Regardless if you are running a personal blog or a business website, you’ve probably heard of one magic term—SEO. Short for Search Engine Optimization, SEO used to be considered as a set of manipulative techniques that a website owner can use to improve rankings for search engines like Google and Bing.
However, this is not all about SEO.
One the one hand, optimizing for different search engines correctly indeed can have positive impact on the website’s visibility in search engine result pages or SERPs. But if you think it can be done well using some sneaky techniques to deceive search engines as well as their users, you’re going in the wrong direction and will never achieve desired effect as you wish.
On the other hand, as with major search engines frequently updating their algorithms, there is none permanently effective SEO practices existing in the SEO world except for constantly updated, creative website content. So, a proper SEO technique nowadays is more of helping people find relevant information effortlessly than helping a web page rank higher.
Following are some valuable tips you should incorporate in the process of building or running a website if you are looking to make your site usable for your visitors and optimized for search engine visibility and traffic. Before getting into how to create a SEO friendly website, two most-overlooked concepts need to be made clear.
How much SEO do you need to do?
If you have ever contacted some knowledge of SEO, you may be able to easily understand that doing all the SEO required to get your website ranked higher than your competitors is the ultimate goal of all SEO campaigns. At other extreme, it could mean you need a full time team of SEO specialists to match the budget and resource of your competitors.
Assume your website has never been SEOed once, it’s imperative to decide how much to spend on SEO before you start your SEO work, instead of prematurely investing thousands, tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands in a haphazard way.
Can your site be SEOed?
You may have been aware that not all websites can be SEOed. This is why it becomes necessary to figure out whether your website is difficult or easy to SEO. If you have no idea about whether your website is fundamentally flawed in some way, you’d better make sure:
- More genuinely useful and original content rather than duplicate content throughout your web pages;
- Appropriate or no advertisements on your website;
- The right amount of lists of links to other websites on your website.
How to SEO your website?
In order to keep things organized and as clear as possible, we divide the most trusted SEO tips into several sections, some seem very simple but could have a great impact on your website’s SEO while some go deeper to guide you through building a robust SEO strategy.
Step 1: SEO Domain Registration
Whenever you start a new website, choosing a proper domain name would come first on your time table. The choice will have an impact on almost every area of your website’s success, in terms of not only SEO but also SMM. If you want to maximize search engine-referred traffic, keep in mind of the following elements.
Be cautious about an exact-match domain
An exact-match domain, also known as keyword domain, is a domain name with keyword phrase included. Most SEO newbies tend to pick an exact-match domain as they naively believe that more keywords, more SEO. However, this is not the truth.
Early in 2012, Google has noticed that a considerable number of websites were taking advantage of exact-match domains to improve their SEO. Back then, if you wanted to rank for “cheap web hosting”, so easy! You would just need to spend few bucks and buy the domain name “www.cheapwebhosting.com”, and then you could have your website ranked top on the search engine result page, rapidly and without needing any backlinks or quality content. In response, Google launched the Exact Match Domain Update in September 2012 to crush keyword domain websites with poor quality in the rankings.
In light of the trend since 2012, exact-match domain and other keyword domains have been believed to be less beneficial in the future. It does not mean that you should keep far away from exact-match domains, but it does mean that you shouldn’t take keywords as the primary factor to consider when deciding which domain to choose.
Choose a brandable domain
If there is any factor that is more important than target keywords in a domain name, it must be the brandability of the domain. Keep your brand integrated into your domain name can significantly help people identify, remember, and share your company online. If you want to build a brand online, the first step you need to do is choosing a brandable domain.
You may wonder how to come up with a good brandable domain name, here are 7 tips to consider:
- Make your domain name easy to remember;
- Ensure you domain name communicate your desired message;
- Your domain name should be easy to spell;
- It’s better to have your domain name sound authoritative;
- Keep a short domain name;
- Be unique.
Avoid low quality TLD
Currently, the most common TLD or top-level domain is .com. It is very common to give you the option of buying additional TLDs when registering a domain name. If you’re a SEO-conscious webmaster, it is not recommended to purchase low quality TLDs like .ws, .info, .biz as a means of increasing traffic since some of them are reported to be associated with spam. But it is advised to buy a .com TLD, which has proved to be the simplest, safest, and easiest route to go.
Step 2: SEO URL Structure
URL, or Uniform Resource Locator, is human-readable text created to replace the IP addresses that a computer uses to communicate with servers. To help search engines understand the content of the page as they place weight on the content of the URL and to make your page look more attractive in the search engine results, you should keep your URLs straightforward and meaningful; meanwhile, placing an emphasis on some important URLs is necessary.
Consolidate www & non-www domain versions
In general, www and non-www are two major domain versions indexed in the search engines. Most SEOs incline to either point just one version of their sites to the other using the 301 redirect or specify their preferred version in Google Webmaster Tools. This causes loss of SEO value to a certain extent, when some of the backlinks point to their www version while some go to the non-www version. The best way to ensure both versions’ SEO value is consolidated is explicitly establishing this link between the two.
