Search engine optimization for websites is mandatory today but it has changed so much in the last few years that most people are unsure how to do it to get results. SEO is a field that changes rapidly with every change to Google’s search algorithms. Staying up-to-date on best SEO tips is a must for all website owners.
How Search Engine Optimization Works
Search engine optimization (SEO) is all about bringing traffic to your website from search engine users. The traffic you obtain from SEO is organic, versus pay per click (PPC), which is paid ads. The overall user experience is important to search engines and to keep visitors from bouncing once they have found you. Make sure that: your website loads quickly, users can easily navigate the site, content is high quality and original, the site is safe and free of clutter, and there are no dead links or pages that do not work properly.
Optimizing your website not only helps the search engines find you, but also helps boost rankings. Search queries are the words or phrases that people use to look for things on a search engine. By optimizing your site with the right search queries or “keywords,” you will be simply helping the search engines and targeted traffic to more easily find you.
- Use the free Google research tool to find the best keywords for your website. Think like a person would who may be searching for you or your product. Armed with your chosen keywords, you will now begin to incorporate them in your website. Best practices now say word phrases garner more traffic than a single keyword.
- Choosing your URL, website address or domain name is important. Incorporating the primary keyword within the domain name can only help your overall SEO efforts.
- When constructing your web pages, there are important things to consider. All of your Alt tags should be 65 characters or less and contain your primary keyword – anything over 65 will be cut off in search results. The primary keyword should be in the title of the page. Use a H1 (main header) on each of your web pages with the keyword for that page. Subsequent headers (H2, H3, etc.) can be used and may use synonyms of the keyword. Each page should have at least 100 words per page – this is the minimum to give search engines something substantial to crawl over. Content should be relevant to the chosen keyword. Every page of the website should be optimized in this manner. All images should have descriptive Alt tags and file names with keyword if possible; search engines don’t “look” at photos, they “read” the descriptions. The days of stuffing copy with keywords are over and search engines actually penalize for it now. Use a free keyword density tool to make sure your keywords are never more than 2-4% of words per page. Instead of using the keyword over and over, use synonyms or similar phrases.
- Linking is important to SEO, but is the most time consuming part about the process. Incorporate links within your own site to internal pages. Begin a process of attracting high quality sites to link to your site, and adding authoritative links within your own site. Take a look at nymag.com. On the homepage, there are dozens of links to internal content. You see that the site is organized into sections or categories, making it easier for search engines and visitors to find relevant content. At the bottom, you’ll find outbound links to authoritative content that is sponsored by the website. Click on the individual pages to read an article and you will find even more internal and outbound links. Every page has share buttons, making it easy for readers to share content across social media networks. This website is a premier example of good SEO.
- Create an XML Site Map and submit it to Google and Bing. Submit your site to all relevant directories. Claim your chosen name across all major networks.
While this may sound hard, it becomes second nature once you have done it a few times. Companies like SITE123 make the process of building a website so much easier and more affordable than it used to be. Their advanced interface enables any business owner to create a free website with ease. They have hundreds of professionally-designed templates. After creating a website, all you have to do is select your keywords, create your copy, choose your domain name, incorporate the SEO tips and voilà – you’re off and running.
Need even more ideas? Check out Forbes’ “39 Actionable Ideas for Driving Traffic to Your Website” and “SEO Basics,” published by Search Engine Watch. Also check out Tommy Griffith’s “The 2015 SEO Checklist,” published by Click Minded for more advanced SEO tips. MOZ has published a great “Beginner’s Guide to SEO,” available online.
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