In a world where over 90% of online experiences start with a search engine, showing up on the front page of Google can be the deciding factor between a business that’s thriving and one that’s not. Over 2 million blog posts are published every day which makes it tough to stand out. No wonder millions of people Google the term SEO each month. So, what does SEO mean?
Sure, you know that it stands for search engine optimization, but what gets optimized?
Is it the design? Or writing? The links maybe?
Yes, yes, and yes. It’s all of them and more.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of optimizing your online content so that a search engine likes to show it as a top result for searches of a certain keyword.
But to understand how to show up first in the search engine results, you first need to know how search even works or precisely the SEO Force. So, let’s dig in.
Content: “Content is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet…” Bill Gates – January 1996 and it’s true as ever today. When you Google “quick and easy homemade pasta”, Google will put all its resources to find the best recipe it believes is for homemade pasta. It doesn’t look for the quickest recipe, the easiest recipe, or throw out a bunch of online shops for frozen dinners. Google always tries to give you the best possible experience by directing you to the greatest content it can find. And hence the first step to do well with SEO is to produce great SEO content.
Keyword Research: You need to find some of the most relevant words/phrases that best describe your services/product or business. One aspect of this strategy is to use long-tail keywords instead of general keywords (not discouraging to use these as well). These types of phrases are longer and more accurate than their more commonly searched variations. These keywords have lower competition, are highly focused and relevant to online searches. Long-tail keywords drive higher conversions because they deliver highly qualified traffic and leads through online searches. Using these, you, in turn, focus on user intent and conversions. Remember, keyword stuffing is a complete NO these days.
Direct Answers: If your content is clearly written and answers some of the questions as asked by a consumer, your result can come directly below the search bar of Google. Hence, it is important to keep the content crisp and concise.
Freshness of Content: Besides a strong keyword influence in your SEO content, keep adding new SEO content to your webpage, or keep your existing content up-to-date.
Bounces and Blocked Sites: Google has confirmed that user interaction is a ranking factor. They’ve even gone as far as to consider how many Chrome users block your site. So make sure you keep an eye on your bounce rate and “time on page” in Google Analytics.
The next big chunk you need to take care of after making your content evergreen is HTML. There are 4 parts of HTML which you need to optimize for each and every piece of content you put online.
- Write a unique title tag for every page: The title tag on pages of your website tells search engines what the page is about. It should be 70 characters or less and include your business or brand name and keywords that relate to that specific page only.
- Write a compelling Meta description for every page: Meta descriptions are what show up as an excerpt when Google displays your page as a result to searchers. Every page should have a Meta description, under 160 characters, that more elaborately describes the page. The Meta description probably doesn’t play much of a role in your actual page rankings, but it certainly affects click-through rates.
- Subheads are one of the most important things that a landing page needs: It helps break the content into sections as well as let search engines know more about what each section of content is about. These need to be marked with HTML tags (H1, H2, etc.) to help Google process and understand the intent and organization of your content.
- Internal Links: The thicker the web of links between pages of your site, the easier it is for the crawlers to index all of them, giving the search engine a better understanding of your site. Every article on your site should be accompanied by social share icons; social shares serve as indirect ranking signals, giving you the opportunity to earn more inbound links, which pass authority back to your site.
- Sitemap: Sitemap is an XML file that is full of your individual webpage’s URLs. It’s like an archive of every webpage on your website. This file should be easily discoverable in your site in order for search engine crawlers to stumble upon it. Search engines should see all the pages that you want them to see. The more pages that they index from you; the more trust your site gains. It only means that your website has more information to offer. It won’t greatly boost your on-site SEO, but it would definitely help.
The goal of link building is to get other websites to link to yours. Most websites will have a hard time generating enough organic links to raise their rankings in search engines. This is why link building is such a popular service as a way to build backlinks with others. You can get started on building quality links by doing some of the following activities –
- Submit guest blog posts to popular blogs in your industry. This helps in getting a link back to your website in an author box
- Reach out to related but not competitive businesses to see if they will link to you. One must-see if the business you reach out to follow the same practice of linking on their website
- Get active enough in your community to get some media coverage
- Monitor Results
You must keep track of your SEO progress by monitoring your results. You can use the two most important tools –
- Authority Labs – Create a free account which you can get after using the 30 day trial of the pro account.
- Google Analytics – Use Google Analytics to learn more about the visitors to your website. In particular, monitor your organic search traffic sources, type of keywords that lead to visitors, and what do they do on your website such as sign up for a mailing list or purchase a product. There are other SEO tools as well but you can use them, to begin with.
These steps if implemented well are more than enough to put you on the right track of mastering the SEO and growing your business. And remember, Google only loves your site when everyone else loves it.
A special gift for the reader,
With the help of this checklist, optimize your website yourself.
|Site redirects to the preferred version|
|Search Console Access|
|Google My Business Access|
|Bing Search Console Access|
|Multiple Categories Per Post|
|Business Name Included in All Titles|
|Internal Link Structure|
|Page Speed Optimization|
|Overall Page Speed Timings|
|Sitewide On-Page Issues|
|Images Missing Alt Tags|
|Image File URL’s|
|Title Tag Cannibalization|
|Title Tags Too Short|
|Title Tag Length Too Long|
|Missing Meta Descriptions|
|Meta Descriptions Too Short|
|Meta Descriptions Including Phone Numbers|
|Competitor Link Opportunities|
|Content Related Issues|
|Copyright 2014 in Footer needs to be updated|
|Duplicate Content Issues|
|Thin Content Issues|
|Are Most Pages Receiving Traffic and Rankings?|
|Overall Page Speed Timings|
|Site Search Enabled|
|Search Console linked|
|Online Conversion Tracking|
|Schema Markup / OG Data|
|Home Page: Local Bussines or Organization|
|About Page: About Markup|
|Contact Page: Contact Markup|
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