SEO Made Simple
I’m sure you’ve heard of search engine optimization (SEO) and I’d wager you even know that it’s an important factor in ensuring that your website ranks well with Google and other search engines. Even so, I’m confident that, like most people, your brain begins to hurt when you think about learning even the basics of SEO and how to apply SEO best practices to your blog or website.
If this sounds at all like you feel about search engine optimization then this post may be just what you are looking for . . . SEO Made Simple.
You may have considered learning the basics of SEO in order to quickly increase the number of qualified visits to your website. Years ago a few simple updates to your content with the relevant keywords might have vaulted you near the top of Google’s first page. Today things are quite different. First there is much more competition and second Google’s search ranking algorithms have advanced substantially. This means that it takes much more than a few keywords or keyword phrases to ensure that your website ranks well on Google and other search engines.
Before you invest your time and money in updating your website’s SEO I’d recommend a brief overview to ensure that you can be productive in your SEO efforts. There is a lot of “get rich quick” type of SEO information floating around the internet and this post is about SEO Made Simple, so let’s begin with a simple definition of SEO:
Search Engine Optimization (SEO): the process of maximizing the number of visitors to a particular website by ensuring that the site appears high on the list of results returned by a search engine.
Remember, Google’s goal is simple – to deliver the most relevant web page results based on the search term(s) you type in the search bar. The days of past when you could “trick” or “tell” Google and other search engines what your website was about are long gone. Today Google’s bots scour your website, and your competitor’s websites to determine how credible your website is and what type of content your website contains. This means the content on your website needs to be optimized for SEO or search engine optimization.
You are writing for your audience, your clients and your prospective clients. Do not try to write for Google as your audience won’t appreciate it and Google will ultimately penalize you as well. This means no long strings of keywords designed to grab Google’s attention or other “old time” tricks that people used to use to game the system. Remember, people ultimately determine the value of your content and Google values content above everything else.
What should you do to get started now?
1 – Submit your website/blog to Google.
2 – Add your sitemap to Google Webmaster Tools
Providing Google with your sitemap allows the search engine to better navigate, index, and crawl your site.- From your home screen, click on your domain name to access your Site Dashboard. In the left-hand panel, click Crawl > Sitemaps. In the right-hand corner of the screen, click Add/Test Sitemap. If you’re a WordPress or SquareSpace user, simply type in sitemap.xml to the box that appears.
3 – Use the Fetch as Google option to see how Google is indexing your website/blog
From the Google Webmaster Tools Dashboard, click Crawl > Fetch as Google. Type a page URL into the content bar and click Fetch for a quick check or use Fetch and Render for a more comprehensive look.
Google stresses content in their SEO starter guide:
“Even though this guide’s title contains the words ‘search engine,’ we’d like to say that you should base your optimization decisions first and foremost on what’s best for the visitor’s of your site. They’re the main consumers of your content and are using search engines to find your work. Focusing too hard on specific tweaks to gain ranking in the organic results of search engines may not deliver the desired results.”
Google also says this in their Webmaster Guidelines:
Provide high-quality content on your pages, especially your homepage. This is the single most important thing to do. If your pages contain useful information, their content will attract many visitors and entice webmasters to link to your site. In creating a helpful, information-rich site, write pages that clearly and accurately describe your topic. Think about the words users would type to find your pages and include those words in your site.