SEO First Steps for the Common Man
This article was updated on 3/13/2019 with the article entitled "Getting Started with Do-It-Yourself SEO."
In the last Sprocket Report we pointed out that people are looking for your website right now. SEO lets Google and the other search engines categorize your site appropriately. Then when someone types what they are looking for into the search field on their computer, Google can sort through the gazillion websites out there and serve up the very best matches for those search terms.
Your goal is to be that very best match.
To give you a good start toward that goal, you must begin with the most basic steps. Even the swankiest SEO expert needs to start with these steps, so you can save yourself a little cash by doing it yourself.
1. Check if your site is visible to search engines.
Just because you have a website doesn't mean it's visible. You can see if your site has been indexed – and which pages – by typing this into your search field: site:www.yourwebsite.com Just put your URL where the "yourwebsite" is and you'll see the pages that have been indexed.
2. Get noticed by search engines.
You can pay an SEO company to "submit your site to 100's of search engines," but it's better and cheaper to get a link from a trusted, established site. Search engine robots crawl those sites frequently and will find and follow the link to yours. Places to get links to your URL include listings at your chamber of commerce or other business directories, your Facebook and LinkedIn pages and the websites of complementary businesses.
3. Check if your site has keyword and description meta tags.
The easiest way to do this is right click with your mouse while looking at a page on your website. A menu will pop up. Click on "View Page Source." Now you'll see all the code that creates your page, although you can't change anything. Look to see if you have meta tags for keywords and description. To make it quicker to get through the code, click on "Edit" and then "Find" and type "meta" into the box.
4. If you don't have keywords, get some.
Each page should have unique keywords that relate to the content on that page. One way to brainstorm good keywords is to use a free tool like the Keyword Tool at Google Adwords. Using too many keywords can hurt you, so stay around 10-15 per page. If you can't add the meta tags yourself, ask your webmaster to do it for you.'
5. Check how well these changes are working.
The only way to know if it works is to measure it. Google Analytics, free to use, is a great tool. You can see whether traffic is picking up and what keywords people use in their searches. But give it time – maybe a month even – because it takes a while for the search engines to do their thing after you've made changes.
If you have already done these first steps, you might consider Google's Webmaster Tools for advanced do-it-yourself options. Or maybe it's time to hire some help. Just be sure to ask what they will do for you so you aren't charged to take these first steps again.
At the end of the year many businesses slow down as people take time off. It makes a great opportunity to tweak your website so it's raring to go in 2012. If you have questions, just give us a call. We're happy to help!