SEO Search Engine Optimization Guide

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Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of optimizing your online content so that a search engine likes to show it as a top result for searches of a certain keyword.

According to Wikipedia, SEO is “the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine’s unpaid results.”

When it comes to SEO, there’s you, the search engine, and the searcher. If you have an article about how to make healthy lasagna, you want the search engine (which, in 90% of all cases, is Google) to show it as a top result to anyone who searches for the phrase “healthy lasagna.”

SEO is the tool you have to work on your article or product listing in order to make Google very likely to include your post as one of the top results whenever someone searches for that keyword.

SEO Glossary

Search query

A question or search term you enter into a search engine.

Metadata

Data found in the source code of a page (Title Tag, Meta Description Tag, etc.) that tells search engines what your website is about.

Backlinks

Incoming links from other websites that point to your websites.

Keywords

A word, or group of words, used on a website that correspond with the words a user enters into a search engine.

Sitemap

A file on your website that tells spiders where to find your web pages so they are crawled and displayed properly in search results. There are two formats, HTML and XML versions.

SERP

Search Engine Results Page.

When you first start in the world of search engine optimization (SEO), you may feel intimidated at the sheer volume of things to learn. I know that many professional optimizers have been in the game for over a decade, still are constantly learning new things as Google or selling platforms come out with new updates.

The goal of SEO is to optimize your site so that it ranks higher in searches relevant to your industry; there are many ways to do this, but almost everything boils down to improving your relevance and authority. Your relevance is a measure of how appropriate your content is for an incoming query (and can be tweaked with keyword selection and content creation), and your authority is a measure of how trustworthy Google views your site to be (which can be improved with inbound links, brand mentions, high-quality content, and solid UI metrics).

On-site optimization is a collection of tactics, most of which are simple to implement, geared toward making your website more visible and indexable to search engines. These tactics include things like optimizing your titles and meta descriptions to include some of your target keywords, ensuring your site’s code is clean and minimal, and providing ample, relevant content on every page.

This is from Yoast which I use for my WordPress sites and really find it useful, I use the free version too.

Below is a broad four-step process for a strategy for search engine optimization. Use this as your top-level checklist.

From

Your SEO Checklist: 4 Steps to Optimizing Your Website

Step 1: Target Market Business Analysis

Website analysis. Analysis of meta sets/keywords, visible text and code to deter­mine how well you’re positioned for search engines. For example, how much code do you have on a page compared to text?

Competitive analysis. Examination of content keywords and present engine rank­ings of competitive websites to determine an effective engine positioning strategy. Pick the top five results in the Google listing results to begin this process. Expand as necessary. Use tools such as Semrush.com and Keywordspy.com.

Initial keyword nomination. Development of a prioritized list of targeted search terms related to your customer base and market segment. Begin with this: What would you type into a search engine to find your business website or page? Then, ask your customers!

Step 2: Keyword Research and Development

Keyword analysis. From nomination, further identify a targeted list of key­words and phrases. Review competitive lists and other pertinent industry sources. Use your preliminary list to determine an indicative number of recent search engine queries and how many websites are competing for each key­word. Prioritize keywords and phrases, plurals, singulars and misspellings. (If search users commonly misspell a keyword, you should identify and use it). Please note that Google will try to correct the term when searching, so use this with care.

Baseline ranking assessment. You need to understand where you are now in order to accurately assess your future rankings. Keep a simple Excel sheet to start the process. Check weekly to begin. As you get more comfortable, check every 30 to 45 days. You should see improvements in website traffic, a key indicator of progress for your keywords. Some optimizers will say that rankings are dead. Yes, traffic and conversions are more important, but we use rankings as an indicator.

Goals and Objectives. Clearly define your objectives in advance so you can truly measure your ROI from any programs you implement. Start simple, but don’t skip this step. Example: You may decide to increase website traffic from a current baseline of 100 visitors a day to 200 visitors over the next 30 days. Or you may want to improve your current conversion rate of one percent to two in a specified period. You may begin with top-level, aggregate numbers, but you must drill down into specific pages that can improve products, services, and business sales.

