You know your site needs it but frankly, all those terms and technical details are overwhelming! You aren’t an SEO. You’re an entrepreneur, an artisan, a designer, a blogger, a writer, a crafter and a myriad of other things, but you aren’t an SEO. You don’t care what the latest tweak to Google’s algorithm is, all you want to know is how to get your site to show up in the search results with as little effort as possible. Your time is valuable and needs to be spent actually running your business or growing your blog, not finding back-links. This guide is for you. It’s a quick, no-nonsense approach to SEO that will give your site or blog a solid SEO start.
The Must Haves
There are some things you simply must have in order for the search engines to take you seriously.
- Original Content written for People. The most important thing you can have is original content that is intended for people (not search bots) to read!
- Mobile Friendly Website. That means either a responsive, adaptive or mobile site.
- Fresh content. Update your site every so often, if you have a blog, each new blog post counts as new content!
- XML Site map (Don’t worry, you don’t have to do anything, I’ll tell you how!)
- Links from other Sites (this includes social networks, so all those links in your profiles to your site count!)
- Links on your site to other parts of your site (This includes related Posts, your menu, breadcrumbs)
The Tools You Need
If your site runs on WordPress it’s already well optimized for SEO. If your theme is a Genesis theme you can also use the SEO options included there. However, this is only the beginning. SEO plugins will help you do more and improve your SEO.
- WordPress SEO – It’s the best SEO plugin around. It will automatically create your XML site map and submit it to search engines! It also lets you connect your social media accounts and add those annoying verification codes without touching your code!
- A responsive theme or mobile website. Most modern themes are responsive, you can tell if yours is by testing it on your smart phone. If you have to pinch and zoom it’s not responsive! The Jetpack plugin is free and offers a free mobile website option. If your theme is not responsive and you won’t be upgrading anytime soon this is the easiest and cheapest way to get your site the mobile friendly option it needs (Google and your visitors will thank you).
- WordPress Media Fields – You know those extra fields on the media files in WordPress? That one called Alternate Text aka Alt Text? Fill it in. Put something descriptive there. If your image is of a red barn, put red barn. Search engines can’t see images, so this will tell them what the image is. It’s good for SEO and takes only a few seconds when you upload a new image.
- Keywords – Surprise, you already have these! Do you write about certain topics? Is your site about a certain topic? This topic is your keyword. By writing about this topic you will naturally include keywords related to it. Adding keywords to your content isn’t hard, you’ll do it naturally as long as you keep each post or page centered around the same general topic.
Let’s Break it Down: TLDR;
Step 1: Install WordPress SEO and set it up (Be sure to enable XML site maps!)
Step 2: Write original content for your site about the topic(s) your site is about. Grats! You are already doing this! Move on to step 3!
Step 3: Install a responsive theme or a mobile site plugin if you don’t already have one.
Step 4: ????
Step 5: Profit. You’ve got a solid SEO base and can focus on other things, like running your business!
The Dark Side: Words of Warning
Doing things the search engines don’t like is never a good idea. Here are a few common mistakes that can catch you out and earn you the ban hammer from Google!
- Paid Links – These should always be rel=nofollowed! This includes paid advertisements and affiliate links! A no follow link will look like this in the “text” or code view: link text a normal link will look exactly the same minus the rel=”nofollow”. On a related note, submitting your site to a paid link farm is also frowned upon! Don’t do it!
- Duplicate content. Stealing content is not a shortcut! It’s wrong on so many levels and Google can tell!
- Hiding keywords. You can hide text (or anything else) with some fancy coding, but Google knows. Don’t do it.
This is only the beginning of SEO. It’s not going to get you to the very top of the search engine rankings. However, it will get you on the search engine’s radar and start sending traffic your way with a minimal invest of time and money.