Website Optimization For Beginners
This article will cover general website optimization for beginners. So, what is search engine optimization or SEO? Basically, it's setting up the on-site, off-site, and technical elements of your website so that the search engines can tell what your site is about. If you are set up so that crawlers (search engine bots) can understand your content, then when people are searching for your services, the bots will know that your site is a match. SEO is one of the best ways to market your website online. The truth is, it doesn't matter how pretty your website is, if it's not optimized for search engines, it's not going to be shown in searches.
I put together this tutorial to show you a really quick and easy way that you can get started on basic on-site optimization. To get started on these tips you will need to use the Chrome browser and download the Mozbar extension. This is a free and easy to use tool created by the search engine optimization (SEO) folks at Moz. The extension only works in Chrome.
The Mozbar is a great tool if you want to take a look at your web pages to see the basic on page elements for your site. It is one of many tools I use as part of my Website Health Checkup services package. It's also a useful tool when I'm on the phone with a consulting client and they want me to take a quick look at their website.
So, let's take a look at your website and see if the important on-page SEO elements are in order. Once the Mozbar is set up, you can go to your website and then click on the little magnifying glass symbol (which can be found at the top left of the screen) to see the basic SEO setup for your web page.
So, let's go over and I will explain each of the SEO terms that show up in the drop-down menu using the Moz bar. Follow along and you can make sure your basic on site elements are set up in a way that makes it easier for search engines to understand what your site is about.
1. Website & Page Titles
The Mozbar only shows the page title and not the site title. To find your site title, you can right click your mouse on your home page, select "view page source" and you will find it in the code, listed as "site_name" in the top portion of the code.
The site title is the title of the website. This tells search engine bots what your site is about. For your site title, there should be key terms that describe your business at the front, then the back portion should list your business name and location.
Site titles should not be longer than 60 characters, including spaces. This way, your site title will appear in full in searches and people can see what your website is about. In the image below, the red arrows are pointing to the website title that appears in searches. Page titles will also appear in this manner as well in searches.
An example of a poorly written site title would be:
"Inner Balance Center, Massage, Pacific Beach, San Diego" - Now, this isn't horrible but it can be improved.
A better choice for the site title might be:
"Massage Therapy | Inner Balance, San Diego" - In this example you can see the keywords "massage therapy" are at the front and the business name and location are in the back portion.
A page title should be descriptive of what that specific page is about and the keywords placed at the beginning of the title. As with the site title, the characters shouldn't exceed 60 (including spaces) so the entire title can be read on a search.
The page title should always be created with key words. Each page should have a different title and best practice is that it doesn't match the title of your website word for word. For example, you want your business name in your site title but not on your page titles.
In the Moz bar, you will see the title for whatever page you have opened. You can go through all of your pages and check to see if the titles match the page and contain matching keywords to describe that page.
2. Meta Description
The meta description doesn't do much for direct SEO but it can help people using search engines to understand what your page is about. Meta descriptions are best seen in up to 300 characters, otherwise the ending will be cut off. Also, include a call to action to encourage readers to click to your site.
A well written meta description can entice someone to click to your page. Best practice is a meta description for each page with a call to action relevant to that page.
Here's an example of a poor meta description:
"Helpful Healing Hands offers a unique type of massage therapy and bodywork. Located in the heart of Pacific Beach, San Diego, Helpful Healing Hands. Best massage therapists, cheap prices....."
The reason it doesn't work as well is because there isn't a call to action. It also reads kind of spammy and doesn't make me feel like I can trust their services. A better choice might be written like:
"Massage therapy and bodywork services located in the heart of Pacific Beach, San Diego. We can help you get back to the activities you love doing. Click here to schedule your appointment."
3. Meta Keywords
These no longer have any bearing on SEO. What matters most is having keywords written into title tags, header tags, and within the content of the page. Some SEO experts think having meta keywords will hurt your site's optimization so it's best to do away with these all together.
4. Header 1 Tag or H1
H1 or Header 1 tag is very important. The header tags help search bots understand what your site is about and how it is organized. If you don't have them or they are poorly written, it can have a negative effect on how you appear in searches.
Although I've seen many sites rank well without them, it's still considered best practice to make use of them. There is only one H1 tag per page. The phrase should make sense as to what your page is about and include a keyword or key phrase that matches the intent of the page.
**Note: as of 2017 header tags are slowly moving to losing their importance. Schema markups are the future of A.I. search engines. However, currently, they can still help your site.
5. Header 2 Tag or H2
The Header 2 or H2 tags are used to help organize the info on the page. It's a good idea to have multiple H2 tags with keywords that effectively describe the content on that page. There are also H3, H4, and so on....but H1 and H2 are generally the most important for helping bots to understand the page. I'd recommend having one H1 and then multiple H2's.
Basic SEO On Your Website
So, here's an example of how all this can tie together to help the optimization of one of your website pages. Here, I'm using the example of a massage website focused on pain management. So, let's say this is the Services page:
Page Title: Pain Management Massage Therapy Services
Meta Description: "Therapeutic massage services to help you manage your chronic pain. Our office is centrally located and free parking available. Click here to schedule your appointment online."
H1: Massage Treatments For Chronic Pain
H2: Orthopedic Massage (followed by content about orthopedic massage, prices)
H2: Deep Tissue Massage (followed by content about deep tissue massage, prices)
H2: Sports Massage (followed by content about sports massage, prices)
Notice I didn't use words such as "modality" because this is not a word that someone in the general public will search for. The trick for finding good keywords is understanding your target market and the phrases they are using to find your services. For some extra help finding keywords, check out my website keyword research tips for beginners.
So, there you have it, search engine optimization tips for organizing your website. This list is in no way exhaustive and there are many more factors that go into play to help your website optimization but this is a great way to get started and check if you have the basic components in place so that your website can come up in searches!