SEO Checklist for the Beginners
New website owners may be unfamiliar with search engine optimization (SEO). It is not unusual for people who have a great business idea to jump into the pool of online business start-ups with both feet without giving much thought to how they will make their business a success.They think about the number of Internet users that currently exists (nearing 3 billion) and assume it will be easy to get a very tiny number of those people to visit their site and make a purchase.
But it’s not that simple. When you add to the mix the billions of websites and trillions of web pages, it becomes a bit clearer the challenges new websites face. The best way for prospective customers to find you online is through search engines like Google, Yahoo!, and Bing. Search engines index web pages to include them on search engine results pages (SERPs) when their customers conduct a search. But websites are not automatically included on search engines.
One way for a new website to get noticed is to develop and implement a search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. SEO involves making your site friendly to search engines so they will index your site and include it on SERPs. Following are specific SEO tactics new website owners can use to increase their web visibility.
Identify Appropriate Keywords
Most of your SEO efforts will be built around keywords. These are the words that search engine customers use to find information online. As more sites get added to the web, the ability to use broad, general keywords successfully decreases. You will need to work for better keywords that will get your site listed high on SERPs. There are many free keyword analysis tools you can use to identify those that will work best for you. But don’t rely 100% on the tools. Once you have identified keywords that might be useful, you will need to test them. The best type of test is a split test that keeps all content the same while only changing one keyword at a time. You can then accurately gage which keywords have value and which don’t.
Use Keywords in Domain Name
If you have not already selected your domain name, consider incorporating one keyword or a keyword phrase in it. It is even better if your domain and website names match. This SEO tactic is a great way to get your site quickly ranked higher on SERPs. When search engine customers conduct a search and your domain name includes that keyword, search engines determine it to be relevant to their customer’s search. The important thing here is to make sure your content appropriately complements your domain name. In other words, your website should not be about muscle cars if your domain name suggests muscle strengthening instead. This is misleading and can prevent your site from being indexed. If it is already indexed, search engines can de-index your site to prevent it from being included on SERPs.
Develop High Quality Content
This is extremely important for SEO. Having a website that includes keywords is not enough to get your site indexed by search engines. You must have quality content on your site that is relevant to search engine customers. Search engines are committed to providing their customers with the best search experiences so they place a lot of emphasis on the quality of site content. They do not want to refer their customers to low-quality domains. Your content should be informative, fresh, and engaging. Outdated information will not be ranked as high as relevant content. Your content should always incorporate your keywords but in a natural way. Don’t force keywords into sentences that cause them to become grammatically incorrect or awkward as this has the potential of backfiring and causing your website to lose rank. Using too many keywords is tantamount to keyword stuffing which search engines do not like and they will rank your site accordingly. Establish a regular keyword density for your content and stick to it so your site is indexed properly.
Create a Blog
For many sites, the page content remains static for the most part. However, search engines rank sites that continually provide fresh content higher than sites that have no changes. Rather than try to find ways to change your page content, create a blog and add it to your site. Your blog postings become the fresh content search engines are looking for. This has quickly become a primary SEO practice for many site owners. New content is important, but quality content is more so. If you write blogs for the sole purpose of SEO, you will likely not see the results you want. Instead, provide content that your customers will find interesting enough to start discussions. Not all blogs allow readers to leave comments. There are several reasons for this. There are unscrupulous websites that post spam or gibberish on other people’s websites to establish backlinks. Those links might help them, but they harm your site. As long as you have someone vigilantly monitoring your site and removing such posts, you should be okay. Another reason comments are not accepted is that too many comments can dilute your SEO efforts. If you write a blog around a particular keyword, you are considering keyword density for SEO purposes.
Write and Submit Articles
Article writing has two main purposes. They market your products, services, and website. This, in turn, helps build your brand and establish your online reputation. As your reputation grows, so will your SERP rankings. And this will build your reputation, and so the circle goes. Another purpose of article writing is to build links to your website. When you submit an article to an article directory or other site, you include your URL in the resource box so readers can link to your website to get additional information. That URL becomes a link back to your site. As long as you are submitting article to reputable sites, you will be developing a strong inventory of links that search engines use for further confirmation of your site being an authority site. Always write articles that are high quality and provide relevant content to readers.
All content efforts up to this point have a secondary benefit – they help you build backlinks. The more backlinks you have, the greater trust is given by search engines. As with all off-page SEO activities, the main goal of links is to establish your site as an authority site. When search engines see a lot of backlinks, they may deem your site to be a high-trust domain which gets you higher rankings. But not all links are created equal. You want backlinks from high-trust sites as well. Avoid link farms which are domains established for link purposes only – they do not have content of value and are deemed to be spam by search engines. Linking to bad sites can be very detrimental to your own site. There are free tools available you can use to check backlinks so you eliminate those that place you at risk for being de-indexed by search engines.
Include Keywords in Tags
Too many site owners simply do not put enough time into constructing their title and meta tags. You should include keywords in your tags. Remember that the title tag is the first thing search engines read when they visit your site. Tags for each page should be different. This means not using the same keywords in each tag. As long as each page focuses on a unique keyword, this should not be a problem. Incorporate the keyword from that page into your tags. If you are unsure how to do this, you can easily hire a consultant to help you out. It is not uncommon to change the keywords on a page – when you do, don’t forget to adjust the tags as well.
ALT Tag Images
Images can help make your site appealing to visitors But search engines cannot read them so it is important that you optimize your images by putting their ALT tags to use. In the tag, provide a meaningful description of the image. Be sure to include a keyword or two for maximum SEO impact. With your ALT tag in place, search engines will now be able to include the image when indexing. This is just another way to make your site search engine-friendly.
Install a Sitemap
Visitors who don’t like looking around sites like to know you have a sitemap. These are often included in the site footer and are used like a table of content by visitors. Search engines use them as well. When a search engine visits your site to index it, you have a better chance of getting it all indexed if you have a site map. Search engines will actually use the sitemap for its indexing rather than visiting every single page on your site. You can also submit your sitemap directly to search engines to get your site indexed faster. While this is not a guarantee, it does not hurt to try, especially since you have a new site. Google provides guidance on developing and submitting sitemaps to them so be sure to follow their instructions for better results.
Consider Social Media
You don’t have to do everything at once but eventually you will want to look at how social media can further your SEO efforts. Specific SEO benefits of social media include getting links as your followers “like” or “tweet” your content. When they share your content with their own contacts, you get even more links. You also enhance your brand and reputation building efforts which improve your rankings. Of particular note is Google+, a fairly new social network operated by Google. With a Google+ account, you can get your profile page included on Google search results.
These are just some of the main SEO tactics you can use to get your new website noticed on search engines. You will learn more as you grow your business. If you feel you do not have enough time or sufficient expertise to implement these tactics, consider hiring an SEO company who can help you get your site and content optimized so you can start earning money sooner.