April 15, 2021

Basic SEO Optimization for your website

With the power of the internet at everyone's fingertips, it’s now easier for people to do a quick Google search to find something they want or need. 

It may seem like there’s no pattern in the way Google arranges the search results. In reality, there is a way for you to rise up the ranks and give your website a considerable amount of traffic. 

While the technical aspect of SEO can confuse and frustrate you at times, you should always still remember that “content is king.” It’s the substance of your content that will draw people to your website, and what will help you rank better in Google searches.

Read on as we give you an overview of what SEO is all about, and how you can start applying it to your website.

Understanding SEO and what it can do for you

Simply put, SEO or Search Engine Optimization is the process of affecting the visibility of your website or web page with the goal of ranking as high as possible in search results. 

SEO may seem to be a fancy word that only tech-savvy people can understand, or something that is better reserved for larger businesses. But once you understand what SEO can do for your website, it’s easy to see how startup brand owners can also start applying it on their websites. This is one way of effectively promoting your product, especially when you’re starting.

So why should you even care about SEO in the first place?

Ranking higher on search results is undoubtedly the most popular benefit of SEO, but this is simply a means to an end. Many of the real concrete benefits of SEO are related to getting people to visit your website.

1. SEO can help drive more traffic to your website

When people search on any search engine, they tend to click on the first few results on the top of the page. Unless you’re doing an extensive research on a topic, you wouldn’t even care to go to the second page of the search results.

That’s why it’s always best to keep your website ranking high on search results. This way, you can be sure that when your customers begin to search for your products, there is a high chance that your website will always be clicked.

2. SEO leads to a more consistent traffic

Unlike other platforms like social media or email, ranking high on search engines often results in more consistent and passive traffic to your website. 

Social media platform algorithms are unpredictable and unstable. You may appear more frequently on some feeds, but you may not be appearing on those whom you want to target. When it comes to emails, people can too easily mark them as read, or end up completely forgetting them as it gets buried along with their other emails.

You won’t have those same consistent problems when you rank high in search results. Since the number of searches are typically consistent from month to month, it’s easy to have a steady and consistent number of traffic once your website or web page ranks higher.

3. SEO can help provide "free" traffic to your website

While the prospect of paying for ads to boost your posts in social media may seem to be a good idea, it may cost you some considerable amount of money. For starting businesses, it can be too much, especially if you boost your posts a number of times.

Sure, you might spend a few resources here and there to create content that ranks well, but it’s a far cheaper alternative than paying one-time for ads.

4. SEO can help increase your website's "authority"

Before we get into the nit and grit of applying SEO, it’s best to familiarize yourself first with the elements of SEO that you’ll need.

Basic SEO components

The amount of information out there about SEO can be quite overwhelming. Sometimes, these resources can even contradict each other, which can add to your frustration. 

Don’t worry! You don’t need to understand every single principle and technique immediately. For now, what matters is that we cover the basic and key components of SEO that your website or webpage needs. To give you a better image of the essential factors you need to know, let’s imagine the ingredients of this soup bowl. 

1. Technical Aspects (On-Page SEO)

These elements represent everything that you can do within the website itself. It holds your content together just like a bowl would do so with the soup. Without the bowl, there would be nothing that will hold the soup and its contents.

Your on-page SEO involves optimizing the content of your website to help search engines better understand what the content is about. Most people would think that it only involves incorporating as many keywords as each blog article can hold, but that’s just a small part of it. This also involves your metadata (title tags and meta descriptions), internal linking, and content optimization. As we go along with this article, we’ll explain further what each of these elements are and how they can contribute to your website’s SEO.

2. Quality Content

What’s a soup bowl without the soup itself? Like the soup, this component represents the most important part of SEO: the contents of the website itself. 

You may do all the technical optimization on your website but as long as the content itself is not relevant or of good quality, then it will still not rank higher. Google can still recognize whether you’re just stuffing keywords on your content and determine if you’re “worthy” of a higher rank.

We’ll explain a little bit more of how to improve your website’s content SEO-wise as we dive a little more into it later in this article.

3. Quality Backlinks

Sometimes, soup can be good enough on its own. If you want to give it more flavor, the best way to do it is to add seasoning. For SEO, that seasoning is represented by backlinks. 

These backlinks are simply just links from one website to another. You can have great content and a well-optimized website, but to gain authority, you will need backlinks. These essentially work like ‘votes’ from other websites that tell Google that other websites think your content is useful and relevant.

But quality matters more than quantity. So it’s best that you aim for high-authority and high-traffic websites when you include link building in your SEO efforts.

Now that you know what goes into doing SEO, let’s talk about how to utilize these components well to make sure your website ranks well.

