You may be thinking right now “How is one article going to discuss the hundreds of ways to perform SEO?” Well let me be honest, it’s not. We all know that there are many different details that go into search engine optimization, but I’m here to talk about the basics of SEO that you should be implementing to exceed your digital marketing goals.
You are most likely visiting this article because you either:
- Have a website, and don’t know if your site is following SEO best practices
- You think your SEO is good, but you might be missing some key elements
- Your website’s traffic is down which means so is your revenue, and you want to learn how to do SEO
- Your curious on how digital marketing agencies perform SEO
- You’re considering performing SEO by yourself (not the best idea)
Since SEO is such a broad topic, and there are so many features, a book can easily be written, but this article should do for now. If you are interested in increasing your organic traffic and being seen on SERPs keep reading because, here are the broad breast strokes on How to do SEO:
Take an Objective Look at Your Site
The first thing you should do is sit back, relax, and really look at your website, as if you were a user, and not affiliated with the website whatsoever. When first searching for your site on the world wide web from your phone or your desktop, do you notice if it’s slow? Are your pages loading quickly or is it taking forever? Can you as a user navigate through the pages with ease, or are you having trouble finding what you are looking for? If you answer slowly and it’s somewhat difficult, your site isn’t user friendly. If you get annoyed while waiting for it to load, and if you can’t find what you are looking for, can you imagine what actual visitors might think or do? Bounce.
A high bounce rate is when users are coming to your site, and then leaving immediately without navigating anywhere else. They most likely hit the back button and then go click on a website listed near your result in the SERPS hoping that they find what they are looking for because they couldn’t find it on your site.
Secondly, does your site contain any opinions or bias? If so, you may want to reevaluate the information on your site. Avoid using words like “best” and talking about you. Use wording the resonates with visitors. Talk about what you can do for them, rather than to boast.
Most importantly, how to do SEO all begins with your website and how it is presented in the eyes of Google and its users. If you don’t give Google something good or users something good to spend time on, you aren’t going to rank. This comes down to are you telling Google about your pages, what your business is, and what services or products it sells? Is your meta data optimized and is your site free of errors? Speaking of errors that leads us to our next point–
Crawl Your Site Frequently – Keep it Clean
It is crucial if you have a website to invest in a paid tool like Screaming Frog or SEMrush. I highly recommend SEMrush if you are a newbie to crawling your site, as it is very easy to navigate, provides tutorials on how to use it, and they offer a free 7-day trial. Both tools allow you to crawl every page on your site, I’m not pointing fingers or anything, but SEMrush is better if you are less experienced. SEMrush not only will find your errors, but it will show you the exact pages the errors are on, give explanations on each error and how you can fix them. Freeing your site of any errors will make it faster, easier to crawl, and more user friendly.
Do Proper Keyword Research
Keywords are what users use to find your site, but it is how you optimize your site for keywords that allows it to appear on the first page of Google and other search engines. SEMrush has an awesome Keyword Overview tool that allows you to enter up to 100 keywords relevant to your site.
It then gives you the amount of volume associated with that keyword, how difficult it is to rank for that keyword if you’re a new site, cost per click if you were to place an ad with that keyword, and my most favorite part – keyword variations.
New terms always pop up associated with products or services you sell. This tool can help you find the right terms for your page to target, and you can explore thousands of variations with high search volume or keywords with lower search volume. This tool allows you to “test the waters” and see what keywords will work best for your site, and help you receive optimal traffic. Having optimized keywords in your content and meta data is equally as important as a good website, but sometimes it takes practice to get the right ones in place. For example if you are a new pet store to the area, and you want to target, pet store near me, that has a search volume of 673 thousand, you most likely won’t appear on the first page of Google because it’s keyword difficulty is 75%. You then may want to research “Pet Store in (insert name of town/region)” where you will have a higher chance of generating traffic based on only having X amount of pet stores in that town or geographic region. Keywords are the backbone to SEO and performing research is #1 if you want to grow organically.
Write Content Regularly
Content is king in the game of SEO and a lot of people ask “Why do I need content on my pages if I’m only selling shoes?” Writing new content regularly or at least 2 to 3 times a month can drive your organic search traffic. The key to ranking for more terms and gaining more engagement is to add supporting content to your main website keyword(s). Many people that search for running shoes on Google may not just search “running shoes.” They may search a question related to your keyword such as, “Why are stability shoes better for running?” Adding a blog to your site or more information using your main keywords can also increase the amount of page’s your site has, more pages = more chances to rank, because let’s not forget Google ranks pages not websites. Sometimes, when you create new content that provides new information, or sparks interest in someone, they will also share it to their social media which will create even more engagement. Did someone say free advertising?
