Your SEO sucks.
Your SEO sucks, but you can’t afford to hire a SEO specialist, yet.
Trust me, I know that feeling. It’s frustrating because you’re investing a bunch of resources in your blog (time, money, passion) and it doesn’t take off. So you start scouring the Internet, looking for SEO tips to implement your blog.
Sometimes the Internet is a very-chaotic place.
Until you came across this guide.
I’ve written this guide in order to provide the Internet with a definitive list of pieces of advice for beginners.
I’m not a SEO specialist, and my SEO used to suck very much.
Then I started looking for tips and information on the Internet, and this guide is the result of my research.
Moreover, this is a “Newbie-Friendly” guide – although you haven’t heard of SEO before, after (utterly) reading this article, you’ll be able to talk confidently about SEO. You won’t become an expert, but this is a strong-first approach.
Don’t be afraid – a few terms will sound very difficult to understand, it’s a normal fact! Keep on reading, each step provides a good amount of information and sources. Dive deeply into them.
I divided this first part of “SEO definitive guide” in three sections:
- In the first section, you’ll discover how to structure your blog’s page;
- In the second section, you’ll find effective strategies to get on Google’s first page;
- Last but not least, in the third section you’ll read minor details which could make the difference towards success.
Being well ranked on Google is what distinguish a normal blogger from a professional blogger. Staying on Google’s first page means getting a lot of unexpected traffic, new comments, new customers and new collaborations.
But first of all, we need to know how Google’s Search Engine works.
In a nutshell, let’s talk about PageRank.
PageRank (PR) is a calculation, famously invented by Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, which evaluates the quality and quantity of links to a webpage to determine a relative score of that page’s importance and authority on a 0 to 10 scale (https://www.bruceclay.com/blog/what-is-pagerank/).
The handful of page 10 domains, which include Twitter, USA.gov and Adobe Reader Download, have the highest volume of inbound links of any sites on the web.
How does Google rank and index new pages? Googlebot is Google’s web crawling bot (sometimes also called a “spider”). Crawling is the process by which Googlebot discovers new and updated pages to be added to the Google index (https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/182072?hl=en).
GoogleBot and Page Rank are two elements of Google’s Algorithm, which is still hidden to the public.
What we certainly know is that Google constantly work to enhance its customers’ experience. It wants to find the best results, always.
So, Are you ready to get listed and ranked well on Google?
First Part – Structure
Step number one: Simplify your URL
What is an URL?
This is my blog page’s URL. It is the acronym of “Uniform Resource Locator”, and is really important when it comes to SEO.
Google takes care of it, so what you have to do is very simple: avoid the chaos.
Write the name of your blog post or page, using hyphens instead of empty spaces. How to do that?
Head over to WordPress’ Customiser -> More Options -> SLUG
As easy as that.
Step number Two: Maintain Clean HTML
Google reads through your HTML source, then try to lighten its workload: erase useless pieces of code. You know what? There is a really good website that help you out in finding unnecessary traits of code -> https://validator.w3.org
It couldn’t be easier, fill this field with your URL and click over “Check”.
Furthermore, remove WordPress tools which are good for nothing.
Step number Three: Title Tags
We’re getting closer to “the game”. This is probably the easiest change to do, yet one of the most important.
First of all, how can you recognise your Title Tag in HTML?
<title>This is your Title Tag</title>
Now, you should consider a few aspects:
- Google displays the first 50-60 characters of your title, use as much room as possible but don’t go beyond;
- Include keywords in your Title, and make it enticing (https://www.alessiocordeddu.com/the-magic-formula-to-write-kicking-a-headline/);
- Mention your location;
- Make your title tag different from Heading Tag 1 (Have a look at Step number Five).
Do you want to read more? This is a great article about how to optimise your Title Tags (https://searchenginewatch.com/2016/05/16/how-to-write-meta-title-tags-for-seo-with-good-and-bad-examples/). It will provide you with precious insights.
Step number Four: Meta Descriptions
What is a Meta Description? In HTML:
<meta name= “description” content=“meta description”>
In other words, it’s the HTML code that specifies the title of a Web Page. Again, you have to bear in mind just a few points:
- Limit Meta Descriptions to 156 characters;
- Write unique meta descriptions, don’t copy and paste them;
- Invite people to click, make your meta descriptions enticing;
- Include keywords, and your location.
In this article you’ll find very good examples (https://econsultancy.com/blog/62553-33-examples-of-great-meta-descriptions-for-search/), don’t skip this phase.
A great tool to manage your Meta Descriptions is Yoast, have a look at it. (https://yoast.com/wordpress/plugins/seo/)
Step number Five: Heading Tags
What is an Heading Tag? In HTML:
<h1>This is H1</h1>
<h2>This is H2</h2>
<h6>This is H6</h6>
HTML Header tags, as their name suggests, are used to differentiate the headings and sub-headings of a page from the rest of the content. These tags are also known to webmasters as heading tags or simply header tags. (https://www.woorank.com/en/edu/seo-guides/html-header)
The most important Header Tag is H1, and the least one is H6.
