Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Tips And Tricks – What They Mean To You
If you have an online blog or other website that you are writing articles for and are perhaps using to promote products or a service, the only way you are going to get the right people to read your work is to let the right people know that it exists. Read on for some SEO tips and tricks that will help put your website where it will get noticed.
The way to let people know about your website is to have your web pages and posts featured at the top of page one, or at least towards the top of page one, of the search engine results pages (SERPs for short) where people searching for information like yours will see it.
The best way to do this without spending potentially large amounts of money on advertising, in fact you can do this without spending any money if that is what your budget dictates, is to optimize your website and its contents in such a way that it gets noticed by the search engines as valuable to their users. This is where SEO tips and tricks come in.
See the first post in this series, “What Is The Purpose Of SEO?” for further information on why we need SEO for our online businesses to thrive.
Although there are several search engines apart from Google, the biggest of these being Bing, Baidu and Yandex, Google does have by far the lion’s share of searches made and it is the engine that we should make the most effort to please, and so it is the one I constantly use for reference purposes in my posts. That is not to say that we should totally ignore the others.
When your web page is indexed by Google, it sends its automated program, usually referred to as either a bot, crawler or spider, to visit your page where its algorithm, called PageRank, will be applied and will assign your page a relevancy score for any keywords or phrases it finds for ranking purposes. The ten highest relevancy scores for a given keyword will appear on page one of the results page.
Google is constantly changing the rules for its algorithm, it can make over 500 modifications per year, which makes it difficult for the average blogger or marketer to keep up with what Google requires from a website.
One thing, though, is constant throughout these changes. In 1988, Google stated: “Our mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” This still applies over 30 years later. Google wants to provide the most relevant and valuable search results to their users.
So, here is your first and most important SEO tip: write your content with the user in mind. Make your content informative, engaging and of value to your visitors and you can be sure that whatever changes Google makes to its algorithm, your website and its pages will stay in their favor. Without a high ranking page one exposure, your content has no readers, you have no business and the rest of your SEO will be in vain.
Before you publish anything, though, you need to set up your website with some off-page SEO, that is optimization on and off your website not involving your actual content.
Some Off-Page SEO Tips And Tricks Best Done Prior To Publishing
It would be best to implement these SEO tricks before you publish anything on your website, but if you are already up and running, it doesn’t matter if you employ some or all of these tactics retrospectively, they will still filter through eventually. Either way, they will improve your site authority which in turn will go a long way to improving your position with the search engines. SEO is all about making a lot of small improvements which collectively make big improvements to your rankings.
Choose A Relevant Domain Name
Once you are sure of your choice of niche market, it’s time to find a domain name for your website that reflects the nature of your business to the user.
Years ago, this used to be important for pleasing the search engines but it is less so now as they are more concerned with the content you are offering.
It is important, however, when someone conducting a search brings up your website on the results pages, that they can immediately deduce what your site is about from its domain name.
If, for example, you are in the smartphone accessories business, a domain name such as “bobssmartphoneaccessories.com” is going to get more clicks from people looking for smartphone accessories than “bobsonlineshop.com”.
The more clicks you get, the higher up the rankings you go, so in this sense a relevant domain name does help with SEO.
Also, unless you are a local business trading in just one neighborhood or one country, always go for a .com domain. Dot com is an internationally recognized and trusted TLD (top level domain) and generally what people expect to see when searching for a business website with international reach. However, you can get by with .net or .org if you have thought up a great name for your website and .com isn’t available but do try for a .com if you can.
To find out more about niches, follow the link below to my post:
I go into domains in fine detail in my post:
Click on the post title to read more on this.
My preferred domain name registrar is Namecheap for its ease of use, value for money and excellent customer service.
Choose Your Hosting Service Wisely
Once you have your domain name you will need a hosting company who will store all of the files for your website ready to display your pages on demand to whoever clicks on one of your URLs in the search results.
The speed at which these pages are displayed is very important. If a user clicks on one of your URLs and it takes longer than three seconds to load, that user is not going to hang around and will most likely abandon your website and go back and click on that of one of your rivals.
A more established marketer, with a fair amount of income being generated from an online business would be able to afford to have his or her website stored on a dedicated server. Their website would be the only one stored on that server, making it very fast to load.
At entry level, a more economic approach to hosting is usually required. This means buying space on a shared server where your website is stored alongside those of other people. If these websites are using all of their disk space and are busy, this can slow down the loading of your pages critically.
