Updated: Jul 17
I get asked this question a lot by my web design clients. And the truth is the answer is complicated. This will serve as your basic guide so you can be informed on how search engines work, what you're getting when someone like me offers SEO services, or take a stab at boosting your site yourself. There are certain passive things you can do at the beginning to set yourself up for success, and if I made your site, you'll be happy to know most of these are already done! We'll go over those, as well as the more longterm, active, options that I offer in my package to really grow your organic following overtime.
If you're just starting out and you feel like a needle in a haystack in the internet barn, you aren't alone. There are a number of ways your site ranking can be improved, but they'll require a little bit more than using the right key words and crossing your fingers. I also offer these services for you in my basic SEO support package, if it's out of your wheelhouse.
What is SEO? This stands for search engine optimization, and basically means improving your site rankings in the unpaid, or organic, search results area. Google is the most widely used search engine, so we'll focus on Google SEO in this guide.
How Are Websites Ranked?
In order to know how to win, we'll need to know the rules. So how does Google's algorithm deal with searches? They consider hundreds of factors about a webpage to decide what order to rank them in your search, but the most important are:
This is where your keywords come in.
How accurate is your content? How many people link to your site or trust it as a good source on a subject?
Is the content structured properly and easy to read and understand?
Imagine yourself at a party and you really want to know more about this Tiger King documentary everyone is talking about. As you make your way around the party, you overhear someone mention tigers, but they were just talking about a recent trip they took. Finally, you hear "Netflix" from across the room, and you make your way over and bring up Tiger King - finally relevant search results. Of the three people in the group, two have seen Tiger King and therefore have the right authority to inform you on the subject. Tom has a background in biology and just starts in on the evolution of the tiger and the effects captivity has on the animal - relevant and authoritative, yes, but meandering with lots of big words you don't care about right now. Finally, Kim chimes in with her personal review of the hysteria and emotional rollercoaster that is the Tiger King story. Boom - usefulness. You leave the party early so you can binge the documentary immediately now that you're hooked on Kim's review.
Pro Tip: Having a great website that people love, and trust to have relevant and meaningful content is your best bet in the long run. So keep that in mind as you build your brand with high quality content, social posts, and blogs.
What Does Basic SEO Look Like?
You'll need to do a few things up front to get yourself off on the right foot. Below would be the "passive" set up to put yourself in the right place to begin with, but unless you have other effective marketing channels, and ongoing SEO support that will lead people to your site and business, these steps won't magically get you found online by themselves.
1. Choose your keywords wisely
There are a lot of ways to do this, and you can even go so far as to do a deep dive in customer and keyword research, but it's entirely up to you and your budget and available time. Basically you want to know what your ideal customer is searching for in order to find your site. Do you want to add your location in your keywords to narrow down the competition, or are you building a global brand? Do you want to focus on a particular goal or product?
For basic SEO, in my opinion, the most effective type of keywords are "medium tail" meaning they fall right in the middle between too specific, they won't reach enough people, to too broad and you're back as the needle in the haystack. They usually consist of 2-3 words about your company, product or services. For example, using Web Design Company (or Services) instead of just Web Design, which would have you competing with web design classes, tutorials, informational articles, instead of just your target audience - people looking for a web designer. Moz is a great tool to help you decide on effective keywords for your website.
2. Write great content, include your keywords, and share it!
Content generation can vary depending on the type of site you have. E-commerce, blogs, websites selling services, and social media post all have different needs, but you'll want to make sure your content is engaging, and communicates value to your customer. Use your site keywords a few times in your paragraphs, page descriptions, and most importantly your title tags. This is called on-page SEO, and tells Google what your page is about. You can also incorporate variations of these words to help boost your results. At the very least, always use a descriptive file name for your photos. If you have a lot of photos on your site, you can look into adding alt text as well, to help Google understand what your site is about.
There really is no substitute for writing consistently great blogs, and social media content, when it comes to generating site traffic over time. Long format blogs give you the opportunity to incorporate your keywords, while giving customers value-added content, and answering some of your most frequently asked questions. The better your content, the more people will look for your site, spend more time on your pages, and link back to your site - all of which are important factors in your ranking. Below is a helpful infographic about how to optimize your social media content to engage with your customers - and in turn, increase your popularity on the web.
3. Have a Website That is a Joy to Use
People, and to a certain extent, search engines, don't like when your website is confusing, outdated or slow, and difficult to use. How long someone spends on your site is also a contributing factor in its ranking on Google. Make sure your site is responsive, meaning can be easily view on multiple devices, and doesn't take too long to load. If it does - remove some of the content. This is another perk of using Wix, because the design I give you works on all devices!
4. Register your site with Google Search Console
While google can find your site on its own, it doesn't hurt to make sure you're register with Google Search Console so that all of your information, including your business location and sitemap are up to date. You can also submit an updated site map, or use Fetch as Google to submit your sitemap for a brand new site. As stated before, if I made your site, or you're using the Wix SEO Wizard, this will all be done for you! If you need help doing this on your own, just follow the Google Search Console Link for instructions.
So there you have the very basic steps to get started with your quest to be in the coveted top five google search results. The ongoing work to get there would include using Google Analytics, or something similar to track your site traffic and user behaviors, to inform your ongoing SEO and digital marketing plans. And I can't overstate - keep cranking out really great content via blogs and social media, and link back to other relevant parts of your site throughout.
Popular keywords are constantly changing on the internet. Are people still using the same keywords find your site? How is your rank changing on Google?
My Basic SEO Plan to improve site traffic consist of the following for $165/mo:
- Monthly ranking/analytics reports
How is your site performing/where can we improved
- Internal link optimization
Efficient scanning for algorithms
- Keyword Research
Keep up with the most relevant keywords for your industry to stay competitive
- Content Optimization for 10 primary key words on up to 10 pages
On-page content updates as keywords change
- Meta description optimization
Keyword-optimized page descriptions for search engines and people to know what each page is about before they click
- Title tag optimization
One of the most important SEO steps, page title tags regularly updated with new keywords
As always, please share if you find this helpful, and don't hesitate to reach out if you have more questions for me.