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SEO Basics For Your Website: Start Getting Found Online

Right now, as you read, thousands of people are typing search engine queries. They’re trying to find goods and services, or are researching some topic. Will they land on your website?

The mere existence of a website is not going to generate leads. Your website will show great results only when it’s shared through social media, hosts an engaging blog or other original content, and is linked to from other websites. It should be searchable, engaging, entertaining, and educational. You can no longer simply run an expensive advertising campaign or stuff a website with keywords. You’ve got to be found in search results, and today that means smart content.

Being Discovered on the World Wide Web

The ranking mechanisms used by modern search engines are becoming more and more complicated. Your visitors, as well a Google, are looking for valuable and authentic content that is written for your target audience. If site visitors find useful, funny, or thoughtful content, then they will gladly share your site on social media, boosting the traffic and attracting more potential customers to your website.

Inbound Marketing is the term we use to describe content as the dominant marketing strategy. Here are some tips from WebiNerds for anyone who is looking to increase leads and sales through inbound marketing. In other words, you want people to FIND your site in search results, DISCOVER valuable content, and SHARE it with others.

The first part of this process is to be found online. In this article we’ll focus on Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). SEO is about how to be found online. According to Netcraft’s Web Server Survey, there were more than 915 million websites in the world as of December 2014. Without a competent SEO strategy your website is just a needle in a haystack; it’s nearly invisible to your potential clients. SEO is a never-ending process. If you stand still, you are already moving backwards.

So how can reach the #1 position in search results? Search engines provide little insight about ranking algorithms. While no strategy can guarantee you the number one spot, here are five ways that you can improve your odds of outranking your peers: Off-page SEO, On-page SEO, Meta Tags and Title Tags, XML Sitemap, and 301 Redirects.

1. Off-Page SEO

handwritten SEO flow chart on a whiteboard

Off-page SEO involves building inbound links. The number of links around the web that refer traffic to your site is an indication of popularity. Essentially, search engines see links as “votes” or “points.” The more points (links) your site has – from trustworthy websites – the higher your ranking will be in search results. If an article on TechCrunch links to your website, that gives you positive points. Likewise, if lots of spammy sites link to yours, that can spoil your reputation in the eyes of both search engines and potential visitors. Here are some tips for acquiring high-quality inbound links:

  • Use online tools to check the authority of websites that you would like to get links from.
  • Create content that inspires and post it on relevant professional forums and help sites. Include a link to your website. If your content is meaningful, people will share it.
  • List your website in online directories.
  • Post new content regularly. Fresh content increases your search engine rankings.
  • Avoid spam and spammy sites at all costs!

2. On-Page SEO

Now that you’ve worked on building inbound links, you need to fine-tune your website using on-page content elements: titles, subtitles, links, image tags, and content. Many businesses use too many keywords in a misguided effort to boost page ranking. This is widely known as keyword stuffing. Follow these guidelines to keep on-page SEO neat and tidy:

  • Optimize one page per primary keyword to give the search engine a clear idea of what your site (and your content) is about.
  • Place primary keywords close to the beginning of titles and subtitles.
  • Use keywords in relevant places throughout body content.
  • Remember to include keywords in the page URL and image filenames.
  • Keep in mind that some website elements like Flash animations, videos, graphics, and content that requires a login are unsearchable.

Remember that humans come first and search engines come second. Do not try to write content from a pile of keywords! Writing about brilliant ideas for creating engaging content for content marketing for your online marketplace or online business or store is not engaging.

3. Meta Tags and Title Tags

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A meta tag is like a business card for a search engine. It is a line of code that contains a concise description of a website. In the past, including lots of keywords in the meta tag could boost your website’s rating. Nowadays, inbound links and on-site optimisation are much more important, but meta tags still carry some weight. Meta tags can be found at the top of the web page file (HTML file), which can be viewed and edited in a basic text editor.

4. XML Sitemap

XML is the most well-known type of sitemap. It helps search engine crawlers (often referred to as “spiders”) gather data about your website’s structure. You can generate a .xml file with the help of one of many online tools, and upload it to the root directory of your website. SEO specialists advise that you update the .xml file every time your site is updated, preferably at least once a month.

5. 301 Redirect

When a web page migrates to a new URL, the old link can no longer be resolved to your site by a Domain Name Server. Because of this, when a visitor clicks on the link from a search engine, they see a disappointing “Page Not Found” message. To avoid this pitfall, you should use a 301 Redirect. This is a method of changing an old URL to a new one.

These five simple SEO steps can edge you closer to the top rankings. Check out our next post for more about content as a key component of your smart SEO strategy.

Read also: How to Make Content Part of a Smart SEO Strategy

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