5 tips for SEO newbies
When releasing your website, you can’t just sit back and expect people to flood to it like flies to honey. You need to have your project visibly on search engines like Google, Yahoo!, and Bing – yeah, even Bing. But how can you get these rankings? What’s needed to achieve visibility? Magic? No, just good SEO.
What? You mean you’ve got this far into developing a web project without knowing what SEO is? Well, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. Basically, SEO is anything you do to ensure that your site ranks highly in Search Engine listings.
Let’s say you run an online store selling robots. You’ll want people to find you through Googling “robots for sale” or “best prices on robots”, right? Well, unless you do some good SEO, there’ll be loads more robot dealerships appearing in the listings before you. That’s bad. That means less custom. That means less of your robots finding loving homes. But with a bit of time, dedication, and effort, you can make your website stand on the soapbox shouting “Hey! Look at me! I sell robots!”, really grabbing the attention of Google, Yahoo!, and… yes, even Bing. And then none of your robots will ever have to worry about being lonely again.
SEO isn’t easy. Like I say, you need time and dedication to bring some good traffic and rankings to your site. But oh, is it worth it. So, to help you along the way, here’s five tips to get your site up there with the best.
1: Build quality Backlinks
I cannot stress how important this is. Incase you’re unsure, a Backlink is a hyperlink (like this thing) to your website… on another person’s website (like this other thing). The more Backlinks your site has, the more visible your site’s URL is to search engines, and therefore, the more popular they think your site is. While Backlinks aren’t the epitome of SEO, they’re still awfully important – if done right.
I did say ‘quality Bakclinks’ for a reason. I mean, it’s all well and good slipping links to your site in your profile on dinosaurswithlasers.org, but is that a valuable link? Is dinosaurswithlasers.org a valuable or popular enough to warrant you having a link there? While dinosaurswithlasers.org is great to you (and understandably so), it might not be the most popular site out there. Get it somewhere prevalent and well used.
Another thing to consider is how relevant the site you’re Backlinking on is. If the product your site sells is, say, garden fences, a Backlink on a gardening forum is perfect. But posting the same link to a forum on bodybuilding probably won’t be as beneficial. Search engines like things being cohesive, and subject matter is one thing it doesn’t like to clash.
Some methods I’d recommend for building Backlinks:
- Forums: Respond to a thread or two relating to your product. Selling robots? Go to robot forums. Selling dog collars? Go to dog grooming forums. Not selling motorbikes? Don’t bother with a Harley Davidson fanclub.
- Articles: Write something interesting about your product, or something related to your product, on somewhere like HubPages or Tumblr, and then slip a link in somewhere. Be subtle with the link, though, and make sure it fits in. Some article sites will pull you up on being too promotional.
- Directories: If your website is for a business, try getting it on a business directory like Yell, 118, or your local equivalent. If not, try the many link directories around the net. While these aren’t the most valuable links, they’re still Backlinks all the same.
- .edu or .org sites: Backlinks on sites like these are very very valuable. Again, be subtle and suitable though. Oh, and if you can, get a link on a Wikipedia article. If your site is relevant to subject matter, the link will happily stay there. And Google really loves Wikipedia.
2: Interesting content
You’ll probably hear this in every article about SEO, but interesting content is a really great way to drive traffic to your site, get your rankings up, and also gives you an extra platform for a cheeky backlink or two. One important thing about interesting content is to make it accessible. It’s no good writing a fascinating article about the rich history of toothbrushes on some obscure website nobody uses. If you can get your content out there and visible, it’ll do its job just fine. But what kind of content is good content for SEO? Well, anything that people would want to share really. Things that captivate people, raise interesting points or inspiring ideas, or even things that just look or sound pretty, are great for SEO.
- Articles: Good at writing? An article about your subject or something close to it is sure to drive some interest. If your business revolves around cars, a nice article about the history of the automobile, or an unsung hero of the car industry, would certainly interest many. An article about how to change tires however probably won’t be a viral sensation. Post your article to somewhere like HubPages, Tumblr, or a blog, to ensure it’s spreadable.
