Step-By-Step Guide To Basic SEO
While many organizations partner with a vendor for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) efforts, there are some easy things and best practices that can get your website's SEO off on the right foot. The bulk of your time should be spent focusing on on-site optimization.
On-Site SEO Basics
This type of SEO focuses on:
- Keyword research: Finding the best keywords to target on a page of content
- Content creation: Publishing high-quality content focused on target keywords
- Keyword optimization: Using the target keyword in all the right places and using good meta tag SEO.
Where to begin?
Google Uses RankBrain, which reads the content on your page and links together related words, so for the search engine, it may not matter to them if you say “college” or ”school”, however keyword usage on the page is still important to the user.
To find the words that user’s are looking for we can use Google Keyword Planner.
You can either start with a keyword in mind and get related keywords, or plug in your website and see what they suggest for keywords.
Once you have your keywords, you can run a comparison on them using a tool like Google Trends. So if Nursing School and Nursing College are the top keyword recommendations for a page, they’re pretty similar, and you may want to just choose one.
OPTIMIZING YOUR PAGE
Once you have your keywords, you can start seeding them into your page.
- By default, the URL of your page is derived from your title. We also automatically make it semantically correct and remove the junk words that search engines don’t care about, like articles and conjunctions. Note that searchers often prefer shorter URLs, so if you’re looking for click-throughs, keep it short. Search engines also do not understand how to separate words in URLs when they run together without a separator (some can’t interpret underscores, plus signs, spaces), use a hyphen between words (automatically done on pages in Drupal)
- Page Title / Headers
- Each page should have a unique H1 that describes the main topic of the page. As the main descriptive title of the page, the H1 should contain that page’s primary keyword or phrase. You should avoid using header tags to mark up non-heading elements. It’s an outline. Use header tags to introduce what the following content will discuss.
- Part of a website’s crawlability lies in its internal linking structure. The more links, the less equity your link has, so don’t stuff a link to everything on your site on your homepage, and also keep your user experience in mind. If they click and see a page of links without quality content, they may back out and increase the page’s bounce rate, which will then affect the ranking.
- Drupal inserts hyphens for words, but we don’t on uploaded images, so please be sure to save with hyphens before you upload. Also, if your keywords are applicable to your image, why not include it in your filename and alt text so that you show up in GIS?
- In the first 100 words so that when Google crawls your page, they’ll see that the keyword you’re highlighting is an actual topic on the page. It may also help that keyword show again on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). Then seed it another one or two times throughout the page. You want it to read naturally and not like you’re keyword stuffing.
- Meta Tags
- All the way back in 2009, Google announced that meta descriptions (and meta keywords) have no bearing on search rankings. That’s not to say that these descriptions aren’t important for SEO, though. What displays on the SERP can entice someone to click through, and those click-through rates affect your SEO.
The types of SEO included in this category relate to:
- Site speed
- Site architecture
- Structured data
Aside from optimizing your image file sizes and using H tags (see here -- https://www.kent.edu/web-standards/accessibility-examples-correct-and-incorrect-use), you can mostly rely on the IT web presence group and UCM web team to tackle the technical components of SEO.
Technical SEO relates to non-content elements of your website.
It includes strategies to improve a site’s backend structure and foundation. Technical SEO improves a site’s readability (which makes it easy for search engines to crawl and understand the site) and provides a good user experience, which helps search engines see that the site is high quality. A good user experience is also important for readers, and can affect overall traffic and engagement rates.
Compress all media before putting it on your website
This is a small but important step in the SEO process. As your blog or website grows, you'll undoubtedly have more images, videos, and related media to host there. These visual assets can help retain your visitors' attention, but it's easy to forget these assets are still technically computer files -- and computer files have file sizes.
As a general rule, the bigger the file size, the harder it is for an internet browser to render your website. And it just so happens that page speed is one of the most important ranking factors when search engines decide where to place your content in its index.
So, the smaller the file size, the faster your website will load, and the higher you can rank on Google as a result. But how do you shrink a file size once it's on your computer?
If you're looking to upload an image to a blog post, for example, examine the file for its file size first. If it's anywhere in megabyte (MB) territory, even just 1 MB, it's a good idea to use an image compression tool to reduce the file size before uploading it to your blog. Sites like TinyPNG make it easy to compress images in bulk, while Google's very own Squoosh has been known to shrink image file sizes to microscopic levels.
Ultimately, keeping your files in the kilobytes (KB) can sufficiently protect your website's page speed.
Be careful when compressing your images, and check the file's actual size once you export it back to your computer. While some tools might not be true to the size it shows you, others can sacrifice some image quality when compressing the artwork.
Off-Site SEO Basics
what is off-site seo?
Off-page SEO techniques help strengthen the influence and relationship your website has with other websites. This means sites outside the kent.edu domain.
- Links from other reputable websites help build your website’s reputation and authority. Search engines will see your website as an ideal search result because it is linked to from reputable sources.
We can control which sites are linking to us by using a backlink checker
For sites linking to your content, see which ones are ranked more highly and see if there are ways to pitch more content to them.
- If they are a news site, see if you can pitch them more articles or press releases.
- If they are a blogging site, see if they will let you write a guest post and when you include your bio, have a link back to your site.
How do you expand your backlinks?
- Check a competitors site in the backlink checker and compare to your page.
- Do they have sites linking to them that aren’t linking to you? Are there
opportunities to engage the higher ranked sites?
Problems with SEO
- Landing page appeared in Google Search underneath some of its subpages
- No content underneath the title in search
Causes of faulty SEO
- No Page Title
- Keyword in header
- No Summary
- Image source code at the top of the page
- Keyword in Links
- Image filename
- download.jpg - not descriptive
CPM Information Technology
Problems with SEO
- Discovered that students were finding the CPM site via Google over the Kent Campus IT resource
- Could not optimize the IT page, because it is in the Knowledgebase, outside of Drupal
Causes of faulty SEO:
- Sitemap indicated this site was a priority
- No unique summary to be pulled by the meta description
SEO Blogs to Follow
How to Monitor & Track SEO Results
Technical setup, content, and links are critical to getting a website into the search results. Monitoring your efforts helps improve your strategy further.
Measuring SEO success means tracking data about traffic, engagement, and links. And though, most companies develop their own sets of SEO KPIs (key performance indicators), here are the most common ones:
- Organic traffic growth
- Keyword rankings (split into branded and non-branded terms)
- Conversions from organic traffic
- Average time on page and the bounce rate
- Top landing pages attracting organic traffic