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Getting started with SEO the right way
What is SEO? Search Engine Optimization means optimizing your website and its presence online in order to increase traffic. Increasing traffic to your website means more business... right?. Well, sometimes.
Just as you can't build a warehouse and expect your inventory to be organized automatically, you can't expect to drive tons of traffic to your site and have a great conversion rate. SEO is the first part to a 2-part process.
Below, I'll outline 8 basic steps you can take to improve your website SEO and conversion. They go hand-in-hand and should be should be thought of as one.
1. Write simple content with SEO in mind
Many website owners either include too little or too much content. Either one is bad. Instead, try to come up with 1000 words per page. Obviously this isn’t always a possibility. Even our SEO page has less than 1000 words, but we have included enough content to drop in a number of primary keywords and keywords that support our primary keywords.
When you write content, don’t write content as technical speak that only you will understand. Most people who are searching for you on Google are searching very simple phrases. For example, if you found us on Google, you likely typed in something like “web design companies” or “affordable web design companies”. You probably didn’t type in “website development companies that design websites”.
Simplify your content for a good read instead of creating a Stephen King novel. Make your words fun and inviting. The longer someone stays on your site, the happier grandpa Google is!
My recommendation - choose WordPress. We have used WordPress to build over 500 websites for clients worldwide. We consider ourselves WordPress experts.
2. Don't overuse keywords
When we launched the first ZeroZen website, we were just as green at SEO as our grandma, who thinks her computer is nothing more than a solitaire game. We packed all of our keywords in every page thinking that the more keywords we included, the better off we would be. We were wrong.
Now, we come up with 5 or so highly searched keywords and phrases, and work on ranking for them. We don’t include these words on every page, because it would still make our site a bit spammy. Instead, we help the overall content appearance point to our 5 keywords. When Google bots come and visit your site, they scan through all of your content and get a snapshot of what your site is about. You want them to leave with the impression that your site is about your top selected keywords.
You can help bots understand your site a little better by adding support keywords, also called long-tail keywords. A good example is this:
Primary keyword: Web Design
Since I own a web design company in New York, I want to include this somewhere in the content as a long-tail (supporting) keyword. I also build websites ONLY using WordPress so I am going to include the word WordPress as a supporting keyword as well. Lastly, I create all of my clients websites as affordable as possible, so I want to make sure to include this word somewhere in the content.
The resulting content might look something like this:
Hi, I’m Matt. I’m a web designer in New York. My affordable web design services cover everything from custom responsive web design to validated coding. Each WordPress website I build is thought out from A-Z to keep the website cost as affordable as possible for clients. I love working with startups and small businesses that are looking for a professional web presence without overpaying.
The content is personal and light, the primary keyword phrase “Web Design” is well supported. I’ve included the primary keyword twice, but also used words like affordable, New York, WordPress, website, web presence.
What I have not done is write something that just repeats the primary keyword over and over and over. This will send you further down Googles search results
3. Optimize images for SEO
There are 3 important rules for image SEO when adding an image to your website.
- Image Size – Site speed plays an important role in search engine rankings. One of the main reasons sites load slowly is unoptimized images. Use free tools likeresize your image to shrink your image to a more manageable size. We tell clients to try to keep on page images around 650px wide by whatever the scaled height is.
- Image Title - 1r2473211.jpg is not a good title! Your website will automatically use the file name as your image title. If you don’t have a usable image title then delete the title altogether. Image titles will show when someone hovers over the image, so choose wisely.
- Image Alt Text - This is the one Google really cares about. When you add an image to your page, the upload screen will give you an option to add alt text. Rule of thumb – use the primary domain for that page. The image you see on this page has an alt text entry of “search engine optimization” because that is what we want this page to be about.
4. Navigation, fonts, and user experience (conversion)
One of the hardest parts of working with our clients is explaining to them what good user experience really is. We have been asked to add cursive fonts, hot pink backgrounds, overcomplicated website forms, outrageous site navigation and more. These all contribute to a bad user experience, and a bad user experience means they leave your website within seconds after arriving.
If Google sees people coming to your site and leaving seconds later, Google thinks your site isn’t relevant to the users search. If you have the best content in the world but people can’t get to what they are looking for, you might as well have no content at all.
Here are some search engine optimization rules of thumb for good usability:
- Use a clean, simple navigation
- Use easy to read fonts. Creativity isn’t always better
- Don’t use a dark background with dark font or a light background with a light font
- Don’t use fonts that are bright and distracting UNLESS you are trying to call attention to something in particular
- Don’t use font so small that visitors need a magnifying glass to read it
- Make sure your site looks good on mobile devices
5. Make links not war
Today there are millions and millions of websites online. Chances are, there are a few that would benefit from linking to your site, and a few sites that would benefit from you linking to them. Creating positive link relationships with other websites not only create a wider network presence, but contribute to good SEO.
Create relationships with blogs and other sites of interest that might benefit from linking to your site. A way to create a reason to link to your site is blogging. Write blog posts that compliment another site’s product or services, and then write them to let them know. Chances are, they will link to your blog post if it adds value to their product or service.
I have an online store that sells baby products. I do my own personal video review of each of the products I am selling and write a blog post about each review, including the video review. Once it is live, I write the vendor and let them know I reviewed their product thoroughly and sent the review out to my hundreds of customers and social media followers. The vendor benefits from this because I have just posted a live video review of their product in action. That creates value added and will likely generate more sales on my site. I buy my products from them so everyone wins.
In Google’s eyes, they see a site and company much larger than mine linking to my website. This is good website optimization!
6. Make sure your meta data rocks
Open up a new tab in your browser and do a Google search for anything. Now take a look at the search results.
The first thing you will see is the page title in blue. This needs to be optimized with your primary keyword for the page. The second thing you will notice is the page link. Adjust the link for the page to include your primary keyword. The last item in the results is the description for the page. This should be adjusted to include your primary keyword and any other valuable information relating to that page.
There are a number of tools for editing meta data on your website. I highly recommend this SEO tool.
7. Don't buy links
If you buy links, you are setting yourself up for failure. Google frowns on this, and even though you might benefit from buying links right now, chances are the brainiacs at grandpa Google’s house are working up a new release for their search engine. They will notice that you paid for links, and your site will go from great to grim in the search results. Search Engine Optimization takes work. If you try to skirt around the work by buying links, your site will suffer. It is just a matter of time.
8. Optimize your social media
Remember, good SEO is more than great onsite keywords. You need to paint a picture of what your online presence is all about. This means optimizing your social media accounts as well. Try to use the same, consistent keywords in social media as you do on your site.
If you are going to link to a blog about a particular topic or post you wrote, try to make your link title relevant to what someone might search in Google. Being consistent with your optimization techniques across all channels will increase your chances of building a solid, online search presence.
Website SEO can be a rather complex and time consuming project. If you remember the basics, you'll beat most of your competitors online. As you move towards more advanced SEO tactics, make sure you track your actions and any results. This will help you gain the upper hand, and optimize your presence online.
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