When it comes to search engine optimization for a new website, some businesses can be intimidated due to the amount of information out there. And often, if they don’t have the help of an experienced in-house SEO or consultant, they will do nothing.
Today, we’re going to look at some easy things you can do to start your website’s SEO on the right foot – even if you can’t hire a professional to help you out
1. On-Site SEO Basics
Some of the most important elements for search engine optimization happen on your own website. You may hear a lot about link building (which we will get to in just a moment), but link building without good on-site search optimization isn’t going to be as effective. Here are the bare minimum on-site optimization elements you should put on each of your website’s main pages, including and especially the homepage.
The Golden Rule of On-Site Optimization
Before we get started, one thing you want to keep in mind when using any of the following SEO elements is not to overdo it. You might be tempted to shove a lot of keywords onto your pages, but that is not the goal. In fact, Google has unleashed an over-optimization penalty that targets websites that have too many keywords stuffed onto one page. So when it comes to keyword optimization, keep it simple – think of up to five keywords or keyword phrases for each page on your website and optimize for those.
If you’re not sure what keywords to use, try entering some preliminary ideas on Google’s AdWords Keyword Tool to get suggestions. Or, if you really want to get into the keyword research process, check out the Guide to Keyword Research – Part I and Part II.
The title tag on pages of your website tells search engines what the page is about. It should be 70 characters or less and include your business or brand name and keywords that relate to that specific page only. This tag is placed between the <HEAD> </HEAD> tags near the top of the HTML code for the page.
The meta description on pages of your website gives search engines a little more insight into what your page is about. There is still debate about whether meta descriptions can help with keyword rankings. Regardless, you want to write your meta description with a human audience in mind that includes the page’s main keywords, as the meta description does show up in search results.
How the Title Tag & Meta Description Looks in Search Results
The above image shows how the title tag and meta description shows up in Google search results. You can see that the keywords searched by a user (in this case, the keyword was KISSmetrics) are bolded by Google in both the title tag and the meta description. This is why you have to use your business or brand name and keywords in both the title and meta description – it helps your search results stand out to the searcher when they are searching those terms.
If you use WordPress on your own domain, you are in luck. Adding title tags and meta descriptions to your pages is easy using free plugins such as All in One SEO, Platinum SEO, and SEO by Yoast. You can also get SEO suggestions by using premium plugins such as Scribe SEO.