How To Make Your Website SEO Friendly

SEO Techniques

You have probably heard of the term SEO, and know that it is important. You have been working passionately on your website and now that it is done you can’t just sit back and wait for google to find you.

There are so many websites out there these days, it can be hard to get noticed. In the beginning maybe you tell some people about your website, but you are hoping that people will just find your website without you having to do anything. With just a little bit of effort people can discover your website organically through search engines. The key to this is SEO.

What Is SEO?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. The meaning of this is to optimize your website so that it is easier for search engines to find you and understand what your webpage is about.

SEO doesn’t have to cost you any money, but it will cost you time (so if you don’t have time, outsource!). SEM, or Search Engine Marketing, does cost you money. SEM show up the top of google results, and are a great short term strategy for generating hits on your website.

SEO is a long term investment for your website. So that you don’t have to keep paying money for ads on Google, you will instead build traffic that organically comes to your website over a longer period of time.

SEO vs SEM

Remember that your webpage should primarily be for humans, but make sure to optimise your website so that search engines can ‘read’ it too. Search engines see text, not images or video. Have a look at your webpage. Is it clear in the text what each page of your website is about?

Search engines provide free traffic to your website, and this traffic is targeted because people are searching for what you have to offer. You can’t get better than that!

How Does SEO Work?

Go to your favourite search engine and type in a query. Notice how web pages appear. Which ones come to the top and why are they up the top? They are there because your search engine has determined that these webpages are the most relevant to your query.

How did they get to the top? This article will outline some techniques that you can do on your website to make it easier for the search engines to find your website, read your website, and bring it to the top of the search engine rankings.

The majority of people only click on the first page of search engine results, most selecting the #1 position. At a minimum you want to be on page one.

Search engines are constantly improving their methods to keep the best and most relevant websites up the top. So make sure your first step is that the content on your website is the most relevant for your intended audience. Otherwise your SEO efforts will be for naught.

If you want to reach a wide audience make your content search engine friendly.

White Hat SEO Techniques For The Win

This article will focus on “White Hat” techniques. Black Hat techniques are shady ways of improving your website rankings, and are usually “punished” by search engines. Black hat techniques usually show faster results than white hat ones, however can actually harm your website in the long run. Search engines are always adapting and figure out the black hat techniques, and subsequently put websites that use these techniques lower in the results. White hat techniques are less spamy and follow the natural habits of popular websites that rank well. White hat techniques are better in the long term, and will send lots of traffic in return. Over time, as your website grows in its rankings, it becomes easier and easier to rank well in other related key words.

SEO Techniques

Permalinks in WordPress

Search engines need nice urls to help them understand what your pages are about. Google and other search engines often choose pages with the key words in the url to display first because it knows that the page is relevant.

keywords in url

If you are using wordpress for your website (and I highly recommend that you do!) it is easy to make sure your page urls are easy for search engines to understand.

SEO Action Technique

Create Search Engine Friendly URLs

permalinks

Step One. In your wordpress dashboard, go to Settings > Permalinks

Step Two. Change your permalinks from the default which shows a SEO unfriendly url (index.html?p=123), to something that makes sense to humans. The most common one I see, and the one that I use, is the Post Name option.

Step Three. When you are creating posts and pages on your website, you can easily change the URL of that particular page. Under your title, there is an option to edit it, and you can insert you keywords there.

SEO friendly url

To www Or Not To www

With your domain name, you can type in your url with or without the www. However, Google can see both as two different websites. This means that it dilutes your “score” when it comes to search engine optimisation. You can combine your website with and without the www so that search engines recognise them as one result.

The first step is to choose one or the other – either a url with the www or without the www. It doesn’t matter which one you choose, in terms of SEO rankings.

One way to combine the www with the one without is through a 301 redirect. This can be tricky, so I recommend only doing this if you are comfortable with accessing and editing files on your website’s host. If you are not comfortable, you can hire someone to do it for you.

SEO Action Technique

Create a 301 Redirect in Your .htaccess File

Step One. Download your .htaccess file from your web host. It is usually located in your root domain.

