Everyone says that search engine optimization is needed to be successful with a website. That is correct. The problem is that there are so many articles online that talk about this huge industry that it is very hard to know where to start.
At its core SEO is not difficult to understand. A high quality website that has visibility in its niche is going to eventually rank high. The problem is that this does not happen overnight. You do need to work hard and learn. However, a good starting point is really hard to find. This is why I want to talk about the really important things you have to know about search engine optimization. It will be useful for when you start your journey or when you already do some work but you do not know why you do not climb in rankings.
Content Is King
You will hear this over and over again. Both search engines and people look for really good content. It is generally a hundred times better to write a really good article that is offering great value for readers than writing dozens of short articles that feature information you can find all around the internet.
The content you use on your site/blog has to connect with the audience. It needs to solve a problem. In this case, the problem is “I do not know much about SEO. What should I know?” That is what I am talking about, trying to guide you in the right direction with your SEO work. Look for problems that your audience have and solve them through your content.
One Domain Name Works Best
A really common mistake is to create one website for each interest you have. You do one for events, one for projects, one for your interests and so on. This is something that should be done only when these are not at all connected. For instance, the fact that I play League of Legends and I sometimes blog about it has nothing to do with my work.
You should try to keep all work related on one domain. Dedicated sections for everything can be created with ease when you use WordPress or similar. Branding is so much simpler when you use a single domain as opposed to multiple domains and the truth is that branding is a part of modern SEO.
Focus On Text, Not On Videos And Images
Nobody can deny the fact that videos and images are very valuable these days in this modern mobile age. The problem is that search engines are not reading videos and images. They read the text that is all around visual content. While meta tags can be added to say what the visual content is about, this cannot possibly replace the text. Some simple ideas to think about when you rely on videos and images:
- Talk about the image, what it represents, why you post it, build the story around it.
- Write text about the video and say why you share it.
- Take the time to transcribe the video and add that to the page.
On social media you write a description when you share something. You need to do the same on your site but take it one step further and write high quality content that solves problems, as already mentioned.
Long Tail Keywords Are Better
I only mention keywords now although most people will tell you that keywords are the most important thing for the SEO of a site. That is generally correct. You need to choose keywords that people actually use when they search for your content. Long tail keywords are almost always going to be better. Think about what you would search for when you want to find your article. Chances are this is the main keyword you want to use. Chosen keywords should be seen as the starting point of the article though, not as the most important part. The content is the most important part.
As an extra tip, make sure that you do not use too many keywords. A couple of days ago I saw a question in a group where a member asked if it is ok to add 1000 keywords to a page. No, it is not ok! Generally speaking, the recommendation is to use 3 to 5 keywords. However, when you just start out you can go for just one. Once again, quality over quantity.
Further Reading: 3 Free Keyword Research Tools You Want To Start Using
Never Use Black Hat SEO
Generally speaking, whenever something seems too good to be true, it is not something to use. Black hat SEO promises great rankings in a really short time and you will be tempted to do it. I already said that using SPAM in SEO is stupid. Spam is a part of black hat. The tactics that are used will focus on the algorithm of the search engines and try to fool Google to show your content higher than it should be.
The problem with cheating in everything is that you eventually get caught. Google is actually becoming really good at figuring out what the black hat SEO “specialists” do. That is why when you rank with black hat it is a CERTAINTY you will eventually lose your ranks. You can even end up with penalties that would be really hard to get rid of.
Further Reading: Types Of Google Penalties Explained
Add Related Internal Links
There are different plugins that add related internal links at the end of an article. You obviously want to use these but you do want to take it to a whole new level. In your content you might touch on subjects you elaborated in the past. Link that content.
When you add internal links inside your content you basically make the article more valuable. Search engines visit those links and they see that extra information about the topic is provided. They “assign” a higher value to that page as soon as they index it.
Add Related External Links
How easy do you think it is to write everything about a specific subject on just one page? This is close to impossible. I cannot tell you all the important things that you have to know about SEO but I can tell you some and offer links for others. This, once again, makes the article more valuable for the reader.
Some will tell you to add external links to pages that offer similar information. This is not a good approach. If you talk about the X tips to write better content you do not want to link to another article that says around the same things but offers one extra tip. You want to add links to resources, articles that talk more about what you talk about in the article.
A few paragraphs above I added a link that is about branding, which complements the statement I was making with branding a domain.
Further Reading: Everything You Want Or Need To Know About Backlinks
Website Loading Speed Counts
This is, unfortunately, the one thing I do not focus on as much as I should. Specialists are now arguing about how important website loading speed is. The truth is that it is vital for SEO because of so many reasons that few understand.
When the content of the page is incredibly good but loading time is incredibly long, people will not even see the content. They will leave. Search engines will see that people do not spend a lot of time on the page so they think the content is not great, even if there are thousands of words there and perfect visual content. People that could naturally post a backlink to your site will not be aware of the value offered so links are lost without even realizing that this happens.
Further Reading: 10 Ways To Speed Up Your Website
I wrote over 1,300 words above and I can say that I only touched some of the facts you will have to know about SEO. So much more can be said. If you want to rank your site though, you need to focus on content first. You want to build really good content. Then, you want to learn how to promote it. Start with SEO, learn about social media, networking and simply focus on learning. Eventually you will figure out what works, what does not work and, more importantly, what works in your case since there is no single SEO ranking strategy that can be used.