The ultimate guide to optimizing your search results and improving your ROI to otherworldly levels.
Finally, your website is ready! The next step is to bring people to it, and for that, you need to make it visible on the web and the top results on search engines like Yahoo, Google, and Bing.
Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is a core digital marketing strategy used by many businesses across the world to reach more customers, boost brand awareness, and earn more return on investment. When you understand how it works, you can use SEO strategies to increase your website visibility on search engines. SEO can lead to more traffic on your site and increased SERP (Search Engine Results Page) visibility in a short time span.
The question for most small businesses is “How to optimize the website SEO for FREE??
In this article, we are going to discuss the SEO landscape, and how you can optimize your website SEO… for free. Let’s get started!
What is SEO?
As mentioned above, SEO is the acronym for Search Engine Optimization, which is a digital marketing strategy that focuses on a website’s presence in search results on search engines.
In simple words, it is a process of optimizing your website to get un-paid or organic traffic from the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). SEO also involves making relevant changes to your website design and content to make your site more appealing to both users and search engines.
There are two ways by which you can categorize SEO — on-page and off-page. The aim of on-page & off-page SEO is to make a business website trustworthy and user-friendly.
When search engine crawlers notice that your website is friendly to them and users, it boosts the chances that your website will rank well.
How Does SEO Work?
Let’s face it, and getting noticed on the web is hard. For a strong internet presence, your website must appear on the first page of relevant search results.
SEO works by conducting keyword research, earning inbound links, and optimizing a website’s pages for both programs and people to read it. You see the results once the webpage has been indexed and crawled by a search engine.
Search engines have automated spiders. These spiders collect all the information about the web pages that make up your website. This enables the search engine to determine which page has a maximum search presence on your site. They collect things like social signals, feedback links, internal linking, title tags, and more.
But what does this mean for YOU?
It means that if you do all of the above things mentioned (plus some more), you have a great chance of landing your site on the first page of Google – Interested yet?
Let’s dive a little deeper…
1. Keyword Research
Keywords are the phrases and words that users type into a Google search. Before you execute an SEO campaign, you need to decide which keywords you want to rank for. Keyword research helps you find popular keywords related to your product and/or services which can attract the target audience. However, you need to find keywords that have enough search volume and can send targeted search engine traffic to your website. However, you shouldn’t use keywords which are SO competitive that a smaller site cannot compete with a larger site for ranking under said keyword. For example, a local sneaker store should not optimize for “sneakers” because they will never be able to compete with major brands like Amazon and Zappos for “sneakers” search results.
You can use the popular keyword research tool, “Keyword Planner” to help understand keywords for your business. Keyword Planner’s data comes directly from Google. You just need to create an account and enter a phrase or keyword that you think people may use to find your content.
Keyword Planner will show you search volumes based on the keyword you’re interested in.
Once you know the right keywords to use, you can build and optimize your content around your new keywords, making that content SEO friendly.
2. On-page Optimization and Content Creation
The next step is on-page optimization and content creation. When planning content creation, you can start by doing a quick search through a search engine to find out what and where content is ranking for the keywords you are targeting.
You may see that the type of content you anticipated initially is different from the content shows up in Google.
Therefore, it is essential to create higher quality content, focusing on the keywords that are currently ranking among the top content on Google. High-quality content with relevant keywords has a much higher chance to receive more links and attract more visitors. You are also likely to see your site ranking higher in search engines.
The Title Tag and Meta Description
The most critical HTML tags are the meta title and meta description. These tell search engines what your website page is all about. You can optimize the title and meta by ensuring that you include in them your chosen keywords. Make sure the keywords you select appear on the actual web page at least once too.
3. Link Building and Off-Page Promotion
After creating your website’s content and optimizing it, it’s time to promote the content so that your potential audience can find it easily. The most important ranking factor used by search engines to determine a website’s quality is the total number of inbound links to the site.
Basically, a link from another website is just like a vote of confidence that your website has quality content.
When you get links to your website, it makes your website trustworthy in the eyes of the search engines. By getting your website linked to from an authoritative website, like government sites or news channels, your site will become more credible, and therefore more likely to rise in search result standings.
These trustworthy websites are known as high-authoritative websites.
If getting a high-authoritative site to link to your content sounds impossible, DON’T WORRY! There are many other options to get links to your website, including press coverage, blogger outreach, and reverse engineering of competitor backlinks.
4. Conversion Rate Optimization and User Experience
When optimizing your website for SEO, make sure you create a good user experience and intuitive navigation so that people can easily find what they’re looking for on your site.
Your website should:
- Load quickly
- Be mobile responsive
- Have a minimum amount of pop-ups
Why is SEO Important?
