Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the act of optimizing a website and more importantly the websites content so it can be recognized and properly indexed by search engines. If your website has not had the proper preliminary, or follow up SEO done, then it is probably not ranking, or not ranking as well as it can in search engines. So what can you do to properly SEO your website? There are lots of things that contribute to proper SEO, lets break them down into two simple categories.
- On page optimization
- Off page optimization
The most important thing you can do for your websites SEO, is make sure that your pages are optimized properly. Google has its own guide that shows exactly what they are looking for when they say “SEO”. Take a look at the guide so you can get a basic feel for what SEO is, pertaining to the most popular search engine. For the sake of this article, I am going to keep things simple, so you can cover the most basic, primal factors pertaining to website optimization.
If you are not in the business of doing your own SEO, you can use our search engine optimization for the Missoula, MT area. If you would like to learn the basics of how to search engine optimization and optimize your own website, read on.
On Page Optimization
On page optimization is everything that is directly in your control pertaining to your websites SEO. There are a lot of things to optimize on your websites pages, but the main elements are:
- Keyword Relevance
- Content Relevance
- Title Tags
- Internal Linking
- Website Design/layout
- Website Speed
These six on page elements are the basis for how search engines analyze your website. If you have not properly implemented these factors, you need to start fixing them. Lets do a quick breakdown of each of these elements, so you can get an idea of corrective actions.
Keywords are first, because they are the most important thing when marketing online, its how the whole search realm of the internet functions. Choosing low competition keywords that are relevant to your website is a must. Can you do this for your main page titles? No probably not, but the content within the page can have the lower competition, relevant keywords. The main thing is to keep your keywords relevant.
If you look in the main menu of our website, you will see that our keyword choice is very relevant, but as you might have guessed, these are very high competition keywords. Even though they are high competition, we still have to use these keywords to maintain relevance. However, within these pages and the content that lies within them are lower competition, relevant keywords.
How do you increase low competition keyword densities, without creating lots of pages? This is where a blog comes in really handy. Because you can write/talk about what you need to, with content and then offer links to relevant services on your websites pages. Using a blog will give you access to these lower competition keywords.
Content on a website is like meat on the bone, your website needs to be informative about the services it offers. There are different types of websites and some do not need a lot of content to rank well in search engines.
- Simple business websites that are not in a highly competitive niche can usually rank very well in search with just basic pages and the coinciding relevant content.
- E Commerce websites use their products as their content and if you have a lot of products you can optimize them to rank in search.
- Blogs are informational by nature, but if you optimize each piece of content written, you will rank better in search.
I’m writing this paragraph shortly avert wrapping “title.hash tags in” the <h3> tag. This is not a title tag, but it is showing search engines how important the term “title/hash tags” is to my article. There are lots of different tags pertaining to websites and content, but there are a few you need to focus on when doing SEO.
- <title>. This tag is the first tag on your websites pages, it is what that page is all about. This is an important tag because it screams the keyword you put there when people search for your website. There should be only 1 title tag
- <h1>. This tag is the second tag on your websites pages, it is still what your page is all about. Usually slightly different than your title tag, but still very similar to your main keyword. There should only be 1 h1 tag.
- <h2>. This tag is the third tag on your websites pages, it needs to be around a different, but equally relevant keyword. I usually use these tags like the images below. There should be no more than 4 h2 tags.
- <h3>. This tag is the fourth tag on your websites pages, it needs to outline important keywords in sub titles and should be used when you have used all 4 h2 tags. There should be no more than 8 h3 tags.
Our main keyword in the image above is obviously Just for Websites, so it is placed both in the title and h1 tag. The secondary keywords are placed in the h2 tag, these are keywords relevant to our niche. Also notice how the tags are slightly out of order (h2 comes before h1), this is ok, but try not to get to crazy with it. Going further down the page, you will see the rest of our tags.
As we go down the page, we use all of the relevant tags and as I run out of h2 tags to use, I start to use h3 tags. Meanwhile I am showing search engines what are important keywords to the website. As you notice, I am keeping these keyword relevant and descriptive. The img tag is the title of the image, this title uses relevant keywords, we also use the alternative, or alt tag to be descriptive on images as well. Last image shows the rest of our h3 tags.
As you can see the important keywords are still being outlined by the h3 tags. For the sake of not having any more pictures, the title headings in the footer of the website are h3 tags as well.
There is not much need to go past the h3 tag, but you can if you want, the important thing is you are making the important keywords stand out. Same goes for a blog post, different format than a page, but you are still making your most relevant, important keywords/information stand out with the tags.
Internal linking is very important and it all starts in your menu. You want your menu, or the “head” of your page to contain your most important keywords. As you can see in the first image above, the important keywords are indeed in the menu. As you go down the page more important keywords link to other important pages. For example the build a website button leads to a page called “build a website“. As you go down the page further the website hosting icon and text link to a page called “website hosting“. This tells the search engines exactly what these pages are and how important they are to your website.
Not in one of the images is the footer of the website, but if you scroll to the footer you will see that there are links to more of the important pages of the website, you will also note that these are important keywords for the niche of the website.
Other ways to internally link your website is by inserting a hyperlink into the important keywords of your websites content. You can do this on your pages, but more importantly if you are using a blog, you can do it within your blog posts. Once again this will trackback the search engines onto the important pages of your website, using important keywords relevant to these pages. You can see I did just that in the first paragraph, by looking and clicking on the keywords in parentheses.
Another important factor of your internal linking is the actual url structure of your websites permalinks. These are the links that appear either like: justforwebsites.com/website-hosting/, or: justforwebsites.com/456-20/11/14. In this case you want to use the permalink that actually contains the main keywords of the page. Again this provides more relevance to your websites pages and is a cleaner, more user friendly format. Try to stray away from permalinks that include the date, especially for the pages of your site. Posts are okay to use this format, but I would still stray away from any other permalink then the /website-hosting/ style.
