While most business owners and marketers have been approached by someone trying to sell them search engine optimization (SEO) services, there is still some confusion about what SEO is and how businesses should approach it. In most general terms, SEO is the process of how your website is organically ranked on the search engine results page (SERP). The better the SEO for your website, the more likely it will appear higher organically in the SERPs, and therefore will be seen by a higher number of people. If you’re starting a website or looking to get a larger audience with your existing website, these eight tips will help you optimize your search engine results and increase traffic to your website.
1. It’s all about keywords.
When we say “keywords”, we’re talking about the words or phrases your potential visitors will be typing into their search engine to find your website. Ranking near the top on the SERPs for these keywords is extremely valuable. Consider what search terms or phrases you want your website to be associated with. Google Keyword Planner is a great tool that will show you how often a word or phrase has been searched for on Google. Once you’ve chosen your keywords, you’ll need to make sure they are properly implemented on your site. It is a good idea to include keywords in titles, headings, and throughout each of your website’s pages. If you can do it naturally, you can put one or two keywords into your domain name too, like “marketing” in our domain, KapokMarketing.com. However, remember like with most things keywords are best in moderation. It is not a good idea to go overboard with keywords and sacrifice the quality of website content. To figure out if you’re going overboard you can calculate the keyword density of a given page. This is calculated as the percentage of times your keyword appears relative to the total number of words on a given page. The ideal percentage depends on a number of factors, but should normally be between 0.5 and 3.0%. If your keyword density is too high, in addition to alienating visitors, Google may penalize your site by lowering its ranking in the SERPs.
2. Update your website frequently.
An up-to-date website is essential for maximizing search engine optimization. Take the time to analyze your website’s content and determine whether or not it is still relevant and valuable to your audience. Once the appropriate changes and updates have been made, you may want to consider expanding your site by adding a blog. Having an active blog is a great way to keep your website “fresh” and also provide valuable content to your website visitors.
3. Link to other websites.
While there is valid concern for providing too many links to outside sources by potentially encouraging your website visitors to leave your website, it is a great way to give a richer experience for your website visitors. It should be done in moderation and within reason, not just for the sake of doing it. There is a substantial amount of evidence that shows using external links is a great way to boost your website’s SEO. Over time and with the help of useful content, search engines are more likely to deem your website as a source of good information (authority), which may encourage other reputable websites to link to yours. It’s also important to mention that when linking to other websites, it’s more beneficial if you put those links at the top of your page. By doing so, you’re letting search engines know that your page has value with other credible websites.
4. Use permalink structure.
A permalink structure is the system your website uses to determine a unique Universal Resource Locator (URL) for each page on your site. Each unique link within the structure is called a permalink, or a permanent link, because each link remains constant for as long as the page exists. Your visitors should know right away what the web page is about when they look at the URL. A great way to optimize your permalink structure is to edit the URL address by incorporating relevant keywords. Below is a screenshot of one of our agency’s URLs with and its permalink structure:
When you click on our website’s Services link in our menu, the URL corresponds to the individual page.
As opposed to a link that looks like this:
Using keywords in your permalinks will help people and search engine crawlers discover and further understand what’s on your page. With proper permalink utilization, people will be more inclined to share your URL.
5. Use text with images.
Google may be smart, but it doesn’t have eyes (yet). When an image has been uploaded, search engines can’t see or understand what’s in the picture. Add descriptive text to the alt attribute of the img tag of every important image on your site to communicate to the search engine in its own language. The alt attribute is also sometimes referred to as the alt tag or alternative text. It can be a great place to add one of your keywords as well, if it applies. This alternative text is also used if the image cannot be displayed or when the website is being read using a screen reader for visitors who are blind or visually impaired.
You can also include similar text as a caption underneath the photo. Captions are also a great way to engage your readers. In a blog post by Kissmetrics, it was stated that, “Captions under images are read on average 300% more than the body copy itself, so not using them, or not using them correctly, means missing out on an opportunity to engage a huge number of potential readers.” That’s a percentage no one should ignore! Keep in mind that it may not be beneficial to add a caption to every picture. A good rule of thumb would be to add a caption if you think it would make sense to your reader and if it’s an image you want to use for SEO.
6. Have other websites link to you.
This may be the most important tip for advancing your website’s SEO, but it can also be the most difficult and time consuming. External links are ranked higher than internal links because search engines view them as impartial popular votes for valuable content. External links are one of the most difficult metrics to manipulate, so search engines rely on these external links to determine how significant and relevant your website and the content of each of its pages is. Once you curate valuable content, other websites are more likely to start linking to your pages.
It may be a good idea to also reach out to different website owners and ask for them to link back to your website if their content is somehow relevant to yours. When you reach out to them, you should pitch them why their readers would benefit from the information you’re asking them to link to. You can make the offer even more enticing to the other website owner by offering to write an entire guest post on their site. The guest post is a post written by you, a guest on their website, that their readers would enjoy and contains a link back to your website somewhere within it. This is a win-win, because you provide that website free content, and in exchange you receive an external link.
7. Use internal links to other pages on your website.
Using internal links is a great way to make your page appear more professional. A great way to properly add SEO friendly links is by using natural keywords in your anchor text. Anchor text is the word or phrase used in place of the hyperlink. Good internal links help search engines and website users navigate their way around your site and find the most relevant pages. Make sure to link directly to your most important internal pages directly from your homepage. Your homepage normally ends up being viewed as the most important page on your website by search engines. Any internal links from the homepage will be viewed as more important than other deeper internal links. This also provides for a better user experience, because visitors can quickly navigate to your most important pages with a single click.
8. Content is King.
There are many details that go into search engine optimization, but if you were to focus on one thing, that should be the content you produce. Having a strategy for the type of content you publish, as well as how often, will help you stay organized and relevant. It’s important to use headlines, bullet points and lists to make your content clear and easy to read. Your main priority is to write for the people on your site. Make the search engine bots your second priority. Establishing trust with your audience is based on the value of the content you create. Everything else comes second.
Learning how to enhance your website’s search engine optimization can be overwhelming. If you are in need of search engine and social media marketing services, please let us know via firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 214-5844.