When it comes to search engine optimization for a new website, some businesses can be intimidated due to the amount of information out there. And often, if they don’t have the help of an experienced in-house SEO or consultant, they will do nothing.
Today, we’re going to look at some easy things you can do to start your website’s SEO on the right foot – even if you can’t hire a professional to help you out.
Some of the most important elements for search engine optimization happen on your own website. You may hear a lot about link building (which we will get to in just a moment), but link building without good on-site search optimization isn’t going to be as effective. Here are the bare minimum on-site optimization elements you should put on each of your website’s main pages, including and especially the homepage.
Before we get started, one thing you want to keep in mind when using any of the following SEO elements is not to overdo it. You might be tempted to shove a lot of keywords onto your pages, but that is not the goal. In fact, Google has unleashed an over-optimization penalty that targets websites that have too many keywords stuffed onto one page. So when it comes to keyword optimization, keep it simple – think of up to five keywords or keyword phrases for each page on your website and optimize for those.
If you’re not sure what keywords to use, try entering some preliminary ideas on Google’s AdWords Keyword Tool to get suggestions. Or, if you really want to get into the keyword research process, check out the KISSmetrics Guide to Keyword Research – Part I and Part II.
The title tag on pages of your website tells search engines what the page is about. It should be 70 characters or less and include your business or brand name and keywords that relate to that specific page only. This tag is placed between the <HEAD> </HEAD> tags near the top of the HTML code for the page.
The meta description on pages of your website gives search engines a little more insight into what your page is about. There is still debate about whether meta descriptions can help with keyword rankings. Regardless, you want to write your meta description with a human audience in mind that includes the page’s main keywords, as the meta description does show up in search results.
The above image shows how KISSmetrics’ own title tag and meta description shows up in Google search results. You can see that the keywords searched by a user (in this case, the keyword was KISSmetrics) are bolded by Google in both the title tag and the meta description. This is why you have to use your business or brand name and keywords in both the title and meta description – it helps your search results stand out to the searcher when they are searching those terms.
If you use WordPress on your own domain, you are in luck. Adding title tags and meta descriptions to your pages is easy using free plugins such as All in One SEO, Platinum SEO, and SEO by Yoast. You can also get SEO suggestions by using premium plugins such as Scribe SEO.
While the title tag and the meta description are the most important SEO elements, they are not the only ones. Be sure to incorporate the following into your website’s page content for further search optimization.
If you keep up with the latest in online marketing news, then you have likely read about content development and content marketing. Content is great for both your website visitors and search engines. The more content you have, the more likely your visitors will stick around on your website. And the more content you have, the more likely search engines will be to put more of your website’s pages in the search index.
The key to pleasing both search engines and visitors is to have quality content on our website. Quality content can include a variety of things including, but not limited to, the following.
Creating quality content for your website can be a huge investment, but it is worth it. Search engines will love it, and visitors will love it so much that they will share it on social media, leading to even more visitors. You can start out by simply creating blog posts on your website, and as your audience grows, you can expand your content inventory to additional types of media. To learn more, see the Beginner’s Guide to Content Marketing.
Link building is probably one of the most talked about (and debated about) SEO tasks. The basic goal of link building is to get other websites to link to yours. If you think about ranking at the top of search results as a popularity contest, then links are like votes saying your website deserves to be ranked highly. Getting links with keyword anchor text will help you rank specifically for the keywords that are linked to. For example, Adobe Reader ranks number one for the keywords click here because so many websites linked to it using the anchor text click here to download Adobe Reader.
So how do you get links? There are lots and lots of ways to do it – some good, and some not so good. If you read enough about link building, you will hear ultimately about three kinds of links and link building techniques.
Most websites will have a hard time generating enough organic links to raise their rankings in search engines. This is why link building is such a popular services. But you can get started on building quality links by doing some of the following activities.
For more information about link building the right way, don’t miss our post on Natural Link Building 101!
Speaking of creating social profiles for links, if your goal is to dominate Google, then you should make sure you join Google+. Google’s own social network can help you rank better in search results for people you are connected with. For example, when I’m logged in to Google+ and I search for SEO, I get the following in my top five search results. Personalized search results based on who I am friends with are marked by the little person icon.
Essentially, the more popular you are on Google+, the more likely you are to influence personalized search results with those who are following you. Hence, take advantage of this social network to its fullest extent to reap the benefits.
Last, but not least, you will want to keep track of your SEO progress by monitoring your results. The two most important tools you can use to monitor these results are the following.
There are a lot of other valuable SEO tools out there, but these are the best ones to start with to help you learn more about whether your SEO efforts are making a difference.
If you can follow the suggestions in this post, you will definitely start off on the right foot when it comes to your website’s search engine optimization. And hopefully you will start reaping the benefits of getting more visitors through search engines too!
About the Author: Kristi Hines is a freelance writer, professional blogger, and social media enthusiast. Her blog Kikolani focuses on blog marketing for personal, professional, and business bloggers. You can follow her on Google+, Twitter, and Faceboo