Make use of static URL structure
Based on the CMS platform you are using to build website on, you may come across two totally different types of URLs, such as
It’s none of search engines’ business as they can index both variants. But we still recommend you to use static URLs instead of dynamic ones for the reason that the former seems more user-friendly and includes your keywords to indicate what the page is about. Additionally, it’s better to use hyphens (-) rather than underscores (_) in URL names.
Create an XML Sitemap
Unlike the HTML sitemap that is designed for human users, the XML is for search engines. An XML Sitemap is not only helpful in letting search engines quickly and easily find your site’s pages, but also useful when search engines are choosing a canonical URL.
Does all webpages should be included into your sitemap? Well, we prefer to say that learning to make intelligent trade-offs based on your knowledge is more important. You need to decide which webpages you want to show up in search and include them into your sitemap.
Keep shorter URLs
In general, shorter URLs are better than longer ones. If you want to gain more value, we’d like to recommend you to keep your URL between 50 and 60 characters. Creating shorter URL is not the problem of search engines like Google or Bing, but for the purpose of improving user experience and overall usability. It is understood that shorter URLs usually have advantages when it comes to easily parsing out, copying & pasting, sharing over social media, and more.
Switch to HTTPS
Google has confirmed that they use HTTPS as a positive ranking signal. Using HTTPS can not only benefit the security of your site, but also bring with additional SEO benefits. Making switch to HTTPS on one hand helps with the Google ranking boost, on the other hand is good for preventing the loss of referral data. In case you need a reliable SSL service since you’re running an e-commerce site involving personal information like credit card numbers and access, you can read our Best SSL Certificates article to find what you want.
Step 3: SEO Title Tags and Meta Descriptions
Both titles tags and meta descriptions are of great importance to improving the CTRs (also known as click-through rates) and the SEO of your website. An optimized title tag and meta description should include keywords relevant to your website’s content so that search engines can quickly and easily understand what it is about and give it higher rankings in SERPs.
Create an attractive title tag for each page
Title tag is one of the most important elements of on-page SEO, defining the title of the document. They usually appear in the SERPs, external pages, social media, and in browsers.
Users often judge the content of your web page simply through the first sight of the page title, so it’s vital to create a high-quality and meaningful title for each page when optimizing your web pages.
- No more than 70 characters per title
- Placing the most important keywords at the more front of the title tag
- Leveraging branding
- Make it readable
Write meta description that rock the SERPs
Meta descriptions are HTML attributes presented as short paragraphs of text and located below the URL. A compelling meta description is helpful to help with your website standing out in the SERPs—resulting in more click-throughs to your site. In order to have a well-written meta description, you need to keep following guidelines in mind:
- Keep character length between 150 and 160 characters
- Concisely articulate your value proposition
- Make it inviting rather than awkward
- In corporate a call-to-action or offer
Step 4: SEO keywords
The SEO keywords, including the key words and phrases in your web content, enable people to find your website with ease through search engines. If you understand very well how people are searching for products, services, or information that you offer, you can make it easy for them to find you by implementing accurate SEO keywords in your website.
Firstly, as a search marketer, you should know that SEO keyword research is an ongoing and ever-evolving part of your job. You are required to find high-volume and competitive keywords for your website, and replace the outdated keywords with news ones periodically. For time-saving reason, leveraging some good SEO tools could be a good idea.
When finding your best keywords for SEO, the next thing you need to consider is making your SEO keywords work for you. The question is how to proceed. Our recommendation is dividing your keywords into small, manageable groups of related keywords and use them in a number of high-attention areas on your site, including you page titles, body text, meta tags, URLs, plus your image file names.
Always remember that keyword relevance plays a much more important role than keyword density in SEO.
Step 5: SEO Web Design
When it comes to an optimized website for search engines, SEO-friendly web design has a pivotal impact on a website’s ability to rank well in SERPs.
Mobile-support is essential
If you have ever gained relevant knowledge of website design, you may have been aware that a mobile content marketing strategy had become essential now. As with the traffic from mobile continuing to surpass that of PC, Google and other major search engines have launched their mobile-first indexing plans one after another. Therefore, you need a responsive design to make sure your website is accessible no matter which device your visitor are using—computer, tablet, or smartphone.
Upload properly-optimized images
Large images often occupy too much memory, leading to slow page loading speed, while small images usually have a negative impact on user experience. So, it is advised to resize your images to the size you want them displayed (somewhere between 20 to 100kb), but don’t shrink them in the source code directly. At the same time, don’t forget to properly incorporate your keywords into your logo image, header image, and all buttons, etc.
Step 6: Integrate with Social Media
As is mentioned elsewhere, Google is no longer making use of social signals from Twitter and Facebook as part of their ranking algorithm. Nonetheless, it has been proven time and time again that social media can indirectly benefit your website in multiple ways, including propelling your content around the web and bringing with higher CTRs, thus increasing your rankings for search engines. The way of incorporating social into your site is quite easy: ensuring every web page of your site has an easy-to-find social media share icons. Additionally, you can promote your website content via different social media channels or enable social sign-in if you’re running an e-commerce site.
We sincerely hope the above tips can help you create a more visible and user-friendly online presence. Or you can still treat them as a checklist to see whether your SEO strategy is relevant and effective if you already begun your SEO adventure.