The essential and easy-to-implement Search Engine Optimization techniques every designer should be aware of.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) refers to the actions we take to assist Google and other search engines in discovering and displaying our website to individuals searching for relevant information online.
Here, you can find 11 videos with accompanying written descriptions outlining straightforward but critical steps for website SEO. It is not necessary to complete every task, but implementing as many of the items on this list as possible will increase the likelihood of your website ranking highly on Google.
The first thing we need to do is to find the right words we should use to help people find our content online. And we can do that by doing keyword research.
There are a lot of different free and paid services and websites online you can use to find the right keywords. I am not going to tell you which is the best, and instead, I am going to share with you a few options, which I find to be very useful.
We can also use the Google itself. Just go to Google.com, start typing something and it will show you the suggestions of what people are searching for. Cool Tip: If you are not sure what word you should use in your search query, try replacing it with ‘*’.
Probably the most important thing we need to do when optimizing our website for SEO is to write a compelling title and meta description for all of our pages. These are the two things, which determine whatever people are going to click on our link in the Google Search results page.
Make the title informative, original, not too generic, and at the same time avoid the confusion or clickbait.
If possible, try to include the numbers or some strong adjectives into the title.
The title should be about 60 characters long. It is important because Google and other search engines will cut off the title if it is too long, and it won’t look very good. And, if it is too short, it’s not good either.
The same goes for the meta description. Make it somewhere between 100 and 150 characters. Keep it to the point, easy to understand, and informative.
Try to use the keywords you have researched for your website, but do not force them into your title and description. It won’t look good, and Google will know it.
It is also very important to provide quality content and great user experience for our visitors. To make the reading experience better, make sure to structure the webpages in the right hierarchy using the Headings (from H1 to H6).
For example, there should be only one H1 on your webpage, and it should directly correlate to the webpage title or the topic of the content of this page.
H2 should be used for big sections of this webpage, while H3 should be used for smaller sections or subtitles.
If your webpage is very long, consider creating the content summary section with links to each of the smaller sections of the page. You can use anchoring to make the page scroll to the point you specify with your content links.
Also, if possible, try to include some visual supportive materials like images, graphs, videos, etc.
Images are the most important elements on our website. Of course, the text is very important as well, but images are what really grabs the attention of the visitor to your page. Great looking compelling images can make a boring webpage look spectacular.
Optimizing the image size and dimensions for better loading speed is very important for Website SEO. When you prepare the images for your website, make sure that the size is not bigger than 2500px wide for background photos, and 1500px wide for regular full width photos. The sizes can be different depending on the style of your website (if you have edge to edge infinitely stretching website, you might want to use vector-based images instead).
Also, I recommend to use the tools like ImageOptim to reduce the file sizes of your images, even after you resize them and export for web.
In addition to optimizing the size of the images, it is also very important to use the descriptive and informative filenames.
So, instead of something like IMG00021321.jpg, rename it to something like green-tree-in-the-forest.jpg. It will help Google find this image, understand what it contains and show to people who are searching for the keywords included in this image.
And, of course, make sure to add Alternative text tags to all images on your website, because this tags will be used by Google Robots to index the images on your webpage.
Another important step you can take to get your website rank higher and be more discoverable is to make your URLs short and descriptive. Try avoiding words or numbers which are not relevant to that page, and do not use too many words in general.
So, if your page title is ‘Web Design Services’, make the URL link yourwebsite.com/web-design-services. Also, if possible, try to include the keywords you have researched using the techniques I have told you about in the previous sections. Having a keyword in the URL will greatly improve the chances of your website appearing in the Google Search results.
Another recommendation I want to give is to avoid using the capital letters in URLs. I noticed when using Google Search Console that when I was using capital letters in my URLs, it would end up showing me that I have a missing page with a name ‘About’.
I clearly had a page ‘about’, but because I was using the capital letters in the URL, I had records of both About and about pages, and one of them was giving me errors.
Finally, if possible, use the cleaner links without extension (HTML, PHP, etc). They will perform better and just look better.
Off-page SEO is as important or even more important than on-page SEO, and the main thing you should concentrate on when maximizing off-page optimization is building backlinks. It will not only drive more traffic to your website, but it will also establish the authority for your website.
When Google Robots see that a link to your website is placed on a very respectable and popular website with high Page Rank and high traffic, it will make your website rank higher as well. And the more backlinks (the links to your website from other websites) you have, the better it is for your page rank.
I am not going into details on how to build backlinks, because it is not my area of expertise, but I think you already should understand the basic principle of how it works. Just remember that places like social media or forums are not providing as much quality and authority as big independent websites, although links from these types of websites are also helpful.
Create infographics, and share them with these websites.
