With so many Search Engine Optimization things to think about, SEO for Dummies brings you an SEO Cheat Sheet to help you out.
This is by far not a complete cheat sheet, but it will help keep you on track with your work, and you can make sure that no essential part of the equation has been accidentally left out of the picture.
To say the least, Search Engine Optimization can be pretty weird.
I’ll correct that last statement:
SEO is as interesting as it is weird
It’s also packed to the brim with so much information, grasping the whole concept may be something next to impossible.
To further add insult to injury, the world of SEO is also full of misinformation which doesn’t help matters one little bit.
Many are those businesses who offer to SEO your site. This is very generous of them until they present you with their bill.
You have two options:
Either run as fast as you can, or faint! In such cases, both are allowed!
Many SEO businesses are just out there to take your hard-earned cash, and you’ll be left with almost none the better after their ‘intervention’.
But who would you resort to for help with your website?
Well, this would cover those who either have no clue where to start, are totally confused, or perhaps they have no time for it.
They’d want to work on their content instead, which makes sense, but what good is having great content without good SEO?
For this reason alone, it’s always a good idea to learn at least the very basics of Search Engine Optimization, at least to save your life. This will help you not to be taken for a ride, which can be both frustrating, and also very costly.
What is a Search Engine?
You will need to understand this if you are to optimize your websites for Search Engines.
Google, Bing, and Yahoo are the three main search sites. While Bing and Google have their own Search Engines, Yahoo gets its results from Bing.
Ask.com is a search engine which is not mentioned that often. This is because it only covers a minute percentage of the total searches that are carried out.
Google, being the largest search engine of them all, covers nearly two-thirds of all the regular internet searches.
When you need to look up some information, all you do is go to a search site and write down in its search box the query you have in mind.
While it’s good to mention that not all of the above-mentioned search sites are used for the total searches carried out worldwide. There are also sites, like YouTube, eBay, Amazon, and Facebook who have their own search machines, and used for a variety of different reasons, mostly for trade.
The bottom line work of a search engine is to index individual website pages, which can then be found during a query search.
Don’t be fooled by companies offering to do this service for you, of course, for a fee.
You are quite capable of doing this yourself. Also, it won’t cost you a cent, and you can do it at your convenience. This is because submitting your website to Search Engines is free, and it can be done as many times as you so desire. (More about this at the end of the article)
The list of things in this SEO Cheat Sheet to keep in mind are as follows:
- Keyword research
- LSI Keywords
- Catchy title tags and meta descriptions
- Share the word
- Optimize your webpage
- Make your site crawlable
- Make your content relevant to what your searchers are looking for
- The missing link
1. Keyword research
For people to come and read your content, you need to do proper keyword research, and there are no two ways about that.
Keywords actually define to a search engine what your content is about. You can also refer to these as the building blocks, the foundation of your online business.
By putting keywords into the key areas of the pages of your site, you can effectively tell search engines what your website is about.
In SEO, keyword research involves finding those terms that people use when they wish to look for a particular topic they write down in the search box of a search engine.
Whatever the keywords you plan to rank for, you’ll have to make sure that these are on the same terms that people, who would be looking out for your products, are bound to type in a search engine. In other words, they have to always be relevant to what topic is being searched for, giving searchers a far better chance of finding your content among all the rest of the content on the internet.
Keyword research is given a great deal of importance by SEO experts, and rightly so, but you can’t just give this section of SEO all the credit as there are other factors which are important as well.
Keyword tips for SEO
Use your keywords in your content several times, but don’t overdo it otherwise it will make your work seem unnatural. Remember, this has to be written with your reader in mind, and not Google.
You can get keywords to stick out, and be noticed if you make them different from the main text. This could be having them in Bold, or a different color, but go easy on the color thing as you don’t want to make your pages look tatty.
The images on your site should, through the Alt tags, use keywords. This also tells search engines what your image is about, and this helps with your ranking.
When you use keywords, ideally, you should follow these rules for an ideally optimized page:
- Use keywords in the title tags
- Use them also in the description meta tag
- You should also use the keywords in the filenames
- These should also be used in the page’s H1 tag
- Keywords are also to be used in your content’s subheadings, and throughout the rest of the page
- Also, keywords should be used in links which point to your pages.
2. LSI Keywords – what are they?
Taking a quote from Quora, “LSI keywords (Latent Semantic Indexing) are basically keywords that are semantically related to your main keyword. Contrary to popular belief, they are NOT just synonym or keywords that are similar in meaning.”
These keywords are words which are normally found together given a particular topic. For example, you get dog, kennel, lead, walkies, bone, and fetch. As you can see, none of these words mean in any way the other words written here. They are not synonyms, however, they are all common to the word ‘dog’. These words are known as LSI keywords, related to the main keyword, ‘dog’.
LSI keywords seem to be one of the latest hot SEO topic, and with good reason.
LSI keywords help search engines know which pages are relevant to particular search queries.
3. Catchy title tags and meta descriptions
Writing killer headlines for web content is also extremely important for SEO.
This is one of the golden rules where content is concerned, and it cannot be taken lightly, for “Your headline is your one and ONLY WAY to make an impression on your visitor.”
The reason behind this is that even if you do write the most compelling content, if nobody bothers to be ‘grabbed’ by the title and the meta descriptions, then nobody will stop to read what you have written
The title tags on your pages are important too. In here, you should include your keywords, but don’t make it too long. There are limitations here, and if it’s too long, it will not all be shown in the search results.
