Ahh SEO, one of the great mysteries of the web – or so I thought, once upon a time. After witnessing one web developer who claimed to be an "SEO expert", rip off countless unknowing clients, I decided I would learn how to do it correctly, and honestly. I was on my way to uncover the great truths of SEO.
I've learned so much on my SEO journey. It turns out there's no magic SEO button that you can press to make your website rank number one on Google. There are however, a few factors that when implemented correctly will have your site ranking with the best of 'em!
What is SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. In short, it consists of setting up and maintaining a website properly so that it can be easily found on the web. After all, if you have a website that no one can find what is the point of having one at all?
I've come to the conclusion that there are 5 essential parts of SEO when setting up a WordPress website. They are as follows:
1. Format your website with SEO in mind
Your H1 tags should contain keywords
H1 tags are the headlines of your pages that should be coded within <h1> </h1> tags. Do some research to find out what keywords you should be using. Write your headlines accordingly. But don't forget, your writing for humans not for the search engine. Your headlines should still read naturally and make sense to your reader – and if you can find a way to incorporate those keywords it will help your SEO.
Here are my 2 favorite tools for doing keyword research:
Use a plugin like Yoast SEO
Yoast is an invaluable tool to setup SEO on all pages of your site. It's fairly simple to setup and will greatly improve your search engine rankings.
Make sure your website is responsive
Because so much traffic is coming from mobile phones these days it's important that your website looks great and functions well on mobile devices. Google will penalize websites that aren't mobile friendly by ranking them lower in the search engine.
2. Write awesome, "shareable" content
It's simple really. Google wants their users to be able to find what they're searching for. When ranking websites they scan the web for relevant content to the user's search. So, naturally, websites with lots of useful content will rank higher.
Your content should be geared towards your target audience. For example, if you want to reach web designers, your content should be useful to web designers. So how do you write shareable content? By writing posts, sharing videos, and giving away free stuff that users find so helpful and interesting that they can't help but share it!
One way to create interesting content is to create "how-to" videos and share them on YouTube. For example if you own a construction business it might be a good idea to create some videos sharing easy DIY home projects.
Another way to create content is by giving away "Freebies", because let's face it, everybody loves free stuff! Giving away free content is a way to build a relationship with customers. For example, if you're a fine artist I'm sure you wouldn't want to give away free paintings, but what you could do is create digital versions of your art and give them away as free desktop wallpapers.
3. Link building
Link building means getting reputable businesses to link to your website. That may seem like a tall order but it's actually easier than it sounds. Find authorities in your industry. For example, if you're a mommy blogger, find a few popular mom blogs with a lot of traction. Send them an email with something to offer.
Let's say they have been doing a lot of posts about organic baby food, and you have just written a post that reviews all of the best organic baby foods. Send them an email introducing yourself and share your article with them. Politely mention that you would greatly appreciate it if they would share your post. Be careful not to sound desperate – that is a huge turn off. It's a great idea to form relationships that will be mutually beneficial with the "big dogs" in your arena.
Another great way to gain traction is by creating a "Yelp" account. Yelp shows up high in search results, to help your business be easily found. It also attracts attention to see a business with five star reviews, so the more positive reviews the better!
5. Webmaster Tools
It is recommended by Google and Bing to setup Webmaster accounts with them. This will provide tips and recommendations to help your website be easier found. It's important to submit your XML sitemap through Google webmaster tools. You can get your sitemap from the Yoast plugin.
- Setup you Google Webmaster Tools account here:
Google Webmaster Tools Signup
- Setup your Bing Webmaster Tools account here:
Bing Webmaster Tools Signup
There you have it – the 5 most essential parts of SEO explained. Use these tools when creating your websites and you should have some happy clients!