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SEO Step by Step Guide | Tutorial
Search engine optimization is a term that you hear thrown around the internet all the time. What does it actually mean? How do you perform search engine optimization? We will go over the answers to both questions here in a step by step manner so that you can get the best website possible.
What Is Search Engine Optimization?
The process of search engine optimization involves enhancing your website to show up higher on search engine results. Every search engine requires websites to be formatted properly in order to show up higher in results, this is to keep quality results and relevant results at the top of the page. Search engine optimization involves performing a wide variety of steps in order to enhance your website.
In recent years, Google has been changing search engine optimization in order to focus heavily on humanizing the content. They don’t want to have bad content at the top of the search results because it doesn’t just reflect negatively on the content creature, but also on the search engine that recommends it.
One main factor in search engine optimization is that you are looking to develop organic traffic. Paying for traffic or paying for people to route traffic to you is not search engine optimization.
That does not mean you cannot pay someone else to optimize your website for you. You just don’t want to try and pay for traffic, that can end up hurting your optimization efforts.
You should understand that there is some specific terminology used for search engine optimization that may make the process sound complicated, but in reality the process is pretty simple. This guide is designed to make it easy for anyone to optimize their website for search engines.
Research Search Engine Optimization
Before you can do anything in search engine optimization you need to research thoroughly what to do and how to do it. A lack of research will leave you with an ineffective website. Ineffective websites will waste your time and money. There is an upside.
Research into search engine optimization is incredibly easy with the internet. This guide acts as a starting place for you to begin your research. In fact, this article contains many of the things that you need to learn in order to start making your websites perform exceptionally on search engine results.
Because search engine optimization is always changing, you want to make sure that you stay on top of the changes. Find a good SEO news website and check it regularly. This will help you to know when Google releases algorithm updates and when best practices change. Taking steps like this is how the best optimizers keep their websites at the top of the rankings.
Keyword research is a practice search engine optimization (SEO) professionals use to find and research alternative search terms that people enter into search engines while looking for a similar subject. Search engine optimization professionals research additional keywords, which they use to achieve better rankings in search engines. Once they find a niche keyword, they expanded on it to find similar keywords.
Find The Right Keywords
To determine what keywords should go on your webpage, you need to perform keyword research. You want to find keywords that are relevant to your webpage’s (or website’s) content. Beyond relevant, you want them to sound natural in the context of the content.
Further, you want to select keywords that represent what people are going to be searching for. Think about what most of your potential visitors will put into a search engine to find your website.
Research Individual Keywords
Once you have an idea of what keywords will work best for you, you should type them into Google and take a look at what website’s currently make the top of the list. Using any number of online keyword tools you can also find where you website places for that keyword currently.
Keywords are a stage that you will probably have to perform some trial and error on. Your website is your website after all and your visitors might be looking for something that your competitors don’t have.
Utilize Online Tools
There are plenty of online tools that you can use to analyze keywords. A simple search in Google will turn up many of those. Google has a Keyword Planner that many web experts turn to to start finding the right terms to target. This tool can be found as part of the Adwords suite. SERP also has a free keyword research tool.
Two types of keywords need to be targeted. A focus keyword typically is something short, maybe 1-4 words. The primary keyword can be specific or vague but it is something that many people are likely to search for.
Long Tail Keywords
The second type of keyword you want to include is long tail keywords. Long tail keywords are strings of words together and are often more effective at converting visitors into buyers. This is because the longer keywords are more specific and more likely to catch someone who is ready to buy.
Keywords Belong Everywhere
Keywords should be utilized across your website. On-site content and blog content alike should use your keywords. Your most important keywords should make an appearance in multiple places to help generate a connection. Keyword placement goes beyond that though.
A keyword shouldn’t just appear once in the text of a page, especially for a primary keyword. Keywords should make their way into headers and titles. This further helps search engines to identify your keywords and properly place your website.
A Note About Keywords
One thing that is important about keywords is that they must be included in the content in a natural way. Google will not allow for keywords that don’t belong in the context of the words around it.
Building Your Brand
Your business has an image that develops from every piece of your website and from your offline marketing. As you create and optimize your website you want to spend all of that time building your brand. Everything that you make goes into the creation of a brand.
Tone Of Voice
Do you speak with business professional as you write on your website? Or do you break that business stereotype and address your customers as if they were your friends? Depending on what your audience is, either might be appropriate. The idea is that once you find a voice, you stick with it.
Color schemes become one with your brand and if you want to be easily identifiable, you need to make sure that you keep the right colors. These colors should be used across your internet presence but also in the physical world to create a consistent brand.
