Let's start by exploring what SEO really means. Then we'll move on to share our tips on how to build a website that works both for your customers and for search engines.
What is SEO's purpose?
No doubt you’ve heard or seen the term SEO numerous times.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, which, when used correctly, increases your website’s visibility within search engines. This will increase your ranking and attract new customers to your website by placing it at the top or close to the top in the list of search results. There are a number of techniques that help you ensure that your website is found more easily when people search the web.
Whether you're starting a blog or an e-commerce solution for your clients, it's a good idea to keep some good web development practices in mind to improve your position in the search rankings.
Here are ten basic tips to keep in mind as you get started.
- Monitor your Ranking
As a starting point, find out what position your website currently holds in comparison with your competitors, what keywords work best to determine your site’s ranking, and the site’s average position in the search results. Google Webmaster Tools is a free, quick, accurate, and comprehensive tool that can provide you with all of this information.
- Submit your Site to Search Engines
Free website submission is often included in a web development contract. However, we recommend that once the site is ready to go live, you submit it personally. This can be done by sending a submission request through the Google submission page. That's all you need to do!
- Create the Most Appropriate and Effective Keywords
Keywords are words or phrases used in web searches to find desired information. If you know what sort of terminology or information your potential customer or visitor is looking for, make every effort to efficiently provide the information they seek. Otherwise they will click that X button and be out of there before you have the chance to show that you can supply what they want or need.
The use of relevant keywords in title tags and headlines, as well as throughout your content, can help give the search engines a better idea of what your page is about. The Google keyword planner tool is an excellent source for researching keywords, historical statistics, and traffic forecasts.
Note: Be careful not to overuse keywords – also known as keyword stuffing. Search engines will perceive it as spam, and this will actually hurt your page ranking rather than help it.
- Include Alternative Text for Images
Alternative text ensures that a search engine is able to “understand” an image. Images are essentially meaningless to a search engine, unless you include a written description, which is really quite simple to do: just add alt="description text" to your image tag.
If you don’t know how to add an alt tag to an image, knock on the door of your neighbor programmer and tell him or her you need a little bit of help with HTML! But also keep in mind that HTML is easy to learn; you can learn the basics of HTML in just a couple of days. This can benefit you enormously as you continue to work with SEO.
The next important point to remember is to keep the alternative text short and meaningful. Your alt text should be five words at minimum and fifteen at maximum. Search engines have difficulty deciphering text that is any longer than that.
- Use Smart Meta Descriptions
The information that shows up beneath page links in search engine results is known as a meta description. In actuality, the meta description is not a vital part of SEO, but it still bears mentioning here. Meta descriptions allow the user to quickly determine whether a particular page contains the information they were looking for, and adding an effective meta description can improve your click-through rates.
- Create a Search-Friendly URL
A site with an SEO-friendly URL structure will achieve a higher ranking in the search results. For example, seeing a clear and decipherable URL within search results can reassure the user that the page will deliver what they are searching for. This will increase the percentage of people that click through to explore your site.
This is an example of a clear, simple, and descriptive URL:
And this is an example of a complicated URL that conveys nothing in the way of clear information to search engines or users:
As the search engine analyzes a site and comes across confusing information, it may just skip over it and end up indexing only a fraction of the site's pages, causing some of its content to not show up in searches.
- Work on Link Building
Link building is another important part of SEO, but as you build your links, think quality, not quantity. A single authoritative link can do a great deal more for you than a dozen poor quality links, which, in reality, will most likely hurt you. Take a look at 33 SEO experts’ recommendations on how to create effective link building strategies.
- Create a Sitemap
Having a sitemap available to your site’s visitors not only helps them find items on the site, it also provides specific information to search engines, by indicating which pages you want to have indexed and which you don’t want to have indexed. This is particularly valuable if your website is new or extremely large. Google offers tips and instructions for setting up your sitemap at building a sitemap.
- Provide Fresh Content
Websites that are updated regularly with high quality and useful content tend to achieve higher rankings than static websites. Learn more on how Google Scores Fresh Content.
- Be Patient!
Working with SEO is like applying for a job. You can’t just walk into a business and begin working all at once. Generally, a job seeker explores the market, finds vacancies, submits applications, and then waits for responses.
SEO works in a similar fashion: Do not expect the result you desire to happen spontaneously. In some cases the entire process may last several weeks or even months. That’s why you need to work hard and be patient as you wait for responses!
We hope we’ve supplied you with enough information to get you started! If you want to broaden your knowledge to get better results, take a look at our Digital Marketing course, which is made up of three modules that are entirely dedicated to SEO techniques. Good luck!