Where to Start When Optimizing Your Site for Search

Optimizing your site for search can seem like an impossible task.

Optimizing your site for search can seem like an impossible task. How do get a search algorithm, that all-knowing, ever-changing creature, to like you? The truth is, you don’t.

It’s true that SEO is a huge part of how your audience will find and interact with your brand, and we definitely believe in it’s power. But, you shouldn’t try to make the algorithm happy. Cut out the middle man and optimize your site for your visitors yourself. After all, that is the goal of search engines in the first place– to give users what they are searching for.

Know Yourself

The first thing you need to do before changing your site is answer a few questions about your brand:

  • Who are you?
  • What problem are you solving?
  • How are you solving that problem differently than your competitors?
  • What do you want to be known for?
  • What is the purpose of your website/page?

Be honest when you answer these questions. If you optimize your site to what you hope to be instead of what you are, you will mislead visitors and ultimately hurt yourself. There are no shortcuts to SEO– take the long road and assess your true purpose first.

Think About Your Audience

Most developers optimize their site to please a search engine. But when search engine algorithms are constantly changing, it’s difficult to stay on top of it. Instead, you should skip to optimizing your site for your visitors and giving them the information and experience they want. With a message first approach, you will always be on top!

  • What questions does your audience ask often?
  • Why did your current customers choose your product or service?
  • What else might your audience be looking for?

Build your Keyword List

It seems like it took an awful long time to get here, right? Aren’t keywords the backbone of SEO? Why wouldn’t you start brainstorming keywords earlier? Well, by waiting to build your keyword list until you know exactly who you are and exactly what your audience is looking for, you’ve already done the leg work. Retrace your thought processes about your audience and their needs, then write down as many related words as you can. We have found that the perfect tool for the job is an Excel spreadsheet with columns for each topic. This way, you can stay organized as you keyword list expands and changes.

Keyword Research List

Once you have your list of words you can either use them as is, or power them up by using a tool like Google’s Keyword Planner, SEM Rush or the Moz Keyword Tool to discover other relevant keywords and estimate how often those words are actually being searched.

Now Get to Work!

With your list of keywords assembled, you can start assigning the most relevant keywords to each page of your site. Assemble your content to revolve around the words that you chose.

Check each of these sections to make sure your keyword is present:

  • URL
  • Title
  • Meta-description
  • Links on the Page
  • Headers
  • Body Content (in a natural way)
  • Bold and Italics

For some of these areas, such as Title URL and Meta Description, you may want to have a developer help to make sure you have your keywords placed correctly so search engines can find your site easily.

Be a Human, Not a Robot!

If you can’t fit your keyword into an area naturally, don’t force it. If you only use the exact keyword once or twice in the main content of the page, ask yourself if you chose the correct word. If you are sure there isn’t a better word you could use to describe the content, why is your chosen word not naturally occurring?

There are many other factors, such as site speed and responsiveness, that factor into your website ranking high on search engines. These factors can be hard to change without the help of a website team. Even if you can’t completely revamp your website, simple changes could make a huge difference in your findability.