Search Engine Optimization, better known as SEO, can be a marketer’s best friend. (Who knew three little letters could have such a big impact?). Whether or not you’re a marketing wiz, you should brush up on a few key SEO practices. Entrepreneurs, bloggers, and anyone with a web presence can benefit from making sure their website is in tip-top SEO shape. These 10 SEO practices will help you cover all of your bases — so you can sit back, relax, and let that search engine traffic roll in.
If you’re looking for a little extra help in the SEO department, our friends at Squarespace are about to make your job a whole lot easier. They’re continuously improving their SEO tools to help demystify the “black box” of SEO. Squarespace’s Google Search Keywords Panel, and SEO checklist all aim to ensure that active Squarespace customers can increase their understanding of SEO, as well as their ability to be discovered online.
1. Understand it
The first step to SEO success is understanding exactly what it means and what its capabilities are. As previously mentioned, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. SEO helps optimize web pages so they can reach a higher position in the results of a search engine — most importantly, to rank higher on Google. Improving your ranking increases your odds of someone clicking on your webpage in a search result. Because SEO is not a paid effort like an ad, this traffic is organic.
2. Utilize Keywords
This step is the second most important, and lays the groundwork for almost all of your SEO efforts. In order to rank higher in search, you have to align your web page’s content with Google’s (or another search engine’s) algorithm. One of the primary ways of doing this is by choosing the right keywords. A keyword refers to the words used on your website that you want to rank for. For example, if you own a bakery in Boston, you would want to rank highly for “Boston bakery.” You can choose secondary keywords to focus on like “best bakery in Boston.” You must choose keywords carefully. You want to choose ones that match your businesses’ goals, but that also aren’t overused by other websites. Essentially, many people are competing to rank highly with the same keywords.
There may be hundreds of other websites hoping to rank first on Google for your chosen keyword. If that is the case, you may be able to stand out by picking a less common keyword. Something more niche, such as “gluten-free Boston bakery” may do the trick. You can add keywords to many different places on your site to get the best results. Not sure where to start? Check out this helpful tutorial.
3. Title Images
You know how you can search for images on any search engine? When someone uploads a photo to their website, they name it with the keywords that they want to rank for. So if you want photos of your business, product, or blog to show up on image search results, you have to properly name them. You’ll have better luck getting users to click through to your website if your photo is properly named. In other words, this is not a time to play games. If you’re posting a photo with a title “vegetarian sandwich recipe” make sure the photo actually reflects that title. Not taking advantage of image search results is a waste, and is a step many people forget to take.
4. Blog About It
Have you noticed that every company under the sun has a blog now? In the past, only actual blogs or publications shared articles and content online, but now everyone does it because blog posts are the perfect place to drop desired keywords. Not to mention, search engines rank quality content higher than an average web page. It’s important that your desired keyword shows up in the first 100 words of a blog post. That way, the search engine can confirm that your content matches the title of your post. Which brings us to our next point…
5. Give it a Name
When it comes to blog posts, it’s important that you use your keyword in the title of the post. Ideally, the keyword should be as close as possible to the beginning of the title. If your keyword is “spring dresses,” the blog title should be “spring dresses under $100” not “the cutest spring dresses.”
6. Link it Up
Linking to other web pages can be extremely beneficial for SEO purposes. There are two types of links that you should utilize: external links and internal links. External links are those that send users to another website with a page on a similar topic. While it seems counterintuitive to lead users away from your website, search engines see you doing so as creating a valuable resource to readers. You can also include internal links in your content; this encourages search engines to find and review other pages on your website. Plus, they help the search engine determine the relevancy of your pages. If possible, you should link to at least two internal links on each blog post.
7. Get Linked
Now it’s time for a little old-fashioned PR. If your website has a link on someone else’s website, you’re looking at a marketing double whammy. Not only will you get a great PR opportunity and see organic referrals come through, but you’ll also raise your status in the eyes of search engines. When your website link shows up on another website, this is earning a “backlink.” Google keeps track of the quantity and quality of your backlinks. These links represent authority — if another website feels the need to mention you, Google takes that as a sign of your expertise and is more likely to recommend your content to users.
8. Make it Meta
No, we’re not getting philosophical here. Meta-title and meta-description tags are two pieces of code that determine how you rank in search. A meta-title (which can differ from a blog post or page’s actual title) is the title that will show up in search listings; the meta-description is that small blurb beneath the title on a search result. This description allows both the search engine and a user to understand what your webpage is about.
9. Simplify URLs
How you name your URLs is super important in the SEO world. Basically, search engines don’t like to read long URLs with complex structures. It’s best to always keep URLs short, and make sure they contain little more than the main keyword for which you want to rank.
10. Stay Updated
Like all areas of life, time brings change — and one of those changes can easily be to a search engine’s algorithm. Just as you think you’ve mastered SEO, Google or any other search engine can pull the rug out from under you by changing their algorithm — meaning that what once helped you rank highly may not any more. Keep an eye on your search traffic and make tweaks where needed. Stay updated on the latest SEO strategies and algorithm updates. Keeping abreast of current SEO trends is one of the best ways to make sure you’re using SEO to its fullest potential.
This post was in partnership with Squarespace, but all of the opinions within are those of The Everygirl editorial board.