SEO or Search Engine Optimization is the process of making your website visible to search engines such as Google and Bing, while improving the site’s ranking on SERPs or Search Engine Result Pages.
Search engines have the ability to bring thousands of targeted visitors to your site completely free of charge. Google and other search engines use bots to crawl the web in order to find new webpages and store those records in their database. If those bots can’t index or find your website, it won’t appear in search results.
Making your site SEO-friendly will increase the ranking in SERPs and will get you more traffic. Ad networks such as Adsense and Media.net consider traffic from search engines to be of high quality and therefore will pay you more.
Websites built on Content Management Systems such as WordPress are SEO-friendly from the get go but in a very basic way. Just follow the steps given below to prepare your WordPress site for SEO.
Sign in to your WordPress admin panel and navigate to Settings >> Reading. There you will see a checkbox saying “Discourage search engines from indexing this site”. Uncheck it if it’s checked.
If you keep it checked, search engine bots won’t be able to pick up your site and index the pages in it.
The URLs in your website must be well structured and should clearly explain what the page’s content is about.
Take a look at this article’s URL. A person who reads it can easily understand what the content is about and to which category it belongs, even before reading it.
Some non-SEO-friendly URLs are given below for your reference.
Putting numbers and dates in URLs is a big no-no. You can change the URL structure of your website by signing in to your WordPress admin panel and navigating to Settings >> Permalinks.
Choose the “post name” option or go with a more customized approach as shown below.
You have to choose whether your site needs the www. suffix or not. Whatever you choose, make sure you stick with one. Don’t mix them up because search engines treat them as two different sites regardless of the same domain name.
To change this setting, navigate to Settings >> General and change both, the WordPress Address and Site Address fields to one value.
As I said before, these steps just prepare your site for SEO and allows search engines to find and index its pages. Keep in mind that 90% of the people only care about the links which appear on the first results page. If your site doesn’t rank in the first 5 pages, you will get very little to no traffic.
To increase your rankings, first take care of the on-site SEO, the technical aspects. The easiest way to do this is to buy the Yoast SEO plugin and follow their tutorials to fine tune the SEO settings. If done correctly, your site may even appear on the first page in Google SERPs (Of course that depends on how niched your site is).
Search engines use very complex algorithms to decide the ranking of search results. These algorithms still remain a secret, however, long term research has identified some important factors that affects the ranking in SERPs. Take a look at the chart below.
Keyword targeting and link building are best ways to increase your search rankings.
What is your website about? If you were a normal user, what words would you type into Google or any other search engine to find your own website?
Try answering these questions. List down all the keywords that come to your mind and pick out the most important ones. Then continue to write useful content based on those keywords. Targeting long-tail keywords is recommended.
Link building is the core of SEO. When Google cater results to a user, they list the authority sites first. Authority sites are the sites which get shared alot on social media and get backlinks from other popular blogs/websites. The better your content, the more people will share and link to it. Link building will slowly but surely increase your site’s SEO and will increase the site’s rankings.
The bottom line is, no matter how much you struggle, off-site SEO techniques such as link building will take time to kick in but when they do, you will be glad that you didn’t give up. Just remember “A river cuts through rock, not because of its power but because of its persistence”.