Beginner's Guide to SEO
Creating a website is no small feat! It takes extensive planning, an eye for design, compelling copywriting, and lots of editing to bring one to life. So wouldn’t it be a shame if no one was able to find it after your hours of hard work?
While digital advertisements and organic marketing efforts such as promoting your website through social media or email can help get more eyes on your website, SEO is the key to driving traffic - even while you’re asleep! Optimizing your website’s SEO may sound daunting, but many of the strategies are extremely simple, especially if you use a website builder such as Wix or Squarespace that has built-in SEO optimizers. Read our checklist below before publishing your website to ensure all of your time spent building doesn’t go to waste!
1. Building a foundation with Keywords
Keywords are words and phrases that describe what your content is about, and allow search engines like Google to accurately rank your website for various search terms. For example, our website’s keywords ensure we would appear on Google searches such as “local digital marketing agency” and not “local honey farms”.
The best place to start optimizing your website’s keywords is doing research. Gather a list of terms that describe your site and what others may be searching to find you. Performing some related searches yourself can also help inspire your list. Once you have a general list of terms, create more for each page of your website. Hold onto these keywords as they’ll be used in headings, content, photo alt text, and more that we’ll cover below.
2. Proper Titles are more important than you’d think!
Page titles are often the first thing users will see when searching for your website. Titles should clearly and accurately describe what the page is about and be around 60-70 characters to comply with Google’s search display. Without proper page titling, your great content will be hidden because search engines will not know your pages match the searcher’s queries. In addition to being searchable, your titles must entice users to click on them. Titles are an essential part of your website to include your keywords from Tip 1 above.
Some common titling errors are writing titles that are too long or too short, as well as duplicating titles across your website. As mentioned above, the ideal title length is 60-70 characters, however if you must make it longer, Google will truncate it in the search results. Duplicating titles can actually lead to each page with the same title ranking lower due to confusion from the search engine as it will not know which page to rank. Overall, spend the extra time to review each of your page titles and ensure they’re optimized to get the best results.
3. A picture is worth 1,000 words: Alt Text
Your copy, such as titles and body paragraphs, aren’t the only thing search engines take into account when ranking your website. All of the photos you choose are also part of the equation. Including alt text - a short description of the photo used when the image can’t be viewed - is highly important for both your website’s SEO and accessibility. Visually impaired users rely on alt text to understand what the photos on your pages are so ensure your alt text descriptions are as accurate and descriptive as possible.
When crafting your alt text, keep the details, specificity, and context in mind. And to keep your alt text optimized for SEO, write descriptions under 125 characters and double-check for spelling errors. Additionally, if applicable, including your keywords from earlier into your alt text is an additional step to improve your page rankings, however do not feel you must cram them into each picture, or photos where they are not relevant.
4. Automate everything you can!
As we mentioned in the introduction, many website builders provide you with built-in SEO tools in addition to the variety of SEO plug-ins available to download. At Honey & Hive, we are personally partial to Wix, which comes with a suite of SEO tools to optimize your site, especially in the more technical ways. These automated tools allow you to save lots of time compared to completely starting from scratch when it comes to SEO.
5. See your hard work pay off with Analytics
Now that you’ve both optimized your website and automated as much of your SEO as possible, track your results to ensure your efforts are paying off. Setting up Google Analytics is the best place to start. This will show you how much traffic your website is receiving, as well as your website’s bounce rate, clicks, and lots of other crucial data. SEO optimization is not a “one and done” strategy, but one that must be constantly enhanced based on your user and activity and results.