I hear this often. How come no one is finding my website? I ask myself the same question.
The most often answer, you need to work on your Search Engine Optimization or SEO.
Let’s define Search Engine Optimization as a starting point and then we will jump into the Three Parts of SEO.
The process of optimizing a website – as well as all the content on that website – so it will appear in prominent positions in the organic results of search engines. SEO requires an understanding of how search engines work, what people search for, and why and how people search. Successful SEO makes a site appealing to users and search engines. It is a combination of technical and marketing.Search Engine Journal
That is a really good definition but it is a bit long. Here is a shorter version I came up with.
SEO is a set of techniques and strategies used to push your website’s SERP (search engine results page) higher on the search page – organically.
You should notice that I said “organically”. This just means not using “pay per click” to get your ranking. If you are interested in pay per click then read my two articles on Google Smart Campaigns: Google Ads Smart Campaigns: Designed For Small Business and Google Ads Smart Campaigns – Part 2: Getting Expert Advice
Gone are the days of just having a website and people will find you or your business online. The number of websites and information on the Internet has exploded over the last 10 years.
SEO – Three Main Components
Each SEO component correlates to a search engine process.
- Technical SEO allows Search Engine Crawlers to find your content.
- The content of your website is added to the search engine database and is indexed (Indexer) so it can be compared to search terms for relevance.
- Promotion/Authority SEO allows the Query Engine (what shows the results to the searcher) to determine whether your page is the best selection for the search query. This is also known as Pagerank.
Technical SEO are those tasks and implementations that allow search engines to find the best content for their searchers on your website.
Search engines want their customers to have the best results that answer their customers query. To do so they need well structured, fast, and descriptive content. It directly relates to the search engine process called crawling where the search engine has bots crawl your site for content. It allows search engines to access your content efficiently.
Technical SEO Tasks
Well Structured – A well structured website will allow someone to find information easily. This includes descriptive categories and tags for your products, services, and blog articles.
If the structure is confusing then your user won’t be able to find your content easily and neither will search engines. Since search engines use the descriptive terms of your content to index it then it is best to include your keywords in the proper headings, categories, tags, and URL structure. If you can glance at a website, page, or post and determine what it is about then it is probably well structured.
Noindex Tags – Make sure the pages you want indexed by search engines do not have the Robots Meta Tag set to “noindex”. If you have content that should not show up in search then set this directive to “noindex”. Example for something that you want to set as noindex might be pages hidden behind a login or internal business pages or documents like proprietary pdfs. This is also a good thing to check if a page or post is not showing up in the SERPs.
Sitemaps – A sitemap is kind of like a phone directory for your website. It tells the search engine those pages you want indexed on their system. Noindexed pages/posts should not be in the sitemap. If you find that a page is not being found in search, look at your sitemap and make sure that page is listed. If not, add it and submit the sitemap via the search engines’s console. Google Search Console has many tools to help you work on boosting your SEO. Most SEO plugins in WordPress will have a sitemap option.
Mobile Friendly – Does your site look ugly on a phone? It is estimated that over 60% of internet searches are taking place on mobile devices. You want your website to load fast and present well on mobile devices. WordPress with a well developed theme will present well on mobile devices right out of the box.
Use HTTPS/SSL Certificates – This is how web servers and web browsers communicate securely. All websites should have an SSL Certificate. Never use a credit card on the internet without https in the address bar. Some or all of your data will be transferred unsecured. Having an SSL Certificate builds trust with users and search engines. Google says they prefer websites that are secured and safe. Most hosting services provide these certificates.
Content/Relevance SEO are the techniques you use to make your content readable. It is about using the keywords you know your customers will use to find your content. This shows search engines whether or not your content is relevant to the search criteria entered. Remember this relates the search engine process that indexes (Indexer) your content.
Content/Relevance SEO Tasks
Content – What is website content? – It includes text, images, videos, animations, headings, articles, products, product descriptions, author pages, category pages, landing pages, etc. Your content should have the relative keywords for search engines and be readable by humans. It should be relevant to the topic or key phrases to find your content.
Do not “keyword stuff” your content as this will confuse your reader and search engines. If your content is relative to the search your visitors will stay on your pages longer and search engines will use this metric to bump your posts in the SERPs. It is about engaging your reader/visitor.
Another point I’d like to make about content. Make sure your content is unique. Duplicate content is a negative ranking factor for SEO. If you copy and paste content from another website search engines will figure that out. This also includes product descriptions for products that you are reselling. Instead of using the manufacturers descriptions, try to come with your own.
Descriptive Anchor Text on Links – When adding links in your content whether they are internal or external you should create descriptive anchor text. Anchor text tells search engines and users what the link is about and whether it is relevant or not. Most of the time a link should not show the page’s URL but a title of what the link is about.
Title Tags & Meta Descriptions – These are the two things a searcher will see first on the search page. It’s kind of like the Headline and Lead on a news site. This gets your reader to click on your SERP.
