Best Practices for Optimizing SEO, As Suggested by Google

Google has always seemed to love me. Starting out as a life coach in 2011 I quickly ranked high on the first page for ‘life coach for moms.’ And now I’m at the top of the first page when you search ‘web designer for coaches.’

I’ve never paid an SEO strategist, I never secretly inundated my site with keywords. I was real and I built a site for my site visitors.

Let me say that again… I built my website for my visitors, my future clients, those navigating my site on a daily basis.

I did not build my site for Google.

And you know what? Google likes that. Like a lot.

I have always been interested in SEO and all the little tweaks that can be made here and there. As a coach, I’d read every article I could find, comb through starter guides, set up guides, optimization guides and more. I lived in my Google Analytics account… not so much obsessed with the results but really out of my love for their spreadsheets, graphs and analytics themselves. They’re fascinating!

Fast forward from 2011… a lot has changed. But what hasn’t changed is Google’s desire for the internet to have authentic, relevant content that’s easy to find and consume.

It really is that simple.

But if you’re wondering about all the other tasks you could be focusing on to further optimize your site, you might want to check out Google’s Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Starter Guide here.

It’s a pretty comprehensive guide and as they mention right from the getgo it won’t provide any secrets that’ll automatically rank your site first in Google, but following the best practices outlined will hopefully make it easier for search engines to crawl, index and understand your content.

Remember that’s the end-game, make your site simple + user-friendly for your users (+ of course, Google).

I pulled out a short list of action items you can begin focusing on today. Remember SEO is a marathon, not a sprint. As a web designer, the main tasks I tend to focus on first to lay the foundation for all of my websites are:

  • Using heading tags to emphasize important text
  • Making the content easy to scan for users
  • Organizing the site hierarchy
  • Planning the navigation based on the homepage
  • Creating a simple navigation page for users
  • Using simple yet descriptive page titles
  • Using simple URLs that convey the content information
  • Making the content easy to follow
  • Organizing topics clearly
  • Optimizing content for the users, not search engines
  • Formatting links so they’re easy to spot
  • Describing links appropriately
  • Using simple yet descriptive file names for images
  • Using standard image formats (JPEG, PNG, etc)
  • Optimizing the file size of all images
  • Creating simple yet description alt text for images
  • Making the site mobile-friendly (meaning it’s fully responsive, legible and easy to navigate on a smartphone, tablet, etc.)

Then, to take things up a notch I configure the Yoast SEO plugin. This plugin will allow you to add in custom page titles as well as meta descriptions and focus keyword phrases for each of your pages and posts. It’s important to understanding optimizing your site’s SEO is much more than the copy we put behind the scenes and using fancy SEO plugins.

So let’s say you’ve crossed off every task above and you’re good to go.

Not quite.

SEO is not a one-and-done kinda job.

As Google states in their starter guide, “Organic or word-of-mouth buzz is what helps build your site’s reputation with both users and Google, and it rarely comes without quality content.”

The best way to accomplish this is to be regularly publishing relevant content to your site, most commonly done via a blog.

Once all of the above is completed, you’ll then want to keep your focus on:

  • Creating fresh unique content
  • Promoting your website
  • Linking to your social media profiles
  • Sharing relevant content on social media
  • Analyzing your search performance
  • Analyzing user behavior

It’s a lot. And as a tech-loving, website designer I have to continue to remind myself that not everyone loves this kinda stuff. In fact, the majority of people tend to find SEO (and technology in general) overwhelming and moving too fast.

I get that.

That’s why all of these strategies are the included in each and every one of my website builds. Intrigued? Learn more about what it would look like to work together here.

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