This article has been contributed by Sam Warren.
We’ve all been there, trust me. You’re in good company.
My reply is always the same however: “have you invested any time or money in SEO?”
See, it’s not enough to just build a slick website. Checking the box on that is just the first step. After you’ve built it, there’s still lots of work to be done. You’ll still need to…
But, how do you all that? Simple folks, SEO.
Search engine optimization itself is, of course, anything but simple. But today we’re going to cover a number of easy ways to get your foot in the door and set yourself up for success.
In this article, we’ll show you how you can improve your site and attract more clients by employing better SEO.
After all, search optimization isn’t just about creating additional pages and publishing content, but it’s also about getting people to read and engage with that content.
Image courtesy Search Engine Journal
With that in mind, here are some tips for improving your site’s on-page SEO.
1. Check Title Tags
The keywords in the title tag are important not only because they’re what users will see representing your site when it shows up in the search results, but also because they should showcase the keywords that searchers would have typed in to find your content.
What makes the biggest difference is having an accurate and concise title, but it doesn’t end there.
Getting higher rankings is just the start. Showing up on page 1 is all well and good, but you’ll need to compete with the headlines of other sites.
To ensure that your site gets chosen, come up with a title that really makes an impact. There’s a lot more to say here, but in the effort of saving time, I’ll refer you to this Moz guide on the subject of title tags.
2. Smart URL Structure
When it comes to your page’s URL structure, keep in mind that shorter is better.
URLs with tons of parameters, symbols and numbers will have a negative impact on your results. Additionally, the URL won’t be completely visible in the search results.
3. Keyword Optimization
Keywords are the building blocks at the foundation of search engine optimization.
So if you want to earn targeted traffic and improved rankings, you’ll need to get a handle on the subject. First, you’d be wise to do your keyword research. Next, you can start optimizing your pages.
At its most basic level, keyword optimization is simply including your most important keywords in title tags, meta description, URL slug and page copy.
Of course, this is a gross over-simplification. But I’d recommend sticking to the basics early on, and trust me, you’ll still have a leg up on the competition.
We still live in a world where content reigns supreme. It’s up there as one of the most important components of any search marketing strategy, as a search engine company like BullDog Media would know.
If you haven’t invested any time or energy into content marketing, and you want to attract more clients by earning your site improved search rankings, you’d better get on board.
Of course, write a bunch of words and clicking publish isn’t going to cut it. Articles don’t get shared merely for existing. Nor do cornerstone pieces build “SEO juice” if they don’t follow best practices.
So, how do you create a blog post that gets discovered and shared? Well, first you have to know the basics of creating SEO-friendly content.
- Know the right questions: Don’t just write content for the sake of content. Create articles that target the burning questions your audience has. Find out what they want to know, study their interests, then write on those subjects and enlighten them.
- Timing is everything: When you share a blog post, you’ll need to get lots of likes and shares to make it appear on other people’s newsfeeds. In order to beat the odds, try sharing it when readers are most likely to be online.
- Climb the social ladder: When it comes to search engine rankings, this is Google’s motto: Tell me who your friends are and I’ll tell you who you are. This means that your rankings will be affected by the quality of the sites that you associate with. Mentions from popular bloggers and high-profile businesses will carry the most weight.
- Use Social Media: Need I say more? Social signals matter for SEO. Shares will get you more traffic and possibly leads. The list goes on.
Your visitors, much like your boss, do not like to be kept waiting. More so now than ever before.
As a result of our fast-paced society, if your site takes more than 3 seconds to load, you’re going to lose more than half of your potential visitors to the “back button”.
Further, Google considers page speed to be a ranking factor. Meaning, if your site is really poorly optimized, your rankings will suffer.
Curious what Google thinks about your page speed at the moment? They have a free tool for that, so head over and analyze your own page speed.
In the meantime, let’s take a look at how you can quickly make some noticeable improvements.
1. Image Optimization
A picture is worth a thousand words. You probably already know that effective use of images will make your site experience significantly better.
