If you’ve taken the time to set up a website for your business you’ve probably heard about SEO. We all know it’s important, but few of us understand what it is and how to do it well. After all, people make an entire career out of understanding Search Engine Optimization.
But sitting down to ‘do’ SEO doesn’t need to be a chore. There are some basic principles we can all get behind. The first thing to know is that there are two main types of SEO: on-page and off-page. As their names suggest, the difference is in whether your page-rank-boosting efforts occur on your own website, or off it on, say, social media channels or other people’s websites.
If this sounds simple, that’s because it is. You don’t need to understand the technical ins and outs of SEO, like algorithms and ranking factors, to make a real difference to your position in the search results.
The second thing to know is that the whole point of a search engine is to guess what human beings want from the web. So, the easiest way to ‘do’ SEO is to forget about understanding the robots and, instead, create a website that people enjoy using and content they love reading. Here are 6 quick and easy actions you can take to achieve these goals and improve your SEO ranking today.
01. Choose the fastest web host provider and best website builder you can afford
The first two rank-boosting hacks are based on something that is often overlooked… whether people are making it to your website after they find you in the search results. It may sound ridiculous because surely the point of SEO is to be seen, right?… So, if they’ve found you, isn’t the battle won?… Well, actually there are a couple of very good reasons you might lose someone between them finding the link and opening your web page.
> Reason 1: Your website is not loading quickly enough
One of the simplest ways to improve your ranking is to make sure your website loads fast enough to meet people’s expectations. The average web user expects a site to load less than 2 seconds after clicking a link. Most will abandon ship if more than 3 page-less seconds roll by.
What can you do about it? Pick the fastest web host provider you can afford and check their average load speed before signing up. Keeping your load speed below 2 seconds will drastically increase the number of people who make it to your site.
> Reason 2: Your website is not ‘responsive’ to different devices
As well as being pretty impatient, most web users expect a website to be as easy to use on their phone or tablet as their laptop or desktop. Around 60% of people use their phone to access the web and that figure is set to grow each year.
If your website is not designed to be responsive to being opened on different devices, you might find people leave very quickly once they’ve opened your link.
If people don’t make it to your website when they do find you, all of your other SEO efforts are wasted. Choosing a modern, feature-packed website builder like one of these and the fastest web host provider you can afford will make all the difference.
02. Write content for people, not machines
If you’ve peeped even a little down the SEO rabbit hole, you’ll probably have heard about keywords. Keywords are single words and multiple-word phrases that people type into search engines when looking for particular types of websites and information. If you include these words and phrases in the written content of your website, people are more likely to find you when they type those words and phrases in.
But, typing out endless pages brimming with these tidbits or stuffing them into your posts in an unnatural way is very likely to harm your rankings. Search engines punish this behavior because they know people won’t want to read it.
The most effective way to write SEO content is to think about what your customers and readers actually want to see and write posts that are useful to them. Understanding what people want from your site will get you much closer to the 1st page of search results than writing for robots.
03. Add relevant images to your content or blog
Search engines are increasingly focused on driving their users toward enjoyable and useful website content. We all know from the pure joy brought about by a good graphic novel, comic book or even pop-up book (definitely not just for kids), that enjoying reading is not just about the words.
In the world of modern web design, content written in an appropriate and readable font at an appropriate size will rank better than content presented in offensively giant comic sans. One of the most important features to consider in 2019 is whether your posts have appealing and relevant pictures, diagrams, graphs or infographics.
To instantly boost the rankings of every piece of content on your website, set aside a couple of hours to go back through each post and add a good image or two. Free image sources like Pixabay and Unsplash are invaluable to the small business owner. You could even get creative and edit an image or create an infographic in Canva.
04. Share your content on social media
Once you have a site with lighting-load-speed, that can be viewed on all devices and is bursting with content containing enticing images and targeted messaging, you’re ready to share your work across social media.
But there are so many channels that sharing can feel like another time-sapping chore. My advice is to pick one or two major channels like Facebook and Twitter or Instagram and Pinterest and post however much you can on a regular basis.
Try to show up everywhere and you might quickly give up entirely. Set an overly ambitious posting schedule and you may feel overwhelmed. How often you post is actually less important than making sure you pick the right channels for your business and stick to a regular schedule.
Sharing content is all about improving your online presence or off-page SEO. Off-page SEO is determined by the number and quality of links out in the ether that lead back to your own web pages. The more external websites that reference your work or link back to your website, the higher a search engine will rank your site’s authority or the likelihood that you actually know what you’re talking about. Think of these backlinks as the internet’s equivalent of word-of-mouth.
05. Allow comments on your on-site posts and blogs
Allowing people to comment on your posts is one of the easiest ways to tap into the online word-of-mouth market. The more comments you get, the more relevant and accurate search engines assume your content to be.
Comments also act to ‘update’ your posts without you actually having to go back and re-write and re-post them. Search engines assume that posts with recent comments are still relevant to web users.
Incidentally, re-writing and re-posting your existing content is also an effective rank-boosting strategy, but a little too time-consuming to be considered a true ‘hack’.
06. Link to your own web pages
While you’re in your posts adding photos and changing the comment settings, add a few internal links within the text. Internal links are ones that lead to other pages on your own website. When you link to other relevant content within a post, you’re basically telling a search engine that you have more to offer on this topic than immediately meets the eye.
This type of on-site SEO leads search engines to assume that someone clicking through to your site will get more out of that page than alternatives with no internal links. This added value bumps your page up the rankings.
So, ‘doing’ SEO really isn’t all expensive agencies and time-zapping tasks. Next time you sit down to address your rankings, follow these 6 simple hacks and spend the rest of your time kicking back while watching your pages edge their way towards number 1.
Are you an SEO amateur? What about SEO still confuses you the most? Let me know in the comments!
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Jodie Manners • April 1, 2019