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SEO – These three capital letters are on everybody’s lips. It’s the way to know your website is alive. It’s a sure way to revive it, if you’ve killed it with mistakes you weren’t aware you were making. Read these ultimate SEO basics if you don’t want to be search engine suicidal.
It’s all about the site, in search engine optimization
Accessibility, speed and performance
So you built a website. But then, all of the sudden, you became confused. Because nobody knows what they’re in for when they start writing. Most of us think we just have to. The fact of the matter is that website construction is almost as important as your content. If you have a slow site, with a poor performance and an accessibility that Google’s robots thinks of as not exactly great, well, you’re in for a couple of penalties. Unfortunately, good things come at a cost, so you’ll most probably have to waste some money on actually getting a perfect website. In spite of the costs, think of it this way: the better the site, the better your reputation.
Your site’s like a good wine. The older, the better.
Age really matters. Especially with search engines. You want Google to fall in love with you and index your every page. Writing ten posts and forgetting about them doesn’t mean you’re optimizing anything. Work on your website every day. Write short posts but be consistent, and in time, people will want to quote you and link to your website.
CMSs actually matter
When I built my first blog (it feels like 100 years ago), I obviously had to choose a blogging platform. And I chose wrong. Blogger may be indexed healthily because Google owns it, but, in the long run, there are high chances that, by using it, you won’t learn anything new or useful. There’s only one thing that’s truly great about Blogger, and it’s the hosting, which is free. The rest – poor design (disastrous templates), poor website construction and the absolute lack of tags – will not help you.
So I switched to WordPress. I was young and didn’t know too much about optimization in general, but I knew I wanted to compare opinions with other people. So, how does one get discovered? Around 10 years ago I didn’t even know there was a thing called search engine optimization. I did some research and googled all the things that crossed my mind and I wonderously found out something: there’s a thing called WordPress search engine optimization, and you do it by using the best SEO tools a CMS can offer you. The one I’m now using is the WordPress Plugin by Yoast. It’s free and, for a personal blog, it gives me everything I need: a title, a keyword and a meta description. It even offers me a free SEO analysis by changing the color of the plugin button. When it’s green, I know I’m good.
People have to know how to get around your site.
Unfortunately, the aspiring writer in you will be disappointed. You can’t just write and expect people to discover you, by just throwing some content on your site. A sitemap is utterly necessary and a search box is mandatory. You can create your sitemap with the help of Google Webmaster Tools. If I visit your site for the second time because I read and liked an article two weeks ago, well, if you don’t have a search box there are high chances I’ll leave. I won’t have the patience to go through all your posts just to rediscover the one I liked.
Then, it’s about what and how you write.
This is where you learn that search engine optimization is like maths, in more ways than you’ve ever imagined. Therefore, you can use some formulas and get some results.
Publish only the most amazing content, and do it regularly
You must have read this piece of advice on numerous other sites. But the bottom line is it’s only the truly exceptional content that attracts the attention of a huge audience. Your post has to be either funny, extraordinarily well-documented, or simply out of the ordinary. Related to the content is also its frequency. You can’t write ten posts during the first month of your website’s existence, and then one every 2 months.
Do some keyword research
This goes both for before and after writing. My personal favorite tool is the Keyword Planner, by Google Adwords. One of the perks of using the Keyword Planner is you can select continents, countries or cities you intend to do your research in. For instance, if you’re in the business of building wind turbines and there’s a common belief that Northern European countries are keen on energy sources that don’t pollute, you’ll clearly want to sell some of your products over there.
Link building is the answer to the majority of your problems
This includes linking to your own content and to other influencing sites. But the greatest issue most people face is the following: So how do I convince others to link to me? You can’t start commenting like crazy, because you will get banned from those places. Instead, use some of these 5 sources of online traffic you could be ignoring.
Make your content search-friendly
Not only do you have to use keywords, but you also have to optimize your pages’ URLs. I, for one, will never click on one of your links if they look like http://www.mysite.com/article/498alt658694_p5h, instead of looking like http://www.mysite.com/2014/seobasics. The same goes for image descriptions and their names.
The most important feature your text must possess is… drum sound…, headings! Google’s robots aren’t people. It is very rarely that an actual human being intervenes in the process of banning and unbanning a site. Without headings and subheadings, it’s practically impossible for an automated program to correctly crawl your website.
But headings aren’t titles, or even subtitles. You can’t use Heading 2 because it’s your second ‘subtitle’. But you can use it if it’s a part of Heading 1.
Well… not exactly.
Search engine optimization allows you to create content that essentially markets itself for free. Jeff Goins
This is where I should probably end my infamous pleading for search engine optimization. But I won’t. Instead, I’ll tell you that after all this hard work (and we know it’s truly hard if you have to optimize hundreds and hundreds of pages), comes more hard work. Which involves creating social media strategies, interacting with your customers, relying on a fabulous content strategy and a bunch of other interesting things.
So stay tuned. There’s more of this search engine optimization thing in our future Beaglecat articles.
*Image source for the featured image: Flickr cc