How You Do Search Engine Optimization
Slowly, methodically, and lightly thinking about it is always my initial answer. Search Engine Optimization, or simply referred to as SEO, is something that many people don’t really understand or don’t care to learn. Most, just Google it and find Digital Point or Warrior Forum only to find out they are wasting so much of their time. You can read months of your life away like I have over the years on these forums, but SEO has changed so much through each Google update that most of the tips and tricks are now outdated or a waste of time.
In previous years, you would simply write for a search engine and wait a bit to get to the top of the first page in search results for your term. You would purchase links through forums or gigs on Fiverr and scattered your anchor text everywhere on bought links or in directories. Google and other search engines have advanced with the time and they use much better indicators on where your website and pages should rank and for which terms. They saw many methods abused for spam and have tuned the algorithm to ignore those indicators. I did everything trick in the book to get my websites at the very top and I wish they still worked today because I would gladly spend a couple thousand dollars and sit back for a couple months and watch the traffic flood in.
Instead, you have to do SEO by writing like a human, creating high-quality content that websites want to link to, and build real relationships with social media and other community websites to see action in search results. You must focus on quality navigation, well-written posts, and other things that search engines look for to rank your website properly.
I am aware that you can still buy thousands of high press release links, blog comments, or Yahoo Answers (if that’s still a thing) right now. I will tell you that after chasing SEO for almost 12 years as of this post, I have stopped. I focus on writing amazing content and engaging on social media on places like Quora, Twitter, and Tumblr to name a couple places. Yes, I don’t do Facebook much as the reach sucks unless you want to spend those dollars and I don’t really want to spend money there for little return.
I want to go through a list of indicators that are known to be used by search engines to rank your website. Keep in mind that no one knows all of the indicators and it’s impossible for me to dive into each in a meaningful way without this becoming an eBook. I will continue to expand this section to include more as time allows and more information becomes available.
The List of Indicators
Google is said to use around 200 different indicators to properly rank a website. The following are some of the known things that fall into their judgment.
- Security. Your site should be using HTTPS and you can use a free SSL certificate organization like Let’s Encrypt or Cloudflare. There is simply no excuse to install it even if you don’t think you need it.
- Easy navigation. You want your posts and pages to link correctly and easily to your website. This isn’t just for SEO, but really so your visitors can get to where they need in fewer clicks. This can make a huge difference on things like bounce rates.
- Well written posts. Google is smart enough to tell if you are keyword stuffing or writing for bots to index. Instead, write for humans to read your stuff. If your stuff sucks to read no one will stick around to consume more or share it with people in their circles. Writing well thought out articles is the most important factor for a website’s survivability.
- Backlinks. You want natural backlinks from other niche-related websites, quality directories (not many anymore), Wikipedia, press releases, and other authoritative websites. This is hard and if you have killer content people will link it in time. Buying shitty links is the quickest way to destroy any hope to ever rank well so go very easy with this area.
- Social media indicators. Google looks to see if people are talking, sharing, or linking to your websites from all social media sites…even Google+. I recommend having a social profile for your website even if you don’t use it. It’s a place to exist and the bots notice it. You can get more of an idea of social media marketing in an older post.
- Consistent content. Beleive it or not, the search engines can tell when you post new content and if you took a break. Those who consistently put out killer content on a regular basis are rewarded well with the higher ranking.
- On-Page SEO. Things you should do on your website is making sure you use H-tags correctly, quality content, easy navigation, alt tags, proper keywords, relatable titles, and subtitles. You need to make sure your house is in order before seeking off-page SEO. This is a huge topic on its own and I will cover it separately in 2018.
- Page speed. The faster your website delivers content the better. You might need a fast host, use a content delivery network (CDN), page caching, and other techniques to speed up your website. This makes a huge difference and one piece of advice I can offer is skip GoDaddy hosting. This is a common thing people do because it’s cheap. That price is cheap because it’s awful.
- Domain age. The older your domain is the more trusted it is. Spammers come and go and grab throwaway domain names to pop up, do what they came to do, and skip to the next quick buck. Domains that have been around for a long time matter. Of course, this is just one factor of many but my blog has been alive since 2008. That is almost 10 years of domain authority!
- …and so many more.
Where To Start?
Do not let anyone tell you that search engine optimization is easy because it simply isn’t. It can take years to master and most of us just don’t have the time or desire to learn it. The biggest thing you can do to get things right is to write. Write a little or a lot, it’s up to you, but make sure it’s the very best that you can publish. Don’t publish fluff pieces that “fill up” your blog. You need to invest the time and effort in creating bookmarkable and shareable content. If someone doesn’t want to tell their friend about what they just read it isn’t good enough. I realize I have work to do to get there as well, but we all do.
All of the other variables that you can do to improve your website will come along in time. They are meaningless unless the content to support them is present already. Google is not going to pay attention to an empty website even if you think it’s the bee’s knees.
I recommend taking the time on the basics like a memorable domain name that is a .com or something special. Once you have the name spend a little bit on the logo and the branding because you want people to visually remember you. Then you get a nice theme for your website, faster host, and amazing content. Once you have put the basics together it’s just a matter of time before some Google love comes in but please understand that I just simplified making a great website in 3 sentences. This process can take weeks or even months depending on how much time and know-how you have.
Continuously improve your website and what you can offer and people will take notice. Be present on social media and connect with influencers that might push a couple tweets out about your website. You never know what will get the SEO ball rolling, but I do know that you have to start some where.
Where To End?
The thing about SEO is that it never ends. It is something that evolves each day as the search engines find better ways to rank sites. We have to continue creating great content, telling the world about it, and fine-tuning what we have already put out there. It’s a journey.
This journey will have you looking for places to get your site known, but don’t spam. You will continue to write or create so you will get noticed. You will have some depressing thoughts to close your website because no one comes and sees it. All of these things happen in stages and all I can tell you is to not give up. If you really think you have something worth seeing then keep pushing through the bad analytics and high bounce rates until you make it. A website can be like that 18-year-old heading to Hollywood for a huge gig only to wait tables for 20 years.
As always, I wish you as much success as possible!