This is part of a series called the Beginner's Guide to Search Engine Optimization.
Today, we're talking about optimizing your whole site, not just a single page, for search engines.
After choosing the right SEO keywords but before writing a ton of content, you have some choices to make.
So think through this carefully.
Before you begin, you need to know the following:
- What your site is about
- What the purpose is
- How committed you are
Once you've settled on those three things, then it's time to get to work.
So, let's begin, shall we?
To optimize your whole site for search engines, you'll need to follow these basic tips:
1. Make the website about one thing.
It can be about other stuff, too, but choose one primary topic that is most essential to your message.
This step is important, so you may want to do a little keyword research before choosing a topic.
2. Mention keywords where they matter most.
Include your “one thing” in the site title, domain name, description, tagline, keywords, blog categories, page titles, and page content.
If you're on WordPress, you can change a lot of this in the General Settings or through a plugin like All in One SEO Pack (which I use).
3. Link to internal pages on your site.
A lot of content management systems automatically do this, but if yours doesn't, you'll want to be intentional about linking to your most important pages directly from your homepage and cross-linking them with each other.
4. Use a permalink structure that includes keywords.
Some sites have “ugly” permalink structures that use numbers to identify pages.
Don't do this. It's bad for SEO and just doesn't look good.
Use a URL structure that includes text, and make sure you include keywords in your URLs.
So instead of having a page's URL be this:
It should look more like this:
5. Remove anything that slows down your website.
Page load times are important, so get rid of any non-essentials that bog down your website.
These may including music players, large images, flash graphics, and unnecessary plugins.
6. Use keywords in your images.
Include words that reflect your site topic in the image title, description, and alt attributes.
Also, re-title the file name if it doesn't reflect your main keywords (e.g. writing-tips.jpg instead of d1234.jpg).
7. Link to other websites with relevant content.
You can do this by including a blogroll, link list, or resources page on your website.
Of course, do it sparingly, as each outbound link is a “vote” for another site. However, if you do it well and people click your links, this tells search engines you are a trusted authority on your particular topic.
8. Update your website frequently.
Sites with dynamic content often rank higher than those with static content. That's why blogs and directories (like Wikipedia) do so well on search engines. They are constantly being updated with new content.
9. Make sure your website is indexed in search engines.
A lot of search engines will automatically find and index your content, but don't count on it.
You want to be sure engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo are crawling your site, so that people are finding you online. (You can add them directly, if they're not.)
10. Have other websites link to you.
This is really, really important, when it comes to SEO. The bummer is that it's not something you can necessarily control. Other than creating excellent content, the only thing you can do is ask (which occasionally works).
My counsel is to spend the time you would trying to convince somebody to link to you on just writing great content. And, start guest posting on other blogs.
Regardless of what you do, know that inbound links are essential to SEO.
11. Stop changing your domain name.
The age of your URL is a factor in your site's search ranking, so be patient.
If you're launching a new blog every six months, you'll never see your site get the value it deserves.
12. Write like a human.
None of the above matters if you create content that sounds like a robot wrote it.
Write great stuff, follow the steps above, have patience, and you'll see results.
I realize that many of you have already started blogging, but many of these tips can be applied retroactively. And once if you done this, you can start writing regular content. For more about writing SEO pages, read the next article in this series: The Idiot-Proof Basics to Writing SEO Pages.
If you're curious as to how well your site is performing on search engines, you can use a free website SEO tool like Website Grader.
For more SEO tips, read this: The Beginner’s Guide to Search Engine Optimization
Is your website optimized for search engines? Share thoughts/questions in the comments.
*Photo credit: Jeremy Noble