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This is the second part of our SEO for Beginners podcast. Because this section is vital for the success of any website when it comes to Google, I felt it best to put this section together all on its own.
In SEO for Beginners Part I. I touched on some of the external decisions you need to make when creating a website that will rank for Google. We spent some time on picking web hosting. I built Vertical Web’s Hosting Infrastructure specifically to accommodate Google. And I did it long before Google even knew it needed to be addressed.
We also talked about choosing the right platform. From my standpoint, WordPress is the only correct solution. I know it sounds a little narrow-minded but, singularly focused with Google as the target, it really is the most viable to do what is needed. And trust me there is a lot needed.
Fundamentals of SEO or Technical SEO
When I look back over the 20 years we have been building websites and ranking websites, there are some fundamental things that have always been present. Sometimes they take a more center stage focus within the Google Algorithm, and other times, they take a backseat. But having career ranking websites, I have found we have to make very little overhauls if you get the fundamental foundations right. I have sites that we have been responsible for the SEO, and although we need to modernize the appearance, the basic foundational issues are always correct.
So what do I mean by fundamentals? They have become affectionately known as Technical SEO. And as I continue to weigh on-site vs. off-site SEO, I continue to find websites that have strong link profiles and terrible on-site SEO. It is really the opposite of a few years ago because everyone was so singularly focused on links, they took their eye off the on-site part of the process. So today’s podcast starts to look at exactly what this all means and how doing it right on day one saves you money and time, and gains you far more traction. And if you have an existing site, why your site must be brought into alignment.
So although I skipped picking Keywords, and will do this in a different podcast, I had to talk about how you set your website up.
The Signals Lead to the Benjamins –
Google looks for signals, which are ranking variables that clue Google into what a page or a website is about. There is a factor of commonality and certain words that trigger Google that helps Google discern user intent. So we must understand those triggers so we can build pages for the outcomes we want.
So the question then should be what are those triggers and how should my website and then my web page address them? They are structure, meaning, how is my website outlined and how is it put together, using the navigation as the roadmap. How am I utilizing headings to make them work to signal Google what the page is about? How do I use anchor text to create signals?
In addition, all these signals will allow Google to produce the right search result for each query. And, best of all, if this is done right the user will be directed to the right page on your website, rather than be forced to land and then figure out where they are supposed to go. If you don’t afford your users this, what will happen is they will simply bounce back to Google. The end user expects to land in the right spot, so this is another reason the outline of the site must be set up correctly.
When these items are put together correctly on a page, Google gets a clear picture of your website and therefore places it where they think it should be in their search result. By handling all these principles properly, your site will more than likely make it into the top 20 with very little effort, depending on how competitive the keyword is. And, once the site is placed, you will be able to fine tune it into the first page.
It All Starts with a Mind Map
I encourage everyone that wants to have a ranking website to create a mind map of that site. The reason to start there is twofold. First, by diagramming your website you will be able to visualize how the site should be constructed. There are several types of pages that live on a website and depending on where that page falls in the mind map is how that page is constructed. Is it a topic page? Is it an article that supports the topic? Or is it a blog page?
Each of those page types has different attributes, and in fact, we will also be doing a class the different types of pages.
But not to lose sight of what we are talking about, your mind map should break out an outline of your website. The top-level categories will be topics pages. The article pages may be subtopics or simply stand alone articles. And lastly, although most important in 2022, your blog post. And if your site is as complex as some of them, the mind map helps make sure all the pages get written and integrated properly. I know this sounds like a lot of work, but if this is all set up correctly, it will sustain you for years, and other than adding a new UX/UI element, you are well structured to go the long haul.
Understanding your SEO competitor
It is important to understand your competitor and the websites you compete with to hold a top spot on a keyword. Tools like SEO Minion help you quickly analyze your competitors. You will need to average the total number of words on the page, as well as look to see how many headings they have. This helps us to understand the attributes of what Google sees as a good page.
There has been a lot of blather on related keywords, but really it boils down to what does Google think your page is about and how can you best reinforce that. In most cases the word counts are well over 1500 words for a quality page ranking on the first page of Google. Even as I type this I’m only at 1071 words, and I will need to expand past this to even have a chance of this page ranking. But the nut shell is you are going to have to evaluate your competition to see exactly what you are needing. If you are way short, chances are you will not rank or get penalized for thin content. Neither of which are beneficial based on goals and effort.
The other delimiter is to make sure you know what category your website and your page belong in, and make sure you stay in that page. There are websites that will help you determine what your category is, and once you do, you need to consistently stay in that category with your content. So as an SEO company I cannot just wake up and decide to write an article on being and MSP. That page would not be deemed relevant and would not help move the ball forward.
The Header Tag Factor in Ranking
So this is probably the biggest mistake I see business owners make. They do not use the H1, H2 tags properly. And poor use of these segments dramatically hurts your rankings. So if you’re a plumber, you need to say something about plumber and location in your H1 tag and only have one of these items. The laser focus on these is imperative for the website to rank properly. Those H tags also have to be clear, concise, and support the text of the page. If they do not, your efforts are not going to work right.
Technical SEO Factors Checklist
- Site Structure. How is your site organized?
- What is the Category of the Page you are working on?
- Do you know your keywords?
- Do you know your competitor’s keywords?
- Did you add a proper title tag that supports your Site Structure and Keywords?
- Did you use the right H1, H2 tags that support your Title Tag, Site Structure and Keywords?
In April we will cover how to write content for each of the page types outlined in this article to complete the SEO for Beginners Series.
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