In life, there are no quick fixes. Permanent ones, anyway. No matter what your goal – from weight loss to an increase in sales – progress and lasting results take a lot of time and a lot of hard work. Some companies have to push for years and spend a lot of money to see the kind of results they are searching for. That being said, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a simple step, right? Why not start with learning how to improve your website SEO?
Working to improve your full SEO strategy so that it starts working for you is a long and arduous process. The last agency I worked for usually warned its clients that it would take up to 6 months to start seeing results. And even still, that didn’t always work. SEO is one of those huge ideas that is hard to tackle until you can learn how to break it down into small, bite-sized pieces. If you can systematize your SEO efforts, those 6 months will fly by and you’ll begin seeing results quicker than you thought.
There are certain SEO tasks I perform for each of my web design clients that are worked into the price of my services. They are simple and for one site, can be performed in just an afternoon. They will by no means shoot the site to the #1 spot on Google. They may not shift the rankings at all. But they are absolutely essential places to start. Without this foundation, you cannot hope to begin to rise your site through the ranks. And the best part – they require NO pre-existing code and NO technical skill or knowledge at all! Understanding Google and your website structure will help, but these tasks can be performed by pretty much anyone.
(It should be noted that I build all my sites with WordPress and I highly suggest you do, too. This guide is assuming you have your site built with WordPress. It truly is the best way to build a site with strong SEO.)
They are almost all on-page SEO tasks. According to Moz.com:
“On-page SEO is the practice of optimizing individual web pages in order to rank higher and earn more relevant traffic in search engines. On-page refers to both the content and HTML source code of a page that can be optimized, as opposed to off-page SEO which refers to links and other external signals.”
If that sounds confusing, it won’t in just a few seconds. Basically, it means that on-page SEO has to do with the content and code on the actual site. Off-page SEO has to do with how other sites treat yours.
So let’s get started!
Step 1 to On-Page SEO: Install the All in One SEO Pack
As I said above, you should be working with WordPress. It’s one of the strongest SEO tools you can have in your arsenal as it does so much of the work for you already.
Make sure that after logging in, you go to Settings > Reading and make sure that “Discourage search engines from indexing this site” is NOT checked off. So many sites wonder why their sites are doing so poorly and they have this option chosen the whole time.
Now go to Plugins > Add New and search for All In One SEO Pack.
Install and Activate it. In the left sidebar, you should see it appear at the top.\
Step 2 to On-Page SEO: Titles and Meta Descriptions
Now, when you go to Pages in WordPress, each one of your pages should have some extra fields: SEO Title and SEO Description. In these fields, you want to add… you guessed it… titles and descriptions! These should follow the following guidelines:
- No two should be the same
- They should naturally contain keywords you wish to rank for, but not be forced
- They should be relevant to the content on that page
- They should contain properly spelling, grammar, and punctuation
- Titles should be no longer than 60 characters
- Descriptions should be no longer than 160 characters
Make sure all of these are updated for each and every page. These will not only give search engines vital information about each page and your website as a whole, but they show searchers/potential site visitors what your site is about. If you go to the edit screen for your page, you should see an example down at the bottom of what your title and description will look like on a search engine:
Step 3 to On-Page SEO: Robots.Txt and Your XML Sitemap
Let’s go back to the black bar where your All in One SEO plugin link is located. Beneath it, click Feature Manager and activate XML Sitemap and Robots.txt.
They should both appear at the top above Feature Manager. Now click XML Sitemap in the black bar.
Adjust only these settings so they look like this:
Make sure to select Update Sitemap at the bottom. We are almost done!
Step 4 to On-Page SEO: ALT Tags
When search engines crawl your site, they crawl your images, too. They want to know that your website is organized neatly and that everything you post is of relevance. Afterall, it’s Google’s main goal to only show the best results possible for every search. A great way to accomplish this is by editing all of your ALT tags on your images. But what’s an ALT tag?
The term “ALT tag” is a common shorthand term used to refer to the ALTattribute within in the IMG tag. Any time you use an image, be sure to include anALT tag or ALT text within the IMG tag. Doing so will provide a clear text alternative of the image for screen reader users. (Accessability and Usability at Penn State)
ALT tags also prove to Google that each image is organized, filed a certain way, and is about a certain topic. You can very easily edit your ALT tags through WordPress.
Go to Media and click on an image. On the right, you should see a field titled “Alt Text”. Figure out which page that image goes on. The keyword you want that page to rank for should go in that field. You can use the same keyword for multiple images. Every single image should have an ALT tag. Depending on the number of images on your site, this can be time-consuming. If you are short on time, only edit ALT tags for images that go on landing pages, etc. Maybe skip images for galleries or products and come back to them later.
Step 5 to On-Page SEO: Submit Your Sitemap
Earlier, we set up your XML Sitemap. A Sitemap is just a list of all the pages on your website. With the All in One SEO Plugin, you can automatically generate it and view it at (your website)/sitemap.xml. For instance, mine can be seen at http://allienimmonscreative.com/sitemap.xml
A sitemap is important because it makes Google’s job easier. Instead of having to visit each page on your site in order to index it, Google just has to look at your sitemap. But generating your sitemap isn’t enough. You have to test it and submit it to Google. The only thing you need in order to do this is a gmail account and the log in information to your hosting account, which you should have anyway.
After logging into your gmail account, go here to the Google Search Console. Click Add a Property. Enter the URL of your website, then Add. It will ask you to Verify your ownership of the website. This is where you will use your hosting credentials. Once that’s done, your site will pop up. Click on it, then click on the area that says Sitemaps. Next, click Add/Test Sitemaps and enter the suffix you used – sitemap.xml. View it to make sure there are no errors, then Submit it. (If there are any errors, you should get a message about what went wrong. You may need a developer to troubleshoot.)
And there you have it! All these activities should take you just an afternoon to complete and you’ll be on your way to a strong SEO start. If you’re interested in more SEO solutions, visit check out my other SEO-based blog posts.