If you’ve ever built a website, you know that it can take a lot of time, effort and planning. And that’s before you get the SEO rolling. And with Google and other search engines constantly changing the way they crawl through sites, SEO rules change frequently as well. It can be hard to keep track of what’s really going to get Google to notice you.
Why does SEO matter?
Well, Google ranks top in search and you want to be found. In fact, over 65% of us search on Google with only 7.31% searching on Bing (this is down from 33% in 2015). Sites like Ask, Yahoo, AOL and others make up the remainder.
We recently noticed our search started falling from the the first page. It’s easy to stop paying close attention to all of the factors that go into SEO, and that’s what happened here. Thankfully, it is relatively easy to bring it back. Especially if you have a site that’s been around for a while. But, with that said, it’s incredibly important to keep an eye on SEO. So let’s have a look at the elements that matter in terms of achieving a great ranking.
Every so often, Google changes how it will rank sites. About five years ago, Google did an algorithm change that was so vast, it literally wiped some sites off the map. An internet cleanup like this likely won’t happen again, however you should be aware that there are rules to follow, if you want to gain some visibility for your website.
First and foremost, know your keywords. If you aren’t sure ask whoever designed your site where to find that data. We use a plugin called Yoast and we also use Google Analytics to filter data like this. This tells us specifically what keywords people searched on and which ones brought them to our website. This is hugely important for reasons I’ll go into in a moment.
1. What Keywords are on your Homepage?
This is where some of these keywords will come into play. Having these on your homepage and spread throughout your site is a good way to gain some traction and appeal to the Google gods of search. Also, don’t make your homepage too wordy. Keep it to 250 words if you can.
2. Do: blog. While it may seem boring, blogging is still the number one way to get the attention of consumers and Google. Use keywords in your blog title and sprinkle them throughout your blog post.
3. Blog often.
Most SEO experts recommend three times a week. The more you blog, the better your search is. Generally, I recommend content in three lengths, so long content (1000-1200 words) shorter content (650 words) and then super short (500 words or even less).
4. Always use images.
Images are crucial not just because of the value of search but also the value of keeping your consumer on the page. Our minds are image processors, not word processors to having one or two images per blog post as well as on your site, helps to draw users in. When you use images, make sure to name them appropriately using keywords.
5. Page titles: If your pages aren’t named, they should be. Make sure your web site pages have titles, if you’re not sure ask your web designer about this.
6. Three clicks. Any page on your site should be accessible within three clicks from your homepage.
7. Do: Check out your competition. If you’re trying to get incoming links, see how’s linking to your competition. How do you search for incoming links? Pop the following into your Google search box: linkdomain:www.website.com
8. Be focused.
Have a focused goal on your home page. While your site can do a good many things (and many sites do), your home page should have one goal. Once you get someone to your web site you don’t want to confuse them. A confused mind doesn’t make a choice and will likely click off to your competition.
9. Get a good URL.
Choose something that relates to your topic and is easy to remember. Ideally your URL should also have keywords in it. If you have a few different web site addresses (such as your name, maybe an old domain, etc.) make sure they aren’t all forwarding to the same page on your site. Have them forward to different pages, this will also help with your search rank.
10. Don’t: And speaking of keywords…try avoid using slogans, catch phrases or industry jargon. Here’s why: first off your reader might be a lay person and doesn’t understand what you’ve written, if you confuse the reader you will lose them. Second, when you search for your site in Google, you’ll see that some text comes up with your site URL, this text is pulled from your home page so use that space wisely.
11. Guest blogging helps.
Guest Blogging is a Great Way to Build SEO Love! Offering yourself up as a guest blogger is a great way to build relationships but also a great way to get some good incoming links to your site. By the same token, inviting people to blog on your site is a win, too. You’ll want to invite people who are active on social media so they can share the posts and if they have a good following all the better!
12. Social Media Won’t Help your SEO.
The thing about social media is that it’s good for outreach and networking, but it won’t help your SEO per se. It used to, quite a lot actually but now all of that’s changed. It doesn’t affect your ranking, but it’s great for networking.
13. The Mystery that is Google+.
When Google first started their social networking site, everyone in the tech and SEO community jumped on the bandwagon. Then Google seemed a little iffy about the social media platform, and lots of people (including myself) stopped posting there. A lot of SEO people may tell you that Google+ doesn’t matter in terms of SEO, but I have a hard time believing that Google wouldn’t give preference to their own site so post there, even if it’s just your own blog, a few times a week.
14. Use Google AdWords.
Even if you don’t want to run ads, sign up for an account there and dig into that platform to find great keywords. Their results are quite accurate in terms of searches per month and this can help you greatly if you’re struggling to find the right keywords to use.
15. Getting local reviews on Google.
With 43% of search focused on local results, even if your consumer isn’t intentionally searching locally these results will still dominate the page. So focus on pushing some reviews to Google to get some local love. Even if you aren’t promoting a business necessarily, these reviews will always help you in search.