Add Technical Elements
Things like schema markup or also known as, structured data, is a great element to add to your website. You can do this at the organization, local, and even product level. It’s also beneficial for your blog articles and FAQ pages. If you’re not too sure what schema markup is, it is those extra features or “snippets” that appear in SERPs that make a page standout against the rest. Structured data helps inform Google the content on your site’s pages and what type of industry you are in. Without structured data Google can’t interpret your site or match it to relevant search queries to populate your site in rich search results. Adding structured data can provide richer search results. Including things such as your star ratings and reviews will allow your site to become more visible in search results, therefore giving you a better presentation to viewers.
If you look at this example you can see schema markup is used to display a 5-star rating and 10 reviews.
This would be something to consult with your web developer on. They can help you place the code to the backend of your website if you aren’t working with an SEO agency, because it can be very difficult to do on your own. Ultimately, this code allows search engines to crawl your website easier as well as organize and display the content to its users. Apply schema markup to your website if you want to increase your CTR’s.
Create a Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools Profile
If you want to rank on Google, then you may as well use the free resource that Google provides. Creating a Google Search Console account for your website is a great way to understand how your site is seen in the eyes of Google, and better understand how to take control of your SEO.
The main reason to use Google Search Console is to add your sitemap and monitor site metrics. You NEED to add your sitemap that way Google bot can crawl and index your website. This way Google will know where all your pages are AND they can list your pages in search results.
The other very important thing Google Search Console does is monitor your site’s data allowing you to determine what is working versus what isn’t. By analyzing and monitoring the data provided by Google Search Console, you can tell how your pages are being indexed, how your keywords are performing from a ranking, click and view standpoint, and also do the same for your landing pages. This is good to run some A/B tests on your metadata. For instance is Search Console you can tell if your current metadata and the keywords you are targeting for certain pages are working. Analyzing the Search Console data will let you see if the page is performing better for a different keyword that you may want to work into the page and other SEO elements of the page.
You can also do some technical actions in Google Search Console like removing URLs, but if you’re not comfortable doing so, I recommend consulting with someone who has done it before so you don’t harm your website.
Bing Webmaster tools is basically Bing’s version of Google Search Console. It gives you numbers pertaining to users using Bing as their preferred browsing method. You can do almost all the same stuff you can do in Google Search Console like analyze data, submit sitemaps, and force indexing of URLs. Google obviously trumps Bing, but it’s still something you should take advantage of as there is still a percentage of the world using this search engine. If you’re local, don’t forget about Bing Places as well. Google My Business isn’t the only local citation you can build.
Add Google Analytics
If you want real time insights, I highly suggest getting a Google Analytics account, and did I mention it’s free? If you want more advanced features you can pay a monthly fee, but for beginners the free version is great until you get the hang of using it. Google Analytics is a great tool to have for SEO purposes because it analyzes real traffic data. It doesn’t just dig into traffic, it understands where it is coming from, and you get more data around conversions. You can see what landing pages are performing best and even filter by other metrics like country, city, device, etc. You can really get granular with Google Analytics, and overall it could help you make important decisions regarding the optimization of your website.
Monitor and Stay up to Date
SEO can be hard and extremely complex, but these are the basics that could easily set you up for success. If you make a checklist and cross each of these off you are on the right track to increasing your organic search traffic. Just ensure that you monitor your site and results regularly to make sure everything stays in order.
One last suggestion I would like to make is to bookmark online resources like Search Engine Journal and Search Engine Land, which we at LSEO contribute to. It’s an ocean of articles relating to the industry talking about different tactics and new strategies that you can work into your site. Take 15 minutes a day in the morning, and read some of the latest articles.
It is important to understand that if you don’t have the time to do this, invest in someone or a company that can help you. It’s important to get this right as it could be essential for your online business success. You can hire someone in-house or an agency who specializes in digital marketing. Weight the pros and cons. Instead of hiring someone in-house to become the newest member of your team, consider hiring an agency to become a branch of your team. After all, your success is their success.