It’s not enough to make a website that just has that quaint aesthetic charm; your website needs to be functional as far as search engines and visitors are concerned.
The core of this functionality exists in the words you print on your website and the images you use. You need to ensure that search engines can understand your pages so that visitors can find pages that are completely relevant to their interests.
That’s why one of the most common problems we see with any given website is poor search optimization. Search engines can’t decipher your website, so it ranks lowly and few visitors click it.
The good news is that you can make your website SEO friendly. Here’s 5 ways to do just that.
1) Your Website Needs SEO-Friendly URLs
URLs do more than simply locate a resource; they help both search engines and users decipher what a link might be about before visiting it.
Search engines in particular extract keywords from a URL to decide what the most important content is on any given page. They look at your domain and any proceeding words of phrases that the URL might contain to decide what your page is about.
Try to decide what the following example URLs are about:
The second URL is far more descriptive, but the former URL format is the most common. It’s also the former URL that holds website back in search engines because neither visitors nor search engine robots can decipher what those pages are about until they actually visit them.
If you’re using WordPress, then modifying the URL structure settings for your website is easy. You need only visit “Settings”, then “Permalinks” to change it.
If you’re using a standard website driven by Apache, then you’re going to need to learn how to use the mod_rewrite module.
2) Know Your Keywords and Phrases Intimately
Keywords are the heart and soul of SEO for your website. They’re the terms that visitors will use to find your website through search engines, which means that you need to be aware of your keywords to know how to harness the traffic that sites like Google could provide.
One of the best places to start with keywords, in my opinion, is the Google AdWords Keyword Tool. You have a variety of ways to search for keywords, check statistics about keywords, utilize keyword groups to find related keywords, and do much more.
When you’ve performed all your keyword research and you know what keywords you want to use, then it’s time to optimize your on-site content so search engines know what your keywords are.
To that end, we recommend putting your keywords in the following elements:
- Your Individual Page Titles
- >h1< to >h5< Headings
- Within the Content of Your Pages
- Your Page URLs
- In Any Related File Name and Related “ALT” Text to Optimize for Image Search Engines
The one thing to keep in mind about your keywords is that you should use synonyms and other related keywords when you create your website copy. You want to sprinkle some variety into your quality content to ensure that it both looks natural and performs well in search engines.
3) Focus on Your Images
Another area I often see overlooked deals with the images on your website. Most people completely overlook the most crucial parts of their images, which in turn makes their performance in search engines suffer significantly.
Proper adherence to the following time-tested principles for image SEO will result in higher rankings.
Pay attention to the following:
Your File Sizes – Image file sizes contribute to the overall load times of your website. When these become too high, your visitors look for another source and search engines begin to penalize you. You may want to consider using images with higher compression rates or with smaller resolutions to significantly decrease image load times.
Alt Text is Important – Alternative (ALT) text plays an important part in making your website accessible to people with disabilities. It’s also used by search engine robots to determine what your media is about. Use alt text to describe your images while using your keywords.
Use Images Appropriately – Images need to make sense contextually. You should place them near text and other images where they will make the most sense.
4) Generate a XML Sitemap
Sitemaps are wonderful things. They describe the taxonomy of your website while ensuring that no link is left behind. Search engine spiders consider them a great tool for crawling every page of a website.
The best part is that XML sitemaps can be generated automatically. These structured lists of URLs can even help the occasional visitor find something that may have moved.
Google XML Sitemaps and WordPress SEO by Yoast are two popular WordPress plugins that make adding sitemaps to your website incredibly easy. Your pages and posts will be cataloged automatically.
By making proper use of sitemaps, you’ll ensure that every page of your website has the chance to be indexed by search engines. Indexing means the search engines can rank. This practice can allow independent pillar content articles to rank highly from the start.
5) Make Full Use of Social Media
Social networking has increasingly become more important to the life of the average person. Given the numerous metrics that social media can provide, we think that using it to determine the authority of any given web page is another logical step for search engines.
Google has already explained that they utilize social media sites as one of their many metrics for deciding ranking positions. Some website have even experienced great jumps in rankings because they simply focused on their social media efforts.
The best part is that these things have even generated extra traffic.
The one caveat to take note of is the integration of social media with search engines: Google+.
Google+ is essentially the typical Google search engine with some notes influenced by people with Google accounts. They can add +1s to a URL, add reviews and perform actions that can both help and hurt your SEO efforts.
Some of the things that users can do can even directly raise your search engine ranking positions. You may see a significant boost in traffic if the right groups of people like your pages.
To cover social media with regards to your website, you need only install a decent social sharing plugin. You should opt for one that stays visible without being intrusive to the visitor’s viewing experience. It should exist as a feature rather than a detractor from your website.
Making the Right Choices for Your SEO
You should do everything within your power to make your website SEO friendly. You want to be able to enjoy the many benefits that search engines can place right in front of your, which includes everything from increased traffic to a high degree of domain authority.
By slacking on any of the methods I’ve covered, you’re only making ranking more difficult for yourself. These basics are where I think most website owners need to start to ensure that you have the right foundation for a website that ranks highly from the start.
The best part is the doing these things will set your website apart from the millions of website that have poor URL structures, lackluster keyword optimization and a small social media presence. You’ll rank higher than these sites, and I think that’s something that you’ll easily enjoy.