Step 3: Content Optimization and Submission

Create page titles. Keyword-based titles help establish page theme and direction for your keywords.

Create meta tags. Meta description tags can influence click-throughs but aren’t directly used for rankings. (Google doesn’t use the keywords tag any­more.)

Place strategic search phrases on pages. Integrate selected keywords into your website source code and existing content on designated pages. Make sure to apply a sug­gested guideline of one to three keywords/phrases per content page and add more pages to complete the list. Ensure that related words are used as a natural inclu­sion of your keywords. It helps the search engines quickly determine what the page is about. A natural approach to this works best. In the past, 100 to 300 words on a page was recommended. Many tests show that pages with 800 to 2,000 words can outperform shorter ones. In the end, the users, the marketplace, content and links will determine the popularity and ranking numbers.

Develop new sitemaps for Google and Bing. Make it easier for search engines to index your website. Create both XML and HTML versions. An HTML version is the first step. XML sitemaps can easily be submitted via Google and Bing webmaster tools.

Submit website to directories (limited use). Professional search marketers don’t sub­mit the URL to the major search engines, but it’s possible to do so. A better and faster way is to get links back to your site naturally. Links get your site indexed by the search engines. However, you should submit your URL to directories such as Yahoo! (paid), Business.com (paid) and DMOZ (free). Some may choose to include AdSense (google.com/adsense) scripts on a new site to get their Google Media bot to visit. It will likely get your pages indexed quickly.

Step 4: Continuous Testing and Measuring

Test and measure. Analyze search engine rankings and web traffic to determine the effectiveness of the programs you’ve implemented, including assessment of individual keyword performance. Test the results of changes, and keep changes tracked in an Excel spreadsheet, or whatever you’re comfortable with.

Maintenance. Ongoing addition and modification of keywords and website con­tent are necessary to continually improve search engine rankings so growth doesn’t stall or decline from neglect. You also want to review your link strategy and ensure that your inbound and outbound links are relevant to your business. A blog can provide you the necessary structure and ease of content addition that you need. Your hosting company can typically help you with the setup/installation of a blog. — entrepreneur.com

Be Mobile Friendly

Understand the difference between devices:

Smartphone

In this document, “mobile” or “mobile devices” refers to smartphones, such as devices running Android, iPhone, or Windows Phone. Mobile browsers are similar to desktop browsers in that they can render a broad set of the HTML5 specification, although their screen size is smaller and in almost all cases their default orientation is vertical.

Tablet

We consider tablets as devices in their own class, so when we speak of mobile devices, we generally do not include tablets in the definition. Tablets tend to have larger screens, which means that, unless you offer tablet-optimized content, you can assume that users expect to see your site as it would look on a desktop browser rather than on a smartphone browser.

Multimedia phone

These are phones with browsers that are able to render pages coded to meet XHTML standards, support HTML5 Markup, JavaScript/ECMAScript but might not support some of the extension APIs in the HTML5 standard. This generally describes the browser in most 3G-ready phones that are not smartphones.

Feature phones

 

On these phones, browsers lack the capability to render normal desktop web pages coded using standard HTML. This includes browsers that render only cHTML (iMode), WML, XHTML-MP, etc.

Our recommendations are geared toward smartphones, but we encourage multimedia and feature phones site owners to follow the same advice where they feel appropriate.

After you have created a mobile-ready site, you can use Google’s Mobile-friendly test to check if pages on your site meet the criteria for being labeled “Mobile-friendly” on Google Search result pages. You can also check out the Search Console Mobile Usability report to fix mobile usability issues affecting your site.

If your site serves lots of static content (like blog posts or product landing pages) across multiple pages, consider implementing it using AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages). It’s a special flavor of HTML that ensures your site stays fast and user friendly, and can be further accelerated by various platforms, including Google Search.

Roger Keyserling


SEO Search Engine Optimization Guide was originally published in eCom Tips on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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