SEO is a crazy thing. The name makes it seem so simple, but it’s possibly the most complicated thing about digital marketing. Because without SEO, no one visits your website. No one reads your content. You’re basically stopped before you even start.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. The idea is if you use the right words, phrases, and sentences you’ll rank higher on a search engine’s results page. The higher you rank, the more likely it is that someone will click on a link to your website.
It’s a pretty basic concept to grasp. However, the engineering, mathematics, and science behind the creation of an algorithm to manage SEO are extremely complex. Which is why understanding those algorithms and what catches their eye can be complex as well.
How do I improve my website’s SEO?
There are two categories of ways to improve your website’s SEO. First, there is what happens on your website (what you control). Second, what happens outside of your website (what others control).
While you cannot control what happens outside your website, you can help influence it. Your SEO improves when other websites link to your site and your articles. You can offer other websites more opportunities to link to your site by providing quality content on a consistent basis.
Your website also improves in SEO when there is less competition. If I were to search for “underwater basket weaving classes”, I’m going to get a lot fewer relevant hits than if I searched for “engineering classes”. That’s because there’s less competition in the underwater basket weaving market.
Stick to your topic, but if there’s something in your industry that isn’t talked about much, feel free to address it on your website.
What about the SEO that matters to me?
The real key for you is improving what happens on your website to get you ranked higher on a search engine results page. For the sake of argument, we’re going to use Google as our search engine of choice because it’s the most used search engine on the market.
The first thing Google looks for is secure websites. That “HTTPS” that appears before the “www” in a website’s name is important. The “S” stands for “secure” and that means information that goes from a website visitor to your server and then back to that visitor is encrypted, making it less likely that personal information can be hacked.
According to the site Search Engine Land, in July of 2018 Google decided to mark sites that don’t have an HTTPS as “non-secure”. Google doesn’t want to send users to non-secure sites, so you can bet a site that is non-secure will end up on the bottom of the search results.
It’s a fairly easy fix and is free to do with a lot of web hosts. A quick conversation or search of your web host’s help guide should get your site fixed up and secure fairly quickly.
Next, your site speed. The SEO experts at Yoast will tell you that site speed is essential for a good ranking on Google. Google has been using site speed as a part of its algorithm since 2010. The idea is that people will click away from a webpage if it takes too long to load.
One of the ways you fix this is by knowing the content on your site. If you’re video and photo heavy, then you’re going to need to find a web host that can handle sending out larger pieces of data. Consider paying that extra monthly fee for your own server instead of a shared one.
Keywords are Still Key
With all the changes in search algorithms over the years, one thing has stayed the same, the need to use the correct keywords. Users still use keywords to find what they’re searching for which means if you aren’t using those same keywords on your site, you’re not going to pop up in search results.
One of the easiest (and free) ways to figure out which keywords you need to use is to do a Google search of something that might point back to your website. At the bottom of each Google search page is a list of other, similar topics that may be related to your search. Try to use some of those words and phrases in the text of your website and in your site posts.
Make Your Images Work for You
This is one that a lot of people miss. Google is not just searching the text on your website but the text linked to your photos as well. You can use this to your advantage. Stuffing keywords into the text of a post until it doesn’t make sense, gets you knocked down the search results list on Google. However, stuffing keywords into the text of an image could help you climb in the search results list on Google.
When you post an image, there’s a section called “Alternative Text”. It will not hurt you if you leave the section blank but it will certainly help you if you fill it in. That’s because Google searches the text that appears in the “Alternative Text” section. That text does not appear on your website when you post the image. That means you can stuff the “Alternative Text” section full of keywords that make no sense when read them all together but make a ton of sense to the Google search algorithm.
Make Your Old Posts Even Better
I stole this one from Opt-In Monster, but I love it so much! Here’s what the site advises:
“Look for [your posts] in Analytics in the Acquisition>>Search Console>>Queries report. Set an advanced filter to show just the phases for which the average position (rank) is greater than 10 (on page two). Eureka!”
That’s the easy part. Then you have to go back and rewrite those posts with better ranking phrases. Make the posts longer, add in new details, link to statistics and examples and maybe some quotes from experts. In other words, beef that post up even more. Do enough work and your post could jump from page two of the search results to page one.
Let’s Sum It Up
All five of these are just some of the ways you can increase your position in Google searches. There are of course more but this is a great place to start as you’re working your way up the search results.
If you’re wondering why you need to start here, the answer is simple. For Google, it’s all about momentum. When you consistently post content that is relevant and brings in links from other reputable sites, the more likely it is that your site moves up in the search results.
Google likes proven websites. The tough part for you is going to be making sure your site proves itself and then keeps proving itself day in and day out.
Written by Erika Towne