If you missed part 1 of DIY SEO tips, you may want to click above and read it first. For those of you who’ve read it last week, I am assuming you did the first simple five tips and are ready to tweak some more. So, let’s jump into the following six tips.
While there are many different web-design platforms, I am going to talk about WordPress mainly, since it’s one of the most popular. However, these tips still apply no matter what tool you use. It may vary how you may apply them, but the tips are sound.
WordPress is a modular system. By this, I mean you put together the website and features you need by choosing different modules known as plugins. The first module you start with is a theme. The theme is the backbone of your website and all themes are not equal.
WordPress makes many free themes available, but just remember you get what you pay for. I recommend buying a premium theme. Invest a little, after all, how long do you expect to stay in business? Hopefully, a very long time! If so, isn’t it worth spending $50 to $65 once?
Okay, if you’ve chosen a good theme, it will have a built in SEO section that will apply your settings globally. Here you will find several things (one we will cover next week, Google Analytics). You will see a website meta-description section and a keywords section.
Make sure to think through your meta description well. You only have 160 characters. It’s a little more than a public tweet on Twitter. You want it to describe what you do, with as many keywords as possible, but again – naturally. This is what someone will see below the link when they search and find your website. See below.
Let’s use the example from my last article, Wannabe T-shirts Production specializing in rapid turnaround, dye-sublimation printing. And, if you read the previous article, you know we chose to go with “tshirts” (without the hyphen) to take advantage of SEO low-hanging fruit. My meta description could be:
Wannabe Tshirts is your leading provider of dye-sublimation tshirts printed rapidly and affordably. High quality cotton and cotton-blend tshirts that last.
This is 155 characters with spaces, falling comfortably under the 160-character limit. In this example, “tshirts” and “dye-sublimation” were the keywords.
A website has many pages and posts. A page is the website portion of your site; a post is the blog portion. Writing just one description and expecting it to apply perfectly to each individual page is naïve. Moreover, a blog is your opinion editorial (OpEd) page, if you will, and those articles will cover varying micro-faceted topics. Therefore, each page may have its own keywords and meta description.
An SEO plugin (if you purchased a quality theme, many will have this built in for pages and posts), provides a section on each page for you to add what you added to the theme globally, individually; plus it includes a TITLE section. Some even include a Facebook Open Graph image section, so you know what image Facebook will pull if you post that page. See example of BeTheme SEO section below.
One of the most popular is YOAST SEO. For example, you may offer several services. While your global description was your elevator pitch, you can get more specific on each page and blog post.
Finding your homepage may be harder, but finding individual pages may be easier. Ever searched for a specific topic, like how to clean a Canon EOS camera? You found a link with tips and maybe even a video. When you clicked on the article, it took you to the author’s website through the backdoor – BUT you arrived!
Now if the website is designed strategically to pull you in deeper, using the sidebar, calls to action and other tactics, you will probably read the article and check out the website while you are there, and possibly subscribe to the blog or newsletter. This is the ultimate goal; a sale is second because very few people buy on the first trip. If you can’t continue the conversation, you won’t get to second base.
The SEO plugin helped you get more specific on what an article is about or a page has to offer, making it easier to find because of the richness in specificity and keyword density (how often you used the keyword based on how many words are on the page).
Alternate Tags, or Alt Tags (also known as Alt Text), are the descriptions of images – not to be confused with a caption. An Alt Tag is not seen by the human eye; it is seen by bots and screen readers. Screen readers help people who are visually impaired by reading what’s on the website so they can hear it. Since they can’t see the images, the Alt Tags give them an idea of what the image might be.
Since bots can’t see images either, they read the Alt Tags to get an idea if the image is appropriate to the content. So, if I must write an Alt Tag to describe the image, I use keywords in the description.
For example, if I had an image of a young lady with a tablet, smiling, I may write, “Happy website client of Eddie Velez and Success by Design, admiring her website on her tablet.” This provides more keyword density.
A website lives in the cloud. It’s made up of digital assets. These assets include text, images, videos, audio, conversion forms and sliders (those images at the top of your homepage that slide or fade, changing pictures and messages). All of this adds up to many kilobytes and megabytes.
If you’re a computer novice, understand that all a computer understands is 1s (one’s) and 0s (zeros). It’s the combination of this binary code which tells the chip how to decipher it and what to do. The more code, the larger the file is in memory. It all starts with 1 bit. 8 bits make a byte. 1,024 bytes make a kilobyte (KB). 1,024 KB make a megabyte (MB). 1,024 MB make a gigabyte (GB). 1,024 GB make a terabyte (TB).
All of this has to be downloaded through your internet connection. Whether it’s 4G, WiFi, or direct connection to your modem with a NiC cable. If you have a slow connection, the more it has to download, the longer it will take. Since we’ve become accustomed to a microwave mentality of “I want it NOW!” many will leave if your site is too slow. And, Google will hurt your ranking for a slow website as well.
You want to make sure your images are as small as possible (in kilobytes or memory, not necessarily in dimensions). You do this by making sure your image is 72 PPI (Pixels Per Inch) and the level of quality for a JPEG you choose.
The Internet is very forgiving. An image you would never print, because it would be pixelated and blurry, will look sharp online. If you have a graphics program like Photoshop, when you save an image as a JPEG, it will ask for a level of quality ranging from 1 (the worst) to 12 (the best). I typically choose a 6. The difference could be an image that may be 1 megabyte (in this case, 1,010 kilobytes) at a selection of 12, to 255 kilobytes (¼ the size) at a level 6. (See image below.)
To the viewer it makes no difference. To your load time it makes a world of difference, since it’s not the only asset downloading. All those assets add up! While we’re on the topic of speeding up your site, let’s look at how you can distribute the delivery of your images with a content delivery network.
Imagine you had a business that prided itself on speedy delivery. Let’s say you delivered pizza and you promised it would be delivered in 30 or fewer minutes or it was free (like Dominos in the 1980’s). In order to keep your promise, what if you had 10 different kitchens spread around your city. When you received an order, you would dispatch it from the kitchen closest to your customer’s home. That, my friends, is a content delivery network (CDN).
A CDN (like Cloudflare or JetPack) caches your images in hundreds to thousands of servers worldwide. When someone visits your website, it delivers the images from the closest server, increasing the speed of your website. I mentioned JetPack because it’s free and offers other benefits to boot. JetPack is owned by WordPress, so if you use JetPack on your site, you have a CDN.
Finally, again on the speed front, using a caching plugin will greatly increase the speed. WordPress, being a PHP database website, doesn’t have static pages like old HTML websites. It has sections like the header, footer, sidebar and the main page section, which exists independently. When someone clicks on a page, WordPress says…
“Okay, let’s pull the header and put it here; pull the footer and place it over there; grab the sidebar and put it to the left or right, and finally, grab the content for this specific page and place it here in the middle.”
It is building the pages on the fly! This allows for great scalability, the use of plugins as I mentioned previously and other benefits. But, it takes time!
What if you could take a picture of the page with all its assets in place, so when you needed to see it, it pulled everything at once, alleviating the heavy lifting of piecing it together? It would load quicker and would only need to take another picture when you changed something. This is caching.
So there you have part 2. Stay tuned for part 3, the final 6 tips next week. Until then, work on these, so when you get the final 6, you can implement those and have a well-done DIY on-page SEO experience.