Simple Tips for Do-It-Yourself Search Engine Optimization

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.

Start Early

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 WordPressWordPress 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 DrupalSEO 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.

Looking for freelance work?

Recently I came across a site called Elance, which I had never heard of before. Admittedly, when I first saw the URL without any context, it made me think of some sort of online store for medieval weapons. However, upon visiting the link, I found a resource for finding or posting contract jobs in fields such as design, programming, marketing, writing, translation, and just about anything that one could do as a freelance contractor. It uses a system where people can post jobs, then freelancers can submit proposals for each one, describing the cost and what services they would provide, and how long it would take, and then the client chooses the one that appeals the most, either based on budget needs or how well-written the proposal was. After that, the client and contractor communicate back and forth during the working process until both parties are happy, at which point the payment goes through. I haven’t been on there too long, but from what I can tell, it has its ups and downs much like any other online community. For any freelancer who is considering signing up and looking for jobs, it might just be worth your while.

PROS

  • It is a very large community, with over 45,000 jobs posted in the last 15 days
  • The range of fields is fairly vast as well, providing small to large jobs for people with many different kinds of skill sets
  • The jobs feature a large range in prices, depending on the type of job and the client; anywhere from $20 to about $500,000 as well as hourly rates
  • Many different groups can be joined depending on what field you’re in, most of which require a skills test to make sure you have the required knowledge. In these groups are job postings, and it ensures the client is getting their job done by a real professional

CONS

  • The large community means there is a lot of competition when writing a proposal for a job that interests you. It may require you to lower your prices or provide your services in less time in order to land the desired job
  • When you are a newcomer to the site, it is very difficult to get a job because most clients are looking for someone with an already established good reputation in the elance community
  • Clients are often very picky and require a ton of minor tweaks and changes, often meaning that you end up doing more work than the job is actually worth in the first place
  • With a free account, you can only choose one field of jobs for which you can write proposals, so it is not as beneficial to freelancers with different skills in multiple areas