When it comes to Search Engine Optimization (SEO), a lot of people (including myself) sometimes get intimidated by the complex, ever-changing algorithms used by Google to determine rankings in search results, or discouraged by the fact that it is such a lengthy process that can take months before results are seen. Sure, you could go hire an SEO firm to do it for you, but the truth is that there are a few simple things you can do to optimize your site.
Create Awesome Content
The most important one is fairly simple, it is having great content. Users will be more likely to visit a site if the content is useful, interesting, or applicable to them in some way.
Also, be sure to update or add content (blog posts, news, events, articles, etc) frequently (once a month at an absolute bare minimum, preferably at least once to three times a week) so that search engines and users can see that your site is always current and up-to-date. Sites that are updated often are much more likely to appear higher in search results than those that appear static.
The best practice is to start optimizing your site from the very beginning when you are creating it, inserting specific keywords (between 3 and 5 words/phrases per page) that are found in the content of your site.
If your site is made in WordPress, WordPress SEO by Yoast is a great plugin for this, allowing you to add keywords and an SEO-friendly title and description to any page or post. If your site is made in Drupal, SEO Checklist goes over all the steps you should take in order to optimize your site.
Use Google Analytics/Webmaster Tools
Another thing that is helpful for SEO is signing up an account with Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools. These are both free services that are easy to get (especially if you already have a Google account). Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools provide useful statistics about your site and the people viewing it, including:
- Traffic to your site (bounce rate, traffic from social media, etc)
- Language and location
- Screen resolution
- Mobile Devices
- Web Browsers
- Page Load Time
- Search Queries
- Content Keywords
- Crawl Errors
- Links to your site from other sources
…among other bits of relevant information, which can be used to help optimize your site. For example, if there are keywords in search queries being used to get to your site that aren’t already in the meta tags, you can add them.
You should also submit a Sitemap to Google, which ensures that is has a complete index of all the pages in your website, and can also provide additional information such as when it was last updated.
Engage in Social Media
Engaging in Social Media can also help bring traffic to your site. Platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ allow you to communicate and connect with a broader audience of potential clients/customers. The key is to choose which platform(s) are right for your website or company. It is better to have one that gets updated often than it is to have many that are relatively inactive.
It can also be helpful to add social media sharing buttons to your website to allow users to share your content on their profiles, which provides free links back to your site, and additionally, likes, shares, and +1’s all boost SEO.
Make it Mobile-Friendly
As technology advances and more and more people are using smartphones and mobile devices, it can also be crucial to make sure that your site includes responsive design. If a user on a mobile device visits your website and it is not optimized for their viewing, they will most likely not stay.
Mobile users are generally on-the-go, and want to be able to find the information they need as fast as possible, so having a separate style sheet for mobile devices, as well as doing things like creating a Places Page for your business on Google Places, will benefit the user’s experience as well as your SEO ranking.