The Ultimate Guide to Optimizing For Search Engines
Optimizing for Search Engines — skip the learning curve and ace your rankings with my Ultimate Guide search optimization in simple steps that are easy to understand.
When you first dip your toes into the world of search engine optimization or SEO, it’s all a bit scary and a little strange. When it comes to optimizing for search engines there’s a LOT to know — different practices, techniques, factors and trends that search engines take into consideration when ranking your website.
I don’t think there’s ever been a profession that has undergone such constant change as search engine optimization. Of course, there’s going to be a learning curve when you first start optimizing your site for search engines.
It’s almost like a guide or something would be really helpful in short-cutting a path to success.
I couldn’t agree more.
That’s exactly why I’ve put together this Guide to Optimizing for Search Engines.
I’ll break SEO down into bite sized steps that are easy to understand and fundamentals that are easy to learn.
Fundamentals of Optimizing for Search Engines:
1. The big picture
Before you get started, it helps to really take a step back and look at the big picture of the SEO. It’s easy to get stuck in the weeds with the latest trends, when what you really need to understand are your goals when optimizing a website for search engines.
I’m guessing that one of your primary goals is to optimize your website to help it rank higher in search results.
I know, I really went out on a limb with that one…
There are many different ways to do this but everything comes down to proving that your website has the authority and relevance in your industry. Your relevance is actually a measure of how well your content matches a search query.
Who measures this? Google.
Google also measures your website’s authority. Ultimately, this is a measure of how trustworthy Google thinks your site is.
Given these two important factors, we know that Google places high value on authenticity, credibility and trust.
All that to be said, if your goal is to achieve higher rankings your focus should be on creating ‘valuable’ content.
What does that mean? It means content that is;
• insightful and relevant to a specific query
• content that is relevant to your website’s audience
Let’s take a look at the different key elements required to create value when optimizing for search engines.
2. Domain authority and page authority
We mentioned ‘site authority’ above. Authority plays a mighty big role in how your content is ranked. In terms of search engine optimization for your website, we need to focus on domain and page authority.
The basic idea is that your site’s domain authority is a score provided by Moz of how much people can trust in your website. It’s calculated based on the quality and quantity of inbound links on your website as well as the domain itself and how long that domain has been ‘active’.
The higher this score is, the higher your pages are likely to rank in search results.
Page authority is very similar to this but it’s specific to pages and you can create a link architecture that favors some pages over the others. Authority depends on the volume of inbound links and their authority.
3. General Optimization
The first step to implementing website optimization takes place on your website.
That makes sense… On site optimization is a collection of different approaches, most of which are very simple and they are geared towards making the website more visible and easy to index to the search engines.
These techniques include:
• optimizing your headlines
• optimizing titles
• optimizing your metadata
• optimizing these elements and page content around your target keywords
These are the fundamentals, to get a more detailed explanation, click here. Moving beyond these elements we’ll address your website’s code which should be clean and minimal and falls under ‘technical seo’ below.
4. The facets of content marketing
Content marketing can be a separate strategy all on its own but it’s a necessary element of the SEO process.
When you develop high quality content you will be able to optimize for your target keywords and build your authority. In order to do this, you have to know your audience.
By consistently providing content your audience loves, you can then actually build and maintain a loyal audience.
Before you start writing your content, make sure that you understand how the other components of SEO work in conjunction with it. Even great content can fail if you miss the supporting elements.
Specific keywords that you target aren’t as important as they used to be but they still play a big part in the overall SEO picture. Google is now more focused on the semantic and contextual understanding of what users need but you should still use keywords.
“Use a head keyword which is a short keyword looked for in high volumes and then use long tail keywords which are longer, more conversational and low volume. These will target and guide the direction of your campaign,”says Rolland Kay, a marketing blogger at Writinity.com and Researchpapersuk.com.
Keyword research is one of the very first and most important steps in any search engine optimization campaign. Because keywords are foundational for the rest of your SEO efforts, it is worth the time and investment to make sure your SEO keywords are relevant to your audience and organized for action.
