Did you recently publish your first website? Congratulations! The next step is to get people to see your content. But to achieve this, people need to find your website first. And you don’t want just any visitors. You want to drive the right audience to your content. But how do you accomplish this? By having a good search engine optimization (SEO) strategy.
What is SEO?
It’s important to understand the concept of search engine optimization before you start putting it to practice. The simple explanation: you optimize your content for search engines, so it’s easier to find. Of course, there’s more to SEO than that. Yoast’s definition of SEO is “the practice of optimizing your web pages to make them reach a high position in the search results of Google and other search engines.” Moz defines the concept even further: “SEO encompasses both the technical and creative elements required to improve rankings, drive traffic, and increase awareness in search engines.”
To summarize: SEO helps your website to rank higher for relevant queries. Which in turn will bring interested users to your website.
Keep in mind, however, that these tactics do not include using paid advertisements on search engines. This is known as pay-per-click advertising and is an entirely different segment of search engine marketing.
Why does SEO matter?
Did you know that approximately 3.5 billion (and counting) Google searches are conducted a day? And content that’s in the first position on Google receives 33% of the total search traffic for that particular query. That’s a lot of visitors who can land on your page. For free! That’s why it’s important to have a good SEO strategy. Because if your website does not appear in the search results, your audience will click on a competitor’s website and you could lose potential customers!
To have your new website appear in the search results, you must begin with a few key steps.
1. Keyword research
Before you can implement any SEO tactics, you need to know what your audience is searching for. Their search terms are your keywords. After all, your audience might use different words than you when searching for your product. Ideally, you should perform your keyword research before you write your website copy and content. However, content can be altered and optimized anytime, so don’t worry! It’s never too late to start.
To rank for a keyword, it needs to be fairly distributed throughout your content. Think of headers, title tags, meta descriptions, URLs and many more. But don’t let the keyword take over your content! You still want your content to be easy and enjoyable to read. After all, you write for your audience and not for Google.
To determine which keywords are ideal for your efforts, you’ll need to do a bit of research. Keyword research tools provide a wealth of information, including top search phrases, search volume, and similar keywords and phrases. And that’s only scratching the surface. To find the right keyword for a page, take advantage of these keyword tools:
– Google Keyword Planner
– Free Keyword Tool from WordStream
– Moz’s Keyword Explorer
2. Internal links
In a previous article, we discussed the importance of a website’s internal linking structure. To quickly recap: an internal link is any link from one page on your website to another. Both your visitors and search engines use these internal links to find content on your website. So if you want to rank higher on search engines (and you do), a solid internal linking strategy is imperative.
How does it work? Google’s bots follow links to discover content and rank it in the search results. A post or page with a lot of links will seem of higher value to Google than a page with just one (keep in mind that both internal and external links count). You can use this to show Google which pages on your website are the most important. For example, it makes sense to have a lot of links leading to your homepage.
To improve your website’s internal linking structure, there are several strategies you can pursue, including:
– Linking to and from cornerstone content.
– Using logical and relevant links.
– Including natural anchor text so your links indicate the topic you’re linking to.
– Creating resource or FAQ pages with applicable links.
3. External links
External links are links on other sites that lead to your website. If a lot of high-quality links lead to a page on your site, search engines will consider it a meaningful page or post and rank it higher. However, don’t try to gain as many external links as possible. The quality of the links matters more than the quantity. In other words: a link from an authoritative website is worth more than a random link from an unknown website. So focus your external linking strategy on gaining links from authoritative websites.
For example, if your website is focused on coffee, receiving a link from a well-known source such as Counter Culture Coffee is far more valuable than a link from a new food and beverage blog.
But how do you obtain those links? After all, they won’t just magically appear. You could try a few key external linking tactics, such as:
– Creating valuable content that people want to share.
– Link reclamation: find unlinked mentions of your brand, then reach out to the website/company and request a link.
– Becoming a thought leader by sharing your thoughts on topics you’re an expert in.
– Sending an email to bloggers, website owners, and brands stating why their readers would find your content valuable.
– Linking to other experts/authority figures in your content, encouraging them to read your content and link back.
– Distributing your content on top social media networks, forums, and communities.
If you start with these simple techniques, you’ll build up a solid portfolio of external links from quality sources. Read this insightful article about link building tactics if you want to know even more.
4. Leveraging SEO plugins and tools
Don’t worry, you don’t have to do everything on your own. There are several WordPress plugins and tools available to assist in your SEO efforts. They can help with a lot; from creating your sitemaps to identifying content optimization opportunities.
Consider utilizing any of these popular SEO plugins and tools to amplify your rankings and website visibility:
– Yoast SEO
– Google Analytics
– Google Webmaster Tools
– All in One SEO
– Moz Open Site Explorer
– Broken Link Checker
– Google Search Console
– W3 Total Cache
Armed with your keywords, internal and external links, and SEO tools and plugins, you’re ready to implement a strong search engine optimization strategy for your new website. What do you think new website owners should know about SEO? Let us know in the comments below.