Step Two. Make a copy – so if something goes wrong you still have the original.

Step Three. Open the document in notepad. Add the following text to it:

RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^example.com
RewriteRule (.*) http://www.example.com/$1 [R=301,L]

In this example it redirects all your urls without a www to one with a www. Make sure to change example.com to your website.

Step Four. Upload the document back to your web host server.

Another thing you can do is to select some settings in Google Webmaster Tools.

SEO 301 redirect

SEO Action Technique

Redirect Your URL With Google Webmaster Tools

Step One. In Google Webmaster Tools, select Configuration > Settings

Step Two. Select your preferred domain

And you are done! You may have to verify that you own both domains (with and without the www).

Use Headings

Text formatting not only makes webpages easier for humans to read, it also makes it easier for search engines as well. Headings tell humans what the rest of the text will be about – the same goes for search engines. There is also a hierarchy to it – bigger headings are more important.

SEO Action Technique

Use Headings Effectively In Your Webpage

Headings are easy to add in wordpress. If you are using the visual editor, you need to access the extra formatting options. Then you can add headings.

creating headings in wordpress

If you are using the text editor, you can use the heading tags which range from <h1> to <h6>

  <h1>Heading Here</h1>
<h2>This is a less important heading</h2>

You should only include one Heading 1 <h1> per page – otherwise you dilute your message and thus can confuse search engines what you page is about.

Include keywords in your headings, but remember you are ultimately writing for humans, not search engines!

Images

Search engines can’t ‘read’ images. They can’t see what is in the image, or what text is on the images. The way that they know what is on the images is through the name and the text around it. WordPress makes it very easy to make your images search engine friendly.

how to make images seo friendly

Here is my caption – making images SEO friendly in wordpress

Here are some ways that you can help search engines to understand your images.

Image Name

This is something that people often forget to do (even me!), but it is critical. Change your image name to something relevant. Instead of image001.jpg, make it great-seo-techniques.jpg.

Resize Images for Web

Google has said that how fast your page loads is important in determining your page’s rank. Make sure your images are optimized for web. Smaller file sizes is better.

saving for SEO

Image Caption

You can provide a caption for your image. Describe what your image is about

Alt Attribute

This is the “alternate text” for your image. This can be seen in Internet Explorer when they hover over your image. It can also be seen if the image doesn’t load or they have turned off images. Think of how to describe this image to someone if they couldn’t see the image.

Title Attribute

This is similar to the Alt text. This is what shows in Fire Fox and Opera when you hover over an image.

SEO Action Technique

Using Text So Search Engines Can Understand Your Images

Here’s what you do, it’s so simple with WordPress. When you upload an image, don’t just use the defaults.

Step One. When saving your image, make sure you make it optimized for web. In Photoshop, you can save for web. When you are saving, make sure you name your image something relevant.

Step Two. Upload your image to wordpress, and fill in all the relevant data – your caption, alt and title text. Try not to keyword stuff, make your text natural (write for humans!)

Keywords and Meta Data

Keywords are the focus words for your page. These are the words that you are hoping people will find your page under when they search – such as “Best GPS Watch” or “Optimise Website For Search Engines”.

Google has a great tool you can use to discover how many people are searching for particular words. For instance, you are writing an article on the Sookie Stackhouse books. A quick search with Google Keyword Tools, you can see that there are many more searches each month for True Blood. By including True Blood in your keywords, you are more likely to be searched for.

true blood

SEO Action Technique

Select Your Keyword

Each page of your website should have a different keyword. To select your keyword, go to Google Keyword Tools, type in your topic, and see if any great ideas are presented. This tool is for people buying ads, so a lot of the data wont be relevant. Select a keyword that people are actually searching for!

Keywords and Meta Data Made Easy With Yoast

Meta Data is information specifically for search engines and isn’t displayed on your website.

Typically it is displayed in search engine results.

This webpage has no defined metadata.

This webpage has no defined metadata.

In the above image the website has no defined metadata. You can tell from the … ellipsis – google in this case has just selected relevant text from the page.