Uncovering the perfect SEO keywords is a fragile process that’s going to incorporate a lot of trial as well as a bit of error. In this article, I’m going to walk you through doing better keyword research based on what your consumers are looking for. We’ll look at how to uncover specific keywords as well as how to use them in your content in order to rank in search.
6. Technical SEO
Technical SEO is one of the scariest parts of SEO. Technical SEO includes things like schema markup, your robots.txt file, canonical architecture and site speed. It all sounds pretty technical, but don’t let it scare you.
In fact, take a breath and let the coders do the heavy lifting for you. No, I don’t mean hire your own coder — there’s no need. It doesn’t matter what kind of website your running — there is a content management system already in place for you that take care of these details for you.
For example; if you run an online store, a shopping cart system like BigCommerce has core themes both free and paid that pretty much dot all the “i’s” in terms of technical SEO. You won’t have to worry about schema markup, or running a secure site, because all of that will be included in the hosting fee.
Maybe you don’t want to sell online — not to worry.
Don’t take on problems that you don’t have to…
Use WordPress to set up a fully responsive mobile friendly website. WordPress comes equipped with tons of quality free plugins to dial in your technical SEO. Whether you use WordPress or another CMS, don’t skimp on hosting. Hosts like WP Engine specialize in high performance hosting that comes equipped with All the technical crap your site needs to make Google happy.
7. Link building
On-page SEO, includes strategies that target ranking factors on your site, like keyword optimization, performance, and content quality like we mentioned above.
Link building plays a huge role in getting your website’s landing pages to rank in search.
Start by making sure you have the best link structure possible on your site. A link silo structure makes sure crawlers get to explore most — if not all — of your content. Click here to learn more.
Off-page SEO encompasses strategies that focus on external ranking factors. These include social media marketing, link building, and blogger outreach.
In-bound links (links from other websites that point to specific pages on your website) are probably the single most important ranking factor for your content.
“The goal of this is to create content on external websites and build your personal brand that way as well as your personal brand. You also create quality links for your website which is another great thing,”says Zoe Trace, a SEO writer at Draftbeyond.com and Lastminutewriting.com.
There are literally dozens of ways to build inbound links like; guest posting. Guest posting is one of the most popular techniques to build links because the links are usually contextual and niche specific.
If you’re wondering where and how to start link building, click here.
In order to get somewhere with SEO, you need to measure your results and then interpret those results in a useful and interesting way for your site and your SEO. You need to use the analysis that you perform to make changes to your approach and the best tool for that is Google analytics, especially when you are new. This is the simplest, most easy to learn tool out of all SEO tools and it will help you know what you need to do next. However, you will need to learn a bit about Google analytics before you can actually use it since it does have a learning curve too.
Online tools like siteimprove.com will help you run a thorough web analysis and decode the website metrics in a more understandable and actionable format. Easy to read presentations like these enable you to use information the best possible way for better returns.
The #1 thing to remember before panicking is that SEO results take time.
Your rankings will hit a plateau and you may find some duplicate content and might even see some ranking changes. These things are normal. That being said if you notice significant drops in traffic or pages that have been de-indexed, you will need to learn how to diagnose these problems and then fix them swiftly.
This means running a Website SEO Audit.
Every webmaster should get into the habit of conducting regular SEO audits of their website. The purpose of this is to identify potential elements that could hinder your ability to achieve a top ranking for your target keywords. If you’re a webmaster or SEO in need of a professional template for an SEO audit proposal – we’ve got you covered.
But how exactly do you conduct a website SEO audit?
This post will walk you through the essentials of conducting a webiste seo audit as well as provide you with some free tools, an seo audit infographic (below) and a FREE downloadable website SEO audit checklist template to help you along your way.
If you want to run a free online website seo audit right now, click here.
Optimizing your website for search engines does take a bit of time, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming and it’s certainly attainable. Following this simple 9 point Guide will get you there in easy bite sized steps and keep you out of the weeds of what’s trending in SEO currently.