Written by Contributor: Lisa Day
There’s a joke that is apparently going around on the Internet: “The best place to hide a dead body is page two of Google search results.”
While funny, the joke also stresses the importance of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) in order for your website to be noticed by Google, which accounts for almost 75 per cent of all Internet searches, as well as other search engines including Bing and Yahoo, among others.
So what is SEO?
SEO is what people can do to ensure their website or blog appears on that first page of Google and in front of the most amount of readers.
There are many ways to make your website or blog SEO-friendly. However, Google and other search engines are constantly changing their algorithms so it's important for marketers and entrepreneurs to constantly be aware of changes that could potentially effect the way search engines rank content.
7 ways to create a SEO-friendly website or blog
1. Quality content
Great content is the best way to optimize your website or blog. Regardless of rule changes, search engines pick up blogs and websites that provide well-written, reliable, and informative content that readers are looking for. Website content should be updated frequently, which is often why people choose to include a blog on their site, giving their readers something new to look at, while offering more content for search engines.
Keywords, words, or phrases that tell readers what your blog post or website is about, are also important for SEO.
There was a time when people would write a blog post, for example, and insert the keywords in as as often as possible. This was known as keyword stuffing. Google now penalizes websites that do this. Instead, people should research their keywords, usually one or two words long, as well as long-tailed keywords, those that contain three or more words, and write their blog post or web page so those words appear organically within the content. Often keywords need to be only mentioned once as long as other aspects of the web page or blog post – i.e. headlines, where it is particularly important, and photo captions – contains the words or phrases.
How do you find keywords? There are many companies that offer paid keyword searches, but for small business owners there are a number of free sites.
Content creators can use Google itself to find keywords. First figure out what your reader is looking for when they use a search engine. Type in that word, then Google will create a list of phrases associated to the search.
Backlinks are urls that link back to a web page on your site. These links should provide further quality information. Your blog and web page should also provide quality links to outside, reputable organizations in the same way you want other websites to link to your site. Wikipedia entries that link to your site are also ranked well with Google. The links should, most importantly, work and provide further reliable information to whatever topic you are discussing.
Permalinks are the permanent url associated with a blog post or website page. Permalinks should be short and obvious, letting people know immediately what the page or blog post is about. Permalinks with numbers and the title of your post are ranked lower in search engines.
Metadata, or a snippet in WordPress, are the words that are pulled into a Google description, for example. According to Yoast, metadata descriptions of your blog post or web page should be written in an active voice and include keywords.
6. Alt tags
Alt tags, or alt text, are used to describe what's happening in an image on your website or blog. Using a screen reader, blind or visually impaired people are able to hear what an image looks like provided you fill in the alt tag. Search engines like alt tags, too. According to Yoast, Google “places a relatively high value on alt text to determine not only what is on the imagine, but also the topic of the surrounding text.” It means alt tags are a good place to use your keywords. When using an alt tag to describe a picture, make you are being as descriptive as possible and don't use the words “picture of” or “image of.”
How long it takes for a page to load is also used for SEO. If a site takes too long to load and users leave, Google and other search engines penalize you. People should also ensure their sites are mobile-friendly, meaning people – and Google – can access it quickly and easily.
There are many ways to optimize your website or blog in order to rank on the first page of search engines, including Google. In fact, Backlinko has listed 200 of them here. But the best way to ensure your blog or website is SEO-friendly is to create amazing content that people will want to read and share.
Lisa Day has more than 20 years’ experience in both traditional and digital journalism. She is a blogger at Book Time and Follow Summer, content creator, storyteller, social media specialist and communication professional. Lisa can be reached at thisandthatday[@]gmail.com.