For bloggers, guest blogging can be very useful. You provide valuable content and link it back to your website.
You can also analyze your competitors and see what websites link to their web address.
We can work on optimizing our website in many different ways, but let’s be honest, the most important part of having a great performing website is valuable content. It doesn’t matter how good SEO we have if we don’t provide useful, interesting and engaging content to our visitors.
Let me tell you a little ‘not-so-secret’. Content Marketing, or Blogging, is still one of the best if not the best ways to market our websites. Creating great quality relevant articles on interesting topics related to your website industry will drive more traffic, keep visitors longer on your website, and give you more chances to convert these occasional visitors into loyal customers or at least frequent visitors.
It is also very important to have the content on your website fresh and periodically updated. Having a blog on your website will contribute a lot to this cause. I also recommend concentrating on quality over quantity. Create really good quality content, even if it will mean that you can only post it once per month or so.
If you are just starting, then maybe quantity can be as good as quality for one big reason. By doing something over and over again, you will improve at doing it much faster than when trying to perfect the thing from the beginning.
To summarize, if you don’t have a blog on your website, yesterday was the best time to start it.
I have already talked about Google Search Console a couple of times in the previous sections. It is a well-known fact that Google is by far the most popular search engine on the internet, so we need to pay attention to services Google provides to help us optimize the performance of our websites when it comes to Google Search.
When you add your website to your Google Search Console, you get access to many very useful and completely free tools, which will help you to analyze and optimize your site’s SEO.
One of the most important things we should do is of course verify our website in Google Search Console. You can do that using a few methods, like uploading an HTML file to your website, or if you have Google Analytics installed, we can also verify our website using this as well.
Among other cool features, we can see the keywords, countries, and so on. We can also analyze and request indexing for separate pages. You can use this tool to research your Search Keywords as well.
In the video above, I showed you how you can add, verify and manage your site in Google Search Console. I also showed you how we can request Google to index specific pages on our website. In addition to doing it with individual pages, we can also just submit the sitemap file to Google to help it index our whole website.
To generate the sitemap file all you need to do is to go to Project Settings (if you are using Blocs app and type the URL of your website. Blocs app will automatically generate the sitemap.xml file for you next time you export your project.
After you have done that and uploaded the file to your FTP server, you submit your sitemap to Google. Just open your Google Search Console, and go to the Sitemaps menu in the Index section. From there, all you need to do is to type the name of your sitemap, which is by default sitemap.xml.
Google Analytics is the most popular service we can use to track the performance of our sites. I don’t use it for all of my websites, but if you are serious about the SEO performance, I highly recommend to set up Google Analytics for your website.
Setting it up is very easy. All you need to do is go to Google Analytics, create a new property, copy the code and add it to your website. If you are using the Blocs app you can do that in the Project Settings Analytics pane, specifically created for this purpose.
After you have done this, upload your website to your FTP server, and Google Analytics will start to record and analyze everything that’s happening on your website. You can use this in many different ways, for example, to check what’s the most popular content on your website, what’s the biggest traffic source, what’s the biggest referral.
Depending on the information you will get from here, you can further optimize and focus your efforts to make your website SEO performance better.
There is one thing which is very important, and which I can’t leave out of this SEO update. It is creating redirects using the .htaccess file. As you know, I am not the coder or programmer myself, but having transferred a few websites a couple of times, I learned the hard way how important it is to avoid creating broken links.
Watch the video on the left to learn how you can create and edit the .htaccess file. I use GoDaddy for this example, but you can use your FTP server. They work mostly the same. You can also create and edit the .htaccess file on your computer using the FTP program.
The first thing we need to do is to enforce the secure version of our website. Most people will just type eldargezalov.com and it will lead them to http://eldargezalov.com, but I do have an SSL certificate installed (if you don’t have it yet, go do that right now, because it is critical to have SSL certificate these days).
To do that, I will create the .htaccess file and add the following code.
RewriteCond % 80
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ https://yourwebsite.com/$1 [R,L]
It will force the HTTPS version even when people are going to the HTTP version of our website.
Another thing I like to do with .htaccess file is to redirect the broken of moved links. For example, let’s say I have an about-me.html page on my website, but I have decided to change it to about.html.
Now, about-me.html is already on Google and maybe on the pages on some other websites, so when people are clicking on this about-me link, they will be shown the 404 error page, which appears when the page is missing.
We want to avoid that as much as possible, so what we need to do is to add a line of code to our .htaccess file so when people are going to the about-me.html page, they will be automatically shown about.html page instead.
The code we need to add:
Redirect 301 "/old-link" "/new-link"
There are some other things we can do with this file. You can research online to know more about it.
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