How to Optimize Your Website + Blog for Search Engines
When I started Meraki Leigh Digital, optimizing my site using SEO basics was high on my to-do list. But to be honest, it kept getting pushed further and further down the to-do list as I started getting clients. I knew that without a blog, organic traffic to my site was going to take time. So in my mind, search engine optimization wasn't very important.
Learn from my mistakes. That was the wrong choice.
Instead of optimizing my site for search engines, I spent the first four months promoting my services in Facebook groups to get my business in front of people who may need those services. While this method is proven to work (and has for me), it takes a lot of time and effort. A LOT.
When I look at the future of Meraki Leigh Digital, I don't see myself having to hunt for clients. I don't see myself (nor do I want to be) spending hours in Facebook groups promoting my services in hopes that my message gets read by someone who needs my services and that I want to work with.
Instead, when I look at the future of Meraki Leigh Digital, I see this blog sending organic traffic to my site. I see people who are searching for help in Google finding one of my blog posts relevant and then reaching out for my services. This all is possible because I took the time to put SEO basics back on the top of my to-do list.
So what are those SEO basics, you ask? Will these SEO basics help you if you don't have a blog? Yes, the answer is most definitely yes. Read on.
One of the first things any person who specializes in SEO will tell you is to use keywords.
Keywords can single handedly determine whether or not Google ranks your website high for a specific search topic.
Let's say you provide accounting services for digital nomads. Keywords and keyword phrases you would want to include on your website would be "accounting services" and "digital nomads." If you didn't include these words anywhere on your site, would you expect people to find you with a Google search of "accounting services for digital nomads?" The correct answer is no.
Where to use keywords
Now are you thinking, "that's great but where exactly do I use these keywords?"
Page URLs (see SEO basic point #2 below)
Links (internal or external links throughout your body copy)
Use these keyword(s) everywhere and often. But, don't overdo it... no one wants to land on a website and see "accounting services for digital nomads," "accounting services for digital nomads," "accounting services for digital nomads" over and over and over again. It's a fine line but I have confidence that you can master it.
An Activity For You
Write down five keywords that you believe people would enter into search engines to find the product or services you provide
Browse through your website and look for each of those keywords
Did you find them? Great! Pat yourself on the back because you can check keywords off of the SEO basics list
If you didn't find them, do yourself and your website a huge favor and start editing that copy!
2. Page URL Structure
SEO-friendly URLs are important for being found in search. As I mentioned above, you should always try to include your keyword(s) or keyword phrase in your URL. Try to keep it short though and relate it to the content on that specific page; 2-3 words max unless it's completely necessary to have it longer.
Use "https" not "http"
This is basically a fancy way of showing that you have an SSL certificate. Without an SSL certificate you can't accept payment information because your website isn't considered secure. Even if you aren't accepting payments for products or services on your website, you still should get the SSL certificate because it's seen as positive by Google. Google will rank a "https" website over an "http" website so do yourself a favor and take the necessary steps to get that "s" added to your URL!
AN ACTIVITY FOR YOU
Browse through your website and take note of every URL
Separate the URLs into two categories
Category 1: Horray, SEO-friendly!
Category 2: This could use some work...
Focus on the "This could use some work..." category and complete the following
Look over the page and determine the keyword(s) for that page
Update the URL to include those keyword(s)
Add in a URL redirect if needed (this is based off of your web platform and how they handle URL changes)
3. XML Sitemap
Most websites have at least 5 pages but if you sell products, you know that a website could have upwards of 100 pages. (If your website doesn't have at least five pages, it should! Make sure you have these pages for optimal site performance: home, about, services, testimonials, and contact.)
You want Google to be able to find not only your website, but also your webpages and XML sitemaps help with that. Think of an XML sitemap as a blueprint that search engines use to easily locate the pages and content on your site.
How to find your sitemap
If you're using Squarespace you can easily find your sitemap by adding "/sitemap.xml" to the end of your domain.
If you're using WordPress, I recommend using the Yoast SEO plugin and following these steps to set up your sitemap.
After you have created or located your sitemap, don't forget to submit the sitemap to the most popular search engines: Google and Bing!
Now that you have an overview of a few key SEO basics, try them out and see how they affect your organic traffic!