How to apply SEO to your website

When you begin doing SEO, always remember that it is not just a one-time project for your website. It’s an on-going process that you need to consistently apply on to your website’s content. 

As we go through each facet, take note that we won’t be exploring every nook and cranny possible. Instead, we’ll be focusing on the basics and take a bird’s eye view to help you understand why each one is important and how everything contributes to your website’s SEO.

Keyword Research

If you’ve heard of SEO before, then you’ve probably heard of keywords and their significance. But how would you know which keywords to use and place in your content?

Through keyword research, you are able to determine what you’re really optimizing for. This means finding out the terms that your potential customers use in searches.

Sounds simple enough, right? You want your handbag business to show up on a higher ranking, so the keywords you need to put are “handbags” or “buy handmade handbags.” But keyword research entails more than just looking up random keywords and expecting it to help your site and content to rank.

1. Searching for Keywords

Before you try stuffing in random keywords to your content, you must put yourself first in the shoes of your customer and think about what kind of keywords they would type if they wanted to search the product you’re selling.

This will be a breeze once you have your own ideal customer in mind. Here’s a refresher if you forgot about it or a guide if you don’t have one yet.

If you’re running a coffee-related blog for your business, then “coffee grounds,” “coffee maker,” “coffee press,” and “cappuccino” would be a good place to start. These are called ‘seed keywords’ that you can use as stepping stones to find more keyword ideas. 

A simple way to do this is through Google’s autocomplete feature or related searches feature. This allows you to find other keywords that you can attach to them.

Aside from using a search engine, a more insightful way to do this is by running your seed keywords through a keyword research tool. There are a lot of free tools that you can use out there, but these can be limited when it comes to other features. This is why we recommend using a quality paid keyword research tool once your business and website starts to profit. It’s a good investment that will pay off later. These tools offer useful insights and keyword metrics (search volume, keyword difficulty, and keyword relevance) that can help you in the next couple of steps.

2. Check for the search volume

When you use keyword research tools, there’s a guaranteed metric that shows you the estimated number of searches made for each seed keyword you feed it. 

Generally, sites and pages that target high-volume keywords will drive more traffic than those who target low-volume keywords. Relying on the volume of searches for certain keywords is a valid basis to determine whether the keyword you will choose has the potential to drive traffic to your website.

If you’re writing a blog about investing in cryptocurrency, examples of high-volume keywords that your tool might give you are “bitcoin,” “blockchain technology,” or “digital currency.” It tells you that these keywords are the usual terms that people use when they search for this specific topic. You can put these keywords on your blog so that you can help drive more traffic to it.

But relying on keyword search volume is not always foolproof. If you’re just a starting website, the reality is that it would be difficult for you to rank for big keywords. But it doesn’t mean that you can’t try once your website gains more authority.

It’s really all about evaluating your actual chances—and the next keyword metric can help you with that.

3. Check the keyword difficulty

Even if you’ve found a high-volume keyword that you want to rank for, you need to find out first how difficult it will be by evaluating your competition. This is usually expressed with the metric called keyword difficulty.

Usually, keyword research tools rank the difficulty of a keyword on a scale of 0-100 with 100 indicating the most difficult to rank on. 

Using our example earlier, if the keywords “bitcoin,” “blockchain technology,” and “digital currency” score around 80-100, you will have a hard time ranking over other more established websites who use these same keywords. It’s best to look at other keywords such as “crypto investment” and see if the competition is not as difficult.

By keeping an eye on keyword difficulty, you’re able to save a lot of effort and resources by focusing on keywords that can give you results even if you don’t have that much authority yet.

4. Check the keyword relevance

If you fail to create content that is relevant to what your prospect is looking for, then your chances of ranking will be slim. In this case, you have to align your content to the search intent of users.

The best way to judge and see the search intent of your potential customers is by finding the common ground among the current top-ranking sites and pages for your target keyword. You can classify search intent into four types:

  • Navigational: The user’s intent is to find a specific website or brand that they want to visit or check out. Searching for a specific government agency’s website is a good example of this intent.
  • Informational: The user’s intent is to just look for general information about a topic or a query that they might have. A good example is searching for the events surrounding the Apollo 11 moon landing for a school paper.
  • Transactional: The user’s intent is to purchase the product or service itself. These are the people who have already decided on what they want to buy and are ready to add these items in their cart.
  • Commercial: The user’s intent is research purposes before purchasing products. They usually check and compare prices, features of the product, and read reviews.

Let’s say you’re running an e-commerce store for audio equipment. You want to optimize your product page for your guitar amplifiers and you find the keyword “best guitar amplifiers.” It is a high-volume keyword and it’s not difficult to rank in it. 

