There is a common misconception that SEO (search engine optimization) is merely content based. That is to say, if I can replicate the content found on other high ranking websites, I can also obtain a high ranking. What do I mean by that? Many try to “get hits” or bring traffic to their page by overstuffing keywords or replicate content found on other sites.
Here’s a shortlist of what can be described as the essentials of SEO:
- Know your business. Know your audience.
- High-quality, original content is good. High-quality, original, non-text content is better. Original video content will generate a higher ranking than mere text will.
- User experience is everything. If your website is frustrating to use (especially on a phone), your potential customers will likely take their business elsewhere.
- Keep keywords in the URL too. A numbered blog post is less than ideal for SEO. Blog posts and other links should include keywords in their URLs.
- Authority. Is your website linked as a source by other websites?
Let’s get into the nitty gritty of the list above:
1. Know Your Business. Know Your audience.
Are you a restaurant, cafe, auto repair shop, florist? While the subject of knowing what you are and knowing your target audience is much larger than can really be discussed in one blog post, here are some basics that can be easily remedied for any website.
Don’t stuff keywords. Let us suppose that you own a pizza restaurant that also offers specialty craft beers in Los Angeles, California. Here is a list of keywords that you might use:
#pizza, #pizza restaurant, #craft beer, #bar, #pub, #gastropub, #restaurant socal, #restaurant LA, #restaurant los angeles, #restaurant ca, #restaurant california
You’re gourmet pizza restaurant owner; don’t stuff keywords that don’t belong;
#pizza, #pizza restaurant, #asian, #asian restaurant, #mexican, #mexican restaurant, #craft beer, #bar, #pub, #gastropub, #restaurant socal, #restaurant LA, #restaurant los angeles, #restaurant ca, #restaurant california
One might ask “Why do we add only correct keywords, am I not missing out on hits because I didn’t use the other keywords?”
The short answer to this question is, “No, you’re not missing out on hits or website traffic.” A longer answer is this: web crawlers (especially google) “learn” over time what your business actually is. They will penalize you for incorrect keywords and lower your ranking.
There are other things worth mentioning about knowing your business’s audience that are outside of the scope of this article. Things like the style of your presentation, making reading-level appropriate content, knowing what your audience really wants all need to be considered.
2. High-quality, original content is good
In short, the seemingly all-knowing Google is watching you. When you rip content from other websites, it is likely that web crawlers will recognize that content (especially if you googled that content in the first place).
You might ask, “What’s the harm in that?”
Web crawlers like google penalize you for duplicate content both found on your own website or content copied from other websites.
When you make your own content and people start ripping it from you and using it, your rankings will improve with web crawlers. So, if you don’t mind it, a little plagiarism can actually help you the long run. So long as you are not the one plagiarizing.
3. User Experience is Everything
Bounce rates are the number of users who visit a site and immediately leave. A number of factors go into user experience: User Interface, wrong or missing content, misleading content, content that takes too long to load, poorly designed content, etc.
In short, here are some questions you should ask yourself about your website when considering user experience:
Is it frustrating to use? For a mobile website: am I often shaking my phone in frustration?
Does the content try to “trick” the user into visiting your website only to not deliver what the customers want?
Does your content take too long to load? In Chrome and other add-ons for other browsers, you are able to mimic a download speed. Use this to figure out if your website if too slow.
Is your content aesthetically unappealing? Does it look like spam?
This one is short. Keep your URLs meaningful. What does that mean? Here’s an example:
Don’t use: localview.link/blog/post/5
Basically, use keywords in URLs, do not use auto assigned post numbers.
Notice that I didn’t use any underscores, but used a dash instead. This is also great for optimization.
This one is also short. Up until now, all of the advice has been about how to optimize your own website. Now here is how to increase your ranking of your website using other websites: Try to get others to cite you or link back to your website. If people link to your original content, web crawlers pick up on this. This will increase the ranking for your original content.