- The importance of the description tag is rather high. This isn’t used in any way to rank your page better, but it’s what searchers will see just under your title. What you put in the description tag is what will sell your content. If it’s not catchy, people will click on the next title, and your content won’t be appreciated. Like in the case of the title tags, there are limitations to how many characters you can use here.
- The proper use of H tags is a must. These should contain the relevant keywords, and should also be suitably formatted for search engines to recognize them as being headings.
Being a copywriter certainly helps in cases like this, but seriously, you don’t need to be. However, it won’t hurt you in the least if you were to learn some tricks of the trade as you write your content.
For more about this, read Killer Headlines for Web Content.
4. Share the word
It’s wonderful having a fantastic website, with fabulous content, but with very few people even knowing it exists. Not an ideal scenario this.
The only way to be able to do this is to try and share the content as much as you can.
There are several ways how you can do this, and perhaps the one which is more prominent in people’s mind is none other than Social Media.
This platform is a Q & A site open to everybody. If you have a question, ask it on Quora, and you’ll get an answer, or a thousand, depending on your question.
This platform is a great place to be able to drive traffic to your site. You can easily become an authority on ‘your’ topic, and it has SEO benefits.
Quora is free to join.
This platform is the place where to start a blog without spending a cent.
The beauty about this is that you have an already built-in audience of millions, just ready and waiting to read your content. Up to the stats published in 2016, Medium sees 60 million unique visitors a month. That is a whole lot of potential readership for your blog.
The best way to go about this is to write a good article for, and link it to your website.
Nothing could be simpler.
Of course, it would be great if you can write a brilliant article. Sadly enough, I’ve read articles that were a total mess. The grammar was horrible, and I don’t think whoever wrote particular articles knows that commas do exist for a reason. I had to read some sentences several times just to try and understand what the author was on about. Later on, I realized that what I was reading was a spun article. I only came to know this because I accidentally came across the original article, which was brilliantly written.
My point here is not just to write but to write well. You need to write compelling content which draws people to read more of your content. If you link to your website, visitors to Medium will happily go to your site for more of the same.
5. Optimize your webpage
Optimizing your webpage is quite a huge job, to say the least, but it can be done.
Your page has a great many factors that all come together to make it a wonderful user experience for your visitor.
One of the ways to optimize your site is to make it load fast. A slow loading site will not rank, and the potential visitor won’t stay on it for long.
Speed is essential, in more ways than one
Along with this factor, there are others which are just as important, like:
- Meta Description
- H1 Tags
- Alt Text
- Domain Name
- Page Title
- Paragraph Length
- Image Size
- Thin Content
- Broken Links
- Domain Age
For more on this, take a look at SEO for Dummies. It will help give you a better idea about optimizing your webpage.
6. Make your site crawlable
Your site is made up of content, which is usually a mixture of text, images, videos, charts etc. For Google to be able to ‘read’ and understand what you have put up on your site, it is of the utmost importance that your site allows Google’s bots to go through this. The bots, after reading your material, will index it, which can then be found when somebody conducts a search. Making your site crawlable is a very crucial factor in your SEO campaign.
7. Make your content relevant to what your searchers are looking for
What good is wanting people to come and have a look at your site, but the content you create is not credible, or relevant?
Through your content, you’re trying to fill in the gap people need to be able to solve a problem they are dealing with. Writing good content is not easy, granted, but through practice, you can become better. If you are still not convinced of this, or you don’t have the time or resources for it, then it might be worth your while to invest in a third party writer to sort out your content.
Great content is shared and also ranked better.
8. The missing link
Links fall under two categories, White Hat, and Black Hat.
White Hat is what Google likes, and Black Hat is what Google doesn’t like.
Having said that, they are both links, and any link pointing to your site, providing it’s from an authoritative site, will help to boost your website.
You have to be careful with using Black Hat links, as if you’re caught, you’ll be shot at dawn. This might destroy all your hard work, and might even hurt your pocket, badly.
Links help search engines with your pages. The more links you have pointing to your site, the quicker the site might be indexed. This also makes the bots revisit your site more often.
Good links tell Google that your site is worth linking to. It tells Google that it has value, and it’s a bonus for your site every time you get one.
However, it is important that the links you have pointing to your site are relevant. I mean if your site is about cats, it won’t be of much use if a link from a ‘construction site’ is pointing to your content. This can have the reverse effect, and you might even get penalized by Google, so tread wisely, and don’t just get a link from wherever place you can get one.
Buying links is not recommended. This is seen as Black Hat SEO.
Links help your pages in more ways than one, as explained above.
Not all links are created equally.
What this basically means is that, apart from links being either Black or White Hat, they are further subdivided into either ‘Follow’ or ‘Nofollow’ links.
Links and Google Juice
The Follow links are the ones you should go for. These provide value to your site, and pass on what’s known as ‘Google Juice’.
You can even use Follow links from one page on your website to another page on the same website. This also helps with the flow of Google Juice, and also tells the search engines that the pages they are pointing to are related. It’s also good practice to use links which contain keywords your site needs to rank for.
When you link from one page to another one, the anchor text is an important point to take into consideration.
- Links from sites which are related to your own site have more value than those from non-related sites.
Getting links from trusted pages is a huge bonus for your site.
By ‘trusted pages‘, I mean government bodies, educational sites, and even newspapers.
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