When I first dove headfirst into the world of web design, I was SO confused about SEO. What does it mean? What does it do? Can you get by in this industry without it?
The answer is no, no you can’t. It’s important! But it’s not AS complicated as we first may think. Fear not, my fellow creative brained friend. I am here to walk you through it.
What does it mean?
Search Engine Optimization. Sounds kinda scary if you’re not a techy person, yeah? Well, it can be, but I will make it much less complicated for you.
Search Engines are the platforms we use to find things on the internet, like Google & Bing. They search through information on the web and rank it in a specific order for the user who is browsing. The order that it shows up is determined by how well your SEO is set up and working for you.
Optimization is exactly as it sounds: “the action of making the best or most effective use of a situation or resource” so you need to optimise your place in the search engine, and doing that is called SEO (or not doing it, a lack of SEO).
How does it work?
To gain good SEO or a decent place in the search engine, you need to harness a bunch of best practices, which should be initially implemented by your web developer/designer.
Google sends things called ‘bots’ or ‘web crawlers’ across the web to search for content, and once your website is launched, you will eventually be found. Your website will (hopefully) have it’s sitemap submitted to Google Search Console once launched which makes this process faster & smoother.
Over time, all of this crawling will collect data on your website, and if you’ve had great SEO implemented into the bones of your website, and you continue to add to that SEO on your own, eventually, you’ll rank well on Google. But it’s not as simple as once and done, it takes work.
How can I make it work for me?
There are a few main elements you need on your website, to begin with the best SEO bones. Most of these things SHOULD be covered by your web dev/designer, but you can also hire an SEO specialist for this (though you shouldn’t need to invest in this if it’s implemented correctly in the first place).
These things include:
- SSL Certificate: Secure Socket Layer.
Ever notice the little lock on the top left of a web URL? That means it’s a secure site. If your web developer is on the money, they will include an SSL certificate in your hosting. This needs to be renewed regularly, and it’s basically encryption so that hackers can’t intercept any data.
What does this mean for SEO? Well, if you were equal in all regards to another website, other than the SSL certificate, the person who has the SSL certificate would rank higher. Every one of my clients gets an SSL certificate with their hosting plan.
- A great Home page.
When you’re having your website built, your web designer/developer should ask you many many questions during their intake forms that help them to understand your offering and industry. This knowledge will help them to build you a homepage that clarifies who you are, what you do, and where you’re located (if you’re an IRL business).
Google ranks Homepages best who offer quality over quantity of information. Don’t give in to the urge to go overboard, clear, considered and concise information will not only keep people interested, but it will rank best for SEO.
- UX (User Experience).
Another important element of a successful website, which ranks well, is the UX. Any good web developer will implement best practices, and test your website before launch to get an understanding of load time, bounce rate, etc.
Continuing to check your analytics will help you to understand the journey of your users and amplify their UX. Things like time on page, time on the website, links that are clicked most frequently will help you to understand what works and what doesn’t.
- Image Optimisation.
When uploading images to your website it is crucial that you are optimising them beforehand. The optimisation includes images size, file names & alt text. Naming your images with very clear descriptions of what they are ranks best for SEO. eg. “person-holding-out-index-finger.jpg” rather than “finger.jpg” will do much better with SEO.
You’d be surprised how many people upload images like ‘12874680.jpg’ – please, don’t be like these people.
- Optimization for Mobile.
Did you know that 60% of Google searches are made on a mobile device? Optimisation & design for Mobile is just, if not more, important for your SEO and for good UX. To put it simply, if your website isn’t optimised for good Mobile UX, people will just move on to a different site. Your web developer is responsible for ensuring this is implemented before launch.
- Meta Descriptions (& Page Titles).
These are the descriptions that you see on Google when you’ve searched for a page, under the link/page title. Your web developer should implement keywords and catchy meta descriptions into each page of your website before launch to ensure that your page is clicked on above others. This is just, if not more, important than what’s actually on the page.
- Pages that matter.
When you’re thinking about what you want to have on your website, it’s best to keep it simple. Don’t add pages that are unnecessary or repetitive. Choose quality over quantity, always. To rank well with SEO you need good content that serves a purpose for the user.
- H1 titles
These are the titles that your web designer/developer tags within the website as the main headings for each page. The search engines use them to understand the context of the pages. Ensuring your H1 titles makes sense, and are appropriate for the content of that page, is essential for good SEO.
How long does it take?
Ok so now that you understand the basics of what makes up the bones of a website with good SEO, how long does it actually take? Well, if you’ve got a brand new domain name, and a brand new website, it could take anywhere from 2-6 months for your website to start ranking on Google, and that’s WITH good SEO.
If you haven’t implemented any of the above SEO, it could take even longer than that. Remember, this is about little tech bots crawling around and gathering data to index on Google. This isn’t done overnight! But don’t stress, if you keep at it, and work on building your online presence continually, you’ll get there soon!
What else can I do?
There are many ways you can continue your SEO journey and add to your ranking position as much as possible. Here are some easy ways to do so yourself:
These are the links that lead back to your website, from other sites. Consider this a ‘vote of confidence from another website, they’re saying ‘we trust this site, have a look at it’. Google bots will take note of this.
A great way to get backlinks is to offer free blog content for others, ask to be featured on another site, do a giveaway, be a guest on a podcast, there are SO many ways that you can gain backlinks that are legitimate and will build a great community around your business. Traffic from places other than Google will do wonders for your SEO.
- Blog Posts with Keywords:
One of the things that I implement into my web builds is a few blog posts for each client. This is to ensure that when the site is launched, they have something to show for SEO, but also because the people that visit want to read what you have to say, give them what they want!
Posting blogs on your site is one of the best things you can do for your SEO, use keywords for your industry, write catchy and obvious titles (like this one!) that will entice people to click and read. Offer free advice (like this), your viewers will be stoked and before you know it, you will become a trusted source of knowledge in your industry.
Was this a lot to take in? I hope not. While SEO can sound tech-y and complicated, it’s not something you want to completely palm off to someone else. Just know that if you’ve hired the right web developer, most of the main stuff will be covered already. What you can do from there, is continue to enhance your SEO on your own, and hopefully, in a few months, you’ll start seeing some progress!