Having a website and not optimizing it for search engines is like opening a high-end restaurant on the 20th floor of the building with no elevators. What is the use of a website when no one knows about its existence?
So, how do you do optimize your website so it can be easily found online? You do this using Search Engine Optimization and applying proven SEO strategy.
What is Search Engine Optimization?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a marketing practice that aims to increase the number of organic visitors to a website by placing it in first few searches of the Search Engine Result Page (SERP).
You need to be found online using popular search engines like Google that drive visitors to your website.
To search anything on the internet, you type the keywords in the search box of search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing. The search engine then considers hundreds of factors and displays the most suitable result according to its algorithm.
On an average, Google drives 80% of a website’s traffic. However, a comparatively low percentage of average traffic comes from Yahoo (9.5%) and Bing (8.5%). Therefore, most of the SEO strategies are created keeping Google algorithms in focus.
75% of the internet users do not scroll past the first page of the search result.
If that’s so then why all this hard work? You can spend money on Google AdWords and land on the first page. To your surprise, 70-80% of users ignore paid links and focus on the organic ones.
So, not optimizing your site for search engines is no more an option.
It is essential to know and understand those hundreds of factors that search engines consider in their algorithm to rank a website. Accordingly, you need to take steps to increase the ranking of the site.
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Factors that Google considers to rank a page/website are not constant. Google changes its algorithm around 500-600 times in a year. Occasionally a ‘major’ change (like Google Panda, Google Penguin) is rolled out that impacts the ranking in a big way.
Although the ranking factors are kept secret by Google, SEO experts keep guessing and testing them for better rankings. There are around 200 such factors that decide the rank and therefore the fate of your website.
There are two main kinds of SEOs. On-page SEO and off-page SEO.
On-Page SEO – that determines how well your website’s content is presented to visitors and search engines.
Off-Page SEO – refers to your site’s “authority on the internet”.
We will cover essential techniques in both of these categories.
But, before that, we will explore some fundamental technical aspects of SEO that include generating a sitemap, indexing and checking the speed of the website. These are hygiene factors that need to be considered before moving to the actual optimization process.
If you think of SEO like building a house, then technical SEO is all about building a solid foundation. You can look at it as any work done to a site aside from the content itself. – source: Search Engine Journal
1 – Structure of Your Website
The structure of a website is essential. Navigation for users as well as for search engines should be easy. It means bringing the most relevant and clickable content on the surface so that the users find it in the least number of clicks.
A flat structure helps the search engine crawl and index the most in-depth linked page faster.
You can use Engagebay to audit your site for various elements like sitemap, Keyword Consistency, Text to HTML etc. It assists you setting up the technical SEO of your website. Engagebay is a comprehensive tool for not just SEO but also your marketing needs.
You can also use 5-second test of Usability Hub to check the navigation of your website. These tests reveal whether or not your site is delivering the user experience that is expected.
2 – Site Map
You are supposed to generate XML Sitemaps for your site and submit the same in Google Webmasters Tools. It is a way of getting your site pages registered by Google crawler.
The XML sitemap is a way to communicate directly with search engines, alerting them about newly published content. Sitemaps help in faster indexing of your site pages in search engines.
source: WordPress Google XML Sitemaps plugin
3 – Site Speed
The speed of a site is one of the deciding factors in SEO ranking.
Slow speed spoils the user experience. In the world of a small attention span of 8 seconds, you cannot expect the visitor to wait forever to load your site.
Bounce rate increases with the loading time of your website.
Google acknowledges your website as not useful since people are not spending time on it. Therefore, the ranking of your site goes down.
I know you don’t want this to happen to your site hence, suggest you install a free plugin W3 Total Cache. This plugin can speed up your site instantaneously even with default settings.
You can check the performance of your site using website grader. It is an excellent tool that tests your site page size, upload speed, SEO and security.
Once the foundation is laid, you start building your house step by step, brick by brick.
