Once you find a template you like, you can put together a professional-looking website for your blog or business in relatively short order. Thanks to the plethora of free and inexpensive website building tools available, website creation is highly accessible these days. But if you want your website to be successful, you’ll need some way to attract new people to it. One of the best digital marketing strategies for this is search engine optimization (SEO), the process of improving a site so its pages can rank higher in search engines like Google.
There’s much to learn about SEO, which is why it’s helpful to read up on a resource like SEO.co, which features dozens of in-depth guides and articles that explore the nuances of the strategy. But if you’re brand new to SEO, this guide can give you a high-level overview on how to optimize your site for search engines.
Let’s start by going over how Google and other search engines work. Google wants to provide the best possible results to users who rely on it for their searches. Accordingly, it considers thousands of factors which can be collectively categorized into two groups: those focused on relevance and those focused on authority.
For relevance, Google tries to find pages on the web that seem to cover the topic of the user’s query. So if someone searches “flat bike tire,” it might look for pages that explain how to change a bike flat. In terms of authority, Google wants to prioritize content from sites that are trustworthy. Pages from more authoritative sites rank higher than ones from less authoritative sites, even if they have the same relevance score.
Almost every SEO-related strategy you’ll use will attempt to improve your relevance, your authority, or both.
Everything starts with your high-level strategy. There are many sites similar to yours trying to rank in search engines as well, so how do you plan on competing with them? Doing keyword research will help you understand what keywords and phrases your audience is searching for, and how contested those terms are in search engines. From there, you can target low-volume, niche phrases that don’t have much competition, high-volume, highly competitive phrases, or some unique combination of the two.
Most modern website builders provide you with templates and an infrastructure that are SEO-friendly. They’re mobile optimized, coded in a clean way that’s easy to crawl, and are easy to modify. Accordingly, you shouldn’t have to play with the back-end code too much—but you need to know that this isn’t sufficient to make your site truly “optimized” for search engines.
In addition, it’s important to create an intuitive navigation, with plenty of titles and meta descriptions optimized for your target keyword phrases. It’s also important to make sure every page of your core site has several hundred words of optimized content. As you get more experience, you can tinker with microformatting, robots.txt files, and other technical optimization techniques.
One of your best SEO strategies is developing and optimizing your onsite blog. Creating well-researched, well-written content has the power to increase your site’s authority, and also gives you the opportunity to include more keywords and phrases on your core site. In general, high-quality, lengthy, detailed blog posts perform better than shorter, casually written ones, so aim for quality over quantity. It’s often better to write one amazing article than dozens of low-value ones.
Merely tending to an onsite blog won’t be enough to help you climb the search rankings. That’s because of PageRank—the fundamental structure that helps Google determine which pages to rank above others. While the original PageRank is now obsolete, modern search engines still follow the same basic formula. Basically, the more sites that are linking to a domain, the more trustworthy that domain is seen to be.
To take advantage of this, it’s important to earn and/or build as many links as possible to your content. You can do this by promoting your best articles and hoping to earn citations from high-authority writers on other sites, or by writing and publishing guest content, where you link back to your own best content. Just make sure your links are relevant and valuable to your target audience.
No SEO strategy is going to be effective unless you have some way to measure and analyze your efforts. Pay attention to how your domain authority increases over time, how your rankings for target keywords change, and how much traffic you’re getting from search engines and offsite links. Then, adjust your strategy and experiment to see which tactics work best for your brand.
There’s much to learn about SEO, especially if you’ve never heard of the strategy before this article, so it’s in your best interest to commit to ongoing education, rely on the help of a professional agency, or both. It takes months, if not years, to enjoy the long-term benefits of a proper SEO strategy, but it’s well worth the investment if you want more traffic and visibility for your site.
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