- Building an Optimized Website
If you are new to Internet marketing, you may not be familiar with search engine optimization (SEO) which is the primary process used to get your website included on the major search engines. As a searcher, you know that you rarely go beyond the first few pages of search results. Let’s be honest here, most people do not go beyond the first page. This means the only way your website will be noticed is if you get ranked high enough to be one of the top ten or twenty search results.
SEO is used to make sure sites get indexed by search engines to be included on search engine results pages (SERPs). Building a web presence takes skill and time. It is no “Field of Dreams” – just because you build it, does not mean they (visitors) will come. A passive website is a dead website on the Internet.
There are multiple techniques you can use to improve your site’s ranking. The following tips are intended to help newbie website owners and online marketers get their feet wet before jumping in the deep end of the SEO pool.
1. Establish Purpose of Site
It may seem obvious at first blush. But you need to be clear about what you are trying to do with your site. Do you plan to sell products or services? Are you sharing information? Try to get as specific as you can. You can always broaden the scope later but an initial vision for your site is crucial for SEO. Everything you do from here on out is to promote your site which can be challenging if you are still figuring out why it exists in the first place!
2. Develop Keyword Sets
Many new website owners do this later in the process, typically after the site has already been created. But for natural SEO, you want keywords to inform just about everything you do that is related to your site. Once you have a firm grasp of what you want your site to accomplish, create a list of keywords that reflect that goal. In other words, if someone wanted to find you online, what words would they use in a search engine? Include obvious and less apparent keywords. You then need to analyze your keywords to see how popular they are because if you are using keywords that has significant competition, it will be much harder for you to optimize your site.
3. Select Smart Domain Name
This is not the time to be creative – be smart instead. The best domain name may be your business or website name. It is a built-in SEO technique since domain names are included in SERPs. Once you have settled on a domain name idea, you need to check to make sure it is available. Numerous sites offer this service for free. However, with millions of websites being added each year, it may be challenging if not impossible to use your business name because it is probably already being used by someone else. This is where your smarts come into play – you can still use your business name but add another word to the end of it. For example, if your business is located in the UK, add that to the end. Or, if your business is incorporated, perhaps you can include “inc” so you retain your business name. As a last resort, consider incorporating a keyword or two into your domain name.
4. Design Your Site
The design phase is where a newbie can get into trouble when it comes to SEO. Yes, flash is cool. We all like video and pretty colors. Unfortunately, there is no practical SEO value to flash content. The reality is it can prevent search engines from indexing your homepage. And this can keep your site lower on SERPs, if you are lucky enough to get ranked at all. The overall design of your site should be clean and it should be easy to navigate. Sites that meet these criteria have higher rankings because they are optimized for the search engines.
5. Write Content
Let the keywords you select inform your content. This does not mean that every other word you use should be a keyword. In fact, the exact opposite is true. You should establish a keyword density which is how often you incorporate keywords into your text. Excessive use of keywords can result in your site being removed from search engines. This is serious business – it can be extremely difficult to get back into the good graces of a search engine company if your site has been rejected. Are you getting a sense of why understanding how to properly identify and use keywords is so important?
6. Add Images
There are a variety of reasons to have images on your site. One that is often overlooked is that photos can help with SEO. Again, use you will use keywords to describe the images. You can also link images to other pages on your site or back links. Images reinforce the message of your content while adding SEO opportunities. The main caveat here is to make sure the image is relevant to your site. If you cannot think of one keyword that joins the image with your site, you probably should not use it.
7. Use Social Media
Even if you are just learning how to “like” someone, consider incorporating social media from the get go. You can always outsource this portion of your site to a freelancer or firm who can handle your daily postings. And, for social media to be an effective SEO strategy, it does need to be used each day. You do not want to go overboard, but you need visitors or followers to respond back to you. This tells the search engines that you have quality content on your site that is worth ranking.
8. Map Your Site
Site maps are useful to visitors but are absolutely essential for SEO. Search engines use “spiders” to “crawl” through websites and index the information so it can be included in searches. Spiders are programs designed to gather and categorize massive amounts of data. Site maps can make this process easier if the map is accurate.
9. Submit Site to Search Engines
Again, you cannot publish your website and expect traffic to suddenly appear. Publishing just means that you have uploaded your site to a hosting service and it can be viewed online. But it will only be viewed if people know of its existence. If you want your site to be included in SERPs, you must submit it to search engines. There are firms that specialize in submission of websites. If you decide to manually submit the site yourself, this can take quite a bit of time. Each search engine has individual submission guidelines that must be adhered to or your submission will be rejected.
10. Get Traffic to Your Site
In addition to search engines, there are other ways you can attract traffic. Ads are the simplest method. Several search engines offer ad programs. You may have heard of Google AdWords. If you have done any type of searching yourself, you recognize this type of advertisement as those offers that appear on the top, bottom, or sides of the SERPs. You will also notice that they are related to your search – so they are keyword-specific. Many of these programs are created on a pay-per-click platform. This means that you are not charged for each time the ad is published but rather every time a user clicks on it. This type of online marketing is another step in the SEO process.
11. Check Your Page Rank
So, how are you doing? You can see if these tips are working for you by checking your page rank. There are various tools available that you can use for free that tell you which page your site appears on using your keyword sets. You can monitor your status at any time and should do so on a regular basis. Your page rank tells you how well your site’s SEO strategy is working.
12. Rinse & Repeat
SEO is a continuous strategy that must be actively implemented and aggressively monitored. Long gone are the days when you can publish your website and wait to get visitors. You have to pursue them now. You can get additional information from your website hosting provider that details the number of visitors your site gets as well as how long they stay on your site and how deep they go. If visitors do not go beyond your homepage, take the time to figure out why.
It may seem like a lot to take in but the bottom line is that if you do this from the beginning, you will save time, money, and tears trying to get visitors to your site. Retaining the services of a reputable SEO firm that also designs websites is an option for any newbie. If you want to focus on your mission and not worry about the technical side of an online business, this is a real alternative that can have you seeing green in no time!