You don’t need to be an SEO expert to create a website that gets prioritized by search engines such as Google and Bing. The easiest way to explain Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is, “your content gets discovered faster in search results by the target audience when you include certain elements — both on and off-page”.
While off-page SEO techniques might require expert help, on-page SEO is something anyone can learn and is crucial to the off-page optimization. Knowing the basics of SEO and Google ranking factors can help a website develop a great base for digital success.
If you have been publishing relevant content that brings value to stakeholders, then you already have a strong foundation with which to build your on-page SEO. If you are unsure about your SEO presence or strategy, this guide can help you get started.
How Do I Rank on Google?
Many believe that SEO is simply just adding the keywords, then ranking in the search engines. There is a ton more that goes into SEO, but keywords are a very important aspect. SEO comes down to two main areas, Visibility & Content.
Visibility ensures that the search engine crawlers can easily find and navigate your website. To simply break down search engine crawlers, they crawl websites by links, render the content on the pages, and then index what they found in their database. When users search for keywords, search engines pull results from their index based on what they rendered.
Content is one of the most important pillars of your web strategies that often gets overlooked. If you want your website to be the first thing that Google displays to your target audience, it needs to be something both original and valuable. It also needs to match the search intent of your audience. In other words, it needs to answer their specific query.
SEO Ranking Factors
As we mentioned earlier there is a ton that goes into a successful SEO strategy. We will break it down to some of the basics that can be done immediately to help boost a website’s visibility.
A website needs to be visible to the search engines to ensure that they can find the quality content that is being produced. To start we recommend that every site has Google Search Console setup. This is a free tool provided by Google that illustrates any visibility issues for a website. It also allows webmasters to submit their XML sitemap directly to Google to direct them on exactly what should be indexed.
- Clean XML Sitemap – The XML sitemap is a backend list of URLs (typically under ‘domain.com/sitemap.xml’) that are basically a list of directions for search engine crawlers. If there are 404 or 301 errors in the sitemap you will essentially be giving the search engines a bunch of dead-ends and detours to navigate through the website. This will not reflect well in your keyword rankings.
- Error-Limited Frontend Crawl – Similar to the XML sitemap, crawlers can navigate a site from the homepage through internal links. It can be very beneficial to limit any redirects or broken links allowing search engines to navigate the site without any issues. Search engines will appreciate not having to do more work to crawl a site.
- Keyword Focused Internal Links – If search engines are crawling through internal links, webmasters should make sure those internal links are keyword friendly and logical to give the crawlers (and end users) context to the page they are about to land on. Without any context on the links, it’ll be a guessing game for the crawlers and users.
- Logical Navigation – The main navigation of a site is the best way for crawlers and end-users to move around the website. This navigation should be logically structured to make it easy for anyone to find what they are looking for. Any issues here will cause friction for both the crawlers and end-users.
When webmasters know that search engines can access their website with minimal issues, its time to focus on the content the crawlers will be rendering. Now is the time to start focusing on the keywords and what is published on the site.
- Keyword Focused Content – What everyone thinks when SEO is discussed, keywords. It is extremely important to target the keywords that your audience is using. There are plenty of tools out there that will report the amount of times people are searching for a certain keyword. You will want to research highly searched terms that relate to your business and create content based on those.
- SEO Friendly Titles & Headers - These elements help readers understand the structure of a page and let search engines know the hierarchical levels of information. With most platforms, your titles automatically get the H1 tag, but make sure your keyword is inside of it. The right way to use keywords in the page title and header tags:
- Page Title – Primary Keyword | Brand
- H1 – Primary Keyword
- H2 - For Sections (Similar Keywords)
- H3 - For Subtopics (Supporting Keywords)
- Structured URLs - Proper URLs are short and keyword-rich. The below URL shows the hierarchy of the information on the page, which is what search engines need in order to decide how relevant the content is. The search engines can tell that this page doesn’t just cover Americaneagle.com’s capabilities, but also its services, such as SEO.
- Content That Helps The User – Content all over the world is being published every day. To make your content stand out, you must provide real value to your audience. There is more than one way to do that:
- Take advantage of videos and visuals such as images, screenshots, and infographics.
- Post new material from remedies to procedures.
- Answer questions.
- Feature expert authors who are an authority in their field. You are the expert on your service or product.
How to Build an SEO Strategy
The steps above are a great way to kick start your SEO strategy and develop a great base. But what do you do after that?
Essentially the same thing, but building on what is working and innovating on what isn’t. Always think of Visibility and Content and how you can improve on the two. An additional area for visibility is backlinking, meaning links from other sites to your SEO friendly content. To get more content ideas, search some of your ideal target keywords. Who is ranking? What are they doing? Can you improve on that and take over that ranking?
There is so much that can be done to improve on your SEO strategy and that’s where experts like Americaneagle.com come into play. We have built sustainable strategies for all kinds of sites from large ecommerce to smaller brochure sites. When you think you have a sustainable SEO strategy going and are producing great content, it may be time to bring in another digital marketing channel such as Paid Ads, Email, or Social Media. SEO is the best place to start for digital marketing because it forces quality content that can easily be found. When that is done you will need additional ways to spread that to your audience and that is where the omni-channel digital marketing approach comes into play.