Let’s face it: websites are created not just for the purpose of having them. The big idea, of course, is for your website to get found, generate traffic, and get more of your target audience to engage with you.
That is why search engine optimization or SEO marketing companies have sprouted all over, especially here in the Philippines. CEOs want their websites to get traffic and making it to the first or second pages of Google search results for the sets of keywords they care about is a very sound proposition. This is where SEO companies make their pitch. They will offer a hat full of tricks to let you capture your keywords and with a stroke of a wand, you are Google‚Äôs fair-haired boy.
Like magic, right? Not exactly.
What SEO marketing companies are not telling you is that search optimization is entirely the product of programming geniuses who are out to out-clever search engines with codes secretly embedded in your website.
In reality, SEO marketing is a set of good practices done consistently as prescribed by search engines. The prescription is not rocket science. In fact, with a little tinkering with your site, some research, and consistency, you can DIY these SEO practices.
Here’s a quick guide on some things we can do now to achieve better search rankings.
- Prioritize getting inbound links
We want our website to reach top positions in search engines especially in key words that matter to us. Next to putting up relevant and engaging content, soliciting inbound links is the most important thing we can do to build our website authority. Having more inbound links, also called off-page SEO, simply means getting other quality websites to link to our websites. The more inbound links from other credible sites we have, the more authoritative our sites will be. This results in higher ranking.
Here are some tips on how we can get more websites to link to us:
– If we are sponsoring events or similar activities, make sure that part of our sponsorship package includes a write up in the organizer’s websites, with a link back to our sites.
– When uploading something to YouTube, always put a link back to our site in the video description portion.
– Ask bloggers to write about you. Again, request for a back link.
A word of caution: There are certain entities that actually sell backlinks. Avoid these groups because chances are, Google already banned their websites and linking with them would only result in penalties that would harm your rankings.
- Keyword optimization as an on-page SEO tactic
While off-page SEO is important, we can’t forget about on-page SEO. This simply means deciding what key words we want to target and making sure that these are actually mentioned in the content of our sites. Here‚Äôs how you should do it:
– Pick a primary keyword for each page, and focus on optimizing that page for that word. If you oversaturate a page with too many keywords (also called keyword stuffing), the page will lose its importance and authority because search engines won’t have a clear idea of what the page is about. This is very common on homepages in particular, where too many keywords are used.
– Place your primary keywords in your headline and subheadline as these are the areas where content has greater weight among search engines.
– Include the keywords in the body content, but don’t use them out of context. Make sure they are relevant with the rest of your content.
– Include keywords in the file name of images (e.g. yourkeywords.jpg),or use them in the ALT tag.
- Don’t forget meta tags
A meta tag is a line of code that is contained in the background of a web page that search engines read to learn more about what a page is about. Search engines also use meta tags (titles and descriptions) to populate their listings and communicate to searchers what your site is about.
While Google said that its latest sets of algorithm changes no longer rely on meta tags, other search engines still use them. Bing (the search that powers Yahoo!), for instance, still crawls for meta tags.
Here is example of what meta tags look like in an HTML document:
Title: The title of the page seen at the top of a web browser, and also the main headline displayed in search engine results.
Meta Description: A concise description of the page.
- XML sitemap submission
An XML sitemap is simply an .xml file containing a listing of all your pages and when they were updated. This helps search engine crawlers find and index your webpages more efficiently. Creating a sitemap is easy. There are, for instance, a couple of sitemap generators online that will create the .xml file for you.
Once you have the XML file, simply upload it to the root directory of your website (e.g. www.yourwebsite.com/sitemap.xml). You also need to submit this .xml file to the Google and Bing webmaster tools. The uploaded xml files will give Google and Bing a set of instructions on how your website is built, allowing them to crawl its content better.
It’s also a good idea to update your .xml and upload and submit them at least once a month so search engines would know if there are changes in the sites.
These are just some things you can do. If you have other ideas you wish to share, feel free to comment below so others can also benefit from it.