Wrong! Having the world’s best website is near-worthless if people can’t find it, which is why Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is so important. However, because of the sheer volume of SEO advice and guidance out there, the concept is often very daunting for beginners.
It can be difficult to know where to start – which is why we have put together this very simple guide. Once you have got these 5 techniques down, it will be easier to move on to more advanced SEO – see our article on Implementing SEO to Your Website.
The cornerstone of any SEO strategy is knowing which keywords you want your website to rank for. Keywords are one of the biggest indicators that a search engine such as Google or Bing looks for when processing millions of search requests every day.
When you are choosing your keywords, take the time to consider your potential visitors’ intentions. Search queries are divided into three types:
- Navigational – for example, searching for ‘Facebook’ in order to access that website
- Informational – a good example in the context of this website would be ‘what is web hosting?’
- Transactional – a search with intention to acquire something as a result, i.e. ‘buy VPS hosting’
Depending on the type of website you are running, you will want to rank for different types of search query. If it’s an eCommerce site, then naturally transactional queries should be a top priority. If it’s a recipe website, an informational query such as ‘how to cook lasagna’ will likely be more appropriate.
Ideally, you will have a clear idea of the service your site is providing and what people will be looking for when they find you. Once you identify the best keywords for each page on your site, be sure to include them in your content without compromising the language quality for best results.
Not to be confused with the ‘header’ of a website, targeted heading tags are a useful method of letting search engines know what kind of content the page contains. In the code of the site, the text that will form the heading is encapsulated within heading tags such as <h1> and <h2>.
Opinions between SEO experts vary, but typically well-optimized pages will include only one H1, and up to three H2s. H3, H4, H5 and H6 can also be used, but they are less common and have little bearing on the SEO of the page. Even so, most experts agree it is better to use them sparingly.
The trick to optimizing headings lies in the careful use of keywords. The headings need to contain enough keywords for the search engine to notice them, without overstuffing and compromising the quality of the content. It’s a fine line to tread; the easiest way to do it as a beginner it to first write the headings, and then optimise them.
This is a particularly scary-sounding technique to the uninitiated SEO beginner – but it needn’t be. The metadata of a page encompasses a number of things, but for now, you only need to worry about three of them.
Meta Title and Description
This is what your potential visitors will see when your site appears on their Search Engine Results Page (SERP). Again the careful use of keywords comes into play, but it is even more important to ensure that your copy is engaging and persuasive enough to make the person reading it want to click onto your site.
When writing your meta title and description it is advisable to stay within the number of characters that search engine results actually display. The guidelines advise you limit yourself to 60 characters for titles, and 160 characters for descriptions. If your geographical location is relevant to what your website offers, it can help to include that as well.
These are attached to pictures you put on your website. When ‘crawling’ your site, search engines use alt tags to identify the content of any graphics. Therefore, it is important to make your alt tags as descriptive as possible, while also keeping them brief. If the search engine is able to see that your page is full of relevant images, this will have a positive bearing on your search rankings.
There is another advantage that comes with taking the time to properly specify your alt tags; partially sighted visitors will have the alt tag read to them by the special software they use.
Check Your Links
The next step is to establish your link profile. There are a great many tools available online to help you do this, and here we will focus on two of them.
ScreamingFrog SEO Spider
This is an extremely useful tool that can get detailed information about each page of your site, including any broken pages and links leading to 404 errors. It contains a host of other equally useful features, and can be downloaded for free from the ScreamingFrog website.
This tool can be accessed at Majestic.com. It will show you your website’s backlink profile and a number of statistics such as Trust Flow. There will not be much data initially, but it will be more useful once you have embarked upon a successful link building campaign.
Install Google Analytics
Google Analytics is an extraordinarily useful web-based software that allows you to track and analyse the behaviour of visitors who come to your website. It shows you how well your pages rank for certain keywords, which pages they went through before leaving the site, and much more.
It is far too big to even list the features here, but fortunately it is quite easy to utilize. Simply go to the Google Analytics website, and log in with your Google account (create one if you don’t already have it). You will be given a script snippet which needs to be copy and pasted into the header of your website, so that it is active on every page. Exactly how you do this will depend on the kind of site you have.
Now you’re well on your way to making your website fully search engine optimized! Next up:
If you haven’t got your website up and running yet, don’t worry! There’s plenty of great information here on Web Hosting Search to help you – try clicking some of the links below: