Any business with a website and online ambitions has a dream: to rank at the top of search engine results pages. However, with literally millions of other websites vying for the same spots and at the whim of algorithms, it’s not so easy to get there.
That’s where search engine optimization, or “SEO” for short, comes in. SEO is a series of best practices, tweaks, and technical optimizations meant to give your website an edge on search results, making it more likely for your pages to rank highly on the search results pages that matter for your business.
In this article, we’ll go over what you need to do to optimize your website for search engines such as Google and earn those coveted rankings.
The types of SEO
There are three types of SEO:
- On-page SEO, which are optimizations done within the pages of your website, such as adding search engine-friendly metadata, structuring the page correctly, including alternative text on images, and more;
- Off-page SEO, which are factors outside your website that impact its rankings, predominantly links to your website (“backlinks”) from reputable sources;
- On-site SEO, sometimes bundled into on-page SEO by some experts, optimizations applied broadly to your whole website, most notably, having an SSL certificate and picking a speed-optimized server to minimize the time to first byte.
While there are strategies to try and increase quality backlinks to your website and improve on other off-page factors, we’ll be mostly concerning ourselves with on-page and on-site optimizations. Seeing as those are the ones where you can have the most significant direct impact and control more closely.
Ways of optimizing your website for search engines
Include relevant meta tags on each page
In the context of SEO, Meta tags are HTML tags that you include in your page’s source code, specifically within the head tag, to provide metadata to search engines about your page so they can better understand it. (If that sounds like a bunch of gobbledygook, don’t worry; it’s not as technical as it says on most platforms.)
The essential meta tags that you should include are:
- The title tag, which gives your page a default title on search engines (as well as the title for browser tabs);
- The meta description, a tag to write a short description, preferably under 120 characters, of your page to include on the search results;
- The canonical tag says which variant of a page is a priority on search engines and avoids duplication issues.
There’s usually also a keywords tag that often people mistake as a win-all button for easy results. The fact of the matter is, Google, at least, ignores that meta tag completely, so you shouldn’t waste too much time on it.
You usually don’t have to insert any code manually yourself; if you’re using a content management system, there’s often an option to add those meta tags while you’re editing a page on the backend. For WordPress, you’re going to need an SEO plugin for that, such as Yoast SEO or RankMath, which will add the necessary meta tag fields.
Select a focus keyword for each page and make sure to optimize your content around it
Keywords have been a big deal in SEO from the start and remain so, although it’s now more complex than simply spamming the same word or phrase over and over in your text.
You should ideally pick a focus keyword to work from, the general term you would like to rank on search engines for that specific page. Going off that, find some secondary and related words to that keyword that you will use throughout the page’s content, further strengthening the content around the main keyword.
Be sure to include that focus keyword on the title of your page and within the first 100 words of your content for better results.
Structure your content with headings and logical sections
Search engines love structure and semantics, so you should take the extra care to split your content into convenient short sections, each with its heading—much like this article!
Remember that a heading is more than just simply making the font size larger and maybe bold. To do it in a semantically-correct way, you should use heading tags for that purpose. On the modern WordPress Gutenberg editor, there is a headings block to pick the correct heading for each section.
- Heading 1 (H1) is typically reserved for the main title of your page.
- Heading 2 would be for the sections of your page.
- Heading 3 would be for any subsections of those sections, and so on.
Include alternative text for images
Alternative text, colloquially called “alt text” is a feature for images on the Web that lets you include a short description of the image for accessibility purposes, e.g., for sight-impaired users. It’s also great for telling search engines what the content of an image is, helping you optimize your page’s scope even further.
Usually, content management systems will let you define the alternative text, sometimes called a description, when uploading and selecting an image for use. Try to include your focus or a secondary keyword in that description, but, above all, keep it concise and clear about the image’s content.
Get a speed-optimized Web server and a caching plugin
Speed is one of the main factors to consider on the modern Web; users do not want to wait for pages to load, so search engines prefer faster-loading pages to slower ones.
No matter how well-optimized your Web pages are, if your server is slow, that is a bottleneck you won’t be able to get past. Unfortunately, most shared hosting and anything but the super-expensive premium offers tend to be slow.
If you’re using WordPress or any PHP-based platform, your best bet for a fast website is a LiteSpeed server, optimized for speed and delivers excellent results even if your site has too much going on.
You will also want to use a caching plugin to speed up your website even further. Caching allows your pages to be served far more rapidly to users by turning dynamic PHP pages into static HTML ones, maintaining all features but delivering results far more quickly.
Get to first place on search results with the help of Neoxea
At Neoxea, our job is to provide you with the best possible Web Hosting and top-of-the-line support at a fraction of the cost. Moreover, our servers take advantage of the LiteSpeed Web Server architecture. However, we also have a custom cache plugin to ensure that your website is super-fast, one of the requirements to hold high rankings on Google.
If you’re worried about SEO, see our Web Hosting plans and find the best choice for your business.