of links that point to your site because they will help search engines decide how important your site is. To put it simply, have other sites link to yours. This is without a doubt the hardest thing about SEO and one you should put a lot of thought into, but if done right your search result visibility will increase.
- Optimize your website for speed.
Speed is an important factor in search rankings, especially with Google. The goal here is to have your page be presented to the viewer as quickly as possible (less than 3 seconds). To make sure your pages load quickly, remove any plug-ins you don’t need, compress your images, and use a caching service. You can test your page speed through Google or another site to know how it’s performing.