Lets face it, if your website has a poor design, or layout then you are not getting as much back from your website as you should. Websites need to be;
- Easily Navigable
- Easy on the Eyes
- View-able on Multiple Devices
Your websites internal link structure needs to be visible and easy to navigate. Your visitors should not have to search for what they need when they arrive at your website. Another tip is to have an easy to find search field on your site so visitors can quickly find your websites content.
Your website design needs to be modern, uncluttered and at the same time descriptive. The point you are trying to make with your website should be obvious by using large text and descriptive images.
You should also ensure that you have a mobile website, this should be done by making your website theme responsive. If you are not able to do that, there are third party options available that can make your website mobile.
Overall if you keep your website descriptive, interactive, and clean you will be ahead of the game and the competition.
Where does this fall into SEO? An important factor contributing to SEO is bounce rate and website interaction. So if your visitor leaves right away, that is a check against your site. If your visitor does not engage with your site, or visit multiple pages, that is a check against your site. Learning how to decrease your bounce rate and making your website more engaging is an important part of SEO.
Your websites speed is another important factor that contributes to bounce rate and we all know what that does to SEO. Making your website speedy is a win for everyone. There are a few factors that dictate your websites speed.
- Page size
- Images and sizes
- Java script and flash content
- Code quality
Page size directly relates to image size, java content and code quality. Basically you want to keep everything to a minimum. Do this by keeping your pages short, concise and to the point and by learning how to make your website load faster.
Images are larger files and in turn take time to load. Try to keep images smaller and use them wisely, also utilize a content delivery network to increase image and page load times.
Java script is very handy when trying to make your websites more interactive. Just be aware that it takes time to load, so try to keep this script to a minimum.
Code quality is a hard thing to fix if you are not a programmer, but keep in mind that there are many many modern themes available for all of the most popular website builders. Using a quality theme written by a knowledgeable coder will help your website load faster.
Off Page Optimization
Off page optimization relates to all of the things we do to optimize your website off site. The leading factors for off page optimization are;
- Social Media
- Being an Active Promoter
I think a lot of people get hung up on the off page portion of SEO, but I want you to ensure you are properly doing your on page SEO, because if you do not, you will have to ultimately do a lot more off page optimization.
As you can see there is less involved in off page optimization. One of these elements is pretty hard to do and the other three all depend on the time/money you are willing to put into them.
Backlinks are every SEO’s favorite thing to talk about because they use to be the only thing any one talked about. This is because the more backlinks your website has the more authority it shows in your said niche. Nowadays it isn’t so much the quantity as it is the quality. Backlinks need to come from relevant websites and need to be natural in nature. Learning how to get backlinks is a whole other lesson in its self, but there are a few easy ways to get quality backlinks.
- Become active on relevant websites and forums. This means that you bring a good conversation to these websites and communities and hopefully you can drop a link to your website in a comment, or solution to a problem, but if you are really good, this method will generate links for you.
- Write for other relevant websites. I’m not talking about spammy guest posting where you get a link to your site in your author bio. I’m talking about offering informative articles that have relevant links back to a piece of your websites content. If your article is garbage it has no use being anywhere.
- Become active on social media and relevant communities. Once again be active and offer solutions to problems. Most of the time, if the solution on your website is quality, then other webmasters will link to that solution.
There is no telling you the power of social media for marketing, I think that you probably have already seen that. The important thing for social media again, is to become active. You need to be actively managing your social media presence with social media profiles and you need to be sharing your websites and other websites content on those profiles.
You need to use social media as a place to make your business/website more personable and interactive with the people you are searching for. Another great benefit of social media is the exposure your website will get to quality backlinks.
Why is social media important to search engines? Because social media is important to people and it is how lots of people are finding the content relevant to them. So in-turn search engines are using social media signals as a way to rank your websites pages and content. The more tweets, likes and plus 1’s your website has, the better its going to rank in search engines.
This may come as a shock, but offline advertising is just as important to SEO as online advertising. Why? because search engines don’t like to be the only player sending you your business. Your business having an offline presence adds realism to your business and search engines want to send their customers to a real business.
Overall you want a healthy balance of off and online advertising hitting as many relevant audiences as your budget will allow. I recommend using both radio and print media along with Google and Bing advertisements.
Be sure to track the return you are getting on your investment and ensure you are getting visitors to your website by utilizing an analytics program.
Being an Active Promoter
All three of the previous elements rely on you being an active promoter of your website and business. Handing out business cards, offering free advice, being active on social media, other websites, and communities are all ways you can actively promote your business. This in turn will get more visitors to your website and increase engagement as well, which we learned all plays a part in search engine optimization.
In conclusion SEO is not as hard as many make it out to be and on page optimization should be your main starting point of your SEO efforts.
Some helpful website tools to help in your efforts are;
- Google Webmaster Tools – These tools will give you the metrics right from the source you are trying to optimize for. Whats more useful than that?
- Bing Webmaster Tools – These tools offer you metrics form both Bing and Yahoo, you should also try to optimize for them. With that said optimizing for one search engine will help with the other.
- SEORCH – This tool offers valuable on page metrics and will help you ensure you are optimizing all your tags and content. You will also be able to analyze links and social media.
There are a lot of tools available for analyzing your website, you can find them all on our website tools page. Remember that relevance is key. Relevance in keywords, backlinks and everything you do online. Stick to the on page optimization first and once that is done move off site and start the next process.
If you have any questions feel free to contact us any time. If you would like us to do your search engine optimization for you, we are more than happy to help.