In the modern age, the first place anyone turns to when looking for information is the internet or more specifically, their favorite search engine. Most of the times, users only have to type in keywords or phrases in the search fields to be presented with a myriad of information in the form of results. These search results are ordered by relevance and quality among other factors. Regardless of whether you are a business owner, a service provider or a famous celebrity, you need to have an online presence; more specifically a highly ranked, easily accessible online presence. Even though there are many sophisticated website builders available online that you can use to make aesthetic and beautiful websites, you also need to make sure that your website has a decent (if not the best) ranking for the relevant keywords.
According to a paper by the Department of Media, Communication and Organization, University of Twente, 91% of all Google searchers don’t look into any results that aren’t on the first page and 50% of all searchers don’t look past the first 3 results on page 1. This staggering statistic makes it a necessity for all website owners to focus on increasing the ranking of their websites to an extent that it gets a place on the first page, and preferably as close to the top, of the search results. For example, if you own a sushi restaurant and a user searches for “The best sushi restaurant in New Orleans”, the search results should also contain your website’s link. But how can we make our website relevant? How can we make it appear in the search results of the most famous search engines? How can we take our free website that we created using a free website builder and make it find a place in Google’s good books? The answer is via search engine optimization or SEO.
What Is SEO?
SEO encompasses a set of procedures and techniques that can optimize a website and increase the quality and quantity of traffic to it via organic results produced by search engines. To really understand SEO, let’s take a look at what some of the words in the following sentences mean:
- Traffic quantity: Not every visit to your website is going to be a fruitful one, so quantity of traffic matters.
- Traffic quality: Even if you are getting millions of visits in a day, if majority of the visitors are not interested in what you are selling on your website, then the traffic’s quality is low. For example, you sell organic food items but Google keeps redirecting people who are looking to buy socks, to your website. This is why the quality of traffic needs to be high; you want visitors who are actually interested in what you are offering.
- Organic results: Whenever a person uses a search engine to find something, some of the results that pop up are paid advertisements. Organic traffic is the traffic that you get because you are relevant and highly ranked; not because you paid for it.
All SEO techniques can be divided into two giant categories: on-page optimization and off-page optimization. As the name indicates, on-page optimization refers to all the techniques that actually occur on the website itself; let’s take a look at some of them:
- Page titles:
The titles of all the pages on your website should be unique, self-explanatory and accurate. A good page title helps you get high ranks for pertinent keywords and eventually makes a user want to click on the search result that leads to your website. It’s easy to create a website for free using some of the best website builders available but it takes some brainstorming to come up with good titles for your pages.
- Meta descriptions:
A Meta Description is your website’s advocate to searchers and within a couple of sentences, you have to explain to them why your website will be the ideal choice for them.
- URL optimization:
Your website’s URL should be easy to read, filled with pertinent keywords and explanatory of what your website is all about.
- Navigation ease:
Your website should be easy to navigate for the visitors. While creating a website, make sure that it’s user-friendly.
- Using a robots.txt file:
Using a robots.txt file, website owners can instruct robots to skip visiting certain pages on the website. This file needs to be handled with care because, as it’s a publicly accessible file, it can act as a directory of all the pages you don’t want the robots to use.
- Responsive and mobile-friendly websites:
Different people use different devices to access the internet. Your website should be responsive enough to cater to the different dimensions of gadgets and render details accordingly.
On the other hand, off-page optimization includes all the techniques that don’t happen on the actual website and are used to improve the ranking of the website in the eyes of search engines. Some of such optimizations can be carried out by:
- Search engine submission:
Search engine submission refers to the explicit submission of your website to a search engine. For example, you can submit your website to Google.
- Directory submission:
A website directory contains a list of all the websites on the internet and the process of adding your website to the directory is known as directory submission. This is a highly beneficial way of increasing your page ranks by adding various backlinks for your website.
- Blog and forum posts:
You can also talk about your website on forums and blogs to increase the possibility of landing traffic.
- Press release optimization:
An optimized press release (adding optimized keywords, text backlinks etc.) is an excellent source of off-page optimization.
When people read about the good things that other people have said about your company/website, they feel more inclined towards trying you out.
In this article, we looked at some of the off-page and on-page SEO optimizations that can go a long way in improving the overall rank of your website. A highly ranked website is more likely to generate high-quality traffic which can change the destiny of any website owner!