This is why my preferred host is EasyWP. EasyWP hosts WordPress built websites on cloud based servers. Because the servers are cloud based you do not share disk space with any other websites, meaning that as long as your website is correctly optimized for speed, it will load very quickly, certainly within the critical three seconds. EasyWP prices compare well with shared hosting and is available only through Namecheap, even if you have your domain registered with another provider.
You’ll Need A Theme That’s Mobile Friendly
More searches are now made from mobile devices rather than from desktop computers. As a consequence of this, since 2015 Google has given priority in their search results to websites that are optimized for mobile devices.
So, when selecting a WordPress theme that fits the style you are seeking for your website, you also need to check that it is mobile-friendly. Fortunately, when in viewed on a desktop PC most WordPress themes on their customization pages have a tool that allows you to see what your content, when published, would look like on desktops, tablets and smartphones just by clicking on the appropriate icon.
Also when in your WordPress admin area on a desktop computer, you can alternatively check for mobile-friendliness by using your mouse cursor to drag the right hand side of the browser towards the left hand side so that it begins to narrow. As you do this, if mobile-friendliness is present, the text and images should re-arrange themselves in an orderly way, so that it can still easily be read. If they don’t, and the text and images overlap making it difficult to read, then this theme is not mobile-friendly and should be abandoned for one that is.
Once you have found your ideal theme, delete any others that are stored on the themes page of your wp-admin as they are excess baggage that can still slow down loading times even though they aren’t active.
Some Recommended Plugins To Install That Will Help With SEO
When you have a hosted WordPress website you have access to thousands of plugins, tiny software add-ons that are designed to perform particular tasks. Most of them are free with premium upgrades available. I have not yet found it necessary to upgrade to any of the paid versions.
Plugins can slow down the loading speed of your website and, as we know this to be a bad thing, it’s best to have as few plugins as possible.
Whenever you do install a plugin to your WordPress back office, it is good practice to test your site speed before and after the installation to find out if the plugin affects it.
“Isitwp” is a website featuring a free WordPress website loading speed testing tool. Not only will it give you your site speed, it will also suggest ways to improve it.
WordPress used to come with several plugins preloaded, all of which needed deactivating and deleting. Now only two plugins come preloaded, one is the totally useless ”Hello Dolly” and the other is Akismet Anti Spam Filter. Definitely delete Hello Dolly. I also delete Akismet but keep it if you want to.
For SEO purposes, I recommend replacing them with the following plugins. To find any of them, just go to plugins ≫ add new from the side menu of wp-admin.
There are some nasty people out there that have automated software attempting to hack into websites so that they can hijack them for their own usually scam or pornogrpic purposes. New WordPress websites are particularly vulnerable.
If your site is hacked, it will do your search engine ranking score no good at all. I find that just by simply installing and activating the free version of the Wordfence Security plugin successfully blocks any attempts to gain access to your back office.
Wordfence frequently provides updates to its plugin so you are always guarded against the latest hacking technology.
Easy Updates Manager
With Wordfence and all other plugins you have installed, you always need to be updated to the latest version to ensure that your website is secure, and I have just mentioned the importance of having a secure website.
You can set Easy Updates Manager to automatically update all of your plugins, themes and WordPress itself as soon as the updates are released. This not only saves you having to do this manually but also ensures that your website is as secure as it can be at all times.
There will be a time in the future when you will be grateful that you installed this plugin. When you accidentally delete all of all your content or a plugin or update starts making your website do strange things, you will be able to restore everything with the last backup of your website’s files. Of course, if your website is not running properly or not at all it is not very good for SEO, which is why I am recommending the installation of Updraft Plus here in an article about optimization.
You can set Updraft Plus to save all of your websites files every few hours, days or weeks and you can choose where these files are stored from a variety of options. You can also set how many backups are retained, which, if you are storing your backups somewhere like Dropbox, can prevent you from surpassing your storage limit.
There are several plugins available that will analyze your content from an SEO point of view. Yoast SEO, in my opinion, is the best of them.
When you are editing pages or posts with this plugin installed, a panel will appear at the bottom of the page. Enter your focus keyword, the search term you are trying to rank for, in the appropriate box and Yoast will let you know how well you are doing using a simple traffic light system.
It will also suggest ways in which you can improve your SEO for that page. Yoast also has a tool for registering your website with the three major search engines and an option for sending xml sitemaps to these engines, as I explain a few paragraphs below.
