No matter how great of a website you may create for your business, it won’t help you grow if no one visits it. Every website owner aspires to bring in as much traffic as possible, and there are different ways to make that happen. However, in order to make sure your site gets a good ranking in search engine results, you will need to work on SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Even though the procedure is complex, if you approach it with a clear structure in mind, you will be able to improve the website’s performance and stand out from your competitors.
SEO is the process of enhancing the ranking and the visibility of a website in SERPs (search engine results pages). Search engine optimization is a complex field that continues to evolve, and search rankings can be improved through several different methods including the optimization of the website’s code, structure, and content, as well as high-quality link building.
Even though Google’s ads take a significant portion of space on the search results page, the users are still more focused on organic results, and the majority of them will try to end the search with the top ten websites listed. Therefore, a proper SEO strategy is crucial for a website to be seen by potential customers. More organic traffic leads to more sales and higher chances of growth.
Let’s go over some of the main advantages of search engine optimization.
When your business gets organic traffic, your website is visited by users who entered a search query that is relevant to your products or services. In general, such visitors are likely to take a specific action on the website which can be an email sign-up, a phone call, or even a purchase. Whichever result you may get, it is clear that SEO leads to improvements in revenue regardless of your paid ads efforts.
The work you put in today has a long-term effect on your overall marketing efforts, especially if you compare it with contextual advertising which is a practice that removes your ad as soon as you stop paying for it to show. If you create a solid SEO structure that enables your website to rank high for specific queries, the position will probably remain high after a while, unless the search engines make significant changes to their algorithms.
Firstly, many users still feel more comfortable choosing organic search results over paid ads, and seeing your business name among the first listings will make them perceive your company as trustworthy. Secondly, as soon as you complete a thorough internal optimization, you will automatically improve the website’s user experience. After that, the visitors will be more inclined to return, repeat their purchase, and even spread the word about your services to friends and family.
Every successful SEO strategy is built on the foundation of the following five core segments:
Keyword research is the process of finding the words and phrases that your target customers are likely to use in their online searches. Additionally, regular keyword research can also help you understand the latest customer behavior trends. In order to approach the research in the right order, first you need to identify the primary keywords for your website. Primary keywords are the specific terms that your potential customers will be using in their search queries. Once you’ve specified the main keywords, you will need to expand the pool of terms by adding long-tail keywords, i.e. their variations. Basically, you have to look into all the variants that people use to search for the products and services that you offer.
There are various tools that you can use to perform keyword research. Some of the best definitely include Semrush and Ahrefs.
Once you identify relevant keywords with a significant search volume you can start building content around them. And before you jump into the process of creation, first make sure you have a good understanding of the search intent behind each keyword you’re planning to use. For instance, if you’re building content around the keyword “homegrown apples”, you need to know whether you’re writing for a person who is planning to buy the apples or just looking for information on how to grow them on their own. Search engines have a way of figuring out whether your content satisfies the search intent of the visitors and it is therefore one of the factors that affect your website’s ranking.
On-page SEO is the process where you make your content as easy as possible for search engine crawlers to read. In order to do so, you need to improve the website’s speed, create the above-mentioned keyword-rich content, and optimize the following sections:
Link building is the strategy of creating a personalized link profile for a website. The goal is to improve the site’s reputation in front of search engines by getting links of equal quality to lead back to it. Having a set of high-quality external links implies that your website is a relevant and trustworthy online source.
Technical SEO refers to website optimization efforts that improve its performance by helping search engines discover, crawl, and index all the pages and content. The key component of technical SEO is the structure of the website, followed by its speed, schema markup, and mobile friendliness.
Take a look at some of the important tips that will help you set up your site for high-quality search engine optimization:
When it comes to choosing a domain name, the options are endless and you can easily find yourself spiraling between several creative ideas. However, it is best to keep the domain short and memorable, and sticking to your business name without adding special characters is probably the way to go. However, you need to pay extra attention to the top-level domain (TLD), i.e. the part after the domain name. Overall, choosing .com is the best option for most businesses, as it is widely known and trusted. Unless you’re a charity that would benefit from .org or a business situated outside of the US which could use a particular country code such as .co.uk or .it.
If you haven’t already built a website for your business, consider doing it on a platform that will help you launch a site in an effortless way. And even though there are hosted options where everything is done for you in advance, it is best to pick a self-hosted platform such as WordPress where you can edit the source code as you need. Such platforms can be extended by a multitude of plugins, including the ones that deal with different SEO components. Tools like Rank Math and Yoast are great solutions that can help you put the basic practices in place.
A hosted solution requires a dependable web host, and in the process of choosing one, make sure you keep security as your top priority. Ideally, the provider should offer you a free SSL/TLS certificate. Next, you need to consider the server location and select the host with servers located in the area where you expect most of the traffic to come from.
SEO may have a lot to do with meeting the requirements of search engines, but in the end, it is a practice that revolves around user needs. Nowadays, the basis of all user-friendliness lies in mobile responsive design, and that is a non-negotiable condition for websites that expect high ranking. In addition to that, the pages are expected to load fast, which is both a ranking factor on desktop and mobile, as well as a serious deal breaker for potential customers if not done right. And finally, avoid the use of pop-ups and other intrusive ad types.
In order to make it simple for both search engines and humans to find content on your website pages, you need to create and follow a carefully planned hierarchy. The most efficient way to do so is to create a mind map with detailed branches, and once you define all the branches, each one should also become an internal link.
Internal links are the links from one website page to another, all within your site, and they have a role in helping search engines discover and index all the pages that you created. Also, if you put the effort into attaching the links to meaningful anchor text, it will be easier for crawlers to understand what each page is actually about.
The URL of each page on the website should have an easy-to-read structure that clearly indicates where the user is. And while being clear, the URL path should also be informative about the content of the given page. Depending on the structure and category of your website, the path can contain the title of the post, the category, the date when it was published, or any other relevant piece of information that could clarify the organization of the pages.
After you’ve invested lots of work in your SEO strategy, you will want Google to find and crawl your pages, and the fastest way to do so is to submit it yourself by following these steps:
Creating a sitemap.xml file is a great way to influence the way your website is indexed since the file specifies which pages are supposed to be crawled first. Google and all the other search engines use XML sitemaps to get an overview of all the available pages, and the document basically gives them directions on how to scan the site. On top of that, you can prevent the robots from crawling certain sections of the site by creating a robots.txt file.
In order to submit the XML sitemap, you need to connect the website to the Google Search Console, which is a free tool that can help you identify all the problems that Google might experience in the process of indexing the pages. Submitting the file itself is a pretty straightforward process within the account, as you will easily find the Sitemaps section in the left-side navigation menu. Moreover, having an active Search Console account will give you insight into your website’s organic performance.
SEO may be a challenging concept to understand, but with the right resources and a good foundation, there are many significant steps you can take to improve the ranking of your website, whether it’s already live or it’s still in the development phase. Now that you’ve read this extensive guide to basic SEO practices, you are ready to start brainstorming about all the segments you can structure in a way that would satisfy both search engines and potential customers.