Most non-developers are completely ignorant of, if not intimidated by SEO. Even some software developers won’t go near it. SEO has been called “black magic,” “dark art”and “pseudoscience,” most likely because if you happen to get it right, you win all the Googles! And everybody wants to win at being on the first page of the Google search engine results page (SERP).
Well, when you’re done reading this post, you won’t be quite as frightened at the mention of “SEO” as you used to be, and you might even have the confidence to say, “I can do this!” because you actually can. Here are the seven things you have to do to win at SEO and get your website to the first page of the Google search engine results page.
1. Get an exact match domain name.
You might want to quit right here! But don’t. Google absolutely looks at your domain name in its ranking algorithm. If your domain name is di4jel7.net, Google has no idea what you do, nor how to rank you for any search for what you actually might do. Even if your tagline is perfectly descriptive, your domain name will count. I chose AtlantaTechBlogs.com because (a) it was available and (b) it describes exactly what we’re all about.
Admittedly, it’s a bit long when you consider Buffer has declared the optimal length of a domain name to be 8 characters plus “.com” (also a ranking factor), but Google looks less at the length than the substance of your domain name. Note: The opposite is also true that if you get an exact match domain name like “googleseoguide.com” and it has nothing to do with SEO, Google will ding you pretty hard.
2. Use Google Webmaster Tools.
Google created tools to help you use Google. Yes, it’s like Cosmo Kramer being at the intersection of 1st and 1st, the nexus of the universe, but Google wants to index your content, so they show you how. GWT is very easy and gives you fantastic information about your site and how Google sees your site. You must use GWT for your website.
3. Give Google a sitemap.
If you use WordPress or any other content management service (CMS) software, there will be an option to produce a sitemap (usually sitemap.xml) just for Google. Do this, and submit it to Google from within Google Webmaster Tools. It’s very, very easy, and doing so is like inviting Google into your home (your website) and giving them the floor plans, blueprints, and furniture arrangements. That’s what Google likes.
4. Make sure you’re mobile friendly.
You’ve heard the term “mobilegeddon,” and once again, it’s Google stating that they will put a lot of weight on whether or not your website is mobile friendly. Fortunately, Google also provides a very simple tool to tell you in very short order if your site is mobile friendly or not. Go here, and use this tool. If your website is not mobile-friendly, you should fix that immediately.
5. Use HTTPS / SSL certificate.
Google has also recently announced that secure web browsing will be a high priority in its search engine rankings. Google has stated very clearly that this ranking signal will start slow and pick up speed as they do more and more research into web security. If your website is anything other than a blog, you should get an SSL certificate and implement https, period.
6. Create new content every day.
The highest ranking signal in Google’s algorithm is “quality content,” and there simply is no substitute. What does that content look like? The clearest type of content is your blog, but there’s also video, audio, images, and user-created content like forums, comments on blog posts, and curated content (via RSS or social widgets). Content is king with Google, and there’s no end to the types of content you can create, curate, and publish. But remember the other word that goes along with content, quality. Google knows high-quality content from junk, and they will rank accordingly.
7. Be patient.
You got this far, so don’t give up! The hardest part of ranking high in SEO is the time it takes for your website’s reputation within the Google algorithm to catch up to your amazing expectations (and hard work!). It took AtlantaTechBlogs.com more than 7 months to reach the first page when you search for “tech blogs,” but now it’s there. In the grand scheme of things, seven months is not very long to wait work. And, you won’t be waiting because you’ll be creating fantastic new content every day and the time will pass very quickly.
Also, SearchEngineLand.com has a great illustration of their interpretation of Google’s ranking algorithm that they put into a form that we all remember from high school chemistry: the periodic table. It’s actually a great way to see just exactly how much weight is put on content.
Learn more about SEO and other key topics in digital marketing.