Get the visitors you need
Just having a website is not enough. You will probably want to have visitors to your site and get conversion ( e.g. sales, clicks on ads, or other).
Ranking before and after
Before you make any changes to your website, you should check your current ranking in the main search engines for your area / target audience (Google, Bing, Yahoo?). Open your browser in “incognito modus” (otherwise the search engine will give you different/personalized results). Go to Google (or other) and search for your keywords / key phrases (I will explain later on).
This way you can measure the effects of your SEO strategy.
Search result traffic
Use your analytics program (you should use one) and use Google and Bing’s Webmaster Tools to measure searched for words and phrases lead to your website and which don’t. And check your click through rate (people perhaps can find your site, but won’t click it.
Set statistically measurable goals for your website. For instance the percentage of your visitors that you realistically want to place actual orders (this is called “conversion”).
Find your keywords and key phrases
Keywords are individual words that go with your business. In my case they would be website, learn, SEO, user experience, and so on.
Key phrases are phrases that go with your business. In my case: learn to build a website, best practices for building a website, and so on. Key phrases don’t have to be an exact match on your website to the phrases used by your target audience, but the keywords in it should all be in one sentence.
- Brainstorm all keywords and phrases that go with your business and per page.
- Don’t forget the synonyms!
- Check out the competition for their keywords, but only use those that are relevant for your website.
- Check Google and other search engines for autocomplete suggestions for your keywords.
- Use https://ubersuggest.io
- Research your keywords and their “value” with Google AdWords Keyword Planner (you’ll need to enter credit card information, but after setting up the account you can “pause” the campaigns so no money will be charged).
Use of Keywords
Use your keywords generously in the:
- Title (inside the
<head>tag) and use between 50 and 60 characters, with a maximum of 80
- Meta Description tag (here you describe your page/website, which should be unique) and use up to 155 characters
- titles/headers (h1, h2, h3,…)
- inside the text
- in “alt”-tags with images
- in link-descriptions to important pages
- put (only when appropriate) your keywords inside a
- add a paragraph inside the footer with a short summary of the website with your most important keywords
But always keep your content, title and URL clean, natural and understandable for your users.
Avoid meaningless URLs, like http://www.mywebsite.com/
First of all Google won’t rank your page as high as it could be. Secondly, the URL won’t give users any clue as to where they are. Or, when they’ve found the page in Google, what the URL will lead to. Google and other search engines can handle up to 2,000 characters for a URL, so there is plenty of room to use full words and descriptions of the page. Like the page you’re on right now.
Create up to 5 landing pages for your most important products (or services and such) and use plenty of good keywords. Link from each page to your homepage and place the proper calls to action.
Try to keep unique content. With (nearly) identical content, search engines (including the one inside your website) won’t know which page to show. The attention both pages get will never be the same as with one unique page, decreasing your page rank for both pages.
Actually, search engines even consider www.my1stwebsite.eu and http://www.my1stwebsite.eu as separate pages.
- 301 redirect: this will redirect (duh) your visitors to that specific page away to the right page. Use this method to force visitors to use your preferred protocol (http vs https) and whether to use www or not.
- Canonical: you can tell search engines that the page they’re indexing is a copy of another page with this
<link rel="canonical" href="URL of original page">inside the
<head>of your duplicate page.
Using rel="canonical" your visitors will be able to visit the duplicate page, while search engines will contribute the visits to the original page.
Link to others
Link to other, high-ranking, websites related to your field. Websites without links outside are considered less reliable by search engines.
Keep it fresh!
Update your website and add new content regularly. Websites that have no changes are considered out of date quickly by search engines. This will affect your ranking in a negative way.
Use a blog
A blog means new content and search engines love new content (as we learned above). A blog also provides links to important content-pages (don’t forget to add them). Blogs can also be more sensational than regular content pages (depending on your business model of course). And therefore generate extra visitors.
Use a Google (and Bing) Webmaster account:
- Define your preferred domain
- Upload an xml-sitemap (helps search engines to determine your website’s structure and find your pages)
- Check the search console for:
- Double titles
- Search words to your website
- Click Through Rate of these search words
- Errors on pages
Social Media and other tools
Links from others
Try to get links from other websites to yours, where:
- The link preferably does not use “nofollow”, e.g.
<a href="//my1stwebsite.eu/" rel="nofollow" >Go to this awesome website</a>
- The page with the link also does not have “nofollow” inside the
<meta name="robots" content="nofollow" />
“Nofollow” tells the search engines that the link shouldn’t be followed. The “ranking weight” of a link with “nofollow” is probably a mere 5% of a link without “nofollow”.
Social + review
- Add your business to Google Business and fill the Google+ page that goes with it.
- Find out which Social Media (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, and such) are primarily used by your target audience and your work field. Promote your business there. Link to your account from your website and link from your posts to your website. Be active on your social media pages.
- Active the Google +1 button
- Find (or create) and control your business also on sites like:
- Yelp, Trustpilot and other review websites in your business area
- Bing Places
- Invite customers/users to write a review on the right review website for your business. Show some of these reviews on your website. Preferably reviews that show your business is trying their best, not just the “Great!” or “Awesome!” reviews.
- Promote your business by providing some specialist information or something to be won when users leave their email address. Start an email subscription and give exclusive deals, items or such
- Link from your emails to your website
- Invite users to share your website and the subscription.
Not a penny, yen or whatever currency!
Never pay for reviews or other black hat SEO tricks
Actually, don’t use black hat SEO altogether. Google and other search engines can penalize you and even remove your content from search results. The same goes for review sites.