What is SEO?
SEO is short for Search Engine Optimization. There are two main forms of SEO that help your site rank in search engines and increase traffic. These techniques are called on-page SEO and off-page SEO.
What Is On Page SEO?
On-page SEO refers to all the things you can do “ON” your website like optimizing titles, meta tags, descriptions & internal links, creating sitemaps and other activities we will discuss further.
What is Off-Page SEO?
Off-page SEO refers to activities done outside of your website. For example: building backlinks, social media posting, listing your business or profile in directories, article submission, ect.
Now that you understand what SEO is and the two forms of SEO we will dive into each activity so that you can optimize your website for search engines and increase your traffic!
On-Page SEO Activites
1) Keyword Research Process
Keyword research is a very important aspect of optimizing your product pages and blog post. When users enter a query into Google or any search engine a list of results populate. These results populate due to the keywords the user entered during their search relating to the keywords of the webpage that contains those keywords. As a marketer or blogger your goal is to rank for certain keywords so that you appear higher in the search results which ultimately leads to an increase in traffic. To achieve this you have to do a little bit of research.
Now keywords can be one or two words and it is very possible to rank high with only one or two keywords if competition is very low. For example if competition was low for this post’s topic then I could possibly rank for the search word ‘SEO’ without any other keywords. Search engines have been around for a very long time so ranking for only one keyword is very rare. What we want to rank for and what search engines love is long-tail keywords.
What are long-tail keywords?
Long-tail keywords are essentially phrases that users type into the search bar. For example, How to tie my shoe using one hand? or Where can I buy socks for swollen feet? Your keyword research process begins by determining what phrases you should compete for.
Keyword research tools
There are tons of keyword research tools both free and paid. Which tool you decide to use is based on your personal preference but I’ve included some options below which I have personally used.
3 Best Free Keyword Research Tools
Google Suggested Search
Using Google suggestions from its search bar is one of the best ways to get keyword ideas for your content. Google gives suggestions based on top searches from its users when they enter in their query. For you that means you can target these series of keywords. When I type in “how to tie a shoe” I get a few results that contain my main keyword phrase along with extra keywords. As a good marketer I would compete for my main keyword phrase and also for one of these suggestions depending on my content. For example, if you sell a product you could publish a blog post on “How To Tie A Shoe Fast” and link that to a pair of quick tie shoelaces you sell. As a blogger you could write on “How To Tie A Shoe With One Hand In 3 Easy Steps” and gain traffic from that search topic.
Google Keyword Planner
Google Keyword Planner is a built in feature available to Google Ads account owners. You do not need to pay for ads in order to use the tool. Simply go to keyword planner and put in a series of keywords or phrases. From there the results will populate with ideas, search volumes and competition stats. Ideally you want to target high volume low competition keywords.
I won’t go into detail about why Quora is one of the best free keyword tools because I covered the topic in my post What Is Quora and How Can It Help Your Business? However, I will say that if you are not utilizing it to drive traffic and research keywords you are missing out.
Best Paid Keyword Research Tool
SEMrush is by far the best all around tool on the market for SEO. The keyword module is perfect for researching. You can view keyword variations, questions and related keywords along with volume statistics and trends. Other features of the platform include
- View keyword gaps
- get insights about competitors keywords
- run site audits
- get actionable insights about on-page and off-page seo
- link builder tool
- track rank position
- get SEO content templates
- social media scheduling, insights, ads, competitor tracking
It is a entire suite of tools for only $99 a month. While it may seem pricey it is actually one of the cheaper platforms on the market but packs a punch and has many more tools. If you put the tools to use consistently and follow the actionable steps your site is pretty much guaranteed to rank high in the search engines.
2) How To Write Meta Tag Titles & Descriptions
Meta titles and descriptions do not directly correspond to ranking according to Google. However, properly optimized meta titles and descriptions do help to increase click through rates in search engines. They also help web crawlers understand the structure of your web pages. Meta titles are written using header tags. For example the main title of this blog post is a H1 (header 1) tag. It is the title snippet that shows up in search results. I break up the sections of this page using bold header tags h2-h6. This makes the page an easier read for you and also for search engines.
The meta description is a optimized description of the page. If you are selling a product a good formula to use for the meta description is to have a call to action, product name and product description in your meta description. For bloggers, you might write a meta description that briefly explains what your blog topic is covering and include the search keyword you are covering. Here is a good resource to view examples of meta titles and descriptions to improve your SEO and if you are using WordPress the RankMath plugin is a great option to edit and optimize your titles and description.
3) What Is Internal Linking In SEO?
To put simply internal linking is referring a page on your site to another page on your site. A good example is above when I built a link from this page back to my Quora article. Internal links can increase page views, decrease bounce rate and if you have high authority backlinks to a page your internally linked pages also receive some of that link juice.
The opposite of internal linking is external linking. External links are links that refer from your website to another site. The idea behind external links to increase SEO is that if you naturally include links to others websites, others will link to you. Many web owners are monitoring their analytics and if they see that your page is generating a lot of traffic for them they can possibly reach out for collaborative opportunities, post a backlink to your site or pay for a sponsored post.
4) What Is A Sitemap Used For?
A sitemap is exactly what it’s called; a map for your site. It tells search engine crawlers how your site is structured to help it get indexed. You can generate a sitemap using a plugin or many times your sitemap is autogenerated at yoursite.com/sitemap.xml. Sitemaps are meant to be discovered by search engine crawlers and you can also submit your sitemap using webmaster console for faster discovery.
Off Page SEO Activities
1) Building Backlinks
Backlinks are links from another site your website. Backlinks are essential to SEO as they help Google determine how popular your page is and give your page authority. It is important to know however that not all backlinks are good. You want backlinks from high authority reputable websites which means you want to avoid link building schemes or auto backlink generators. The best way to build links is to guest post on other blogs/websites. Reach out to other reputable blogs who are in a similar niche as yours and ask them if you could write content for their audience and include a link back to your site. Guest posting exposes you to that blogs audience and also drives traffic back to your site. You could also write articles on a site like Hubpages and link back to your site or submit quality articles to sites who will provide you with a backlink. Google guest posting opportunities or your niche + guest post and see what’s out there! Overtime you’ll receive backlinks naturally as your SEO improves.
2) Social Media And SEO Strategy
Social media is a sharing platform and sharing is great for SEO. Not only are your social channels important for building what I call a search engine profile they are also traffic generators. More traffic to your post or product page = traffic to your site = popularity increase = better rankings. Which social channels are great traffic drivers depends on many factors and your own activity but I do recommend Pinterest as one of the top traffic drivers. Pinterest has helped me make thousands of sales in the past with my e-commerce stores and now I am using it for my blog and already seeing good results. Read about how to best use Pinterest for your business.
3) Free Business Listing Websites
Business listing websites help with SEO by building links to your site, increasing visibility and driving traffic. I even wrote a post about it and included top linking websites to submit your website, blog or business to. Submit your site to this list of 27 Free Business Listing Websites.
In this post you have learned about what SEO is and was given tips and techniques to increase your search engine presence and rankings. Know that SEO is an ongoing process and should be worked at consistently for best results but if done right can drive traffic to your site for years to come.
If you have any questions about how to implement these techniques please reach out to me, I am happy to help!