By the time I started writing this post, more than 960,413,816 Websites were up and running around the globe (according to internetlivestats.com). It is logical therefore to wonder: “How can my website grow and attract traffic in this jungle of websites?”. Of course, the answer is proper Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – helping users and search engine robots to easily find your site. Hence, in this article, we will look into some basic steps you can take towards improving your SEO techniques and, thus, increasing your site’s page views.
Use SEO keywords properly
Essentially, keywords are the words and phrases in your pages that make it possible for people to find your site via search engines. What would someone google in order to find your website? Answering this question is the first step towards optimizing your keyword usage.
But it is not as simple as it may seem. First of all, you have to choose the correct words that reflect how your customers view your product while avoiding using something too common. After all, if you build your SEO on a word like ‘video’, it would be extremely hard for your site to appear on the first page of Google. Go for something more specific.
Of course, this can not be done in one go and it is important to make this clear from the beginning: SEO is not a one time thing but a continuous, trial & error based, process. However, just choosing the right keywords is not enough; you have to place them in key spots on the page while avoid spamming them. Some of these key spots are:
- The title tag – search engines use it to display your page’s title in the search result listing.
- Meta description – search engines use it to display info about your page.
- The first sentence of the post – make the user (and google) focus on the topic from the beginning.
- In links – According to Matt Cutts, Google bots will notice if your keyword is in the page URL.
One image is worth a thousand words
Images can serve multiple purposes in an article. First and foremost, they make the post more appealing to the human eye. That said, someone is more likely to read an article with an interesting featured image rather than an article containing nothing but text. Images also help you get your message across and can lead to your post becoming viral in seconds. But how can you improve image SEO?
It all starts with finding a proper image. How do you do that? A basic rule of thumb is that, the image, should fit its surroundings. In other words, it needs to have the same subject as the article or, at least, the paragraph in which it is included. Irrelevant images will only confuse your audience and have a negative impact on your search engine score.
But finding a suitable image is not enough. You have to pay attention to other parameters like its name and size. Naming an image is simple but plays a major role in SEO. Essentially, you want the name to describe the image and include your focus keyword. For example, if you have an image of a football field, the proper name should be something like football-field.jpg and not DSC0946.jpg. In this way, your image (and subsequently your article) will appear when someone searches for “football field”. It is that simple: the name of the image is what the user should search in order to find it.
As far as size is concerned, you have to serve the image in the smallest size possible. In this way, you will decrease the loading time of the page – a crucial factor to SEO. Achieving the smallest size possible is a two step process. First, you have to resize the image to exactly the size it will have on the final page. For example, if the image is 1920 x 1080 but you are displaying it in 800 x 600, the entire 1080p image has to be loaded and there is no benefit in that. Reduce it to 800 x 600 and then upload it. The second step is compressing the image. This can be done with tools like TinyJPG, that greatly reduce image size without visible distortion.
After this, the image should be ready for upload. One final thing you should be aware of is that image captions and alt text are also important to SEO. As Bnonn from KissMetrics put it a few years ago: “Captions under images are read on average 300% more than the body copy itself, so not using them, or not using them correctly, means missing out on an opportunity to engage a huge number of potential readers.”
Hence, it is important to use an alt text that briefly describes the image (you could even use its name) and a caption that analyses the image briefly.
Links are more important than ever
In order to highlight the importance of links to SEO, I will use a quote from Rand Fishkin’s “Moz Beginner’s guide to SEO”:
For search engines that crawl the vast metropolis of the web, links are the streets between pages. Using sophisticated link analysis, the engines can discover how pages are related to each other and in what ways.
In other words, through links, search engines can see how popular, viral or trustworthy a site is. The more popular and trustworthy a site is, the more links from that site matter. But how are popularity and trust determined?
Popularity is pretty straightforward. The more links leading to your site exist on the web, the more popular you site is. But there is a pitfall here: 100 links from one site are far less important for search engines than 50 links from 50 different sites. This is where trust comes in. When a university, government organisation or multinational company like Apple link to your page your “Trust rating” is increased, as you are referred from well-know, trusted sources. As Search Engine Land puts it:
If you were sick, which would you trust more? The advice from five doctors or from fifty random people who offered their advice as you walked down the street?
Unless you’ve had a really bad experience with doctors, you’d probably trust the advice from the doctors. Even though you’re getting fewer opinions, you’re getting those opinions from experts. The quality of their opinions carries more weight.
So what can you do to increase the amount of links pointing to your site? On the one hand, you could spam your links on forums, social media and third party sites. This would build you an amount of links pretty fast but none of them would be long lasting or trustworthy enough. So how you can get linked without spamming? This is a tricky question but the best answer should probably be: focus on content. Create share-worthy, interesting articles that people will gladly share in their sites. In this way you will build a link network that identifies you as a popular and trustworthy source.
SEO should be a continuous process that evolves together with the site. Extra focus should be placed on using the proper keywords, optimizing your page load time, using the correct images and building a trustworthy link network. I hope this information will prove useful to you. For any questions you might have feel free to leave a comment or contact us on Twitter @reEmbed.