If you’ve just created a website for your business then from this moment on, SEO is your new “frenemy”. It’s going to be your new best friend and your new worst enemy. SEO stands for search engine optimization. The aim of any SEO effort is to get your webpages to rank in the SERPs (search engine results page) when a person enters a certain query in a search engine’s search box.
For example, say you run an online shop specializing in weight loss supplements and at the same time, you give away weight loss tips. When a person types “weight loss tips” in Google’s search bar, you want your website to show in Google’s first page of results. Achieving top rankings in the SERPs means that your website is exposed to the maximum number of people and potential customers.
Unfortunately, search engine optimization is not as easy as many new website owners assume. It’s not as simple as setting up a good looking website and investing in quality content. Online, you are competing with thousands of website owners for the top rankings in the search engines. In addition to that, there is the issue of keeping the search engines happy and checking all the boxes when it comes to the maze of increasingly complicated ranking signals that determine whether or not your pages get ranked in the SERPs.
The Basic 5 Rules of SEO for New Website Owners
1. Make your Website Crawlable
This is the first rule of search engine optimization. To understand the significance of making a website crawlable, you will need to go into the details of how the ranking and evaluation process of the search engines works, how websites are crawled and analyzed and how indexing works. Basically, the search engines including Google have automated programs called bots that visit and keep copies of the content on different websites in the search engine’s index.
Given the volume of information shared and published over the web, these indexes are huge databases from which the search engines pull up specific pages when a particular query is entered in the search engine’s search bar. The process of bots travelling through websites indexing information is called crawling.
If your website is crawlable, all your pages will be indexed. If your website is complicated to explore due to broken links or hidden content then some content cannot be copied and stored and will not show up in the SERPs for the simple reason that this content does not exist in the search engine’s database and cannot be retrieved.
2. Research Both Industry and Branded Keywords for SEO
The next thing on the menu: keywords. SEO relies heavily on the use of “keywords” by website owners in the information published on websites. In the world of SEO, keywords are specific search queries that you want your website to rank for in the organic search results.
Again we refer back to the indexing methodology of Google and the other search engines. To determine whether a specific webpage is relevant to a certain query, the search engine uses a number of arbitrary signals to assess relevance. One of these signals is the presence of certain keywords on a webpage.
Using the same example as above, say you want your website to rank for the keyword phrase “weight loss tips for women”. To increase the chances of that happening, you need to place that keyword in certain key areas of your website including the body of a specific blog post and in your title and headline tag. It is also important to remember that excessive use of these keywords are also not recommended.
3. Choose your Keywords Based on Certain Metrics
In addition to focusing on both industry and branded keywords to increase the chances of your webpages ranking in the SERPs for specific search phrases, you also want to choose your keywords based on certain metrics:
- Search volume
- Search intent
Once you have all these data, you can then short list 10-15 keywords for which you want your website to rank. Make sure to target long-tail keywords as well and incorporate them into your site based on on-site SEO practices such as those discussed above.
4. Create Smart Content
The final rule of SEO is the creation of smart content for your site. The advantages of investing in quality content are multiple including:
- Good branded content gets shared and is a link-building opportunity
- Content on your website allows you to rank for a number of keywords
- Good content can go viral on the social sites increasing your business reach and impact
5. Link Building is a Priority
Another SEO rule new website owners should be mindful of is link-building. Post the Google Penguin updates in the last couple of years, for search engine optimization, both the number and the quality of the links pointing to your site matter a great deal in the overall performance of your site in the SERPs. A few good link-building practices are:
- Consider being open to the concept of guest blogging. Write guest posts on other blogs and accept contributions from others on your blog.
- Connect with sites that review products relevant to your industry
- Invest in press releases to a few major news services
- Add your site to any business directory relevant to your industry
I hope these points help you get started the right way. I would also like you to remember that SEO is not a one-time activity which you can do and forget. You need to continuously work on all the above points (and more as your site grows) for it to be effective and bring your site up in the search results.