Confused by SEO? Here’s a Beginners Guide to Search Engine Optimisation
Setting up your website for SEO is not rocket science. In fact, it’s as easy as learning how to drive. And you only get better at it with time and practice.
Let’s talk about the basics first. Like a car has a steering wheel, a clutch, brakes and gear to help you move it from one place to another, SEO uses different fields and components which help you move through the search rankings.
If you are using a WordPress site, the themes usually come with an in-built SEO option. Even if you are using a third party Plugin like Google for SEO, the sections pretty much remain the same.
Here is an example of what a basic SEO setup page looks like. Don’t worry if yours looks different. What’s important is that the information sections pretty much remain the same.
This is the title that will appear as a heading when the search is displayed. This can be a combination of the name of your company and the services you offer. Ideally, it should not exceed 70 words. For example, if your company is called Flora and you are a florist in the Melbourne region, the ideal title would be:
Flora.com | Florists in Melbourne
or something like
Flora.com | Flowers & Chocolate delivery in Melbourne
This is the actual URL of the website you want to display. Ideally, this would be the home page of your website. If you are looking to promote a microsite, then this URL will be the URL of the microsite. Essentially, it features the URL of the landing page. Taking our previous example ahead, this would be www.flora.com
Meta descriptions and title tags:
Meta description is the short paragraph that comes below the url that describes your services. The character limit is 160 characters so keep the content focused on the reason to click. Make sure you use some of the keywords here (highlighted in red). Taking our earlier example ahead :
A family run florist in Melbourne with a contemporary twist, delivering flowers, bouquets and chocolates for over 40 years.
Keywords are what people will type to look for your product or services. So this is essentially a list of words and phrases that you want to be found for. The more relevant these words are for your business, the more optimized your website will be. For example, it would be ‘Flowers in Melbourne’, ‘florists in Melbourne’, ‘Flower delivery’ etc.
It is recommended that every page in your website be SEO optimized. The above sections broadly remain the same. You can change the url by adding custom url extensions.
You may notice specially when adding images there exists the alt text and alt description option for images. While, the search engine algorithms can scan through content, scanning images is not so simple. So, it’s very important that you add the necessary texts to name and describe each image on your website.
You will notice an option to submit your sitemap. Sitemap is nothing but a map of your website, its different sections and sub-sections. I recommend strongly that this is added and updated regularly just so that the algorithm is able to easily understand your content structure and deliver relevant search results.
Not that complex is it? Just a matter of filling up a few boxes with information. There is no right or wrong here. You can always come back and keep editing it to reflect changes in your business or limited period offers.
But SEO is not a magic carpet that will get you flying in a jiffy. SEO takes time to reflect organically on searches. It takes roughly 1-2 months for changes to start appearing. And just because you have set up the SEO with the right keywords and descriptions doesn’t mean you will get the desired results.
Just like with the car, knowing how to use the steering does not mean you become a good driver or that you will reach your destination safe. You need to take into account what sort of car it is, are you carrying luggage or passengers, are they having a good experience etc.
Similarly, with SEO there are factors that play a very important role. Some of the major ones are listed below:
- Relevancy: Make your content, keywords and descriptions relevant to your business.
- Content quality: It is important to remember that it is people who use search engines, so write for people and not for the search engine algorithms. Regular original content written keeping in mind the keywords will help improve SEO. Also, it is better to have evergreen content i.e. content with insights and analysis rather than plain news or information.
- User experience: Having a website which provides a good user experience also provides SEO benefits. The website should be easy to navigate, search content on and have relevant links and related content. So, keeping in mind these factors while designing your website and content flow would be ideal.
- Site Speed: Sites that load faster, gets ranked higher in search results.
- Device compatibility: Your website needs to be responsive and optimized for different mobile devices and screens. With large amounts of search traffic coming in from mobile devices, it is now a necessity and improves your search rankings.
- Interlinking: Writers and editors can interlink content with one another, within the website or to external sources. In short, use hyperlinks and help improve your SEO rankings.
- Domain names: Picking your domain url is as critical to SEO as anything else. Steer clear of hyphenated domain names, keyword driven domain names and domain names like .biz, .name, .info etc. as these can be considered spammy. I recommend using sub-directory root domains instead of sub domains to keep your site architecture simple. For example, use com/category/roses instead of flora.com.category.roses.com.
- Schema markup: While schema markup may not directly help improve search rankings, adding Schema markups to your HTML code is considered a best practice and can make the search results more media rich with images, star ratings, customer reviews etc.
- Localization: Increasingly, search results are being optimized according to location. Register your business on Google Business to ensure your information like contact details, opening and closing time and customer reviews are updated.
- Comments: Depending on your business, having a comments section on your website means that there is a thriving community and engagement on the content. People are either reading the article or the comments, either way it means people care about your content and want to discuss it. It would be a good idea though to ensure that spam gets filtered out.
- Social media: Improve your rankings by pushing traffic from your social media channels on to your websites.
Experiment with the keywords, get into the whole experience. You will find SEO to be that constant companion who is by your side to support you if you treat it right. It’s just a matter of practice and reaching a point where you will start enjoying the drive.
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