More On Branding
Your brand consists of pretty much everything about your business. When you make a change or create a piece of your website, think about your brand. How will this piece affect your brand? Does this piece match my brand? Answer these questions for each step along the way.
Branding may not directly help with SEO but it does help in two ways. You develop a consistent voice that makes it easier for search engines to confirm your content belongs to you. It also helps you to create a professional business appearance. When potential link building opportunities visit your website, they are able to see and feel your brand and will be more likely to be impressed by your website.
Researching The Competitors
The second step in most people’s search engine optimization processes is to dig deeper into the competition. Researching the competitors starts with determining exactly who your competitors are. Competitors are people in the same industry or who sell similar products/services.
Discover Everything You Can
You want to discover everything you possibly can about the competition’s search engine results, their optimization, and their traffic. It is similar to competitor research when you are starting a business, the only difference is the exact details of the research has changed.
Determine Competitor Backlinks
One important research area is backlinks. Backlinks are offsite links that lead back to your website in a natural way. Blogs, web directories, and similar websites can all provide backlinks. Websites that are authorities on a matter or trusted are more likely to affect your ranking on Google.
Meta information also plays a role in the search engine optimization process and determining how your competition optimizes their metadata can help you with your own.
Don’t Skip Social Media
Don’t forget to spend time analyzing their social media to determine how they format it, how often they post, and what they post. Your social media accounts all play a role in your search engine rating.
Utilize Online Tools
Just like many steps of this process will have online tools, so does competitor research. SEM Rush is one place to find help performing research. SpyFu will help identify competitor keywords and Open Site Explorer will help you to monitor your competition’s backlinks.
If your website is in a major industry, you might be able to find some competitor research that has already been done around the internet.
After you take the two previous steps you can start to optimize your website. Optimization is the process of taking all of the factors that you have learned and put them into practice. This part of the process can take some time, you have to convert what you learned into your own design and optimization.
Your Website Design
Start with the actual design of your website. Formatting your website helps to optimize it for both search engines and the humans that visit your website. Typically you want to follow the formatting of the industry that you are in. There is more to it than that though.
A major factor in website optimization is the loading speed. A web page should load rapidly. Study after study has shown that if a page does not load within a matter of a few seconds, you start to lose visitors exponentially. Everything from optimizing your images to ensuring that your coding meets standards. Use a testing service such as Moz that will test your loading speed average.
How you lay out your website also plays a role in search engine optimization. A solid site structure will help you to plan navigation and make it easier for visitors to navigate. It will also make it easier for search engines to go through your content.
Linking to pages across your website is important. All of your most important pages should have links across the website so that users can get to them without having to follow a complicated tree. A clear menu should be used with the same text appearing on every page.
Use Page Formatting
HTML and CSS both have certain formatting that helps search engines to determine what is important on a webpage and what isn’t. Instead of just bolding headers and making titles large, use the proper tags. Header tags help a search engine to digest a page more easily. They also help users to do the same. Once again you see a link to humanizing your website optimization.
So many people use their phones to access the internet now that it has become crucial that you plan for that. Google lists responsive design websites higher in mobile search results than non-responsive websites.
A responsive website is a site that changes based on the device that you are using to make viewing easier. There are tools to help with the responsive conversion but whether you use tools or program a responsive design yourself, it is essential to crafting a search engine friendly website.
Be Open To Change
In preparation for the next steps, leave room for content development and make sure to keep an open mind. As you continue on through the process you are likely to want to make changes.
Optimize The Content
Inside your website optimization you will also utilize the steps that we talked about earlier. Integrating your keywords and the competitor research you are going to want to craft a website that is capable of leading the industry.
So many different aspects of working on your website need to be optimized. It starts with your technical SEO and site design, such as your coding and backend work. Then it moves into the content creation and the last step will be off site SEO.
Optimization Is An Ongoing Process
Optimizing your website is also a process that never stops. As time moves on you will discover what works and doesn’t work. Trial and error is one way that your optimization will grow. Developing beta experiences and utilizing user testing is another way that your company will grow.
Optimize All Updates
It also doesn’t stop in the aspect that every time you update your website, you need to re-evaluate the optimization. New additions can cause optimization problems if you don’t evaluate every change and how it affects the webpage. Similarly, if you post blog content, make sure that the content and images are optimized.
With an optimized website you will notice that the hits will start coming in and as time goes on, you will move up in the SEO rankings.
