If you are anything like most people, SEO can seem like the unwanted elephant in the room. You know your business needs to deal with it, but you don’t want to be the one responsible for this task. When most people think SEO, they assume difficult, complex, and time consuming, but it doesn’t have to be any of those things. In fact, you can learn SEO in 10 simple steps. All you need to do is lean in, listen, and apply the information you are given. While no two businesses operate the same, SEO is flexible enough to accommodate any need, desire, or shortcoming. Remove the elephant in the room and take your business to the next level!
Step 1: Setup
During the initial setup stage, you should prepare yourself for success. Just as a house needs a solid foundation before the framing goes up, so does your SEO strategy. The foundation in this case consists of tools like Google Analytics, Google AdWords, and Google Webmaster Tools.
Step 5: Navigation
Navigation, as it relates to SEO, is important on two ends. First, it is imperative for visitors to be able to navigate smoothly and quickly through your site’s pages. Second, search engines need to find clear connections between individual links and pages.
To accomplish both of these goals simultaneously, you need to build a universal navigation. Do this by identifying why visitors come to your site, what your top exit pages are, and what search terms are used on site. Next, you should divide your products and key pages into categories with useful names. Finally, put those categories in the universal navigation and keep things simple. If you use drop down menus, they need to be in HTML in order for the search engines to read them. If your product pages have more than 20 items on a page, consider adding a filter for visitors to narrow their search.
Step 6: On-Page Content
While there is significant behind the scenes work that goes into SEO, you still need quality content for visitors to read and view. Google’s newest algorithm is putting a major emphasis on useful, high-quality writing instead of heavy keyword usage. Avoid keyword stuffing and instead use calculated, well-placed keywords. It is best to target one keyword phrase per page. As for the structure, each page should have a distinct arrangement and headings.
Step 7: Meta Tags
In order to understand the value of meta tags, you must think about things through the eyes of search engine users. When you search for something, how do you determine which result to click? You most likely analyze the first few results and read a few words from the title and accompanying description. As a site, you only have a limited string of characters to persuade a user to click on your result over millions of others available. That descriptive sentence is known as a meta tag.
Your site will see a noticeable improvement if you are able to properly attack meta tags. Each meta description should be around 160 characters and should include natural keyword phrases. It is also crucial that you include some sort of call to action. This can be difficult to accomplish in only a few words and requires careful planning and thinking. If you’ve done your keyword research and organized site content in an effective manner, it should all fall into place.
Step 8: Coding
Coding can be a difficult part of SEO for those unfamiliar with the topic. While you will probably need to find someone well-educated in coding to perform detailed actions, there is one area you should understand: robots.txt.
In simple terms, robots.txt is a text file that you put on your site to tell search engines which pages they are allowed to visit. While this code is not mandatory, it is very helpful in cases where you have pages you wish for search robots to avoid. Think of it like a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door. Thieves can still get in if they like, but most folks will leave you alone. It is important to make sure your robots.txt file is in the main directory of your site and is structured appropriately.
Step 9: Sitemap
You can have a beautiful, properly structured site, but unless people can view it, your hard work doesn’t mean anything. To get the maximum amount of traffic and visibility, your site must be indexed by search engines and directories, like DMOZ. Otherwise, the big guys, like Google, Yahoo! and Bing, are unlikely to find the most relevant page on your site to display (if your site is found at all).
Many techniques and tools promise to get your site indexed by search engines. However, the least time consuming and most reliable way to lead search engines and visitors through your site’s content is by creating a sitemap. With an HTML sitemap, visitors can quickly navigate the contents of your site and head to the most relevant area. Similarly, an XML sitemap is read by search engines to ensure the most relevant page of your site is displayed.