16. Broken links are bad. I’ve had this happen, we all have, but 404 links are bad news so check the pages on your site frequently. This is especially true when you have made any kind of changes to your website.
17. Mobile is a must.
For the first time since 2014, mobile is exceeding desktop usage and Google is penalizing non-mobile sites, or sites that aren’t mobile friendly. By being mobile it means you need a site created specifically for the various phone and tablet platforms.
18. SEO Experts are a Myth.
I get a lot of emails from people offering to optimize my website. Granted there are great things you can do, and our website person is fantastic at giving us input and advice on SEO, keywords and making sure our website is gaining rank in Google. But WordPress has a lot of tools that can help you zero in on your SEO if you’re willing to spend some time to do it. Trust me when I say, it’s not overly complicated. If someone is trying to sell you heavy duty SEO services, run the other way. You’ll spend a whole lot of money for a whole lot of nothing.
19. Get a good website.
There’s a temptation these days to get a site using places like Wix or others that build sites for you for free. These sites won’t rank as long as they’re connected to the bigger platforms. You have to pay to own it and you should. My suggestion is always go to WordPress. A WordPress template site will get faster traction in Google and probably in the end, cost you less, too.
20. Incoming Links Rock.
So how many sites are linking to yours? Well a good way to find out is to do a linkdomain search on Google. Just type in linkdomain domainname.com and see what comes up. When you insert our URL (www.amarketingexpert.com) it shows over 50,000 incoming links, but keep in mind that I’ve had that URL for 17 years so the older the domain, the more incoming links it’s likely to have.
Getting ranking for your website doesn’t have to be complicated or difficult, the thing to remember is that a static site, boring site doesn’t help your ranking.
What SEO tips do you have to share? And do you have questions for Penny?
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Penny C. Sansevieri, CEO and founder of Author Marketing Experts, Inc., is a best-selling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert and an Adjunct Professor with NYU. Her company is one of the leaders in the publishing industry and has developed some of the most cutting-edge book marketing campaigns. She is the author of fourteen books, including How to Sell Books by the Truckload. AME is the first marketing and publicity firm to use Internet promotion to its full impact through online promotion and their signature program called: The Virtual Author Tour™
To learn more about Penny’s books or her promotional services, you can visit her web site at http://www.amarketingexpert.com. To subscribe to her free newsletter, send a blank email to: mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright @2017 Penny C. Sansevieri
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Wow, Penny, thanks for this. I KNOW I should learn more about SEO. But most explanations I've read, by the second paragraph, my mind sees, 'wah, wah, wah...'.
Seriously. It's like tech manuals. If you know it, it makes perfect sense. But if you don't, it doesn't help.
Happily, your explanation clicked with me! Off to check my keywords and more! THANK YOU!
Laura you are so welcome. Glad you enjoyed this and found it helpful!!
I'm not sure what you mean in #20. The link doesn't go where you says it should, and it appears to be a site where you just sign up for a domain. Can you clarify, please.
Terry, I can make sure that doesn't actively link. She's saying type that in with YOUR domain name to see which sites link to you.
Thanks - You can see I'm not a tech person.
So, I typed "linkdomain terryodell.com" into the Google search, but I'm not seeing incoming links. I just see 579,000 results and then a list of hits, but that isn't right, I'm sure.
What I saw was a list of all the sites that had linked back to my site. It made for super interesting reading.
This is all so confusing! Honestly, SEO is the one place I know I can be doing better on my website, but I have had no idea how until now, this is great! Thanks!
Sherry you're so welcome! Glad you found the article helpful!
Super helpful...I've bookmarked this column. Thank you!
You're very welcome! Glad you enjoyed it!
Penny, this is the perfect information for me at the perfect time. Thank you! I will do three to four things a day (if I'm lucky) to get through your list.
Great article Penny, and validating. I was about to check may of these things off the list as complete, with a few more to attend to. Thanks!
Thanks for all the useful tips. I'd really fallen off blogging and guest blogging. I checked for the links to my domain name and had about 20K for my site that's about four years old. Is this good? bad? average? Thanks, Penny!
Thank you, thank you, thank you. This is just what I needed.
Didn't work (No. 20) and I would like to understand. Can anyone give me a step by step as I want to understand. http://www.brstrickland.com
Thank you so much for this info, Penny. I've shared it online and have bookmarked this blog post for future reference. If I can ever get a website up and running. I only have 2 blogs at the moment and they take all my time. That and trying to find time to write.
Thanks again for sharing your knowledge with writers. I've signed up for your free newsletter.
[…] indie authors, Chris Syme explains why he is cutting back on Facebook ads, Penny Sansevieri lists 20 secrets for savvy search engine optimization, and Frances Caballo has 3 basic rules of social media plus 5 best […]
Very impressive blog.
Interesting article right on the subject.