How To Do SEO Yourself
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization.
That is it, optimizing your site for the search engines to crawl and list in the SERP's(Search Engine Result Pages).
SEO is not "link building" and running around leaving comment spam. That can hurt you if anything.
I see a lot of confusion and old tactics online regarding getting better Google Ranks and even people being taken advantage of by website designers and SEO Consultants.
That stops here, I'll show you how to do it yourself, SEO for free. Keep reading.
SEO Begins With Website Development
Do not let someone sell you a website and then talk about SEO Services separately or recommend you to a SEO Company. A properly built website is optimized for search engine bots to crawl. There are no ifs ands or buts about it. If a web designer can not guarantee you that the site and framework they are going to offer you is as optimized as it can be, stay away.
Ask to see several examples of their previous work. Websites that the developer themselves worked on from start to finish and run them through these few SEO tools. Again, a good developer is an SEO Consultant too because it's all about the underlying framework.
Speaking of "framework". It is a very common practice for a "web designer" to charge you a LOT of money, however they themselves are just using existing WordPress Themes that they bought and recycle. The only difference is they switch out a few images and call it your custom site. I suppose that's fine and all but when you're paying that much for a theme, why not buy it yourself?
Genesis is the most common used framework and honestly the best theme for SEO. Read about it there and how it helped improve all of my sites in Google. Photos included. Actually, Matt Cutts from Google's SEO Team uses it, so that should say something.
Choose The Right Hosting Plan And Platform
Hosting has a huge influence on SEO because it can hinder your ability to make edits to your code or slow your site down.
What do I mean by make edits? Some hosting plans and "site builders" like Wix, Square Space, Page Builder and so on can be really bad for SEO and may make it seem like it's easy to build a website but they do not give you full control. Listen to these SEO Experts trash it for a good reason. If you are buying a website from a developer and they use some drag and drop builder like this, huge red flag. Abort mission! Move on to someone else or like I mentioned before, just go buy a Genesis Theme.
There are many host out there but I truly recommend BlueHost over GoDaddy. For so many reasons.
WordPress Is Top Dog
Again, like I said you need the right hosting and platform. WordPress is top dog in the market because it works, has countless helpful plug-ins that do anything you want, it's easy to "design" in and very easy to use. Anyone who's never done anything web related can open it up and write a new article. Trust.
Genesis Is Search Engine Optimized
I know I mentioned this above but it is key that your WordPress Theme be SEO pimped out. Genesis takes advantage of clean properly coded back-end. It is built in the newest HTML5 / CSS3 and very HTML Structured Data heavy and this helps your sites tons. It is optimized, loads fast and again, easy to use. Undeniably needed when it comes to having a fast mobile friendly optimized site.
Link Building Is Bad For SEO
Yes, that's right. Do NOT "Link Build". How on earth can one possibly think that Google will reward them for spamming their link all over the internet? If you are running around comment spamming you have surely done more harm to your site than good. Never buy such services from an SEO Company as it is just a scam.
When Google said inbound links are a positive sign, they meant actual real other websites linking to you from within the article. Not you yourself comment spamming. You're insane if you think that will work.
Many many sites have tanked hard since the Penguin algorithm launched because that was their strategy, spamming around the internet, buying links, using fake rings of sites to link around, etc. This is known as "Black Hat SEO" and a violation of Google's policy. They're not going to tell you to stop. They will just throw you way down in the search results pages and you'll never know why you can't do any better.
I assure you the best way to get links is to forget about them all together and focus on what you are writing. Trying to "build" is considered gaming the system or cheating and they are going after cheaters. You do not deserve better SERP's because you can spam. Write good content and enjoy the benefits. In fact, after reading this article you may be so inclined to share it with a friend or link to it from your site.
Also do not use online directories. Google has realized people use them to spam their links and that humans don't even use them at all. Meaning they are now worthless and of no point other than trying to game the system. This video with Matt Cutts is a year old and he even admits they have ways of detecting this. Surely now they are penalizing it as they know it's just black hat spammers.
Comments Can Be Bad For SEO
Do you approve any ole comment on your blog thinking it is good for your site? That rumor is going around, that comments are good for you. But when you use your head, you realize that every comment is counted as "content" on your page because you did approve of it and you are letting some pretty low quality links hang out on your site. If you write an article and someone post a comment that just says "good job" or "nice one" then ask yourself, what is that adding to your site that could benefit your users? Nothing. It is worthless content and when you have 50 of those, it distracts from your main content by watering it all down and will indeed bring you down. John Muller himself mentions this here. I am debating removing comments all together from all of my sites and as you can see there are none here.
