Optimizing where you land on a search engine results page can be a bit challenging. However, there are a few ways to do it yourself. Check out the following SEO tips for beginners:
1. Upload an XML sitemap.
Help Google, Yahoo, Bing, and other search engines understand what your website contains by uploading an XML sitemap. An XML sitemap helps search engines easily crawl your website to find content and read associated metadata, which outlines when a webpage was last updated and the importance of a specific page’s information in relations to others in the same website. Metadata is capable of sharing information about images and video, as well as mobile content. You can use a free online sitemap generator, like www.xml-sitemaps.com, to complete the crawl. Once it is done, the tool will provide a personal sitemap to download. Place this file into the domain root folder of your site, and then visit your webmaster account for various search engines to submit your sitemap URL.
2. Remove blockers.
You may not realize your website coding is blocking search engines from indexing or crawling your site. No matter how much you optimize your website and pages, you will not be highly ranked on a search engine without correcting the issue. Look for website coding that either shows the phrase “user-agent” with a colon and asterisk following it or the word “disallow” with a colon and forward slash after. These items need to be removed in order to optimize your site. You may also find them in your robot.txt file.
3. Write longer content.
Research shows that published articles and blog posts have a higher likelihood of moving up in the search engine carousel if they have more than 2,000 words. In fact, the results of the top 10 pages listed on a Google search do not have usually have fewer than 1,100 words. An easy way to write long-form content is to find one subject and create an in-depth piece about it that covers the subject matter from all angles.
4. Speed up your website.
Internet users expect quick loading websites. A one-second delay can result in 11 percent fewer page views, a 16 percent decrease in customer satisfaction, and seven percent loss in conversion rate. Do not lose loyal website visitor because of slow loading time. Correct this by enabling browser caching, which stores HTML coding in a visitor’s temporary storage. This shaves off load time for visitors during subsequent visits to your site. Another option for increasing website speed is to adjust your images. Crop pictures to fit the width of your website page and reduce the color depth to the lowest setting that still returns vivid imagery.
5. Use anchor text.
Help visitors navigate through your website by incorporating anchor text. You may recognize anchor text as hyperlinked words that are underlined or a different color on a webpage. Find a natural way to incorporate these into your content, linking only to relevant pages you know your visitors would find valuable. Search engines look at anchor text to determine if the content fits a person’s search.
6. Integrate rich snippets.
All search results offer page title and meta description tags. However, you can enhance your listing with rich snippets. This approach extracts author information, photos, and ratings, among other details from your site to display other related content to encourage people to click on your link. On average, using rich snippets increases click-through rates by 30 percent regardless of where your link ranks on a search results page.
7. Start a blog.
If you do not have a blog, make one. A traditional website limits opportunities to reach people. To garner unique visitors on a regular basis, you must find a way to engage them. A blog serves this purpose by allowing you to address topics that interest your demographic. Make sure to write long-form content to boost SEO and house the blog directly on your domain to increase traffic performance. Likewise, share blog posts on various social media outlets for added attention.
8. Change to 301 redirects.
There are times you may have to change a URL of a page permanently, for instance, when you are moving your site to a new domain or merging two websites. If this occurs, make sure you use a server-side 301 redirect. When done properly through your server’s .htaccess file, this guarantees users and search engines can find your new page easily.
9. Employ descriptive URLs.
Use your URLs to describe what a person will find when visiting a particular page. Relevant and accurate as well as compelling URLs rank better than generic ones. Aim to be concise, never exceeding 2,048 characters. Longer ones will not be loaded on browsers, such as Internet Explorer. To separate words, use hyphens, not underscores, characters, or spaces. Be cautious however, using too many hyphens can make a search engine view a webpage as spam.