*Click here to download or view the 8 SEO Tips for Your Business infographics PDF.
SEO, or search engine optimization, is a term many people throw around when talking about websites and marketing. It means that your website is optimized to rank high on Google (or other search engines) search results for particular keywords. This has everything to do with relevant keywords, keyword phrases, and longtail keywords in the content of your site.
Better SEO leads to more site traffic. More site traffic leads to more brand recognition. More brand recognition leads to more trust. More trust leads to more business.
Content and Keywords are Important
Basic SEO: You have to have content on your site that is relevant to your audience.
Let me explain how keywords work. If you are in the business of selling custom jewelry, your content needs to talk about the materials you use, how you design your jewelry, and what kind of jewelry you make. Your keyword could be “jewelry”. A keyword phrase could be “custom jewelry.” A longtail keyword phrase could be “where to find custom jewelry”.
You would not want to fill your site with recipes if you sell custom jewelry.
They may be really great recipes, but would they bring you the audience you’re looking for? My guess is no.
If the above information was brand new to you, I suggest reading this article on SEO.
Let’s get into the tips I promised. Some of these things may sound technical, but they really aren’t too hard. If you need help with ANY of these steps or have questions, we’d be glad to help!
1. WordPress Settings
If you have a WordPress site, the first thing you need to do is make sure it is running PHP 7.0 or higher and that all of your plugins are up to date. An easy way to do that is to install and run the Health Check plugin on your site. If you’re running an older version of PHP, make sure you update it to a newer version. WordPress.org has an article on how to update your PHP.
Next, make sure your WordPress settings are correct. On the Settings tab in your WordPress dashboard, click on General. Make sure you have the site title and a strong site tagline. These are scanned by search engines.
Then go to Reading under Settings. Make sure the box isn’t checked next to Search Engine Visibility. See below.
Next, go to Permalinks. You’ll see several ways to have your URLs set up. Set it to “Post name.” If you’d like to include the category in your URL, choose “Custom Structure” and type in /%category%/%postname%/. This makes it much easier for search engines to index your site and understand your site structure. (Plus, it looks nicer. My opinion only.)
2. Have an SSL with HTTPS
No, that’s not Greek. It just means you have a security certificate on your site. Look at your site URL right now. Does a closed lock appear before your domain name? If so, you have an SSL and your site address starts with HTTPS instead of HTTP. Congrats! You can skip this step. If not, read on.
Having a secure site is MANDATORY now. Google will not rank your site in search results and will warn visitors your site is not secure if you do not have an SSL. Sometimes visitors won’t be able to access your site at all. Luckily, you can get a free SSL certificate at LetsEncrypt.org. If your hosting is at WPEngine, it’s super easy to install. If not, just follow the directions on your hosting site or at LetsEncrypt.org.
3. Install the Yoast Plugin
Yoast is the gold standard for SEO help on WordPress sites. This plugin will help you get every page and post written in a way that makes it very easy for search engines to read. It’s a huge time saver, as well. Spring for the Pro version if you can.
It’s VERY easy to use and they have a ton of tips and articles on their site to help you learn everything you need to know about SEO. Download it here.
4. Keywords and Search Terms are VERY Important
Didn’t we say this already? YES. But they are THAT IMPORTANT.
Be a place your future customers go to in order to get answers. Research your customers. What do they search for? What questions do they have? How can you help them? What content are THEY needing? Don’t write for you, write for them. Your customer is your hero. They keep you in business.
5. Don’t Forget Images and Media
Make sure to use good descriptions in the alt tags of your images. These are searched, too! Also, transcribe your videos. Not only may this help the hearing impaired, the transcripts are then searchable content.
Where are the alt tags? If you go into your media library and click on a photo or file, a box will pop up on the right-hand side. At the top, it says “Alternative Text” and search engines will scan that field. The Yoast plugin will also remind you to do this.
6. Keep Content Updated and Relevant
The most important content on your site is called “cornerstone content.” Since Google and other search engines are always looking for updates, make sure this content doesn’t get stale. Update this content with new links (internal and external) and new information (if available) every month.
Also, an internal link is a link to another place on YOUR website. An external link is a link to place on another site.
7. Organize Your Site with Categories
A great way to let everyone, including search engines, know what your site is all about is with the use of categories. If your site is an eCommerce site, your categories may even be on your navigation menu. Categories help your readers and the “web spiders” scan related content quickly. For example, if you’re looking for appetizer recipes, it’s very easy to scan all the recipes in this category versus the whole site.
Have you ever left a site because you couldn’t find what you needed? Search engines are the same way. Go through your site and see if/what categories are needed to help organize your site better.
8. Improve Your Site Speed
Slow site? People will leave. They will not engage.
Google will also leave your page. Site speed is a component of its search algorithm.
One major drag on site speed are HUGE images. Try to compress your image files if you can. There are several free tools on the web that will help with this. You can also remove unused media files and plugins. For a more in-depth look at this, read this article.