What's Search Engine Optimization
It is a common misconception that SEO is just about building websites that are friendly to search engines, but this is just one aspect of it. SEO also involves making your website better for the user too. SEO includes the creative and technical elements of making a website rank well, attract traffic and provide relevant information for search engine users.
In this post, I will answer the question of “what’s search engine optimization”. I will go through all the places where you can make your website SEO friendly, to make it as effective as possible.
Why Do We Need SEO?
Your content needs to rank well in search engines. By having your content appear on the first or second page of people’s Google searches, you will attract them to your website. SEO makes it easy for search engines to determine that your content is relevant to these searches so it can rank it highly. Here are some facts that highlight the importance of SEO:
- Basing your content around people’s search terms (keywords) will attract free organic traffic
- SEO can make or break the success of an online business
- Most web traffic comes from Google, Yahoo and Bing
- Social media is a good way to direct traffic to your website, however search engines are the main way people find websites
- Although search engines are clever, SEO helps them rank your content
- Ranking above your competitors in search engines will improve the success of your business
Do I Need An SEO Specialist?
SEO is complicated, but there are things that you can do yourself without needing to pay a specialist to tweak your website. However, depending on your time, determination to learn, how complicated your website is and your inclination, you may want to use an SEO specialist when your website is established.
What A Search Engine Does
Search engines have two functions Indexing and giving answers to its users.
Crawling and Indexing
Search engines crawl websites to look at their content. Content includes:
- Blogs and other text
- Other media
Crawling this content allows search engines to determine where to rank webpages in relevance to people’s search terms. In addition to these elements, search engines look at external links placed within website content. These links allow the automatic robots used by search engines (spiders) to reach the interconnected websites. When a website is linked to other valuable sources of information, your content can be ranked higher.
Search engines use the information from crawling to put the relevant information in front of their users in accordance with their search. The most relevant content will appear at the top of the search, and everything below it is ranked following its relevance.
How To Get Results
Anyone with a website is a slave to search engines, and satisfying their requirements can be very difficult. Search engines are not very forthcoming about the best practices. But, there are some things that we do know that keep them happy.
- Create keyword rich content, using keywords that match people’s search terms
- Produce content on a regular basis
- Do not put text that you want indexing into images
- Focus on creating helpful content for your users and not just for search engines
- Use internal and external links
Use Quality Keywords
I can’t stress enough how important keywords are. By basing your content on the keywords people are typing into search engines, you have a better chance of them finding it. If you just base your content on things you think people are searching for, you are just hoping that they will find it. To make sure that your content is based on quality keywords, you need to spend some time doing keyword research.
Keyword research isn’t as boring or time-consuming as you may think, but it is essential to the success of your business. I have written a comprehensive post on how to do keyword research for content marketing, that highlights all the current methods.
You should place your keyword in the following places:
- In the post title
- Meta description
- Meta title
- Social media description
- In the first paragraph of your content
- Alt image tag
- In your subheadings
I touched on this earlier, but your content needs to be helpful to the reader. Even though the SEO techniques I am going through are relevant, it is much better to write your content naturally, rather than shoehorning too many keywords in or trying to cheat the algorithms.
It used to be the case that your content needed to be about 1000 words long. But now, I recommend that your content should be at least 1500 words long, due to the amount of competition there is. More words allow you to provide more informational value and search engines will pick up on this, which will help your rankings
WordPress Main Settings
On the Google results page (SERP), the title is the main part of a content listing. This is the large blue text that links to your content.
The title tag is important to search engines to determine what the content is about. To make sure your title tag is as effective as possible for SEO you need to do the following things:
- Make it unique to every post
- Keep it under 60 characters or less, so it doesn’t get cut off
- Use your target keyword (or just your target keyword)
- Keep it descriptive so people know that it is relevant to them
The meta description is the information that is placed under your meta title in the search results. Search engines say that there is no direct benefit from filing this in, but it does have an indirect benefit. It helps the user to know what the content is about before clicking on it. If you get it right, people will click on it, which will improve your click-through ratio. A good click-through ratio will look good to a search engine and boost your rankings.
- Keep it under 160 characters long
- Write it to entice people to your website
- Include a call to action
- Use your keyword at least once
- Keep it in context with your content
- Make sure it is unique
WordPress Social Settings
The next thing you need to do is fill in the details in your social settings. This will not only make your content look great as a social media post, but will help with rankings too.
Other Important SEO Tasks
Install An SEO Plugin
SEO WordPress plugins such as Yoast or All In One will help you with your SEO efforts. They will look at what you have done with regards to on-page SEO and give you ways to improve your content.
Make Sure Your URLs are SEO Friendly
Your URL should have the keyword in it. Also, be sure to make it easy to read with hyphens separating the words. URLs are usually looked after by your SEO plugin, but it is worth knowing about. There is a good chance that you have seen URLs with incomprehensible slugs made up of random letters and numbers. Avoid these and ensure they have proper text, as they can come across as spam and people avoid them.
Have A Secure Website
SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer. And is considered an essential element for your business. This is because it gives your website visitors confidence in your website. It demonstrates to them and to search engines that your site is secure. Google uses SSL in its ranking algorithm, while Google Chrome alerts users when a website is not secure, which can panic them. Therefore, you need to make sure that your website is secure.
Create A Sitemap
Search engines use sitemaps to crawl around websites. This is when they find the content and decide how relevant it is to its users.
Make Sure Your Website Loads Quickly
The speed of your website affects your rankings. If you are competing for a keyword with another website, the faster one will rank higher. Also, slow websites pout users off, and they will not wait for content to load up.
For fast-loading content, you need to make sure that your image files are not too large. Having lots of plugins can also slow your website down (however, some plugins can speed it up). The biggest way of ensuring your website is fast enough is to choose a good web host. My sites are all hosted with Wealthy Affiliate, and I am pretty happy with the speed. An alternative is Bluehost, which is reliable and fast.
Choose A Responsive Theme
Responsive websites work well on mobile devices. This is because they are optimized in regards to their usability and speed. So when you create your website, make suer you choose a responsive theme.
Search engines favour websites that can demonstrate that they alive and active. One of the ways they determine this is to look at its engagement with a comments section. Site comments allow you to answer questions and point visitors to other content and products on your website. This interaction helps to build trust with your audience too.
Comments are also seen as additional content by search engines, which helps with ranking.
Tell Google You Have Posted More Content
Google should find your content without being alerted to it, but if you do let Google know, it can be indexed and ranked more quickly.
You need to set up the Google Search Console. Here, you can use request indexing, and Google will put it in its database straight away. This is no guarantee that it will rank straight away, but if Google never finds it, it will never rank. So do this for every piece of new content. Also, if you make significant changes to a post, request the indexing again, this can help with ranking.
Where To Learn More
I learned most of this stuff through a platform called Wealthy Affiliate. This has everything you need to get an affiliate marketing business rolling. The training takes you from knowing absolutely nothing to having a fully functional niche website you can earn money from. If you want to learn more, check out my post Does Wealthy Affiliate Really Work?
What's Search Engine Optimization? -Answered!
All these things are well within your capability to make sure your content is placed in front of your intended audience. If you have any questions or thoughts, please leave them in the comments section below.