Before starting Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for a website, you need to know exactly what SEO is and how will it benefit you. I have heard from many clients running their web businesses, that someone told them to start optimizing their websites to get the results they want, and they immediately look for hiring SEO agencies. The problem is, they don’t know about SEO up to then, that how it works, how much time it will take. This article is for them, to get to know exactly what SEO is!
This is my motivation why I am sharing my knowledge with everyone.
So, let’s get started!
SEO is an ongoing process to improve the visibility and quality of the website in search engines such as Google, Bing, Yahoo or any other lesser known engine. As the name suggests, search engine optimization means to improve the performance of a website so that it can rank higher in the search results more frequently and able to gain maximum results in terms of hits on the site and converting the visitors to desired results. For an example: if someone has a website and wants results from it in terms of traffic/visitors then they should go for SEO. Before starting this process we have to make a website search engine friendly, meaning to make it easier for the search engines to read it.
SEO is predominantly divided into two parts (some advise on 4 main parts, others 100), but most fall into these 2 buckets:
- On-page optimization
- Off-page optimization
Both on page and off page optimization is required to gain good results and high rankings.
Let’s Talk On-Page Optimization
On-page optimization means working on the web pages or website to improve the performance of the website listing in SERPs (search engine result pages) using various factors like title tags, meta descriptions, meta tags, keywords tagging, content, inner link building, HTML tags, etc. and includes the following factors SEO’s work on to build a better website:
- Keyword Research and Analysis – It is first and the most important step of on-page optimization because if wrong keywords are targeted, we can't achieve optimum results. There are many online keyword research tools available and we have to use them to provide as much data to recommend targeting the most appropriate keywords once a Competitive Analysis is completed.
- Title and Meta Tags Optimization – Meta tags are an important part of your web page, as they are some of the first pieces of content and source code read and indexed by the search engines in order to tell users what a web page is about directly from the SERPs. The blue link you click in Google is the Title Tag. The green text under the blue link is the specific web page URL. The light grey text under that is the Meta Description. The first 3 items you see in Google are very important and Google works hard to produce the most relevant results per search.
- Content Optimization – It is undoubtedly important that the search engines favorably index relevant and unique content over duplicate or thin content. Your web page content or blog article content must be added by keeping keyword density in mind and at a maintained frequency of postings.
- Inner Link Optimization – Include proper, relevant anchor text in links for smooth navigation from page to page within the website. This will ultimately increase site performance, but more importantly, aid in the user’s experience page to page.
- HTML Tags – Example: Header Tag H1, H2 Tags improve search engine placement of keywords as a hierarchy structure letting the search engines understand precisely what that specific websites page is all about. Not to mention, H tags also break up the content into easy to follow sections with clearly defined headings.
- Implementation of Google Analytics – An analytics code needs to be implemented across all pages you wish to be tracked for website visitors. Google Analytics counts the number of visitors daily, which pages are the most popular, and various reports like demography of visitors, time they spent on your site, and so much more.
- Google Webmasters Site Verification – Another important factor is when your site is verified then Google will show you errors they find while crawling your site, you will improve these errors and your site will be optimum for search engines.
- Robots.txt file Inclusion – This file is to give instructions to the search engine crawlers (often called as robots or bots) about the site or web pages such as which pages to crawl/not crawl and show/not show within the search engines. This file is managed through robots.txt.
- Image Optimization – It means to improve the performance of images so that search engines can index images easily due to image tagging.
- Implementation of 301 and 302 Redirects – They both are important to preserve your search engine ranking, especially in a redesign project to let the search engines know that “domain.com/services/small-business-accounting” is now instead “domain.com/business-accounting” as the correct page.
- Customized 404 Error Page – Custom 404 pages help keep your branding alive and well, even if the user stumbles upon a broken link or a non-existing URL/page. These pages tell the users that they are on a broken page, yet still provide links to the rest of the website or redirect them to the Home page. It is as a great tactic for a second chance to re-engage a visitor before they bounce.
- Submission of XML Sitemap – XML sitemaps help search engines crawl the site more easily and improved the entire indexing process of the website.
After making your website search engine friendly, we then have to start Off Page optimization, also known as link building or link earning, which means working with external web pages, websites, authors or webmasters to provide relevant information about your business on their website, thus creating a link back to your site. Below are some of the most effective techniques and will be discussed in a future article:
- Social Media Optimization (Facebook, Google+, Twitter…)
- Blog Posting (Contribute to your websites)
- Guest Blog Posting (Contribute to other websites)
- Relevant Blog Commenting Bookmarking Submission (Digg, Reddit...)
- RSS Feed Submission
- Press Release Submission
- Directory Submission (dmoz…)
- Relevant Forum Posting (Digitalpoint, Sitepoint...)
- Question/Answers (Yahoo Answers…)
- Article Submissions (eZine, Buzzle…)
- Video Submission (YouTube, Vine…)
- Link Wheel (Blogger, WordPress...)
All the above tasks are much more detailed than I provided and must be applied with proper care by experienced SEO consultants. Otherwise, it may earn you a flag from Google who can penalize your website for spammy SEO tactics to build rank in an unethical manner, according to their search ranking criteria and best practices.
And if your website receives a penalize, whether Automated or Manual, then you have some work cut out for you to get it back to ranking effectively. Many people use unethical ways, know as Black Hat SEO techniques, to rank high in search engines at a fast rate, but they know it is for a short term of rankings only before moving on to their next project.
If you are looking to build rank for your website and relevant keywords for a long term investment into your company, then it is preferable to retain the SEO services of a reputable, proven and ethical SEO company.
It is a slow, methodical process, but it is the best process!