In our digital world, having a website that is optimized for search engines is essential, especially for local businesses. In order to produce such a site, you will need to understand the basics of search engine optimization (SEO), how to implement changes, and how to perform meaningful research. This can be a bit overwhelming, but by doing so you can produce a high-authority site that ranks well for competitive keywords. While this might seem daunting, learning the basics of website SEO can save you money and help you develop valuable skills.
For years, StatCounter members have had the ability to track metrics and dimensions on their sites to determine potential areas of improvement and which SEO tactics have paid off. In addition to this service, we aim to provide our members with valuable information to help them perform website SEO. If you’re ready to move on to the next steps within SEO, be sure to visit more of our SEO tips. Otherwise, continue on to learn the basics of website SEO.
When getting started on SEO for a website, you will first want to identify keywords you want your website to rank for. There are a number of tools available online to help you choose keywords based on monthly search volume, competitiveness, and even cost-per-click (CPC) for paid search advertisements. You will want to make sure the keywords you target are attainable, however. Keywords with a high search volume are naturally more competitive and will be difficult for local, small, or new businesses to rank for.
Fortunately, some of the best keyword research tools, like SEMrush, will give you a list of related keywords to help you further develop your SEO strategy. You can even download spreadsheets of keywords to help you track your efforts and enhance your strategy as your site improves. This can also give you more ideas for keywords to aim for.
As you begin your keyword research, test some of your keywords by typing them into Google or another search engine. In doing so, you can see the type of content that ranks for those keywords, but you can also look at the suggested searches at the bottom of the results page to find more relevant keywords for any given term.
SEO Content Writing
Once you have identified keywords you want your website to rank for, you will need to use them in the written content on your site. In doing so, it’s essential you write relevant content that is both unique and insightful. Search engines reward content like this and penalize websites with duplicate content that is poorly written. Some aspects of the on-site content you will want to focus on are:
- Image Alt Text: Header tags are used for the titles of a piece of content, as well as for sub headers within each piece. An H1 is typically used for the title, while H2, H3 tags, and so on are used for subheadings. These are immensely important ranking factors. Not only will these tags help divide the content better for users, but including a keyword in header tags will help improve your search engine results rankings. In short, they help with the flow of each page and help search engines decipher what the page’s topic is.
- Title Tags: If an image is not able to load, the image alt text is displayed instead. However, image alt text is also used by search engines to gain more information about the image displayed, making the images searchable. In giving your images alt text, be sure to explain what the image is about and include a keyword if possible, as this is a ranking factor for search engines.
- On-Site Copy: You should include keywords wherever there is written copy on your website. Not only will this help the user understand what the page is about, but it will send a signal to search engines about the topic of the page in question. In creating the content, however, be aware of how many times you use a single keyword. Keyword density is an important aspect to consider, as a page with too many instances of a keyword will come off as spammy to search engines. On the other hand, a page with little use of a keyword won’t rank well in search results.
Of course, it’s also important to post new content to your site regularly. Blog sections are a perfect way to do this without overloading your site with new webpages. Writing a blog post once a week and sharing it on social media will help your ranking within search engine results as well as drive unique traffic to your site.
Another important aspect of SEO is building backlinks for your website, as these are a major ranking factor for search engines like Google. They help build a website’s domain and page authorities, which directly contribute to keyword rankings. Also known as inbound links, these are links on other websites that direct traffic, and website strength, back to your website. In other words, when another website adds a link to your site from their own, you’ll have acquired a backlink. While the concept is quite simple, acquiring backlinks can be complicated.
You can acquire backlinks to your website in a variety of ways, yet you often have to be careful in your efforts, as some strategies can result in a penalty from search engines. Getting started, online directories are a viable option because they are typically free and also drive traffic to your site. However, these types of backlinks will only help you get started. From here, you’ll want to focus on acquiring backlinks from more authoritative sites, as these inbound links are preferred by search engines. The more authoritative and strong the sites you acquire backlinks from are, the better chances you’ll have at ranking in search engines.
The best way to acquire backlinks like these is by submitting guest blogs to other sites in your industry. While this can be time consuming, a guest post on another website gives you a solid backlink, but also presents another way for web users to find your website.
Sitemap Submission and Indexing
Aside from keyword research, onsite content, and backlinks, you also might want to consider building a sitemap and submitting it to search engines. Sitemaps serve two purposes: 1. They help search engine bots crawl your website so your webpages can be indexed in search results and 2. They help users navigate your website more easily.
Of the varying types of sitemaps you can add to your website, Extensible Markup Language (XML) is often the preferred format for most search engines. While an HTML sitemap is a good option for the user experience side, you can focus your attention on XML, as these carry a little more weight within SEO. Plus, you can find a range of online tools that will build a sitemap for you so you.
Once your sitemap is built, you will need to submit it to search engines so their bots can crawl your website for indexing. This is different for every search engine, however, as most of them have a webmaster tool that allows you to submit your sitemap for free. If you’d like more information on creating and submitting a sitemap for your website, view the pages provided below:
- Understanding What an XML Sitemap Is
- Sitemap Generator
- Submit a Sitemap to Google
Learn How to SEO a Website and Track Your Progress with StatCounter
SEO is not something you can do once, but rather an ongoing process of success and failure. Once you have submitted your website to search engines for indexing, you’ll be able to track your SEO progress with StatCounter. This will help you identify areas with potential and pages on your site that are already succeeding. Once you have done this, you can re-optimize your webpages both on and off-site to further improve your rankings and site visibility.
If you have any questions, you can contact StatCounter support by completing the form below and we will get back to you as soon as possible.
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