If you ask 10 different people, you’ll most likely get 10 different responses. According to Wikipedia, SEO is the “process of affecting the online visibility of a website or a web page in a web search engine’s unpaid results—often referred to as ‘natural’, ‘organic’, or ‘earned’ results” (reference).
In plain English, SEO is all about getting your blog or website to appear on the first page of Google. There are many other search engines out there (Bing, Yahoo, etc.), but Google is the 800 pound gorilla so to speak.
SEO is also a component of online marketing. When it comes to driving traffic to your website, you have free methods and paid methods to choose from. SEO is considered a free method, and search engine traffic is also known as organic traffic. Organic traffic is just a fancy way of saying free traffic.
I know what you’re probably wondering …
How do I optimize my website to get on the first page of Google?
This is a very loaded question, and there are so many factors that contribute to your website’s rank in the search engines.
SEO consists of two components:
- On Page SEO
- Off Page SEO
There is a lot that goes into optimizing your website to get it on the first page of Google’s search engine results page (SERP). However, getting the on page factors and off page factors down will greatly increase your chances of getting some search engine love from Google.
Let’s begin with on page SEO factors …
On Page SEO
This refers to optimizing the website itself. Google loves websites with well written code. This is one of the reasons why I love building WordPress websites for clients since WordPress is built for SEO (and makes it easy for the website owner to make updates without having to touch any lines of code).
These are the top five on page SEO factors every website should have:
- Responsive Design
- Your website has to look good on all devices (smartphone, tablet, etc.)
- In fact, over 57% of online traffic comes from mobile devices (reference)
- You could have a wonderful website with helpful content, but if it cannot be viewed on mobile devices, then you can forget about getting any search engine love from Google
- Content & Context
- Google loves web pages with in depth content
- In the context of blogging, Google loves posts with at least 2,000 words (reference)
- When writing your content, don’t stuff it with keywords to the point it looks unnatural. You want to use a combination of regular keywords and Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) keywords
- LSI keywords are words and phrases that are strongly associated with your main keywords (e.g., if your main keyword is “weight loss”, LSI keywords might be “fat loss”, “lose weight”, or “healthy eating”); these can help provide context and show Google that you’re covering your topic very well
- For doing regular keyword research, I recommend Google’s Keyword Planner.
- For doing LSI keyword research, you could use Google’s Keyword Planner or the LSIGraph
- In my case, since my main keyword for this blog post was “SEO”, here are some LSI keywords that the LSIGraph generated for me …
- Optimize Your Images
- It’s a good practice to insert your keywords in the ALT TEXT section of your uploaded images (since Google cannot “see” the images on your site, it will read what’s in the ALT TEXT to figure out what kind of image it is)
- This can further help Google send you the right search engine traffic
- In the context of WordPress websites, here is the ALT TEXT section for inserting your keywords:
- You would get here by going to your WordPress administrative dashboard, clicking on Media, and then clicking on any of your images within your Media Library to pull this up
- Fast Page Speed
- The faster your website loads, the more Google will love you (reference)
- This also contributes to a pleasant user experience (UX) for your visitors since nobody likes to wait forever for a web page to load
- My top tip for ensuring fast page speed is making sure to compress your images (the WordPress plugin WP Smush does a great job of this)
- It also helps to have a caching plugin to help improve the performance of your website (I recommend the plugin W3 Total Cache for this)
- Website Security
- Even if you don’t plan on selling anything or accepting credit cards online, it is in your best interest to get an SSL certificate to ensure a secure environment on your website (and give your website that HTTPS like you see with my website)
- Google will give preference to secure websites (reference)
- You can encrypt your website for free with a certificate from Let’s Encrypt
- If you currently already have a WordPress website, here’s a great resource on how to install an SSL certificate: https://www.cloudliving.com/wordpress-ssl/
- SIDE NOTE: I always recommend hosting your website with SiteGround because they make it super easy to add the Let’s Encrypt certificate to your website
These are your top 5 on page SEO factors. In the grand scheme of things, it’s all about creating a pleasant UX for your visitors.
As long as your visitors can view your website from their mobile device, see it fast loading, enjoy your web page content, etc., then they’ll want to stay on your website and keep coming back. If you have too many people landing on your website and then immediately hitting the back button (also referred to as your “bounce rate”), then this can hurt your chances of getting on Google’s good side.
You got your website optimized per Google’s standards. Now let’s get into off page SEO factors …
Off Page SEO
This refers to factors outside of your website that help you get more search engine love from Google. More specifically, this gets into creating backlinks for your website.
Backlinking refers to putting your website link on someone else’s website. If you have a number of high quality backlinks in place, then Google will view your website as respectable and authoritative. This will definitely help you get on Google’s good side.
How do we build good backlinks?
There is a lot that goes into this. However, I have come up with my top 5 tips for increasing your chances of ranking in the search engines (reference):
- Social Media
- When you set up a social media profile, include your website link
- Just make sure you don’t spam your link all over the place
- YouTube Videos
- Although YouTube is a type of social media platform, this deserves its own category
- When doing YouTube videos, you can include your main keywords and LSI keywords in your video title and description
- You can also include your website link in the description
- Since Google owns YouTube, it makes perfect sense to get into doing YouTube videos
- Q & A Sites
- Quora and Yahoo Answers are the top Q & A sites
- When you see a question that your blog or website could help answer, make sure to provide genuine value first
- After providing value, then include your link – position it as a place where the questioner could get more details
- Blog Commenting
- Find other blogs similar to your niche that allow commenting
- Many blogs will allow you to enter your name, website, and comment
- When you do leave a comment, don’t come across as spammy or promotional
- Instead, provide genuine value – think about how you would respond to the blog post in a face to face discussion
- Guest Posting
- This refers to writing an article – with your name and website at the end of the content – to be placed on someone else’s blog or website
- You’ll want to reach out to other blog owners and webmasters (relevant to your niche) to see if they would be open to you providing valuable content to be posted on their site
- This can not only improve your rank in the search engines, but also build your credibility and get referral traffic to your website
- Another alternative would be to get interviewed on someone’s podcast
Now you have an idea of what goes into optimizing your website to rank in the search engines. Here’s an image to help sum everything up …
Whenever I build a website for a client, I always keep these factors in mind. For instance, I always recommend that the client get hosting with SiteGround so that I can easily integrate the free Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate. I also ensure that the finished website will be responsive and fast loading.
If you’re at least thinking about getting your own website, I invite you to fill out a project application. You’re not committing to anything – this helps me get to know you and your online goals better.
If you’d like more up to date details on how to better search engine optimize your website, this is a great resource.
Not quite ready to invest in your online presence?
You’ll want to check out my free resource below on About pages. When you are ready to start building your website, this will be very important for your long term success …
When creating your website, keep in mind that your About page will be one of the most commonly visited web pages. If you’re unsure on how to write an About page that really shines, click the button below to get my free 5 page cheat sheet How to Craft an About Page That Converts …