If you do anything on the web, you should understand the basics of search engine optimization, often called SEO. Because there are so many small details that go into good SEO, it may seem overwhelming. Thankfully, you don’t have to master it. You just need to understand what the components are and why they contribute to a positive experience for the people who search for and visit your website. Let’s take a beginner’s look at SEO.
Quality Content written for your website user, not for search engines
Quality content isn’t for the bots sent out by search engines to crawl your site (How is that for a mental image?). It’s for the readers of your website. After all, if your readers don’t see the value in your content, they won’t ever return to your site, recommend it to their friends, or share it on social media. Quality content is written in an interesting way with the information that your readers want. Consistently offering your readers quality content is the best way to increase your readership.
Help Google find your content
You will want to make your wonderful content easy for Google and other search engines to find so that when readers search a topic which you have written about, they can find it on your site. The best way to do this is to submit a sitemap to Google for your website. A sitemap tells search engines about new or changed pages on your site.
Links to your site from other pages can also help people find your site. Building relationships with sites related to your site can be beneficial for both parties. Linking to one another’s sites can help readers find relevant content and help Google see where your site fits in among the sites on the worldwide web.
Describing your page’s content
It’s important to choose a title that accurately communicates the topic of the page’s content. Sometimes content creators try to be more clever than true, leaving both readers and search engines baffled about what they will find when they open the link. Because of this, it is important that each page has a unique title as well as a unique keyword. This helps search engines know how a page is distinct from others on your site. Avoid using lengthy titles that may not be seen as matching a user’s search query. Also, avoid “stuffing” keywords into your title tags.
One example of important coding is your page’s meta tag. It summarizes what the page is about for search engines (hence, readers, as well). It could be a sentence or a short paragraph. As a tag, it is placed within the <head> element of your HTML document.
Google might use description meta tags as snippets for your pages or Google may choose to use a relevant section of your page’s visible text, particularly if it does a good job of matching up with a user’s query.
It’s also important to secure your site with HTTPS
No doubt your hosting service has talked with you about HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure), since it is a premium product that costs extra. It’s worth it, though.
Users expect a secure and private online experience. HTTPS provides this protecting the integrity and confidentiality of data between the user’s computer and the site three ways:
Data sent using HTTPS is secured via Transport Layer Security protocol (TLS). This provides three key layers of protection:
- Encryption—keeps conversations safe from eavesdroppers and those who would steal the user’s information.
- Data integrity—protects data from modification or corruption during transfer.
- Authentication—proves that your users are communicating with the intended website. This builds user trust.
Regardless of the content on your site, it’s important to safeguard your users’ connections to it.
A Beginner’s Look at SEO Includes Optimizing Your Images
Over 20% of all U.S. web searches happen on Google Images. Without proper image optimization, you’re wasting a valuable SEO asset.
- Images should be formatted as either PNG or JPG images.
PNG: These files are larger but produce better quality images. They also allow for transparency so are often used for logo files.
JPEG: These are lower quality but don’t take up as much space, which is an important factor in how quickly your website loads.
- Another way to reduce the bloat on your website is to compress images before uploading them to your website. You can use a graphics program for this such as Photoshop or Gimp. There are also some WordPress plugins that will allow you to optimize your images.
- Use original, unique images to add value to your site. Original images also protect you from a copyright infringement lawsuit. When you use an image that you didn’t create yourself, make sure that you have the legal right to use the image in the way you intend to.
- Make your images mobile-friendly, meaning they automatically resize for different screen and device sizes.
- Use keyword-rich, descriptive file names as well as alt tags for images. Alt tags describe the image (briefly) so that if the image can’t be viewed, whether due to a disability or because the image won’t load, the user and search engines know what the image contains.
Hiring an SEO Expert
If you’re considering a site redesign or planning to launch a new site, it’s the perfect time to talk with an SEO expert. They can help your site be search engine-friendly from the bottom up. They can also improve an existing site. Contact us today to find out how we can improve your SEO.