How to Become an SEO Pro
Learning to master SEO can be quite a daunting task and with the knowledge of you being an SEO expert comes clients who assume you can perform miracles. With almost all my web clients, comes a standard question - can you get me on the first page of Google. Too many of them that is a make it or break it question in making the deal.
Although there is so you can do to boost listings, with the proper maintenance from either the client, or your experience, it is possible that any site can reach that coveted first page of the Big G. SEO is an art and once you've mastered the techniques of search engine optimization, you yourself can become a pro at SEO.
Be forewarned, however, that while it is important to focus on what Google likes to see, what is most important is appealing to the client's audiences. When people visit the site, they want to see a clear and crisp message, writing in a voice in which they can relate to, and the ability to connect. This is what keeps people coming back to the site.
Let's take an example - if I were promoting myself as yoga instructor, I want to give people a reason to use my services. Typing "yoga instructor" repeatedly without any kind of context is not going to get clients to come back and will not get Google to give me that top spot - in fact it may even get me flagged!
SEO is a continuous process and since there is so much to cover, and a wealth of information on the web, here are five basic steps that one must follow before becoming an expert in SEO:
1. Plan your content wisely.
You have a great idea for a site, but when it comes down to it, an idea is worth what it weighs. It is only when you plan and execute that your idea reaches fruition. Take the time to write down the goals of you website. Simple goals for example, like, who is your audience? What of value are you offering them? Be extremely clear with this and make sure your audience easily understands your message. There is no need to write eloquently - you are not trying to be William Faulkner. You are content writer, essentially. Your main goal is to be as simple and relevant as possible, and to keep your audience engaged. Ultimately you want your audience to take a certain action, whether it is to purchase something, watch a video, or sign up for a webinar. And once you have established the CTA (Call to Action), you can move on to the next step...
2. Keyword planning.
Keywords are the main element of your content - what you anticipate your visitor to enter in the search engines in order to arrive at their result. For example, if you are a yoga instructor in Brooklyn, you may use the keyword phrase - "brooklyn yoga instructor" (google is not case sensitive and evidently, neither am I!). Bear in mind that in the next few weeks there could possibly be a number of yoga instructors in Brooklyn so there needs to be a strategic and intelligent placement of your key phrases, and possibly a narrowing down of neighborhoods, for example, "Midwood", or "Park Slope." Google, Bing and Yahoo, the main search engines use these keywords and key phrases to list our site in the organic (unpaid) results. It is generally a better strategy to use long string key phrases (multiple words as opposed to single word), as these have a better chance of getting you to the first page. A great resource in doing keyword research is in Google Adwords itself, in fact it is an essential tool for any SEO content writer.
This is the meat-and-bones of your SEO. Once your sitemap is submitted to Google Search Console, it sends robots to crawl your site and determine whether your content is relevant. Google's robots can filter your content and determine whether it is relevant or complete jargon - which in the latter case, your site will be flagged. This is why it is essential not only for your content to be relevant, but to be clear. Your keywords should be placed in certain areas of your content where it is relevant, and your paragraph titles should contain the keywords and phrases place in a way that it makes sense to the reader.
Your content also includes media , which includes proper imagery - graphics, images, and pictures, in fact, no properly SEO'd site is ever complete without proper imagery, which includes Graphics score major points in Google's search engine, after all, we all (or most of us) have heard the saying "a picture is worth 100 words." However, you still need words in your images.
A good move is to include Alt-text in each image - that is words which would appear if the browser is unable to display the image. It is also another good idea to include the keyword in the file name. For example "seo-hero.jpg" (like Google search criteria, filenames are also not case-sensitive. Make sure all your pages have proper images with their file names and alt-text in place, and include the same strategy when doing your blog, which is a must for any website owner who wishes to be on the first page of Google.
Meta-tags in the past were placed within the code of an html site - the <head>. Today there are so many DIY sites like Wix and other platforms which make it simple to include the meta-tags without needing to understand code whatsoever. Examples of these tags include your page titles (what you see tab alongside the 'x'). The best way to format this is to have the site name followed by the page title itself and separated by the pipe (|) character (example: Namaste Studios | Yoga Instructor in Brooklyn), making sure your search term is in there.
Visitors do read these so keep it 50 characters or less, as these tend to get cut off.
The second tag is the description of the page. This is what come up under the name of the site when you do a Google search. Make sure this contains your keywords, but more importantly, make sure you keep this description to the main idea. Even though your site may come up in the top of the results, if the description has no relevance to the person searching, he/she will move onto the second one down the list. Finally, there are your meta-keywords.
This is where you place the keywords on which you did your careful research. There should be no more than a total of 10 words, each word in long string key phrases included. Each phrase and word should be separated by commas and listed in level of importance. For example, "yoga instructor Brooklyn, asana practice, meditation...."
This is perhaps the most challenging and at the same time the most overlooked aspect of SEO. Links fall under 2 categories - the first one being internal links. These are links which guide the visitor from one page of your site to the other. Each page should contain at least one link with your keyword or phrase before scrolling the footer of each page. Google takes these links into account.
The second category of these links are those which take the visitor to external sites. Site owners are often fearful that if for any reason the user leaves the site, he or she may not return. It helps is if these links are set to open to a new page, so after visiting the external site and clicking on the 'x', they are back in your site. In addition to these external links, every site owner who wishes to be on the first page of the major search engines should connect with the owners of other sites to have their sites link back to their own.
SEO is truly an art which takes a lot of time and dedication, but with these basic tips, and the wealth of resources available, like Wix's SEO platform, which makes it easy to implement, even the layman to web design can become a true SEO expert in no time.