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.

How To Do A Drupal 7 Core Update

  1. Make sure you have the Backup and Migrate module installed and enabled
  2. Check for module updates, update if applicable
    (Reports > Available Updates > Update)
  3. Download a backup of your database
    (Configuration > System > Backup and Migrate)
  4. Put your site into maintenance mode
    (Configuration > Development > Maintenance Mode)
  5. Log in to your FTP and delete everything in your Drupal website folder except for the following:
    • .robots.txt
    • .htaccess
    • “sites” folder (contains all your contributed modules, themes, libraries, etc)
  6. Download the latest version of Drupal
  7. Replace all the files you deleted with the new ones from the copy of Drupal you just downloaded (everything except .robots.txt, .htaccess, sites folder)
  8. Go to <your site’s URL>/update.php
  9. Follow the instructions given (there will probably be no additional updates if you follow these steps correctly)
  10. Go out of maintenance mode
  11. View the status reports (Reports > Status Report)
  12. Optional, but recommended: Create another backup of your site

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New Job at Hot House Marketing

On Monday, I started a new job at Hot House Marketing as a Junior Web Developer. I am currently working there part-time for a couple of hours a day while I finish my course on Drupal Open Source Development & E-Commerce. I assist the current Web Developer with tasks such as updating current client websites and starting new web projects, as well as a variety of other things such as html emails, image editing for web, etc.

ctn_lgoHot House Marketing is a full-service advertising agency located in Victoria, BC. It is a fairly small company but has huge potential. They have a team of nine employees (including myself) that work together as a team to provide services such as websites, print advertising, video, brand building, marketing, SEO, business consulting, fundraising, research, event planning, among others.

I am really enjoying this job so far and think that this company is a good fit for my skills and personality, because I am the type of person who thrives in a small community with a team mentality. Hot House Marketing is made up of people who are very talented and have a multitude of skills in this field, and I am delighted to have been offered a position working amongst these people. It is a rare opportunity that allows me to begin my career as a web developer, especially in a job market where entry-level positions in most fields are hard to come by because one generally needs years of experience to get almost any position.