Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, has become a very popular term amongst businesses throughout the world. Simply put, SEO is the process by which you make your website friendly to search engines like Google and Bing. Better SEO tactics will allow your site to appear on the first page of Google search results, which is what businesses want when their services are Googled. You want to be found!
Although it’s easy to understand what SEO is, it’s much harder to put together an SEO strategy. We’ve written about SEO in the past, and here’s a good 2018 SEO guide from WPMUdev, but things change, and here’s why. Good SEO strategies mean that you have in-depth knowledge of the search engine algorithms being used by popular search engines. These search engine algorithms are basically rules that search engines use to help rank their websites. Once you learn about the rules, you can use them to your advantage when incorporating upgrades into your website.
So, why don’t we get started with a quick guide to creating an SEO strategy for your website!
Step 1: Keyword Analysis & Competitor Research
We cannot stress this enough. When you start out with an SEO strategy, you should first look around. It will save you so much time down the road. Ask yourself these questions and do the work required:
- What kind of keywords are associated with my business and my products?
- Who are the top ranked websites for those search terms?
- How do my competitors rank on popular search engines using those keywords? If higher, what are they doing differently than my site?
- Who is my target audience? Do I want to target a specific area, or a broader range of locations?
Nowadays, search engine algorithms are much smarter than they once were. Gone are the days when site owners could plaster their website with keywords repeated again and again. Search engine algorithms are now smart enough to pick up on these “black hat” techniques, which, if you’re caught, will severely harm your search engine ranking. So, it’s always good to play it by the book for SEO!
So, if you want to promote your businesses and products, you’ll need to make your website’s primary focus on those specific services and products so Google or any other search engine can pick up on them. Doing a detailed keyword analysis is important, because it not only allows you to find out what terms most people search for, you can use this information to optimize your site’s content to match these keywords!
Step 2: Implement Keywords Throughout Site
After a good keyword and competitor analysis, it’s time to make changes to your website. Here are a few ways you can inject keywords throughout your site, without making it look like overkill:
- Use keywords throughout the written content on the site
- Use keywords in the titles and headings if possible
- Use keywords in your alt tags for images and videos
Remember, if you’re writing good quality content already, these keywords should flow in naturally and not sound forced or fake.
Step 3: Optimized Structure & High-Quality Content
It’s important to keep your website updated with quality content, and to have a good organization to your site so that it’s easy to navigate. Think of a search engine algorithm like a spider crawling through a web from the centre as a starting point. Each line the spider crawls on will intersect or branch off into another direction.
Likewise, search engine algorithms will actually crawl through your site to index your pages. It’s very important that your pages are searchable, and can be found easily through a specific structure.
Once a search engine algorithm indexes a page, it also scans for the quality of the content, the reputation of the sites that link back to your website, how secure your site is, and more. So, how does Google determine the quality of your content? Usually by metrics such as bounce rates (a higher bounce rate means that the site visitor bounces away quickly and leaves the site…), page-load speeds, article length, and keyword population. The assumption is that if your content is really good and relevant to your business, a visitor to your website should not leave immediately, but rather stay and continue to read on.
Step 4: Add an SSL Certificate for Security
As of July 2018, any user who visits a website using the Chrome browser will be notified that the site is either safe or unsafe. Unsafe websites are those who start with an HTTP:// in their URL, and safe websites are those who start with an HTTPS:// in their URL.
In order to convert from HTTP to HTTPS, you need an SSL Certificate, and they aren’t too hard to get. What the SSL certificate does is offer your site an extra layer of encryption to help protect its content and users. Without an SSL certificate, your website will be deemed “unsafe” and even worse, as your traffic drops from visitors not wanting to proceed to your site, your website’s ranking will also drop!
So, make sure you take this extra, easy step and install an SSL certificate on your website for an added layer of security.
Step 5: Create a Web of Internal Links for Your Site
Remember how we talked about that web of links, and how Google crawls through it? Well, let’s look at it from a different perspective. Not from the perspective of a search engine algorithm where Google just wants to see what pages you have, but from a site visitor’s perspective and how you can keep them on your site.
Internal link building is a crucial aspect to SEO, because it’s the process by which you create a network of links that connect the pages of your site with other pages on your site. What this means is that on every page of your website, you really should have a link that leads to another page on the website so that an interested visitor can click on it to learn more about it. The more clicks and traffic you have, the more popular your site, and the higher the quality of your content!
There are also other types of links, such as external links to reputable websites so you can piggyback on their already-established trust from Google, and backlinks from reputable websites to direct more people to your website.
Step 6: Regular Updates and Content Building
In order to increase the number of links coming to and from your website, and increase the presence of keywords throughout your website, you not only have to perfect the content that’s on your website already, but you need to create new content. Usually, this is in the form of new pages, or blog posts.
If you want to rank high in search engines and are just starting out, or aren’t performing as well as you’d like to, then it’s important that you create new high-quality content. Try to up the number of keywords on your site, and the links that you have, by creating additional pages and posts related to your business and services.
Step 7: Install an SEO Plugin for Regular Upkeep
Installing an SEO plugin, like Yoast SEO, can significantly cut down on the time needed to manually update meta-data on each of your pages and posts. If you have a blogging platform, it is especially useful to have an SEO plugin installed so that you can pick a keyword for that page or post, and the plugin will take care of the rest.
Even better, most of these plugins will tell you what needs to be improved on the page or post itself, to optimize it for search engine rankings for that chosen keyword.