One of the most common questions, people ask after they build their website is “How do I start optimizing my site for search engines?”
The truth is that there is much to be done and often it takes much more time to optimize a website than to build it.
Here is what you need to do:
Set up Google Analytics
You can’t optimize your website without having access to data about your traffic. Google Analytics is free and setting it up only takes a few minutes. In the same time, it gives tons of valuable statistics. Some of the benefits of using it are that It shows you not only how many visitors you have, but also how long they stay on your pages, how they find your website and what they do on it. These statistics will then help you fine tune your SEO.
- Set up Google Search Console
Basically, it’s just as important as Google Analytics. Search Console (previously known as Google Webmaster Tools) lets you submit your sitemap (will get to that later), so that your web site is indexed faster by Google. The tool also gives you direct insight on the way Google sees your website. Furthermore, you have access to some really useful data, such as links to your site, search traffic. You can also use Google Search Console to identify errors on your site that could hurt your ranking.
Do keyword research
After having these essential tools set up, you can start with the real SEO. First, you need to know why keywords are important. When you want to find something in Google, you type what you are looking for. In other words – you type some keywords. After that, you see a list of sites that are relevant to these keywords.
So, basically, you will want to find out what keywords are important for you, so that you can rank for them later on. This is a complicated process called keyword research. We won’t teach you how to do it, because there are tons of useful material out there. You can check out this guide from Moz and this from Hubspot.
Check your competitors
Competitive analysis and research is another important part of your SEO strategy. Its purpose is to see what уоur competitors are doing in terms of SEO, what keywords they are ranking for and what is the barrier to entry for your industry.
Competitive analysis includes several steps. The first thing is to identify your main competitors. You’ll most probably know them by now, but it’s a good thing to select the 2-3 that are biggest among them. Then you need to check what keywords they are ranking for. You can do it with a tool such as SEMRush, for example. The next step is to check their backlink profile. This is the number of domains that are linking to your competitor’s website. Again, you need a tool to do it. You can either use Majestic or Ahrefs as they basically do the same thing.
A good thing is to also check your competitors’ content and social media presence. Check whether they update them regularly and what other actions they perform.
Once you collect and analyze all this data, you will have a clear picture of how big efforts you will need in order to succeed.
Fill in page titles and meta description and add human URLs
There are a few very important things you need to do in order to optimize your pages. The first thing is to add page titles. In HTML title tags define the title of the document. Title tags are visible on preview snippets for a given page on search engine result pages (SERPs) and also when you post your website on social media sites, such as Facebook, Twitter and others. A good advice is to make your page title as precise and descriptive as possible and keep it at around 50-60 characters. According to Moz if you keep you page title under 55 character, Google will display almost all of them precisely.
Meta descriptions (or also called page descriptions) are another important thing you need to add. Although they do not play any role for your rankings, it’s important to have them as they appear in the preview snippets when you post your website on social media or on the SERPs. Optimally, page descriptions need to be between 150-160 characters.
Make sure that you have enough quality content
No matter what other efforts you do, what you need is enough quality content. In our opinion, it doesn’t matter how long your content is and how often you use your keywords, but whether your content is valuable for your visitors.
The ability to write quality texts isn’t something we could teach you in a few sentences but here are some basics:
- Know what your visitors are interested in
- Always provide double check what you write
- Don’t necessarily try to sell with all your content
- Be unique
Structure your content with H1 and H2s
Once you have your content written it’s a good idea to structure it, so that search engines (and visitors, of course) know what’s important. Think of your content as a newspaper article. A news article has a heading and usually subheadings if it’s long enough.
In website building, the way to structure your content this way is to use H1s and H2s (if you have different levels of subheadings, you can use H3s and so on).
Optimize your images
Optimizing your images for SEO means putting “alt tags” on them. The “alt tag” is a description of the image that is displayed when, for some reason, the image cannot be loaded (for example, when the user have blocked the images on websites).
“Alt tags” are important from an SEO perspective because search engines like Google use them to “see” the images and know what it’s about.
Create a sitemap
The sitemap is a special file on your server that includes all your pages (or at least the one you want to be included). It’s a way to directly tell search engines about any changes on your website, so that the search engines could index your site faster. Usually, you use your sitemap to submit it in Google Search Console or Bing Webmaster Tools.
The good news is that if you use Oxxy for your website, you don’t need to worry about your sitemap as it’s generated and updated manually. This means that the only thing you need to do is get your sitemap and submit it in Search Console.
Create social media pages with your brand name
When you optimize your newly built website it’s important to create social media profiles for your brand as well. Of course, if you are a small company you don’t need to be on every social media. A good idea is to make a research where your potential customers are and just be there.
The advantages of having social media presence in terms of SEO are huge. First of all, you can put links there. And, putting links to your brand is (almost) every time a great thing. Then, there are results on search engines. Social media profiles get indexed as well and usually faster than your websites.
Social media presence is also a good thing for a number of other aspects as well, such as brand awareness and as a mean of communication with your customers.
Build a mobile website
Having a mobile-friendly website is essential nowadays. If you still don’t know about that, it’s high time you get familiar with one of the latest changes Google made about their algorithm. Basically, last year they introduced a new update saying that they will boost the ranking of mobile-friendly websites.
Furthermore, having a mobile-friendly website is good for the users, not only for search engines. Users will surely like your website more if it’s mobile-friendly and they are more likely to browse it more and spend more time on it.
Start collecting links
Finally, you can start collecting links. Link building is an important part of SEO and perhaps the hardest one. But search engines like links very much. If a lot of other websites point to your website, Google will assume that your website is valuable and will boost it’s rankings. However, keep in mind that Google doesn’t like buying links or any other practicse of unnatural link building that can bring you a penalty, so make sure that everytihng is natural.
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