Designing a website is only half the battle. Making sure people can find it is an entire job by itself. That's why search engine optimization (SEO) has developed into a full area of study. There are many ways to make sure that your website is found in search. With a little bit of research, you can make it easier for people to find your website.
Generally speaking, there are two categories for SEO: on-page and off-page. Your on-page SEO involves all the customization you make to the pages on your website. From tags to URLs (which we will get into later in this article), these are all elements that most website creators will give you access to. On-page accounts for about 30% of your site’s overall SEO. The other 70% takes place off-page, and this is where things get a little more complicated.
Some examples of off-page SEO are links to your website from external websites, or even mentions of your brand on those websites. While you may not be able to control these elements from within your website creator, you can take action to help make them happen. Check out the Ultimate Guide for Off-Page SEO by Neil Patel; this article is a comprehensive guide that will surely help get you started with your own website. Other helpful resources include the Moz Blog, Google’s Official Blog and KISSmetrics. For this article, we’ll show you everything you can do in PageCloud to improve your on-page SEO.
As counterproductive as it may seem, the most important lesson in SEO is to optimize your website for people, not search engines. After all, it's people who are using the search engines. Search engines want to show users content that most resembles what they are looking for. So catering your website’s content to what you think people may be searching for is crucial. User experience matters when it comes to SEO, so make sure your site is clean, easy to navigate, accessible and fast.
This is because search engines want to provide people with content that is going to answer their questions in a clear and concise way. If your content is helpful, and entertaining enough that people will want to share it, it's more likely to appear higher in search. Create content for humans. It's that simple.
With that in mind, here are some ways that you can optimize your website for search.
This is probably the most obvious aspect of SEO. Knowing that words people use when they are search for businesses in your industry is integral to making sure your website appears in those searches. This might be the one thing you could use an SEO expert to help you determine. However, there are a number of ways to find these words on your own as well.
You can use Google's search suggestions to determine the words being used to search your business. For example, you can open an incognito window, type your company's name into the Google search bar and look at the suggestions that pop up before you hit Enter. These are the most commonly searched terms based on what you've typed in so far, giving you a good idea at what people are looking for when they look for you.
Do this for industry terms as well. For example, if you are an advertising agency, type Advertising into the search bar and see what words come up along with it. You might see Advertising tips or Advertising trends. There are the titles for your next blog posts (or ideas for other forms of content). Adding content to your website that matches with Google's search suggestions is a great way to make sure it appears higher in search.
Another great service to use is Google Trends. It will show you what words are being searched in your industry, what areas these words are most popular, timelines for search rates and geographic information on where these searches are coming from (this is especially helpful if you are targeting people in specific areas).
Incorporate Keywords into Your Content
Once you have the keywords that you want to target, now you need to incorporate them into your content. Whether it's blog posts, knowledge-base articles, videos or entire web pages, these words should drive what content goes on your website. Let's say you've written an article (hosted on your website) based on some of these keywords. Be sure to include them in the body of the article, title, meta description/title, URL, H1 and H2 tags, and Alt tags in images. Use PageCloud's palette to add metadata, tags and additional information using keywords.
Not only are you giving people content that they are searching for, but you are also ensuring that the content of the page matches the words in the title, description, URL and tags. Remember, creating content that answers questions is one of the first steps to optimizing your website for search. By incorporating keywords into your content, you ensure that your content is being determined by the questions that people are already asking.
Example of how your site may appear in a Google search:
Notice that the title, URL and description all feature the word PageCloud. Google will bold the words that a user types into the search bar. So if your keywords appear in these areas, they will appear bolded, and the user will see that what they're searching for is addressed.
Design for Mobile
Making your website mobile friendly will guarantee that you get tagged as such in search. Google will rank sites in two different ways: desktop/laptop and mobile. Theoretically, you could rank high in the desktop/laptop rankings, but low in mobile. This is because Google doesn't want to provide websites to people that aren't labelled mobile friendly, as it will not be helpful to those on mobile devices. A mobile-friendly website is key to creating a positive user experience and providing the same content/functionality on every device. So ensuring that your website falls into this category is vital.
You can use PageCloud's mobile mode to customize your content for mobile devices, ensuring that your site is beautiful, functional and helpful on any device. Once you've designed your website in desktop mode, you can flip over to mobile mode and rearrange your content to fit within a phone screen. You are in complete control over what your visitors will see when they're browsing in mobile, and it doesn't require writing any code.
Building a mobile-friendly website is just one way to ensure that your site appears higher in searches, and ultimately attracts more people to come and visit.
Root Domains and Subdomains
One thing to keep in mind when mapping out your site is the difference between your root domain and subdomain. A root domain is part of your core site (example: yoursite.com/pricing), while a subdomain would be something like pricing.yoursite.com. Google will give preference to root domains, and will treat your subdomain as a completely different part of your website. So it's important to link to your core site as often as possible.
Pages at higher levels of your root domains tend to perform better than those at a lower level. For example, a page at a higher level of your root domain would be yoursite.com/pricing, while a page at a lower level would look like yoursite.com/pricing/freetrial/download. The higher a page is on your root domain, the more likely it is to appear in search. Therefore you should place your most important pages at the highest level of your root domain.
Redirects and 404 Pages
There may be times when you have to delete existing pages. When you do this, it's important to redirect the original URL to an existing page, in order to maintain that page's SEO. You can do this using 301 redirects. Visitors won't even know that they're being redirected, and there won't be an impact to your site's SEO.
Another unfortunate reality of the internet is that sometimes, web pages don't work. Maybe you're doing work on your site and the page is temporarily unavailable, or maybe there is a glitch that is being fixed. But regardless of the reason, you should always have a helpful 404 page designed to help visitors when they land on a page that doesn't work.
The most important thing is that you let them know that something went wrong. Be up front, and tell them you are aware that there is a problem and are working on a solution. You can also offer a temporary solution in the form of a search function or a feedback mechanism where they can get in touch with you. PageCloud offers you many integrations such as chat apps that you can incorporate into your owpage, giving visitors a direct way to find more information from you. This ensures they don't leave with a bad experience after not finding the page they want.
Title and Alt Text in Images
This is where you can make the images on your website help your SEO. Adding keywords and descriptions to your images will make them more accessible in search. It's an opportunity to put that keywords research you did earlier to work, and highlight what your website is all about to Google.
Images on your website will have two areas where you can enter text: Title and Alt text. The title would be the main keyword for that specific image; the world or term you are trying to rank for. While the Alt text should be a description of what exactly is going on in that image. This is so that someone who is visually impaired can understand what’s in the image, through a text reader.
Adding Titles and Alt text to images is easy in PageCloud, as the Image panel provides an input area for them. All you have to do is import your image, and fill out the Title the Alternative Text areas in the panel.
SEO can be an intimidating area of your website. But it doesn't have to be. We've been led to believe that it requires heavy coding to optimize a website for search. But at the end of the day, it just comes down to knowing your audience. Know what content they are looking for, and give it to them.
Make content that is helpful, and so compelling that they feel inclined to share it. Content is the key to SEO. Focus on your audience and the content you're developing for them, and you won't have to worry about writing code to trick a search engine ever again.
Want to see it first hand? Try PageCloud for free, and see how easy improving your website’s SEO can be without ever writing a single line of code.