Step-by-Step Guide to Basic SEO

According to Fathom, a Cleveland agency specializing in digital marketing, below are some easy things you can do to start your website's SEO off on the right foot. 

On-Site SEO Basics

Some of the most important elements for search engine optimization happen on your own website. You may hear a lot about inbound link building, but link building without good on-site search optimization isn’t going to be as effective. Here are the bare minimum on-site optimization elements you should put on each of your website’s main pages, including and especially the homepage.

The Golden Rule of On-Site Optimization

Before we get started, one thing you want to keep in mind when using any of the following SEO elements is not to overdo it. You might be tempted to shove a lot of keywords onto your pages, but that is not the goal. In fact, Google has unleashed an over-optimization penalty that targets websites that have too many keywords stuffed onto one page. So when it comes to keyword optimization, keep it simple – think of up to three keywords or keyword phrases for each page on your website and optimize for those.

If you’re not sure what keywords to use, try entering existing webpage URLs or some preliminary ideas in Google AdWords’ Keyword Planner tool to get suggestions.

Title Tag

The title tag of the page tells search engines what the page is about. The page title should accurately reflect the page topic, and include the page’s primary keyword. It should be 65 characters or fewer, and include your business or brand name. This tag is placed between the <HEAD> </HEAD> tags near the top of the HTML code for the page.

Meta Description

The meta description tag in the page code of your webpages gives search engines a little snippet of text it can show users in the search results. It should be 155 characters or fewer, include your main keyword for the page and a good call-to-action to encourage click-throughs from the search results.

Headline Tags

There are six different levels of HTML headline tags. These tags help break the page content into sections, as well as let search engines know more about what each section of page’s content is about. 

  • The <H1></H1> tags surround the page’s main headline. There should only be one H1 tag per page. The H1 should summarize what the content of the page is about. Be sure to include the page’s primary keyword.
  • The <H2></H2> through <H6></H6> tags surround subheadings on the page. There can be multiple instances of each. Think of the headline tags as the outline of the page – helping both readers and search engines break up your content into sections.

Additional On-Site SEO Elements

While the page title tag, meta description and H1 are the most important SEO elements, they are not the only ones. Be sure to incorporate the following into your website’s page content for further search optimization:

  • Image Title & Alt Tags – If you use images on your website, you should think of good keywords for both the image title and the alt tag. This helps reinforce the page’s keywords and helps search engines categorize your images for image search results.
  • Internal Links – Link building isn’t just reserved for external sites linking to your website. You can help search engines learn more about your website by internally linking to other pages on your website within your content. Link to related content on the website to keep visitors engaged.
  • Bolded Text – You don’t want to go too crazy with this one, but occasionally bolding a selection of text to get a reader’s attention can also help search engines distinguish other important information and keywords in the page’s content.