Heading tags tell GoogleBot that the text within these tags is particularly important, so it’s crucial to include them into your HTML source.
Step Number Six: File Name & Alt Tags
When it comes to reading an article, images are very useful because they help in understanding the concept. So, don’t limit yourself: put images in your pieces of content.
But, Google can’t actually see an image, so it relies on pieces of information such as the file name and the image’s Alt Tag: use them to give Google as much details as possible. Take advantage of this kind of description to get on the very first page.
How to write a file name is pretty intuitive, yet what about writing image’s Alt Tags?
It’s easier done than said, head over to your image -> get info -> Add Tags. It may be slightly different if you don’t use a Mac, but trust me: it’s definitely simple.
Once again, this is a very nice article (http://www.commonplaces.com/blog/writing-alt-tags-for-images/): the more you know, the better.
Step Number Seven: Resize Images
This step is so key. You need to speed up your website -> test its speed on https://gtmetrix.com. It has to get down to 1-2 seconds: once you’ve done that, your ranking will skyrocket!
It’ll be necessary to resize your images. How to do that?
Good news, there is a great tool that will help you out! Have a look at https://tinypng.com. Please, note that your image’s quality will remain in tact.
Step Number Eight: Pick out a good Web Hosting Server
It might seem strange, but in my opinion WordPress isn’t a good Web Hosting Server. WordPress itself has a bunch of partnerships with nice Web Hosts (https://wordpress.org/hosting/). I’ve personally opted for SiteGround (https://www.siteground.it).
It provides a very fast support team with advanced WordPress expertise available 24/7. Just have a look at it: a weak Web Host might represent the reason why your SEO is still stuck.
Step Number Nine: XML SiteMap
XML SiteMaps are used exclusively by Search Engines to speed up the process of indexing pages. Head over to https://www.xml-sitemaps.com and follow the instructions. It’s easy and worth it.
Step Number Ten: HTML SiteMap
HTML SiteMaps primarily serves users, and provides them with a quick and easy method of navigating around your site.
Head back over to https://www.xml-sitemaps.com and follow to instructions again.
Second Part – Strategies
Step Number Eleven: High-Quality Content
This is highly recommended whatever your goal is: do not write just for the sake to write.
The Internet is giving us a great opportunity, take a step back and think about your grandfather: has he had the chance to work from home? Has he got the chance to monetise his passion?
The short answer is: no, not at all.
So, don’t waste your chance and do your best to spread as much value as possible.
Create EPIC content. Hustle.
Don’t ask for sharing, put in the work to DESERVE IT.
Step Number Twelve: Long-Tail Keywords
What is a Long-Tail Keyword? It’s that “three-four keywords” phrase which strictly define what your customer is looking for. Here you can read a great article from Hittail https://www.hittail.com/blog/long-tail-keywords-examples
This point is even more important when it comes to Google AdWords, and I’ll write a guide about it at same point.
Anyway, if you haven’t create your site’s authority yet, then you should prefer long-tail keywords rather than keywords. The reason is very simple: you’ll cope with less competition and a higher conversion rate.
Look for your empty niche, find your untapped long-tail keywords, and occupy them.
A good tool for this step is https://ubersuggest.io
Step Number Thirteen: Internal Links
Linking Internal Pages is fundamental to increase your website’s views.
How many times do you jump from a page to another one of a website?
That’s why when you’re writing, you should intentionally bring up a subject you’ve already treated in another article. It may sound unsporting, but trust me: it works.
How to do that?
In HTML you have to use this piece of code:
<a href=”http://www.same-domain.com/” title=”Keyword Text”>Keyword Text</a>
If you’re working on WordPress’ Customiser, then click on this symbol
It’ll take you to this intuitive page
Step Number Fourteen: Old Posts
Upgrade, update and republish your old articles.
You have to get back to this step anytime your skills improve.
Step Number Fifteen: Observe your Competitors
Observe your competitors, and take a cue from their work.
What keywords are they using?
What long tail keywords do they use?
Are they engaging with their audience?
Are their results better than yours?
Are you working harder than them?
Step Number Sixteen: Link Out
Link out to authoritative sites. Have you ever heard of the Hilltop algorithm?
Quoting wiki (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hilltop_algorithm): When you enter a query or keyword into the Google search engine, the Hilltop algorithm helps to find relevant keywords whose results are more informative about the query or keyword. The algorithm operates on a special index of expert documents. These are pages that are about a specific topic and have links to many non-affiliated pages on that topic. Pages are defined as non-affiliated if they are authored by people from non-affiliated organizations. Results are ranked based on the match between the query and relevant descriptive text for hyperlinks on expert pages pointing to a given result page. Websites which have backlinks from many of the best expert pages are authorities and are ranked well.
Take care of it.
Step Number Seventeen: Research
You need to know what your customers are looking for. What are your best tools to do so?
I love researching on Quora and Reddit.
They’re not only awesome when it comes to researching, but also give you a lot of interesting pieces of information.
Take a cue from them, too.