- Infographics: Now this is something that’s really grown in popularity. An infographic is a graphic that presents information in an easy to read, good looking way. Gather some statistics or facts about your field, and illustrate them in a cool and unique way. Take a look at this Pinterest board of mine for some ideas.
- Facts and funnies: Does your business have a Twitter or Facebook? Posting interesting facts about your field (or something else entirely), or just cracking a joke every now and then will bring people far and wide to nestle in and listen to what you have to say. It doesn’t really matter that you’re advertising hats or fishnet stockings, you’re still interesting – and shareworthy.
3: Social Media
Again, something that’s really struck as gold in recent years. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Reddit, Flickr, Pinterest, Aibo… Sites which lots of people usually use to talk about the Chicken Korma they had the previous night, or to alert you on pressing matters like their toilet habits. You wouldn’t believe that something like this would be such a valuable SEO resource, would you? Well, these days, Google and its kin judge businesses based on how hip and trendy they are in regards to their social presence. If you’ve got fanbases on social networks, you’re officially able to join the cool kids club. Just don’t expect followers straight away, and make sure you link to your social profiles on your website, and vice versa. Oh, and don’t neglect your social profiles – people are less likely to visit your business if you haven’t made a Facebook post in the last two years.
4: Keep your website neat and tidy
It makes no sense to make a website that’s as navigable as the Minotaur’s labyrinth, and not only for the sake of your users. Spiders, the codes that search engines use to scour the net, like to climb down the page much like the reader’s gaze would. But if everything’s strewn about and uncoordinated, the spider is not going to garner a lot of sense from your site. But it’s not just the layout and design that need to be cohesive – the code should be too. Run the URL of your site through the W3C Markup Validation Service, and get your web developer to take a look at what it pulls up. The better the code of your site, the more comfortably the spiders will be able to scuttle, and therefore the more likely your site will be noticed. Also, make sure you have all the essentials, such as meta tags and alt tags in there, so the search engines know what your non-text content is about.
5: Keep it fresh, keep it relevant
It’s no good leaving your site, nor your social profiles, to go stale. Nobody takes a slice of the cake that’s been in the tin for three weeks (unless they’re really hungry). So, to ensure that your site is still fresh and relevant, strive to keep it that way.
- Have an on-site blog: If you have lots of updates to your products or services, or upcoming offers, or just want to brag about how cool the things you sell are, a blog on your site is a great way to do this while keeping the site up-to-date. Just again, don’t let this go to waste. Like with a social profile, people will walk away if it hasn’t been touched for a long time – they might see it as a sign that the site is defunct.
- Change the drapes: While not going overboard, making graphical and textual changes really makes a difference. Keep your site up to current design standards – these days, it’s all about minimalism and things that work on your smartphone. Keep it looking trendy, while not looking too childish.
- Remember your branding: No matter what changes you make, always remember your keywords. Is your site about your bakery? Be sure to mention all the things you make many times over, and have the name of your bakery in their a few times. Just don’t go overboard with the keywords. Oh, and if your company has unique branding, like a fancy logo or a particular colour scheme, make sure that’s present at all times.
- Latch onto new things: Is there a new social network everyone’s raving about? Has Facebase or Birdbook taken the world by storm? Get in on the action. Say hi. Point people to your site. The more the merrier!
Is there anything more to it?
Sure. There’s lots of other things you can do to get your site up there with the rest and the best. But these five things are a good start to getting yourself and your brand out there. The internet is a big scary place, but I’m sure you’ll do just fine. Hey, you’ve got robots to sell, right? Focus on that, think of the happy robots, and get out there. Y’never know, big things might be coming your way!
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I'm Lewis, an Internet Marketing Executive with LRS Systems. I spend way too much time on the internet as it is, so this job works well for me, as I can be around something I love to use.
The things you've read in this article are all things that I've learnt on my travels through the wonderful world of SEO. While I'm relatively new to it all, like you guys, I still know people who've worked in SEO, and they agree that this is the way to start it all off. I wish you all the best of luck!
Oh, and just in case you're interested, I did all the illustrations in this article in Photoshop CS6.