Content is the backbone of your website and your search engine optimization strategy. Without content you will notice that people don’t want to stay on your website and that they won’t even get there in the first place. Therefore, you want to have a thorough strategy for the content on your website.
Think about it. When you go shopping online and end up at a product page and there is no description of the product, spec sheet, and there is only one image, how disappointed are you? How likely are you to convert to a customer of that store? In most cases, not very.
The Importance Of Page Content
Developing thorough content on each page of your website is important. Content doesn’t have to be long, drawn out paragraphs, there just has to be something there for people to take in. Here are some ideas of content on regular pages of your website.:
Creating A Blog, Utilizing Social Media, And More
Content extends beyond the regular website pages. Without ongoing content updates, return people will be less likely to show up. Ongoing content updates also serve to establish relevance, trust, and authority in your industry.
Creating a content strategy means that you develop a schedule for when you are going to create new content and post it to your website. One of the best ways to do this is to open a blog on your website. A blog allows you to update your website with new content but also to further your search engine optimization.
Each blog post is an opportunity to add new keywords, add user comments, attract new views, and more. All of these will reflect positively on your search engine optimization.
So what do you create to add new content to your page?
What Kind Of Content?
New content can be industry news, product profiles, user reviews, tutorials, and the likes. The one major rule is that you need to have content that gives the user something that they want. Google has started to pay less attention to content added just to add search engine optimization. Remember, that humanizing thing we mentioned?
In that new blog content make sure that you utilize internal links. These links will help you to direct people to other pages and to products. Link building isn’t just about your links on external pages but also those inside your website.
Remember that your content creation isn’t just limited to your website either. You will want to add new content regularly to your social media. Posting content to your social media can help just as much as running a blog but the two aren’t mutually exclusive, they work best together. In fact, you should post a link to your blog content every time you update your blog. This will help direct social media followers to new content and your website and then convert them.
Planning Your Content
Scheduling is an important part of content release. Releasing content irregularly won’t get people to continue returning to your webpage. A lot of experts say that releasing new content at least once a week is best. If you can do so more often than that, you are going to do even more with your content.
Turning out new content can get expensive and/or be a big time investment. But with the amount that it pays in new traffic and conversions is a big benefit. Both search engines and real people will enjoy the new content. It is possible to grow your website simply on the content that you post.
Link Building Strategy
Developing a link building strategy is important. You want to be able to have outside traffic directed to your website from more than just search engines. Outside (external links) help with your search engine ranking but also with the external direction of traffic towards you.
Knowing Your Audience
A good place to start in your link building strategy is to get to know your audience. Who is coming to your website? What else do they like? Where else do they browse on the internet? Some of this can be achieved with Google Analytics. Google Analytics allows you to get some demographic information from visitors anonymously and view it in the form of statistics.
Go Beyond Analytics
Your analytic information will only get you so far. Examine the comments that people leave, look for other websites where people are talking about your product/service/site, and interact with those who use your website. This will help you to understand your initial audience.
At this point it is important to point out that as time goes on your audience will grow and include more niches. Typically though, your starting audience will be your most prevalent and dedicated group.
Knowing your audience and by using the competition research that you performed above, will allow you to determine what external links will do the most good for your website. Targeting your link building will help you to get the most benefit out of your time. Getting links placed in any old place won’t do you much good.
Start The Process
Once you know your audience a good way to start targeting link building is to make a list of websites that your audience is likely to visit. Whether or not a link from a website that your audience already likes is meant to endorse your website, it will. This will help a lot.
Link To Important Pages
Sure, your homepage is an important part of your website, but is it your only important part? For most websites, the answer should be no. You want to make sure that during your link building you pay attention to spreading out your links.
Links back to your website should go to all of your important pages, your homepage, and to your blog content. A diversity of links back helps to direct traffic and show search engines that your whole website is important.
How do you convince people to link to your website?
Do Not Pay For Backlinks
One of the most popular first thoughts for getting links is to pay for them. Some websites will take payment for a link back to your content or product. This used to be an acceptable way to gain backlinks but it is not seen as underhanded and misleading by a lot of people. They want natural content.
To get backlinks naturally you want to develop good content that people will want to link to. It is much like creating a viral video, you are trying to create viral content. Or as close to it as you can. This is another reason why running an effective blog is so important.
You can also reach out to websites that match your content or product and speak with them about linking back to your content. Many people are open to listening to a request for link sharing or link building if you provide them with quality.
