There are two sides of the SEO coin – one side involves doing what is known as “on site SEO,” meaning that you work to make your website one which is well set up for Google and other search engines to find and the other side is “off site SEO” which means what you do somewhere other than your own website.
Now while it is possible to use an SEO service to do both jobs, many entrepreneurs prefer to simply do the on site SEO work themselves. If you’re one of them, this guide is for you. Here are ten simple steps to ensure that your on site SEO is perfect and well designed:
Step 1: Pick Your Keyword
Every web search and thus every SEO effort begins with a keyword. This is a single word or phrase which you type into the search engine of your choice (mostly Google, Bing or Yahoo!) in order to find what you want. So for example, if you were interested in car insurance, you might type “car insurance” into the search engine. So, your first step is to choose a keyword.
In order to do this, brainstorm a list of keywords that might relate to the topic of your website. Start with the most obvious ones. Now, you need to see how popular those keywords are and how much competition you may face.
There are specialized tools which can help you do that, but many people who are just starting out rely on a free tool called Adwords. This tool comes from Google and can pull information on the number of monthly searches for your keyword. To use it, just click on the link for the site and type in the first few keywords you came up with in your brainstorming session.
Google will show you a list of keywords and how many monthly searches there are for each one. You want a keyword with a reasonable number of searches which doesn’t have the competition bar filled up all the way. Note a few alternatives so that you have choices for your next step.
Step 2: Pick Your Web Address
Let’s move on to the second most basic part of on site SEO and look at your web address. This is “mysite.com” or any variation of these. Generally, you want to try to get a .com website if at all possible since these are the most recognizable and popular. It is also ideal that you get what is known as an exact match web address.
When looking for a web address, you can find them by visiting your favorite web address registrar. This is a site where you pay for your web address and get to “own” it for a number years. There are thousands of them available, but the most popular are Go Daddy and NameCheap.
If an exact match of your keyword is not available (very likely), you’ll generally be shown alternatives. Ideally, you want no more than three words in your web address (so for example bestcarinsurance.com) and four if you absolutely must go that far. You can also use a made up name (like Flickr or Facebook), though this will have a bit of an impact on your on page SEO efforts.
Step 3: Set Up Your Website
You can either hire a professional to do this or you can use one of the many tools on the web to set up your new website. The important thing to do here is to set up a website which is easy on the eyes and which is easy to navigate. This means that you have a simple menu system to find different sections of the site, ideally, you include a search bar and that you include a home button on each page (often, this is simply the logo or title of your site, which should appear at the top of each page).
For those creating a basic website, I highly recommend using WordPress, which is a very simple system for setting up powerful websites. While it was originally designed for setting up blogs, WordPress is today powerful enough to create most kinds of websites, including e-commerce (i.e. Amazon.com on a smaller scale), news websites and company websites.
You can find thousands of themes, both free and paid which will customize WordPress further for you and best of all, WordPress itself is free. It’s also super easy to use (if you can use the Internet, you can usually figure out how to use WordPress).
Step 4: Create a Site Map
Depending on which tool you used to create your website, this may be very simple or somewhat complicated. If you used WordPress, you can simply go to “Plugins” and search for Google Site Map. Download the plugin to your site, turn it and it will take care of setting up the site map for you. If you used a different tool to create your website, you may want to use an automated tool like this one for creating a site map.
The advantage of having a site map is that it makes it easier for Google and other search engines to fully list every page on your website (and that’s a cornerstone of good on page SEO). The search engines all use an automated program called a web crawler which looks for links to follow and which will then take whatever it finds and list those sites in Google. If you have a sitemap, the web crawler will look there first and automatically find every page on your website. This means that your site gets listed faster and that means more traffic for you.
Step 5: Write Great Content
The lifeblood of any website is the content. This means what you write on your website. Your content needs to have a few things. First and foremost, it needs to be very well written. Google and other search engines now use special software to check for quality of writing and they are getting good at detecting bad grammar and or junk content. Plus, visitors to your site will quickly be turned off if they see that your site has nothing but junk. So put your best foot forward and be sure to include the best content you can create.
Step 6: Optimize Your Content
This step is important and at the same time not important. It’s important because you need to make sure it’s actually done, but it’s not so important because in the natural course of writing, it usually gets done.
Basically, you want to make sure that your content includes your keywords as well as a few related keywords throughout the page. So for example, in this page, we make sure to mention “On Site SEO” several times throughout the content because that is our primary keyword. We also have other keywords which give hints about what this article is talking about, including things like keyword, Google, search engines and more.
Now before you worry too much about this, rest assured that it’s likely that you already have your keywords in place. In most cases, you’ll find that this part of your on page SEO is done in the natural course of writing. However, if it’s not, try to sprinkle your keywords in here and there. A good rule of thumb is that in 500 words you want the keyword mentioned somewhere toward the beginning, somewhere toward the end and one or two times in the middle of your article.
Step 7: Meta Tags
Okay, now we get into something which is a bit more complicated because it may involve editing your web pages. If you used WordPress to create your website back in step 3, then you can simply download a plugin to make this happen (I like to use Platinum SEO Pack – it’s free and it does the job well). If however you used another tool to create your website, you may need to manually edit the pages.
Meta tags are a throwback to the early days of the Internet. They were commonly used to tell the search engines information about a website and would appear in the code of a web page but would not usually be displayed for people to see. While they’re less important today, some meta tags are still used.
There are three types of meta tags which are commonly used. They are title, description and keyword. A fourth tag, which is not really a meta tag at all but which works in a similar way is the “alt” tag for videos and pictures. The first three tags are exactly what they sound like – the title of your page, a short description and a list of keywords related to your page. They can be added to your site by using the following right at the beginning of the page (just open your web page using a plain text editor like notepad on Windows):
<Title>This is Where the Title of Your Page Goes</Title>
<Meta Name=”Description” Content =”Here, tell your readers a little something about your web page in 160 characters or less.”>
<Meta Name=”keywords” Content=”meta tags, keyword tags, title tags, description tags”>
Often, you’ll see that the <Head></Head> has already been created for you. So just edit it rather than creating a new one. The fourth tag, called “alt” is not really a Meta Tag, but it works in a similar way. It puts up a keyword for your photos or videos when people search for them in Google Image Search. These can be added using the following:
<img src=”myphoto.jpg” height=”200″ width=”200″ alt=”Put a few words here about your photo”>
The IMG SRC section of your alt tag should be added automatically when you create your web page. The height and width will likely be inserted as well. So just add the “alt” to any images you find and put in a few words to describe it. This will get you more searches and more traffic.
Step 8 Internal Links
Generally, you won’t need to do this manually by editing the code. Instead, use the tools that you build your website with and simply insert links to related pages on your website. So for example, if you had a page called “iPod.html” which describes what the iPod is, you might include a link to another page which is titled “iPhone.html.”
In WordPress, you can simply type the text you want to link to, highlight it, click the chain link icon and type in the name of the page you want the link to go to. This helps both to keep people on your website longer (meaning they’re more likely to make a purchase) and to get Google and other search engines to look at all your web pages.