This example has used metadata effectively

This example has used metadata effectively

The above image is a great example of how metadata can be used effectively. It shows that the page is relevant to the search and you know what it is about.

A really easy way to add this data to your webpages in wordpress is to install the plugin by YOAST.

SEO Action Technique

Using YOAST To Improve Your SEO

Go to Plugins > Add New. Search for Yoast. The first plugin listed should be it. Install this.

Yoast SEO plugin

Now when you go to make a post or a new page, there will be a new section to fill out your keywords and metadata.

Yoast SEO on wordpress page

You can also see how your website will look in the search engines once you have filled out the details under “Snippet Preview.

Once you fill in your data, your optimisation is rated.

SEO check

You can use the “Page Analysis” tab in the Yoast area to help you get a green light.

how to optimise your page

Basically, if you follow the advice to get a green light, you have done a great job to optimise your website. On the “Page Analysis” page, you don’t have to get all circles green. Make sure you get your overall SEO check, located in the publish area, make sure that is green.

Robots.txt and Sitemap XML

These two things are files specifically for search engines.

Robots text directs search engines to your site map and says which pages not to index. So, for instance, if you have pages that you don’t want people to find in the search engines, you can specify that in Robots.

The sitemap has the full structure of your website. It is a document that tells the search engines when your website has new pages for it to index.

The great news is, if you have YOAST installed on your wordpress website, this is already done for you. Now you just need to let Google know about it.

SEO Action Technique

Adding Your Sitemap To Google

To tell google about your website, first in your wordpress menu go to SEO > XML Sitemaps.

yoast seo

On this page you can find out the URL of your sitemap.

location of sitemap

Now, go to your Google Webmaster Tools account, and click on “sitemaps”

adding sitemap to google

On this page you can add in the url of your sitemap.

add your sitemap

From this it may take a day or more for Google to index your site, but when it does you will come back and see if all the pages have been indexed properly, and if there are any areas.

sitemap results

Here is more information about how you can use Google Webmaster Tools to analyse and evaluate your SEO.

 

You Are Now Optimised!

Congratulations, your website is now optimised for search engines. Show off your awesome effort and tweet about your accomplishments and share this awesome post at the same time!

 

SEO Is The Beginning Of A Long Term Strategy

Good rankings can take months – or longer – depending on your keywords and how many other people are trying to get the no. 1 spot with the same keywords. So don’t be disheartened if things don’t happen quickly. You can keep an eye on where you are ranking in Google Webmaster Tools.

The good news is once you have set everything up it is quite easy to continue with your SEO efforts, and it ends up just being a natural part of when you write a new post or page for your website.

I hope that this post has been a huge help for you. Let me know in the comments your thoughts. Don’t forget to share this guide on your favourite social media website.

 

 

 

No Comments

Tim Bonner

Hi Carlie

I’ve been using the Yoast plugin for quite a while and it’s makes SEO so much simpler, doesn’t it?

I’m also using the Easy WP SEO plugin to make sure I pick up SEO things I would otherwise miss.

I noticed you mention to only use one H1 tag. I’d not thought about this. Should you only use the H1 tag in the post title then?

I also read somewhere recently that it’s not good practice to have the image title and alt text as the same thing. There wasn’t an explanation for the reason though so I’m not sure if this is bad practice or not?

Reply

SproutSpire

Great questions Tim!

It is usually best practise (if you have the knowledge how) to check your wordpress template and make sure that the post title is a H1 tag (and nothing else on your website) so that you aren’t diluting your key message.

The reasoning behind not having the same alt and title text is keyword stuffing. You want your keyword to occur “naturally” (as a human would naturally write) so if it is featured too much Google (etc) may think you are spam and lower your ratings.

Hope that helps a bit!

Carlie

Reply

Charlotte

Thanks, great article. How long does it take for you to start ranking in google?