They keep visitors engaged, set the tone, and can convey critical information quickly and effectively. The problem is, images take a lot longer to load than text.
The solution? Make sure that your image files are small and be sure to utilize image compression. If you’re on WordPress, the easiest way to do this is to use the EWWWW Image Optimizer plugin. A quick Google search will reveal alternatives if you’re using a different CMS.
While you’re at it, make sure to input keyword-focused image titles and “alt text” to give the search engines additional content to crawl from your pages.
2. Minify Code
Unedited, JS and CSS files are quite lengthy. This format is useful for coders so edits and changes can be made quickly. Unfortunately, a side effect of leaving your code in long form is that it takes longer to load.
So, what do you do? You can get started by knowing the basics of minifying codes here.
A simpler solution however, is to download a plugin like BWP Minify. What settings you use will be specific to your site and goals, but with a little research this can be a highly effective way to minify your CSS and JS and requires very little manual work.
3. Caching Plugins
Employing caching can make a significant difference when it comes to having a speedy site, pleasant user experience, and getting a pat on the back from Google in terms of page speed.
Doing this manually is a bit above my paygrade, but as with the above sections, plugins are readily available that can save the day.
W3 Cache is widely regarded as the best WP plugin for caching, and with good reason. Honestly you need not look any further. Just download and install that one. Spend a little time learning and testing settings and you should be good to go.
Keep in mind that if you’re on a theme-based website your theme may already have built in caching options. Feel free to experiment with those before looking for a third-party solution.
Quality Link Building
Link building is one of the most obvious (and misunderstood) steps to earning higher ranks.
This isn’t your Dad’s link building we’re talking about here. We won’t be leaving comment spam or buying links off Fiverr.
Let’s cover a few methods that are still relevant in today’s SEO landscape.
1. Guest posts
Be careful not to overdo it here, and further be sure that the sites you’re reaching out to are relevant to your audience.
For example, if you own a car rental agency, don’t try to land a guest post on a detergent manufacturer’s website.
Not sure which sites you should target? Well, let’s look at another example.
Landing a guest post on one of those high-value outlets would be a big win for your SEO, and would also get your some quality traffic while you’re at it.
Use common sense here and you should be just fine.
2. State the Facts
When making a point in your blog post, include data and a link to the source. You may have noticed I’ve done this quite a bit in this article already.
Why does it matter? Well aside from being the right thing to do (it’s not a fact unless you can back it up), it’s also best practice to associate with quality sites and resources. Linking out to reliable and relevant resources has a cumulative net positive effect on your own SEO.
Let’s say, you’re reading an article that encourages you to optimize your site for mobile search (PS, make sure you do this as well, here’s how). Would you be compelled to act if the writer says, “tons of people are using mobile search” or if instead he/she states “1.2 billion internet users use mobile devices to go online.” Take your pick.
3. Industry Directories
These directories might have a reputation for being a little spammy, but you can still take advantage of link building here as long as you’re thoughtful.
Don’t just post to any crummy directory, and don’t create multiple listings. Also, please be sure that the directory is actually relevant for your business. Don’t stretch the truth!
To find some good ones, employ search queries like the following:
For local directories:
- “city” inurl:directory
- “city” inurl:businesses
- “city” intitle:directory
For niche directories:
- “industry” inurl:directory
- “industry” inurl:links
- “industry” intitle:directory
It Gets Better
You might think that creating a website with good SEO is hard, but it doesn’t have to be.
For first-timers, there is definitely a lot to learn. But trust me, it gets easier as you get more and more familiar with the subject matter.
You don’t have to get everything right the first time around. What matters is that you master the basics and constantly strive to improve upon your existing work.
When in doubt, you can always refer back here to remember the basics.
In the meantime, start with these small steps and pretty soon you’ll be attracting additional clients and showing higher ranks.
Sam is the marketing manager at RankPay, a top-rated affordable SEO service. Sorry ladies, he’s married and the proud father of a 10lb chihuahua mutt. When Sam’s not writing or growing businesses, he likes to talk about himself in the third person.