Submit To Directories
Make sure to submit your website to web directories and business directories around the internet. This will add you to trusted link building sources without having to do too much work. Directories help with both increasing your amount of traffic and your search engine optimization. You get double the benefit.
A wide amount of general directories exist out there. BOTW and Curlie are just two examples. In order to ensure that your website is posted in all of the relevant locations, you should make sure that you submit it to as many web directory submission as possible.
You want to also look for niche directories that apply to your website. The internet is full of niche directories for areas like small businesses, product categories, location, and more. Adding your website to these directories could potentially have more value as they are targeted towards people who are already interested in what your site has to offer. Consider also submitting on paid web directories.
Don’t Forget Social Media
One of the reasons that you want to share content on social media is that it can get more shares and links back to your website. The audience content can reach on social media can be quite large and every share directs more traffic back to you.
Social Media Strategy
We already have mentioned social media several times throughout this guide. Social media is important and that is why it keeps appearing. Just like with the other strategies we have mentioned, developing a solid social media strategy will improve your search engine optimization.
People Use Social Media Every Day
Social media strategy has only grown more important as the role social media plays in our everyday life just keeps increasing. People check their social media numerous times throughout the day and each time they check is a chance for them to find your content.
Under the content section we mentioned how you should be linking to new content on your social media when you post it. This will help you get your content out there and build links. But your social media has the potential to do so much more.
Your social media has the power to get your name out there and that is why it is so important. People learn of new companies and products through social media.
Create Goals To Guide Your Success
In your social media strategy you want to create goals that will help guide you towards what you want to get out of social media. To be the most effective your goals should be clear and have a path to achieve them.
Your social media strategy should include using keywords that you have selected for your website and content. This will help to direct search engine and social media searches to your content as opposed to others’.
View The Competition’s Social Media
Don’t know what to do for your social media? Then take a look at the social media from your competition. This will help you get a grasp of what you are looking to do.
When you look at a company’s social media page, make sure that you look at all of their social media. Most social media plans involve multiple platforms. Understanding how other companies make this work will help you to implement it yourself.
Go Beyond Content Engage Customers
Social media isn’t all about your content though. It is also about engaging customers. Companies that have the best social media comment back to customers, respond to tweets, and otherwise make customers feel like they are important.
Convert Through Social Media
One newly trending social media feature to take advantage of is the ability to sell from popular platforms such as Instagram and Facebook. Both have enabled different ways of using your content to lead people to converting. Instagram’s new link that can be attached to photos that allows you to click to buy is a great help to those looking to convert customers.
Just like with many parts of SEO you want to analyze your social media strategy as you carry it out and tweak it so that it is effective. Very few social media strategies are effective without tweaking. That is part of how humans grow, they adapt. Our plans need to too.
After everything else is done, you want to take a look at your website and optimize it convert visitors into customers. There are a lot of different viewpoints that are taken on this stage of search engine optimization. The most effective view is to keep conversion optimization human. You want to make people want your product.
Just like you researched your audience before, you want to either research again or use that same research to make your website exceptionally tailored towards them. User study groups, on-site surveys, and testing different models can help you to gather the information you need to optimize for conversion.
Don’t be a typical sales person and simply plaster buy now signs all over your website. Show your potential conversions why they should convert in the first place.
Track Your Results
Tracking the results of all of the work that you put into search engine optimization is important. You don’t want continue to work in a direction that doesn’t work for you. Focusing on the SEO paths that work for your business is important.
As you are setting up your website and optimizing it, make sure that you use analytics and other tools to help you track the end results.
If you notice that after a reasonable amount of time, a certain SEO effort you have put forth isn’t working, you are going to want to either change what you are doing or stop that method. Your efforts can be better spent elsewhere.
The world is constantly changing and so are the people in it. As such, the process of tracking your results never ends. It is something that will continue on. Don’t give up on it just because it looks like your website is functioning perfectly.
This guide contains everything you need to start the search engine optimization process. However, you do not have to limit yourself to just this guide. If you find that you still have questions after reading this, we highly encourage you to go out and read more.
You don’t have to handle your own search engine optimization if you find yourself lost. A company that specializes in search engine optimization can be hired to help you through the process. People who work for these companies spend a good portion of their time learning about how to best optimize websites. You can hire one of these companies at an extremely affordable rate.
Whether you want to go through the SEO process by yourself or with the help of the company, it is helpful to at least understand the basics. That way, you can understand what they are doing. It also gives you a background from which to gauge the success of your search engine optimization. Good luck on getting your website to the top of the search results!
This SEO guide was made possible through the efforts of the Premium Web Directory team.