Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of getting search engines like Google to recognize that your website will offer web users a good online experience, in which case your site will rank higher in the search results.
What does good user experience mean? It means your website offers valuable information related to search terms, that your web pages load fast, and that you have good page design and site structure for easy navigation. Google identify these and many other elements, and uses it to rate and rank your website.
Sadly, failure to be successful at website optimizing is the biggest reason why people give up on their attempt to earn an income online, because unless your website is displayed high in Google's result pages for relevant search terms, it is not necessarily going to bring you more business.
The fact is, it does not have to be such a horror storey. By simply implementing basic SEO principles, and by being just a little bit creative you can already increase your online visibility significantly. We now already understand that the job of a search engine is to provide online users with the best answers and solutions to their search queries, so what you need to do is offer that information on your website in the form of content, where search engines can find it.
What to do already looks more straight forward right right? Now lets look at how to do it.
Search engines want to provide the most useful information to online users. The better, more informative, and more relevant the information shared on your web pages, the more valuable your website become to the likes of Google and Bing, the higher you will rank, and the more customers you will draw.
Your content also needs to be well written, free of grammatical errors and spelling mistakes, and a pleasure to read, meaning it should be engaging and entertaining. This way web users will stay on your site longer, click through to more pages instead of leaving faster than arriving, and are also more like to buy your product or book your services.
The best indicator Google has to decide if your site is a good one, is by looking at user behavior. When web users leave within a minute of clicking on your site, it is likely because your page is not relevant to their search term, or because it is not interesting. If this happens on your site often, Google will pick up on it and your rankings will decline.
But the opposite also happens. When web users stay on your site longer and click through to more of your web pages, it indicates to Google web users find your site interesting, and over time your rankings will improve. This tells us you cannot just write a load of mumbo jumbo on your website. You need to think about topics related to your business that web users will find interesting and write about that. Let us explain.
Lets say you run a hotel. You are obviously going to start by adding content on your home page giving an overview of the hotel. You may also have a page listing your facilities, and a page about your spa and restaurant, but there are many more things to write about to divert more relevant traffic to your website. Lets stay with the hotel example for the moment, which means you are in the tourism and accommodation business.
Do you know how many people search for information about how a superior room, deluxe room, and premium room is classified? Have you ever seen this explained on a hotel's website? They all advertised prices for these rooms, they all show the facilities in the room, but none explain how they are classified, so why don't you do it, because this type of information is directly related to what you offer, and could draw customers.
What we're saying is that knowledge and expertise are great selling tools, so use it. You can go further and write about upcoming events travelers will be interested in like festivals for example, share information about local food and good nearby restaurants, all of which is information people constantly look for.
The more regularly you publish new content, the more regularly information hungry web users will return to your website to read the latest news, share it with their friends, thus growing your follower base. All which remains now is for you to cleverly weave the right keywords which might match search terms into your content.
Choose the Right Keywords
The first step in creating content which will bring potential clients to your website is keyword research, meaning, finding out what people type into the search bar when they search for something related to what you offer. The second step would be to identify those words which are popular, but with modest competition so you don't take forever to rank, and optimize your content with those keywords.
Lets say you run a restaurant in Siem Reap, you may have a tough time ranking for a keyword like "restaurant in Siem Reap" because there are so many restaurants competing with you, and the keyword is too broad based. Moreover, web users theses are specific about what they search for, so it is unlikely they will simply search for "restaurants in Siem Reap". They search would more like describe the type of restaurant they are searching for.
You therefore need multiple keywords in a phrase which is more descriptive. Ask your self questions about your restaurant, think what makes it different from other restaurants, and let the answers guide you to identify keywords.
Examples will include keywords like "authentic Khmer food restaurant near old market" or "Cheap French restaurant in Siem Reap" or "best family friendly restaurant in Siem Reap". Using keywords too repetitively, something referred to as keyword stuffing, can see your rankings drop though, so make sure your article has a natural flow .
Title and Meta Tags
When one of your web pages shows up in the search results, the title tag is what tells users, and search engines like Google, what your page is about. Lets for example say you have a hotel in Siem Reap called Smiley Hotel, your title tag would look something like this: Luxury Hotel in Siam Reap Near Angkor Wat | Smiley Hotel. Just below that would be your URL (www.smileyhotel.com).
Below that is that meta description, giving a short description of what you are offering. Make sure your title tag contain your most important keywords, that your meta description draws attention, and that your content deliver on what your title tag promises.
Search engines do not want users to wait forever for your page to download, and page speed subsequently became a major ranking factor back in 2012 already. Yet people still build websites without attention to page speed optimization.
The most common reasons page speed is slow, is because images are not optimized, slow server speed, not keeping extensions updated (which is why it is important you make use of our monthly maintenance packages), and not enabling caching and HTTP compression. Before you employ a company to build your website, first test them by asking them about these issues to see if they intend to include it for you.
Be Mobile Responsive
The screens of mobile phones, tablets, iPads and all the rest are not only smaller than the screen of a PC, they all also have different shapes and sizes from one another. A mobile responsive website has the ability to automatically adjust to fit perfectly on any of these screens.
Any new website should be optimized for smaller mobile screens, but if you have an older site which is not, you might want to consider a re-design for the following reasons. When your site opens on a mobile screen and it cannot adjust, it will lead to a bad user experience meaning people will immediately leave your website, and secondly your ranking for searches on mobile devices will decline.
Considering that more than 60% of all searches are conducted on mobile devices it is obvious what you need to do.
Link building, or more correctly, link acquisition or link earning, refers to other websites showing a link on one or more of their pages pointing to your website. Why would they do that? Lets say you have a website for your French restaurant in Phnom Penh. Your website looks professional, it is user friendly and people can even book a table online, you publish lots of interesting information about French food, and you publish reviews of your customers.
Now lets say I have a blog about food from around the world, I want to write an article about French restaurants in Cambodia, and I come across your website. With so much good content, as well as guest reviews, I might think my readers can benefit from the information on your website. So when I write about French food in Cambodia, I will include a link in my content which will re-direct my readers to your website when they click on it. Of course, you could eventually have many bloggers linking to your website.
Google sees each of these links as a vote of confidence and respect for your website from other websites, and Google will of course be correct. I linked to you because you have a good, useful website. Therefore, if me and other site or blog owners like me says you have a good website by linking to you, Google will think you have a good website also, and improve your rankings. Earning links in the wrong way, sometimes even unknowingly could have the opposite effect, and see your rankings drop. In our next article we talk a little more about that.