Reply

SproutSpire

I can’t give you an exact time because it depends on a lot of factors, such as your website and the competitiveness of your niche/key words. To give you an idea, my niche (websites, business, online marketing) are highly competitive. I started rating first in “small business statistics” as that was one of my first blog posts. I now rate in about 200 keywords, with my highest positioning being for “bounce rates” (my previous post). I have only been actively promoting this website for almost a month, and I haven’t done as much as others would. I say this just to give you an idea. If you aren’t ranking, I would check that your site is being indexed by Google in Google Webmaster Tools. More about GWT here – /guide-to-google-webmas…

Reply

Glenn Shepherd

Hi Carlie,

Thanks for the informative post. I, too, use YOAST and have found that, not only is it a great, helpful tool, but just by using it I have learned quite a bit about SEO.

One thing that you mentioned in your post that I didn’t know was what you mentioned about having or not having www before the domain. I found this very interesting and will certainly look into it some more. Thanks!

Regards,

Glenn

Reply

SproutSpire

You can read a bit more about www vs no www in the Google Webmaster Tools help here – https://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer….

It does say – “If you don’t specify a preferred domain, we may treat the www and non-www versions of the domain as separate references to separate pages.”

Hopefully that helps! Let me know if you have any trouble setting it up.

Carlie

Reply

Frederik Jorgensen

Great article Carlie. Although this is very basic I think every website should do the foundation of SEO.

I don’t suggest they should rely on SEO completely, no not at all but just get the basic SEO and the website will have a good starting point.

Thanks once again for the informative article Carlie!

~ Frederik Jorgensen ~

Reply

SproutSpire

People often don’t know the basics, but by doing these things as a bare minimum they should see in time some great results in the search engines!

Carlie

Reply

Lee

Hi Carlie,

Great post, will be bookmarking it for future reference.

You mentioned you are rating for about 200 keywords, with the highest being ‘bounce rates’.

Might be a beginners question, but where are you getting this data from? Is it part of the Yoast plugin, or from Google webmaster tools?

Would be very useful info that I’d like to get for my own site.

Thanks

Lee

Reply

SproutSpire

Hey Lee,

I used Google Webmaster Tools. However, have a look at my GWT article if you haven’t already – /guide-to-google-webmas…

I find that attaching your GWT to Google Analytics gives you more results. (I show you how in the article)

Reply

Stephen Malan

Hello Carlie,

Excellent post, very complete and visual with step by step. Loved it!

I was looking at a Matt Cutts video about a week ago or so, where he indicated the Google doesn’t use or read the keyword meta data, they just crawl the site to see what it is about. But it appears that Bing still does use that meta data.

Have you heard about this? I still fill in the keyword meta data just in case. Cannot hurt.

Again, excellent post.

Reply

SproutSpire

In the past people would just “keyword stuff” in the keyword meta data so it makes sense why Google wouldn’t pay any attention to it. In the YOAST plugin, it is there more just to so the plugin to see how well you are targeting your particular keyword – it also rewards you if you haven’t used the keyword before on a post.

As long as you don’t keyword stuff, I don’t think it would hurt at all

Reply

Lee

Hi Carlie,

Need your help!. I’m working through the steps in your post and am now adding Yoasts XML sitemaps to my webmaster tools.

Yoast is actually creating 3 XML sitemaps for me. A post sitemap, a page sitemap and a catagory sitemap. Do I add these as individual sitemaps to webmaster tools? Or am I only supposed to be seeing one sitemap xml file?

Lee

Reply

Carlie Hamilton

You can add as many as you want. I would submit them all. Hope that helps

Reply

Eric

hi Carlie
i want to know that how many tags i can write in my post

Reply

marketingcomic

Heya Carlie,

This is really nice post. I feel that I did everything good for my website. However, there is something that confuses me:

When I search for my website on Google search it shows links to my “category/tag pages” which I did not manage to make these details friendly with SEO using Yoast.

Anyway thanks for the helpful post

Reply

William

Amazing article – very helpful. I am a newbie and was having a hard time with SEO because, like you mention above, it seemed very overwhelming. Thanks for making me feel more comfortable.

Reply

zhu

great information! thanks Carlie..
my site is problematic on an xml sitemap, maybe you can help..

Reply

Edwardo

Very good information. Lucky me I recently found your website by chance (stumbleupon).
I’ve saved it for later!

Reply

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