Google indexes around 4.5 billion websites. When you’re trying to rank on the first page of results, you’ve obviously got a lot of competition to beat out.
That’s why so many people sing the praises of search engine optimization. Known as SEO, these tactics improve your website’s ranking in search results.
In the distant past, optimizing your website was easy. You sprinkled in some keywords, and when people searched for those terms, your site would pop up.
As search engines evolved, though, they started using more factors to rank pages. Today, Google’s ranking formula contains hundreds of factors. You could spend ages trying to optimize your site for all them.
“Which factors matter most in how to optimize my website?” you ask. Take a turn through our handy SEO setup checklist. We’ll review the SEO steps that give you the most bang for your buck.
Do Some Keyword Research
Many people have suggested that keywords are finally going to go the way of the dinosaur. They’ve become less important over time, and the way people search is changing as well.
Keywords are important because they tell the search engine and visitors what a site is about. Most search phrases include keywords, so using them helps you rank for certain topics.
You’ll want to do some careful research about the keywords that matter to your audience. What kinds of things do they search for?
If you run a pizzeria, the name of your shop might be one keyword. Another might be “pizzeria in San Diego” if you serve the San Diego area.
On pages, you’ll want to target one or two primary keywords to help you rank.
Answer “How to Optimize my Website” with Title Tags and Meta Descriptions
Cookie-cutter website templates may not give you full control of every aspect of the site. For example, you may not be able to customize your meta descriptions. This, in turn, can hurt your SEO efforts.
You should customize your page titles, meta descriptions, and URLs to enhance your SEO. You’ll want to use your keywords in all three of these fields.
You’ll also need to pay attention to length. Search engines display 65 to 75 characters for title tags. The length of a Google snippet is about 150 characters.
If you don’t customize these aspects of your site, the search engine will pull from the default. This may mean a user scrolls right on by because they don’t believe your site is relevant.
A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words
If you’re wondering how to optimize your website, pay particular attention to images. You can adjust the name of the image file to match your keyword.
You can also provide alt text. The text tells the search engine crawlers what the image shows or is intended to illustrate.
You’ll also want to pay attention to the format and size of your images. Google ranks websites based on their speeds, and large images can slow down loading times. Speed up your website by optimizing your images for SEO.
The Importance of Linking
You’ll need to consider two types of linking on your optimized website, internal and external. Internal links connect to other pages on the site. Search engines give you more points for internal links, since it makes your site easier to crawl.
External links, particularly backlinks, are arguably even more important. You want other sites to link to your site because they establish trust.
This can help you rank for particular keywords. If other, reputable websites link to your content, the search engine sees this as a vote of confidence. You know what you’re talking about, and your page should be ranked higher as a reward.
It also signals to users that they can trust your website and your content.
A link-building strategy can take time to put in place, but there are things you can do to help it along. First, be sure you create great, link-worthy content. Next, try to get guest blogs for reputable websites in your industry.
Use a Responsive, Mobile-Friendly Design
We’ve already mentioned website speed as one of the SEO settings you want to pay attention to. What else should you look at when you want to optimize a website?
You’ll want to take mobile and responsive design into account. These are two similar ideas that allow your website to respond to users on different devices. A responsive design adjusts to a desktop browser as fast as it adapts to the mobile screen.
Mobile usage has actually surpassed desktop use, and it’s still growing. In light of that, it’s no surprise that Google introduced mobile-first indexing. This makes it even more important to optimize website design for mobile.
Test, Measure, and Adjust
You know all about the benefits of SEO. How do you know if your SEO efforts are actually paying off?
You can check your search engine page ranking. Since competition is fierce, your ranking may not improve, even if you follow all these steps.
If you notice a sudden drop in your rank, it might also be an indicator that a competitor has upped their game. It may also reflect changes made to the search engine algorithm.
That’s why it’s so important to test and measure your SEO. Even if you know how SEO works today, it might be a completely different game tomorrow.
As you test and measure, you can make adjustments to your SEO strategy. This allows you to keep up with changes and to capitalize on algorithm adjustments.
Start Optimizing Your Website Now
If you asked, “Which SEO steps are best for how to optimize my website?”, you should now have a solid foundation to start from.
If you’re still looking for practical sales and marketing advice and news, we’ve got you covered. Check out some of our insightful articles for more ideas on how you can improve your sales and marketing strategies.