Step Number Eighteen: Inbound Links
A backlink, or inbound link, is a link coming from another site to your own website (https://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/32479/32-white-hat-ways-to-build-inbound-links.aspx#sm.0001hi1lwl15cpfntqvrlny0c9hm0).
Inbound links are what the Internet is built on, and Google likes websites with a bunch of Inbound Links. So, what could you do to get them, apart keep on writing epic content?
A few tips:
- List your site with business directories (https://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/10322/the-ultimate-list-50-local-business-directories.aspx#sm.0001hi1lwl15cpfntqvrlny0c9hm0);
- Provide your readers with unique case studies;
- Write for blogs & sites within your industry;
- Accept guest posts;
- Create a free GoogleMyBusiness account (https://www.google.com/business/)
Step Number Nineteen: Mobile is the Future:
In 2017, your blog does need a responsive theme.
Adaptive designs are already old. What are responsive and adaptive designs? (http://mediumwell.com/responsive-adaptive-mobile/)
Responsive themes are faster and more intuitive.
If you want to succeed, get a responsive design.
Would you like to know if your website is mobile friendly enough?
Google offers a very nice tool, have a look at it
Step Number Twenty: Voice Search Button
This step is tightly related to the previous one.
This is such a great article about Voice Search Button (https://searchenginewatch.com/2016/05/31/the-continuing-rise-of-voice-search-and-how-you-can-adapt-to-it/).
Siri mesmerised us all.
So, what should we do as entrepreneurs who chase the Google’s first page?
Elementary, my dear Watson.
We have to provide our website with a Voice Search Button.
How to do that?
This is a great plugin
Third Part – Details
Step Number Twenty-One: HTTPS
What the hell does it mean?
Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) is the secure version of HTTP, the protocol over which data is sent between your browser and the website that you are connected to. The ‘S’ at the end of HTTPS stands for ‘Secure’. It means all communications between your browser and the website are encrypted (https://www.instantssl.com/ssl-certificate-products/https.html).
Switch your website from HTTP to HTTPS, Google’ll appreciate it and give you a ranking boost.
Recently, WordPress’ve been implementing HTTPS in all the news website – if you have an old one, then update it!
How can I verify if my website’s got HTTP or HTTPS?
It couldn’t be easier, just look at the beginning of your URL.
Step Number Twenty-Two: 404 error page
Create your own 404 error page.
It’ll improve your website’s usability. Bear in mind to maintain a consistent design and include navigation options.
Here you’ll find 34 examples (http://www.creativebloq.com/web-design/best-404-pages-812505), they’re cool and definitely worth it.
Step Number Twenty-Three: Breadcrumbs
This is not a figment of my imagination, I swear! Wiki says of it: Breadcrumbs or breadcrumbs trail is a graphical control element used as a navigational aid in user interfaces. It allows users to keep track of their locations within programs, documents, or websites. The term comes from the trail of bread crumbs left by Hansel and Gretel in the fairy tale of the same name (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breadcrumb_(navigation).
As said somewhere above, Google wants to improve its costumers’ experience, and it seems that Breadcrumbs do it very well.
That line “Home>Baby Care>Furniture&Furnishings” is a breadcrumb.
As you see, it’s useful to visually represent where the customer’s come from, where he is, and how he got there.
How could you implement it in your Blog?
A few plugins:
- Yoast Breadcrumbs (https://kb.yoast.com/kb/implement-wordpress-seo-breadcrumbs/)
- Breadcrumbs Everywhere (https://wordpress.org/plugins-wp/breadcrumbs-everywhere/)
- Breadcrumb NavXT (https://wordpress.org/plugins/breadcrumb-navxt/
Step Number Twenty-Four: Sharing Buttons
Take advantage of social media.
Include sharing buttons in your blog page, and make them ridiculously easy to find.
I personally like both these plugins:
- Simple Share Buttons Adder (https://wordpress.org/plugins/simple-share-buttons-adder/)
- Share Buttons by AddThis (https://wordpress.org/plugins/addthis/)
Step Number Twenty-Five: Last Update
This is a very good habit, it’s going to make your updated posts look way fresher.
Replace “published on” dates with “last updated” ones, how to do that?
Last updated shortcake (https://wordpress.org/plugins/last-updated-shortcode/), that’s it.
Step Number Twenty-Six: Jump Links
I have nothing to add (http://www.htmlgoodies.com/tutorials/getting_started/article.php/3479511#howdo)
Step Number Twenty-Seven: Find Title Tag Issues
You can use Google Search Console to find your blog’s title tag issues.
Just go over to this page (https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/home?hl=en), and follow the instructions. In a few words:
– Search Appearance -> HTML Improvements -> Non-Informative Title Tags
Step Number Twenty-Eight: .edu domains
InBound links coming from a .edu domain are given a nice weight by Google.
Step Number Twenty-Nine: Enhanced image search
Enable “Enhanced image search” in your Google Webmaster Central account. Allowing Google to find your photos will help your SEO efforts.
Step Number Thirty: EXPERIMENT
Experiment as much as you can.
SEO isn’t a one shot action, but a process.
Enjoy your journey.