Being an SEO Superhero in 2015 takes a ton of work. I've been up well past midnight almost every night for the last couple months. I do SEO and SEM on a lot of different websites these days, and search engine optimization doesn't happen overnight. When you first start out, SEO can be a bit daunting. How do you SEO a site? Where do you begin? How long does it take? Fortunately for you, I've been documenting what I do as I do it so that you can follow along on your own blog or website.
For anyone that's just starting out on the long road of search engine optimization, SearchEngineLand.com has a wonderful description of what SEO really is:
SEO stands for “search engine optimization.” It is the process of getting traffic from the “free,” “organic,” “editorial” or “natural” search results on search engines.
That's nice, isn't it, but what what does that mean to you? When someone searches for something on Google or Bing, and it's related to your site or a page on your site, Search Engine Optimization is the process of showing Google that you're site is the most relevant to what the person is looking for. The desired result is that your website, or a page on your website, would show up as close to the number one spot as possible, being the most relevant to the search. It's a lot easier said than done.
Rather than rehash a long explination of what SEO is, why you should do it, and what it's good for, let's just get into it.
First Rule Of SEO - Backup Your Current Site!
All too often, people forget to back up their site in case something goes wrong and you need to revert back to before any changes were made. Trust me. I've been there. Sure, it's not that often that the SEO guy crashes the site, but if he or she is messing around with your content, titles and meta info and images, you might want to have that backup just in case they fubar something up to the point of no return.
I back up the site before I begin work, and then at intervals during the SEO process. I will keep all the backups stored on an external hard drive for at least three months after I'm done with the SEO work in case I need to go back, either for reference or for restoration purposes.
Do Site Research. Alot of it.
You won't know how optimized your site is until you do the research. Additionally, you won't know how it stacks up to your competition until you research them as well. Research can take a long friggin' time, and if you're doing this for a client, they won't see what you're doing and assume your sitting around playing WOW or something. Proper site research is vital to the success of your SEO efforts, and gives you a good snapshot of what your competitors are doing and where they stand.
Create your SEO To Do List
When your site research is complete, you should have a good idea of what is needed in order to optimize your site. Create a to do list of all the items, prioritizing from easiest to hardest. This might take you a few minutes or many hours. It will seem tedious, and you'll be excited to just jump in and get started, but trust me, having a list to work off of does two things:
- Makes the work seem less daunting
- Organizes your efforts
- Ensures nothing slips through the cracks
Now, I know that there's tools out there that will generate these SEO to do lists for you, like WebCEO for example, however, they're not the only thing you should use. Even when I use WebCEO, I also use a bunch of other tools to crosscheck and get more information. In the end, having your own list of SEO to dos that are compiled from all the research is far more complete.
Take Care Of The Low Hanging Fruits First
A large number of the items on your to do list will be low hanging fruits that you can take care of quickly and easily.
- Forget some image ALT tag descriptions?
- Got two H1 tags on a page?
- Missing or duplicate meta descriptions, perhaps?
These are all things that can be taken care of very quickly. You won't need a web developer to help you get this wiped off your list, and you can take care of a lot of them in a pretty short period of time.
Keep Checking The Site For Changes
As you work, keep checking the site using the tools in your "toolbox" to see if the changes show up, and how your SEO scores on those sites improve. You might not see immediate changes to your score or rank, but believe me, in time your site will improve -- if in no other way, your familliarity with the site and SEO so you know what to look for moving forward.
While this process has been extremely simplified, it's the general approach that I take to optimizing a website. SEO isn't an overnight fix for one's site, but rather, it's something that you do over time, along with adding high quality unique content, sharing your posts out on social media and of course marketing your site as well. SEO & SEM are very large undertakings, and this single post cannot possibly go in to detail about everything.
I'll leave you with this for now: If you want to take the first step into optimizing your site for SEO, then begin by writing excellent, quality content that people want to read about. Share it out, and perhaps some of it might come across another site owner's feed somewhere, and they'll link to your post because it has something to offer their readers as well.