But a quick look at the search results under the keyword shows that most of the top search results are customer reviews and purchasing guides for guitar amplifiers, and are not product pages. This tells you that Google considers it as a commercial keyword and not a transactional one.

Title Tags

A significant and impactful place where you can utilize your keywords is in your page’s title tag (or also known as meta tags). These are the blue clickable links you see on the list of search results and also appears at the browser tab once it’s clicked.

It’s important to note that your title tag is not the same as your blog or article’s headline. Instead, what your title tag gives your searchers is an idea of what they can expect to see and read on your web page. Keeping that in mind, beefing up on your title tags is a great way for you to entice potential website visitors to click on your page. 

To make sure you don’t waste your efforts in creating your title tags, here are a couple of pointers you should keep in mind:

  1. As much as possible, integrate your core keywords naturally and compellingly.
  2. The length of title tags that Google allows to show will vary, so always be mindful of the character length. To be on the safe side, try limiting your title tag from 55 to 60 characters.

Meta Descriptions

Working hand-in-hand with your title tag is your meta description. This short description appears at the bottom of your title tag, and gives searchers additional information on what the page is about. 

When crafted well, you can use the meta description to entice and convince potential customers to click your link. Think of it as a form of ad for your web page. Why should searchers click  your link? What kind of answer or solution are you willing to offer them?

Just like your title tag, keep in mind that Google limits the length of the meta description that appears in the search result. To avoid losing important parts of your meta description, make sure that the length is around 50 to 160 characters. 

Use your meta description wisely so that you can encourage more clicks and, in turn, direct more traffic to your website.

Image Optimization

Images from your website can also rank in search results on Google Images. These can also help drive traffic to your website aside from your main content and pages. 

Here are some of the ways that you can optimize your website images:

1. Properly Name Your Image File

It may not appear on the page itself but Google will have a better understanding of what your photo is about when it has a proper filename. So instead of leaving your filename as “IMG_07209.jpg”, it would be best to rename it to “bluedogcollar.jpg” to give your image a better shot at ranking.

2. Use Alt Text

For website visitors who are visually impaired, your alt text describes what the image is about to them. This is considered more important from an SEO point of view.

You don’t have to force your keywords—or any variant of it—into the alt text, especially if it doesn’t naturally fit the image at all. It’s still best that you write a short and thorough alt text that accurately describes your image.

URL Structure

Another element that can help with your website SEO is how you structure your URLs. It may not be as important as the others, but it helps when you structure your URL for each of your site’s pages or posts.

As much as possible, keep your URLs short and descriptive without forcing your chosen focus keywords on them.

Content Quality

By now, you should know and understand that overcrowding your content with high-volume keywords will not work all the time. It’s difficult to rank on almost every keyword, especially now that most niches are oversaturated with information.

While it may be difficult to compete with already established websites, you can still have a fighting chance by creating high quality content for your website.

In practice, the following should be able to translate to your blog/article/piece:

  1. Your content should cover the topic thoroughly while providing more up-to-date information and data.
  2. Include links to other trusted and high quality resources who may be authorities in your chosen niche. It may seem scary to seemingly lure your potential customers away from your website, but doing so is actually beneficial from an SEO standpoint. Google (and other search engines) will have a better understanding of what your website is, and will highlight your value and credibility for your visitors.
  3. While there may be debates as to how long content should be, the number of words does not necessarily bring higher rankings for your page or post. It’s always better to have a more comprehensive take on the subject, which usually results in longer posts.
  4. Use visuals such as illustrations and photos to support your content. As much as possible, avoid using stock images. Instead, always strive to use your own.
  5. Optimize your website’s UX by making sure that the text is readable and free of grammatical errors. You can also use navigational elements such as a Table of Contents for longer content.

These are just some of the basic steps you can take in applying SEO. If you want to take it further, you can hire an SEO specialist who can help you do some of the more intricate aspects. It may cost a bit but, again, the benefits will outweigh it once traffic starts coming in for your site.

How do you know your SEO works?

By this stage, you should have a pretty good basic understanding of SEO. But how do you measure and track the performance of the things you started? A simple way to do this is to track the amount of traffic your website gets from organic search.

If you have Google Analytics connected to your website, it has a feature where you can quickly check your site’s organic traffic.

It’s normal to feel overwhelmed once you start mapping out your SEO strategies, especially when you’re just starting out with your business and website. At times, you might not even see the results immediately. In reality, SEO is a continuous process that you consistently do on your website. Once you start the ball rolling and slowly establish yourself on the internet, you’ll see the results and benefits that affect not just the traffic of your website, but the profit of your business as well.

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