It’s never been enough to simply build a website and wait for traffic to flow in. Creating a successful website requires effort on many fronts including planning, design, development, and marketing. Search Engine Optimization is a small piece of the puzzle that actually has a place in all four of the disciplines just mentioned.
I think the simplest way to explain some easy ways of boosting SEO for a new or existing website is to use a case study. We’ll use elizabethlinton.com, a website we created for a yoga teacher in Southern California. We determined that the set of keywords that would best increase her business was “yoga teacher in Orange County, California.”
Its obviously a different set of considerations to change the domain name of an existing website. This first recommendation is meant for new businesses/websites.
Short, memorable domain names are becoming rare, so choosing an effective domain can be an exercise in creativity. If you are starting a new business and haven’t yet decided on a business name, you might consider choosing a business name based at least in part on suitable domain names that are available.
This one is obvious but super important. If you’re trying to sell purple widgets, then purplewidgets.com is absolutely ideal since it contains your keyword “purple widgets” in the domain name itself. The same goes for location. If you are a dry cleaner in San Diego, then drycleanersandiego.com is gold. For our case study, that would mean something like elizabethlintonyoga.com or for a more extreme example: elizabethlintonyogaorangecounty.com. Of course, we can’t go too crazy. Try reading or remembering this one: holisticdoctorandaccupuncturistlosangeles.com? Yeah I didn’t think so. Readability, memorability, and length all need to be taken into account in addition to your keywords.
Finding a perfect domain can be overwhelming. I would recommend using a search tool such as domai.nr to help sort through the possibilities.
Possibly the best way besides a domain name to bump up your SEO is to use your main keyword in your title tags. Title tags are a piece of HTML code that tells search engines and browsers what a particular web page is all about. When you search for something in google, the title tags are what shows up in large, blue letters. So for our case study, our title tags are: Elizabeth Linton | Yoga Teacher in Orange County, CA. Now, when you search google for “elizabeth linton” you’ll find this:
If you are using WordPress, creating an XML sitemap is pretty easy. Download the WordPress SEO plugin by Yoast and get cracking. If you’re not using WordPress, this can be more challenging. I’d recommend following this tutorial. Same thing goes for meta descriptions, which are the snippets of text underneath your title tags. With the WordPress SEO plugin you can configure the descriptions for each page. Otherwise, you’ll have to manually create meta description in your header.
If your domain name, title tag, and site description all contain your keywords, it’s important that your content reflects this. Use your keywords in your page and blog post titles and throughout your content, but always in a natural way. But whatever you do, don’t oversaturate your writing with keywords. Keep it real. If you can, using your keywords in HTML tags like h1, h2, h3 and strong will also help them “weigh” more.
Another way Google determines how it ranks websites is based on how many other websites link to the site in question. So it’s important to link to your site by using your keyword in the anchor tag. On your own website, you might link to one of your pages by using something like
<a href="http://yourdomain.com/thispage">keywords go here</a>. This is a lot better than using
<a href="http://yourdomain.com/thispage">click here</a> since the actual text inside the anchor link is important to Google. The same applies when you are linking to your website from other places across the web.