SEO is such a crazy thing and we all have doubts about it. It’s probably more complicated than those physics classes in High School. While I’m absolutely no SEO expert, I’m often sharing the bits of info I know with one client at a time, so writing a basic post about it was overdue. If you want huge and complex step-by-step guides, the internet is full of them. These are my 10 steps to improve your SEO, help you nail the SEO beast, and help your site rank better (which is what we all want, right?).
If you are brand new to SEO, start with this post: SEO 101/The Basics of SEO
And if you are a Blogger, Start with this post: The Basics of a Blog Post Structure
The Steps To Improve Your SEO:
1 – Register on Google Analytics
You’re probably tired of hearing about Google Analytics, but it is the #1 tool to help anyone understand their site’s behaviors and performance better. Some of the must-dos there are:
- Analyze the bounce rates and think of ways to engage visitors
- Learn where your visitors are coming from and explore your options to the max
- See which pages are the most visited and make sure everything is up-to-date on them
2 – Bing Webmasters
If you’re smart, you’ve already registered on Bing Webmasters. Bing indexes sites differently from Google and things like how close you are to your prospect come first, whereas Google would rank based on popularity and other factors. Bing Webmasters has lots of great tools that you can use to improve your website visibility and let you keep up on how your site is doing on Bing’s search.
PS: a great plus is that Bing now connects directly with and pulls info from your google account, so makes it all even easier to set up.
3 – Google Search Central (formerly Webmasters)
Talking about visibility, Google Search Central is the one place you can’t miss when working on your site’s SEO. It keeps you up to date when Google can’t crawl any pages or when visitors are reaching too many error pages on your site.
- Submit your sitemap to be indexed and optimize your site’s visibility. If you use WordPress, the Yoast plugin creates a sitemap for you. If you’re not, use XML-Sitemaps.com to create one.
- Use Page Speed Insights to see how well a page is performing and what needs fixing on it
- Explore other Google Developers tools that could help you improve your website performance
4 – Share On Social Media
While having a social media account and linking it to your website does not directly impact your website’s ranking, sharing relevant links from your website on your social media do. This doesn’t have anything to do with the social media account itself, but with the fact that your site will receive more visitors and (hopefully) engagement, which is a big thing when it comes to how your site is “judged” in the SEO world.
5 – Keywords and Structure
Using proper keywords and structure on your pages and posts is probably the most important thing you can do for your site’s SEO. Most business websites use WordPress, so I’ll focus on this platform. But some of half of these points apply to any platform.
- Use the Rankmath plugin if you’re on WordPress. It is, hands down, the best SEO plugin you could have on your site. Fill all fields on your plugin settings, connect all accounts, and then use it fully on each page and post you create. (Yoast is ok, RankMath is so much better!)
- If you’re not on WordPress, all (or most) sites will give you the option of filling SEO fields for the website (overall) and for each page (individually). Look for your site settings and always fill these beauties.
- Read this post about the best post title length and blog text length that helps your SEO. Super long posts are the norm today (2022) and supposedly rank better. That being said, not all of us want to write a mini-book on each post, so find what works for you (personally, I like shorter posts…)
- Keep your text natural and interesting, but don’t forget to use good keywords. Wordstream has a great keywords tool that is totally free, and so does KeyWord Tool. Look for keywords that fit your subject well.
- Talking about keywords, like long-form posts, it has become a norm to invest in long-tail keywords. If you’re not sure what it is, here’s a good post about it.
- The post title matters (a lot). Here’s a list of positive/negative words to use on it.
6 – Quality & Freshness
Believe it or not, keeping high-quality content and, especially, fresh content is what could boost your SEO the most. Of all search tools, Google is probably the one that considers originality and quality the most. So, if you have a new approach to something or want to share a different point of view about something, don’t be shy, go ahead and write something refreshed and rich in quality, with just the right amount of keywords to give your content that little kick.
7 – Go Responsive!
If your website is not responsive yet, Google is already looking down on you (this was back in 2015, guys. Imagine in 2021!). it is better to have a responsive website than have a regular website and a mobile version of your website. A responsive design is a design that will adjust itself according to the screen size, fitting all screen sizes.
No, responsive is not the art of shrinking your site size (making font, image, and layout size smaller to fit in a phone screen). If you see your site in the exact same layout, with the exact same elements on a big computer screen and on a tablet or phone, then your site is not responsive -the fact that all is tiny doesn’t matter. A responsive design will usually remove the least important elements so that the site fits the screen well, without losing quality, being too small to read, or too hard to navigate.
8 – Go Secure! SSL…
Google recently announced that it will be giving preference to secure sites in its search ranking. So, if you can, get a SSL for your site.
This has become standard practice since 2019 or so. If your website doesn’t show a little lock by your URL’s left and uses HTTPS:// instead of HTTP://, contact your domain registrar and/or your web hosting provider to work on this.
9 – Analyze Your Website
There are some really good tools that help us see what we could be doing better with our websites. All I just listed above works great, but if you’re looking for something faster and simpler, these are the best I’ve found:
- Visual.ly creates visual reports (infographics) and sends to your email weekly. Create a report for Google Analytics in seconds!
- Website Grader is a new and free service that allows you to analyze a website in seconds and suggest what you can do to improve your website performance. I’m really enjoying this one! (Curiosity note: my Weebly websites ALWAYS perform better than my WordPress sites).
- Semalt has some really interesting services. They still offer a great free report that you can download (in PDF). The paid features are great and will save you loads of time and headache with SEO.
10 – Keep Things Updated
- Check for broken links and fix them
- Avoid 404 errors and make sure to fix them asap
- Take care of 301 redirects and make sure old/broken URLs are redirecting to new/working pages or posts
- Go through content that is unnecessary or outdated and either fix/repurpose it or get rid of it altogether (I do this yearly)
EXPLORE GOOGLE ANALYTICS AND GOOGLE DEVELOPERS: If you’re going to explore Google Analytics and Google Developers deeply, you might wanna visit the Google Webmaster Academy. There’s some good info there and it’s fairly simple to keep up with.
I hope these tips help you boost your SEO, and get better rankings and more visibility for your website. These are just the beginning when it comes to SEO. This is a long-term plan and an extensive investment.
INTERESTING SIDE NOTES: This post was originally written on August 24th of 2015. Several things have changed since then, but the core goals in SEO remain the same.
– Item #4 of this list was originally Google+ for Businesses/brands. Google+ struggled hard for about 2 years, then started a slow death. Now it’s totally gone.
– Having a responsive site and secure SSL has become common knowledge, but it’s there for beginners in SEO matters. It blows my mind how some people still have 1998-looking websites that are not responsive (ouch!).
– Google Keyword tools were initially suggested, but today it’s a tool available if you’re running an ad only, so I’m suggesting wordstream instead…