Getting back to site speed, having images on your webpages is an important part of SEO, but if you have too many large sized (file size) images, it can slow down site speed when they load. Having an image optimizer to reduce the size of the files is a must. Smush compresses your images for free, plus it does this in a way that there is no noticeable loss of quality.
Another great free feature of Smush is “lazy loading”. Images that are “below the fold” are not loaded until the viewer scrolls down to the part of the page where the image is located.
Installing and activating Smush on this website cut the site loading time by over 50%.
Secure Confidence With An SSL Certificate.
Installing SSL (secure sockets layer) on your website gives it the “s” that transforms the “http” part of your URL to “https” and changes the open yellow padlock at one end of the address bar of browsers to a closed yellow padlock.
Both of these changes instil confidence into anyone finding your web page in the search results as they know that you have a secure website, that any personal data they share with you is safe and that you are who you say you are. They also have more chance of finding your web page in the search results as search engines give priority to websites that have a verified and valid SSL certificate.
SSL encrypts data being sent over the internet in a way that it can only be read by the device that sends it and the device or devices it is sending it to. The encrypted data cannot be interfered with or altered by malicious hackers.
This site is secured by PositiveSSL which I purchased for a very small annual fee, again through Namecheap.
Be Prepared To Measure The Performance Of Your Web Pages
When your website is up and running and you have published some content, you are going to want to know what is working and what isn’t so that you know where to make adjustments and improvements to further enhance your SEO.
There are several analytical tools available for this task, some are free, at least at starter level, and some you have to pay for from the outset. Whichever one you choose, it is best to have it up and running before you publish anything so that you don’t miss a click.
Probably the best and most popular of the free tools is Google Analytics. We’ve already established that Google is by far the biggest search engine and that Google wants to provide the best results possible for their users.
According to the statistics website 99firms.com, Google accounts for 76% of all desktop searches and 86% of mobile searches.
It makes sense then, that Google will provide you with all of the information that you need to adjust and improve your content that has been indexed by Google for ranking.
As long as you have a Google account, you can open up a free Analytics account where you can register up to 50 websites should you own that many. Once a website is verified as your property, Analytics will track every page and every link and return a whole host of valuable information to you.
Here are some of the important statistics about your website that you can view in Google Analytics:
- The number of visitors your website receives over time.
- The locations your visitors are viewing your website from.
- Which pages your visitors are looking at.
- Your bounce rate.
- Which page your visitors exit your website from.
- What time of day your visitors come.
- Which links your visitors are clicking on and the CTR (click through rate) for those links.
- Which medium your visitors click through to come to your website (organic search, social media, referral, etc.).
These and many more valuable statistics will help you to discover your weak content that needs to be made stronger or discarded and your strong content that you can concentrate your efforts on to improve even more. You can even set Analytics up to create custom reports so that you receive the exact information you need on a regular basis.
Once you have signed up for Google Analytics, I recommend installing the Google Analytics Dashboard For WP (GADWP) plugin to your WordPress back office. This plugin provides graphical and statistical analysis on your WordPress dashboard as well as automatically adding a tracking code to all of your pages and posts.
Google Search Console And Other Webmaster Tools
Google Search Console is another free tool that works alongside Google Analytics. It differs from Analytics in that it provides statistics not so much about your website but for how your website works with the Google Search engine.
Google will probably find your website eventually with its crawlers, but if you register your site with Search Console, Google knows it is there straight away. If you also provide an xml file of your sitemap, all of your pages will be indexed straight away and Google will know how all your pages link together. If you have installed the Yoast SEO plugin as described above, you can configure this to send sitemaps to Google, Bing and Baidu.
Search Console will provide alerts when something goes wrong and help you fix indexing problems. You can view search traffic data for your site including how often your site appears on the results pages, what search terms people are using to find your content and how often they click through to your site. You can also see who is linking to your site.
Also consider registering with the other two big names in the search engine world. As they account for over 15% of all searches and shouldn’t be ignored.
Your Website Is Now Optimized
If you have followed and implemented most or all of the above, congratulations! Your website is optimized for the search engines enough for you to start posting interesting, engaging and valuable content that your target audience will be searching for.
In the next post, the third one in this series of four, I discuss all things “on page” SEO, that is optimization applied to your actual content. Although all SEO is important, on page SEO is the aspect that matters the most. Click on the link below to jump straight there.
I hope to see you there, bye for now!
Don’t forget to use the comments box below if you have any SEO or affiliate marketing questions or comments. Alternatively, you can email me using the Contact Stephen form.