Another thing is sometimes a comment is long and helpful and that writer is just trying to get their link out there so they leave the same comment on like 25 sites. You now have "duplicate content". I run a search on a lengthy comment before approving it to make sure it's not all over the web already. And one more thing, I edit user comments and correct spelling and punctuation as that is important too.
Splash Pages Are Bad For SEO
What is a splash page you ask?
A splash page is a kind of intro page. These pages generally contain nothing valuable and just have an "Enter Now" like button. People with poor user design experience think they are the bee's knees and all kinds of cute. But one more click for the user is one more chance of losing them. It's not just the user, the Google Bot has to deal with this worthless page as well and because your home page is supposed to be the heaviest weighted page on your site, it is now just an Enter Here image making it essentially content-less. This is a massive waste.
So if you have a splash page, get rid of it now and get your home page there where it should be.
A Blog Can Be Bad For SEO
There is a common myth going around that a blog is good for SEO. But the people who fall for this don't usually understand what that even means or what SEO even is.
Let's take a look at this statement and see how a blog can be good and bad for your search engine rankings.
Let's say you have a small business and you have a solid 5 pages that are required for your customers to know about you. Such as a home page, prices page, product page, about page, contact page. Let's pretend that's all you need. Maybe you need a few more or even less but let's stop there.
We'll assume these pages are as optimized as they can be with your information and keywords. A blog can't possibly help them get any more optimized.
What Can A Blog Do For SEO?
I'm going to say honestly nothing. Sure a WordPress Blog with a Theme like Genesis can be highly optimized framework but it's all about the content you offer in your blog. If your business only needs 5 pages, what are you going to write about? Is it going to be pertinent to your existing pages that you want your customers to land on? Or is it going to be off topic fluff and confuse search engine crawler bots as to what the main idea of your site is about? It's possible you have many blog post that only contain a few paragraphs and some photos. This would be considered "thin content" and does it really help a user when they land on that page? No, of course not.
Here's what I'm saying. If you have a blog, it has to be very on topic towards your main 5 pages and the content has to be unique, lengthy and helpful to someone searching for your business. Each article has to be unique and you can not use the same keywords over and over in each post. If you're a local brick and mortar type business you wouldn't want 50 pages containing the same keywords such as "product - city" because it's duplication and spammy to the crawlers. You also don't even want to rank those pages for that. You would really want your product or price page to rank for those keywords so you're essentially watering down your site and distracting from your important landing pages with a useless spammy keyword laced blog.
So let's say you do have some stuff to write about that will be helpful to your users, that's fine, you should do it. It won't "increase your SEO" but it will add more content to your site and increase your odds of showing up for a search for whatever terms that blog post is about. However, it really has to be unique to your site and helpful to the customer. In this case you can get more traffic because you have more eggs in the basket. But you can't simply go adding content for no reason just because someone once told you a rumor that fresh content is better for SEO. Listen to John Muller from Google explain this here. Do not add pointless content for the sake of adding content. If there isn't a real reason and you can't add lengthy articles that are directly related to your 5 main pages, it can only detract from those pages and thin out your website with junk. So in this case, it would be bad for SEO on your main pages and in no case can it help optimize those main pages more.
What Can I Blog About To Increase Traffic?
Your mom. So as stated, blogging will not "increase your SEO" but it can get more traffic if done right. But will it be related? If you can't write authentic content on your site, maybe you can stray from it and write about things in your city to attract local customers. An example, if you are a wedding photographer, maybe 10 best places to get married in so and so city, best parks for weddings in state. If you are a construction site maybe local city law affects building permits. But this is going to be up to you think long and hard about. I still must stress no thin post, no photo only post, no duplicate title post, no post that are going to detract from or compete with your main converting landing pages, etc. I hope you get it by now and realize a blog can do more harm than good without following these guidelines. In95% of cases an actual brick and mortar local customer hunting business should not have a blog. Even if you think of a handful of actual helpful articles like I suggested above, then just treat them as pages and add them to your site without acting like some unprofessional thin content posting mommy blogger.
Blogging For Money
Let's say there isn't anything you can write about that will get you local traffic and possible customers. Maybe instead you want to write a post about wedding registry or gifts or something. You can write semi unrelated stuff that will not get local customers but may still get popular online. What do you do with all of this traffic that will never come into your brick and mortar store? You monetize it. You can still use Google Ads and Amazon Associates to get money from the unrelated traffic.
