SEO is 😱 scary. There, I said it. You have a site that makes you proud and you want the world to see it. Even better, you want them to engage with it and your brand. Sadly, Google stands there like a disgruntled sentry deciding who can find your website.
I don’t know why I pictured it as a stormtrooper. Nevertheless, you have to feed it treats and talk nicely to it before it will let people through to your carefully crafted content. But what brand of treats does it like, and how often? Let’s learn to feed the monster, shall we?
Simple SEO Explained
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It’s basically preparing your site to rank higher on Google and other search engines. Let’s face it, though… Google is the one everyone wants to please.
Yes, you could spend lots of money on an SEO expert, and many larger organizations do just that. Does that mean your luck runs out if you don’t have a giant budget for that? Absolutely not. Check out these simple SEO solutions you can do without hiring someone.
Choose SEO Keywords
For some reason, the term “keywords” scares people. Don’t let it intimidate you. Simply stated, keywords are the terms people type into the search box to find your website.
The best way to get started is to ask yourself what you’d type into Google to find your site. That’s it. What would regular people type into Google to find my site? Your friends count as regular people. Ask them. Then make a list of what they say. You can even find free tools to help you with this:
Leverage Page/Post Titles
Now that you have some keywords, make sure you use those keywords in your page and post titles. Your homepage, for example, should not have just the name “Home”. I’m constantly surprised at how often I see this, though maybe I shouldn’t be. At the very least, use the name of your business, and make sure your site tagline clearly states what you do. Homepage titles are some of the most commonly missed SEO opportunities.
Use Image Alt Tags
Google can’t see images. It can do lots of other things, but it can’t see what’s in a picture. When you do an image search, Google looks at the image alt tags to decide what images to show you. Users with visual impairments rely on these tags to enhance their experience by having a screen reader describe images on a page. If you leave them blank, your site is suddenly less accessible for the blind.
Similarly, Google uses these tags to determine page content. Making sure you have the relevant keyword in the alt tag tells the search engine that this page and image relate to the topic. Each image alt tag should contain a short description of the image and the keyword for which you’d like that page to rank. More on how to do that here.
Remember Your Audience
Repeat after me: My audience is more important than Google.
MY AUDIENCE IS MORE IMPORANT THAN GOOGLE!
If you focus on having good, quality content that informs and delights your audience, Google will notice. I promise. For that reason, you need to focus more on writing for people and less on writing for robots. When people find your website useful, they will come to it. Google will notice that and start to rank it higher. Then more people will come and it becomes a whole SEO cycle. Sound familiar? I think there was a movie with this premise…
Update Often for Better SEO
Google hates a stagnant site. In fact, if you let a site sit for long periods of time without making updates, its search engine rankings will surely fall. Google sends its little spiders to scan sites every so often. If it notices that the site has had no changes, it will come less often. On the other hand, if it scans and finds new content, it will scan more frequently in hopes that you’ve added more.
Every time you add an image, a blog post, update your about info, freshen your portfolio, or make even small changes, Google will notice. That will only improve your rankings.
Yes, there are other ways to improve SEO, including speeding up your site and using smaller images, but these should give you a great boost without overloading your brain. Now that you have some stores in your pantry for feeding that moody sentry, keep swimming along!