Google uses the Title Tag on a page or post as a ranking factor but not the Meta Description. It is important to use the post or page’s keywords in the Title Tag. It is recommended to use a secondary keyword in the Meta Description and make sure you add a Call To Action.
All of the SEO plugins I have used include the ability to edit these fields for the page or post.
Readability – Readability is an important part of keeping your reader on your website. The time a reader is viewing a page or post is a factor in Pagerank. First, no walls of text! Let’s repeat that again just for emphasis. NO WALLS OF TEXT. Why? Unless you are a research scientist no one wants to read something that looks like work.
Break up your sentences and paragraphs. Use bolding, bullets, images and color to lead your reader through your content.
A post/page should be scannable. By scannable I mean the reader should be able to tell if your content is relative to their inquiry with a glance. If it is they will then read the article. For instance, I bolded “NO WALLS OF TEXT” to drive the point of this section’s content.
Topical focus – This is kind of self explanatory but important. This is essentially staying on topic for the article. If your post or page is about bananas do not talk about apples unless it is relevant. If you want to rank for bananas, staying on the topic of bananas is important.
Keywords – This is really important and often misunderstood. Many people think if you are selling beach balls that adding “beach balls” a hundred times on a page will get you search results. Nope. Too much of this can negatively affect your rankings. Search engines consider this keyword stuffing.
I usually start with an idea, topic, or set of keywords. Then I write a draft of what I need to convey to the reader. During the review process, I make sure to work in the search terms I want the article to be searched by. This allows me to focus on good content for my reader and not keywords.
Alt Text on Images – Google not only does search on pages and posts but also the images you have on your website. Alt Text is text/copy that appears in place of the image if the image fails to load.
It also allows screen reading tools used by the visually impaired to provide a description of the image. Google and other search engines use this text to crawl and rank your website. Plus it’s the right thing to do.
When I do website audits I find that most people don’t add this information. In WordPress, there are fields in the media center that allow you to add this information easily. A good rule of thumb is to be descriptive and specific. Do not keyword stuff and be as specific as possible.
Compare these two examples for the Alt Text for the image below (I am a Rush fan so you get a Rush reference).
“Musicians being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame”
“Musicians Alex Lifeson, Geddy Lee, and Neal Peart of the progressive rock band Rush being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio in 2013”
The second example includes many more details about the image. It allows you too add additional keywords and details to the image.
What is Authority in regards to SEO? Authority is the ability of your website to acquire new links to your site. These are also known as backlinks. Just having content on the internet does not mean anyone will find it. Google and other search engines base your position in search on many factors. One of the factors in page ranking is the number of good backlinks to your website.
This needs to be earned based on your great content as buying backlinks is not a good way to gain Pagerank.
Promotion is getting those backlinks.
CornerStone/In-depth Content – Studies have shown that longer in-depth content earn more backlinks. People do read longer articles. That does not mean you should only write long content. It does mean that some of your content needs to be in-depth so that you can build up your CornerStone content.
CornerStone content is the content on your website that gets the most links and exposure. It is the content that is “working”. CornerStone content should be promoted as it will give the most benefit of your time. This is a good article that goes into content length and ranking – The Third Pillar of SEO: Authority.
Social Media Sharing – Most or all blog posts should be shared on your social media accounts. This keeps those that are following you updated on new articles and events going on with your business or life.
I like to think of social media as bubbles of influence. Let’s say you have 100 followers on Facebook. Each one of those followers has a bubble of influence with their own followers. So if 3 people share your post and they each have 100 followers you have the potential to reach 400 people. Also, remember to remind people to share and like your posts.
One thing to remember about Social Media Sharing is that it does not directly affect your page rankings. From what I have studied, Google does not give you a boost for social media shares. Even though, I recommend you always share new content since the more people that read your content the better your rankings will be.
Social Media Sharing Buttons – This is the act of adding a link or button so your reader can easily share your content on their social media accounts. Notice that I did not say Likes. Likes are OK but what you really want is shares as they will have more impact (see the scenario above for social media sharing).
Backlinks from Trusted Websites – In my opinion, this is probably the most important aspect of getting ranked well by search engines. It is probably the most difficult to implement also.
Remember that search engines rank websites based on the quality of content and authority of their content. So if a website consistently has great content and posts often they get better ranking than other websites. If your content gets backlinked from those highly trusted websites you get a boost or better ranking as their ranking passes through to you. So anytime you can get a mention or even guest post on a well ranking website it will help your website’s ranking.
Conversely, backlinks from untrusted websites will do just the opposite and hurt your rankings.
The Wrap Up
We have covered the three basic parts of SEO: Technical SEO, Content/Relevance SEO, and Promotion/Authority SEO. I provided some examples and explanations of how each part correlates to a Search Engine Process. For each, I have included some tips and examples of what you can do to rank better.
Hopefully, this will help your website rank well on the search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo.
If you have any comments or if I have missed something please comment below.
Cheers and have a great day! No pressure.