In the process of building your SEO house, you may think of Onsite-Optimization as building-blocks of your home.
This aspect of SEO is concerned primarily with the content on the site. It focuses on optimizing the content on the website for relevant keywords and user experience.
4 – Content
Why should you create content in the first place?
Remember the goal of Google Search?
“To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
The more useful information you have about a searched query, the more are your chances of ranking higher. It is said, if people love you, Google will love you.
You need to create helpful and non-salesy content to make people trust and believe you.
Here are some SEO tips for creating content.
Title of your post is crucial.
8 out of 10 people will read the headline copy, but only two will read the rest.
Why writing a good title is so important?
Because most of the time the headline fails to deliver its only objective.
And what is the primary objective of the headline?
To make the first line of your article read.
Moreover, it should be different enough to break the clutter amongst similar such titles on the Google search. Your blog title should be catchy, engaging and exciting. Title determines the performance of the post. Hence, my advice is to invest sufficient time in arriving at the appropriate title.
You can try Coschedule Headline Analyser to generate some exciting titles which can make your audience curious to read the post.
Coschedule helps you create a title that has a mix of emotional and power words. It gives you a score based on the usage of words, grammar, length and various other factors.
b. Meta description
A Meta description is the post description that comes just below the title in search engine results.
Most users read the meta description before clicking on the title. Your meta description should contain keywords, and sell the idea of your article.
Ideally, a meta description should be 160 characters in length. In this short message, you need to convince the reader why he should spend time and read the full post.
c. Alt Attributes to Images
The alt attribute is an essential part of search engine optimization. It describes your images to the search engine. And, when a user searches for a particular picture, it is a crucial determining factor for a match.
You can use a free plugin SEO friendly images to insert relevant Alt attribute to all your site images automatically. SEO Friendly Images is a WordPress SEO plugin which automatically updates all images with proper Alt and title-attributes for SEO purposes.
source: WordPress SEO Friendly Images Plugin
With the completion of On-Site Optimization, your building is almost done.
Now you need to build pathways to your house. These pathways are the links to and from your newly developed website.
The ranking factors keep changing, and Google keeps mum on the weight given to each element. The SEO community has a consensus on the fact that the authority and trustworthiness of a website is the most critical factor.
5 – Link Building
Building backlinks is the primary focus of an Off-Site SEO.
A backlink is an incoming link that comes from another website.
Suppose, you wrote an authority article in your niche, and other websites refer your content for in-depth information by hyperlinking your page. Congratulations !! you earned backlinks.
Google gives high importance to backlinks. The quality of the backlink also plays an important role. A backlink from a high authority website is more important than a lower one.
There are three types of links categorized by how they are earned:
Natural Links: The backlink mentioned in the above example is a Natural Link. People are naturally referring to your content because it is excellent and helpful.
Manually- Built Links: This practice involves deliberately asking influencers and customers to link back to your website.
Self Created Links: These are the links that you generate by adding a backlink to an online directory, forum, or blog comment. This technique if overused runs the danger of being categorized as black hat.
It should be kept in mind that Google penalizes back hat SEO techniques and the search engine may even blacklist you.
Outbound links are also relevant as they represent the focus area of your content. If you are linking to some authority fashion blogs, Google crawler will understand that you are writing something about fashion.
6 – Social Media
Another major source of earning backlinks is Social Media.
Although social site links are no-follow links, the signals like shares, likes, and tweets are well recognized by search engines. They are considered to be an important factor in search engines’ algorithms.
The above mentioned 6 points are essential steps that a website owner must take to rank high in search engine result pages. It must be noted that each technique is an ocean in itself. However, with practice and experience, you can master each one of it and secure a top ranking in the SERP.
All the best in your SEO efforts.
Author: Billy Lucas is a passionate blogger sharing business tips on behalf of EngageBay. He writes primarily on SEO, social media, CRM, marketing automation and covers the entire gamut of marketing.