Best Way To Increase Traffic
Here's what SEO really is, optimizing you site for the crawler bots to know what's going on. There are a few HTML tags that carry most of your pages information explained below.
Title Tag Tips
The Title Tag is in the Meta Information and is the most important part of your page in regards to ranking. The title tag should contain your most important keyword but also be readable in a human form. You do not want keyword keyword keyword keyword. You want a sentence containing the keywords that will entice a human to click on it. Remember, when you're searching for something, you click on relevance, not keyword stuffing.
Bad Title Tags:
Home - Business Name
Your Name Company or something no one would ever search for
City 1, City 2, City 3, City 4, Keyword
Keyword keyword keyword keyword
META Description Tips
The META Description is just as important as the title when it comes to reading like a human and containing your keyword phrases. Again, do not stuff or spam in here. The bots know and the humans don't click jibberish. Google is so smart now that if someone searches "sneaking beer on a train" it will bold other keywords like plane, alcohol, sneaky and so on. So you don't have to use every version of your keyword, you just have to make it enticing for a human to click on.
This is what your site will look like in Google based on the title and description.
So you want to write things that will improve your click through rate. This is another key factor, Google plays around and moves things up and down and notices the CTR. If your site is displayed in the results, yet has a low click rate, then Google is going to stop showing you and move you down the chain. So a good title is very important to your sites ranks.
I'm actually always changing titles around to see what fits best. A good trick to check all of your titles and descriptions at once is to search Google like this. Obviously you would replace my site with yours. site:stickystatic.com.
This helps you get an overall look at your titles and fix them one at a time. It will also help you see if you have a bunch of junk cluttered in there that needs to be no indexed such as tags and categories. Make sure you get to the last page and click on show omitted results. Most stuff in there you must get removed somehow, more on that later.
Image ALT Tags
Every single image on your site should have an alt tag. The tags should describe the image and again not be keyword spammy. If your image is of a red convertible, the alt should read red convertible car or something. Not buy cars online. ALT tags are actually originally for screen readers to explain to a blind person what the image is of but it is no secret the Google Bot is blind and needs these to know what an image is about.
Header tags come in multiple levels of importance. The H1 Tag is the heaviest weighted tag and should read something like or very similar to your Title Tag. You can only place one H1 tag per page so use it wisely. H2 tags can be in multiple places per page but should also highlight sections and be related to the main content without duplicating words. This article is long so as you can see it has many H2's. You can also use H3's and so on.
If you make use of these few tags to the fullest, it's the best thing you can do for your sites ranking. A few other things like make sure you optimize all images and served them scaled to size. Now Google holds page speed as a high regard and of course mobile ready sites get a boost. But it all starts here.
Local SEO Services
It is very important that you fill out a Google Business Page if you are a local store front. When people search for local business those listings always show up first and you do not stand a chance if you're not listed there. Local SEO is important.
How To Remove Duplicate Content
By now you know you want all titles to be unique but you also want to remove duplicate pages and most omitted results. If you use WordPress it is likely that when you ran the site:site.com search on Google you saw tons of worthless pages like /tag/keyword/ and /category/link/. These pages are essentially all the same and repeating themselves. You shouldn't be using tags, it's keyword stuffing and of no help to the user. It also creates a bunch of janky links on your page and dilutes things. Categories are fine but should be noindexed.
I'm not even going to get into that here because I already wrote an article about Robots.txt, blocked files, blocked resources and how to noindex junk pages here.
Track Your Search Rankings
Google Webmaster Tools actually makes it easy to see your progress and will even show you what page you're showing up on in searches. This is neat because after you do your first site rework, sit back and wait a month. You'll see things slowly moving up the ranks. Changes can take a while though. If you redid all of your pages tonight, Google still has to crawl them and start experimenting with rankings so be patient. I personally check every day. I go to Search Traffic, then Search Queries, then hit Top Pages, click With Change then sort by Impressions and keep a close eye on this data. You start to get a feel for what's normal for your site and can easily see progress. You can also see when a page tanks out of nowhere and easily troubleshoot it or track back on any changes you made. I keep a text log of any major changes I do to my site so I can see what date things went haywire.
I've been able to rescue pages that started dropping in the results by monitoring on here. And see what terms are being searched for, adjust my title to be more appealing for those terms and in return increase my click through rate. But do not do this if you're going to attract users that were not looking for said info. Google will rate you based on how long a user spends on your site and bounce rate. So if you have someone there, make sure it's what they're looking for. Google knows and the user is the best indication.