When I created my first blog years ago I had no idea what SEO meant. Gosh, I hadn’t even heard of search engine optimization. All I had to do was to create a blog, write a couple of posts, and then see it on Google’s first page. To me, it was that simple. Needless to say, things turned out to be a little more complicated.
Here’s what actually happened. I made my blog on wordpress.com and stuffed it with interesting stories from my bicycle trip across Europe. Then I just had to wait people to come over and start reading. A couple of days passed by and the number of visitors remained zero. I shared my posts on Facebook and my friends instantly went to my blog to check them out. The bad news was the next day my traffic sank again. I typed my blog’s name in Google only to find out it wasn’t there. Not only it was not on page 1, it wasn’t on page 31 either.
It was only then when I realized this was the first time I went to page 2 on Google. It turns out I am no the only one – only 6% of the organic traffic websites generate come from search results listed on Google’s second page.
Obviously I was missing something important. So I started looking for guides to help me with this eternal question “how to get my site on Google’s first page?” What I learned was rather dissapointing – it was not enough to have a website to get featured on the first page. I was shocked when I found out search engine optimization (SEO) is a time and effort-consuming process. What really stunned me was the fact that I couldn’t just spend a hundred bucks to quickly make my way to the top. Now when I work as a digital marketer and a copywriter I find it funny how naive I was back then.
What is SEO?
Search engine optimization is a process that aims to improve your search engine rankings. Search engines such as Google, Bing, Yahoo, and Yandex all have similar criterias when it comes to ranking so you don’t have to apply different SEO tactics for each search engine. Optimization takes time and effort and it requires a lot of patience. The good news is – when you play by the rules and don’t try to screw up the system you can achieve long-term results.
As I said, search optimization is a slow process. The reason for this is that search engine ranking depend on hundreds of different factors. If you want your site on the first page of Google you have to be prepared to work hard and keep in mind all of the factors that play part in search engine rankings. Another thing you have to be prepared for – engines need time to index your site and the changes you make to it. In short, you can’t simply pay the algorithm to come and index your website.
Wait, wait, wait! What is this algorithm? Search engines (all of them) periodically visit all websites on the internet, they look for new websites, new content and that helps them understand what each website is all about. This crawling helps Google and other search engines show us the most relevant results to our search queries.
Generally speaking, SEO has two big parts – on-site optimization and off-site optimization. You are in full control of your website’s on-site optimization because it is related to the technical part of your site. What platform (or language) it is built on, how fast does it load, is it easy to navigate, is
Google says that site speed, mobile-friendliness, and metatags are crucial to SEO. Platforms such as WordPress, Wix, and Weebly solve this problem to a great extent. For example, most of today’s WordPress themes have responsive designs, meaning they look great on every screen, regardless of its size. On the other hand, site speed depends on the number (and size) of the images on your website and its caching. Using Cloudflare is easy and guarantees for professional cache performance. You can further boost site speed by compressing the images you use.
Worpdress offers a variety of SEO plugins such as YOAST and All in ONE SEO. If you don’t want to code, you can rely on them and seamlessly manage your metatags and image descriptions. Additionaly, there are many online alternatives that will compress your images without compromising on its quality. TinyPNG is one of them and it’s totally free.
Off-site optimization is to a great extent what SEO experts call link building. Before we move on, let’s say what exactly link building is. Google’s algorithm assumes that the more websites point to you, the more relevant your website is. In other words, it deserves more attention. And more attention deserves a higher spot in the search rankings.
I know some of you are already questioning “Can’t I just pay for these links and go for the first position?”. The short answer is “Yes, you can but it still wouldn’t be enough”.
When you are building links there is something you should keep in mind – links are not created equal. A link that comes from a site that is on a similar topic as yours passes more value than a link coming from a website of a completely different niche. But let’s give an example. I have an e-commerce site where I sell bicycle parts online. Links coming from websites about bicycles are more important to me than links coming from online fashion magazines or educational websites.
Quality beats quantity every day of the week. Pay attention to this when you are working on your link building.
There are tactics that can win you tons of valuable links but we are not discussing them now. You can kick off your link building efforts with social media posts and directories where you can submit your websites. The more, the better.
Is content important for search engine optimization?
In recent years content is getting more and more attention and this is good. Why? Because it’s something you can control. Google is constantly trying to imporve its services and the user-experience of its users. Put simply, Google is interested in providing only relevant results to search queries. Google wants us to find what we are looking for in the first 2-3 search results.
All of us are looking for specific things on Google. Today we use long-tail keywords. We don’t look for hotels. We look for cheap hotels in London in September. Not only that but we also ask questions. For copywriters and content creators this means one thing – we need to answer people’s search queries. We need to give them detailed information on the topic.
As we said earlier, a lot of links won’t do the trick. It’s not 2007 anymore. This is a poor strategy in the long run and here is why – you will fool Google for a moment and the algorithm may push you to page one or you can even top the first position for a moment. However, if your content sucks, your visitors will quickly bounce back. This will signal Google that something is wrong with your site. What happens next? You will quickly lose your positions. Search engines track users which sites they enter and for how long they stay there. The longer, the better. When you open the first link in Google’s search results and then you hit the “Back” button, this means you didn’t find what you were looking for in this particular website. This is poor user-experience and poor user-experience leads to poor search engine rankings.
This is the reason why SEO takes time and effort. It depends on way too many things that can’t happen overnight.
So why can’t I find my website on Google?
It’s not your fault entirely. The simple answer is your website is just not optimized for search engines. And this is something you can change. Some prefer to do their SEO on their own, while others rely on SEO agencies.
In both cases, you’ll need at least 9-12 months to see any results. There are two things that determine success – patience and hard work.
However, you need to craft valuable content otherwise Google’s first page will always be out of reach.