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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Another thing you can do is to select some settings in Google Webmaster Tools.
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.
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.
Here are some ways that you can help search engines to understand your images.
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.
You can provide a caption for your image. Describe what your image is about
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.
This is similar to the Alt text. This is what shows in Fire Fox and Opera when you hover over an image.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.