As mentioned, SEO has become a significant element in digital marketing. It can literally make or break your business.
Search engines serve billions of people every day.
If you own an online store, blog, or website, SEO can assist you in getting free website traffic from varying search engines. Here are some more reasons to incorporate SEO in your digital marketing plan:
- The overwhelming majority of users on search engines are more likely to visit the top 5 suggestions in the SERPs. To get more and more visitors to your website, you need to ensure that your website is in one of these high search engine rankings.
- SEO is not just about search engines: Best practices for SEO can also boost the user experience and usability of a site. This improves conversion rates and increases money coming through the door.
- Your audience trusts search engines: Having a top position for the search terms (keywords) people are searching improves your site’s trust among consumers.
- SEO is perfect for the social promotion of your site: People who find your site by browsing Yahoo or Google are more likely to advertise it on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms.
- A proper SEO strategy can put you ahead of your competition: If two websites are selling the same products or services, the search engine optimized site is more likely to attract more website traffic and make more sales.
SEO is known as a “New Age” marketing strategy, one which is essential to the web presence of a brand. Implementing high-quality, reliable SEO techniques on any website guarantees a boost in site traffic, and more validity (and effectiveness) in other marketing efforts.
The Key Parts of SEO
There are a few core elements of SEO you need to understand in order to build a versatile, all-encompassing SEO strategy:
- Pre-SEO analysis
- On-page SEO
- Off-page SEO
- Technical SEO
By breaking down your organic search strategy and thinking about SEO through these four parts, you can organize and execute your SEO optimization plans efficiently and effectively.
So what are these four categories? What do they mean, and why are they essential pieces of any SEO puzzle?
1. Pre-SEO Analysis
Before you start building strategies for on-page and off-page optimization, you must do an analysis of your website from the search engine’s point of view. This analysis will help you figure out what is going wrong (and right) with your site and how to build things to get a higher ranking in search engine results.
The pre-SEO analysis sheds light on various opportunities that you can take advantage of in order to improve your site’s SEO. Usually, the analysis involves the following steps:
- Checking the visibility of your site on Google and other major search engines
- Analyzing the URLs and meta descriptions
- Examining your title tags and heading tags
- Evaluating internal links and finding broken links
We will dive deeper into Pre-SEO Analysis later in this guide.
2. On-Page SEO Elements
On-page SEO is related to the content on a website. It involves multiple strategies used to optimize a specific page on a site. These factors help search engines understand the title of the content, and let them determine whether or not a site is a resource that people will find useful.
Basically, on-page SEO refers to every possible aspect of a web page which can and will optimize that page for search. It is essential, however, to separate on-page SEO from technical elements. When a person thinks “on-page SEO,” the first thing that comes to mind is content, or keywords. There’s more to it though:
- Keyword selection
- Keyword placement
Moreover, on-page SEO also involves:
- Keyword Research: Finding high-ranking keywords to incorporate on a particular page of the website.
- Keyword Optimization: Adding the target keywords to the right place and using effective meta tag SEO.
- Content Creation: Uploading and publishing high-end content contracted on target keywords.
The reason it is known as on-page SEO is that all the changes you make on your site are on your public web page, and they’re visible to your audience.
Thus, you can say on-page SEO is a balance between providing the right info to search engines without compromising the content your audience is reading on your web page.
3. Off-Page SEO/Technical SEO
Off-page SEO talks to search engines, and tells them how to match web pages to queries. Search engines analyze different signals, or factors to, decide how relevant a web page is to a search compared to others.
An off-site SEO technique is anything that is used outside, or off of your website, to boost these ranking signals. The most common tool is the backlink. Tactics which can help you with link building include:
- Content marketing
- Forum and blog commenting
- Social bookmarking
- Link outreach
- Guest posts
- Social media
Technical SEO refers to the enhancement of the technical aspects of a site in order to boost the ranking of that site’s web pages on search engines. Making a website more accessible and faster to crawl for search engines is at the core of technical optimization.
Technical SEO is related to non-content attributes of your site. It involves strategies used to enhance the backend structure and foundation of a website.
Technical SEO boosts the readability of a site for search engines and offers a better user experience, which can help search engines determine that the website is of high quality. Remember, a good user experience is critical for search engine crawlers, and it can affect overall engagement rates and traffic of your website.
The SEO types involved in this category relate to:
- Website speed
- Website architecture
- Structured data
The main motive of technical SEO is to optimize the infrastructure of a website.
To build an SEO plan that leads to better organic search results, you need to focus on all these parts of technical SEO. Concentrating on just a single category is not enough. By paying attention to all these parts together, you give your website its best chance at appearing higher in search results.
How to Incorporate SEO for Free
You understand the significant parts of search engine optimization, what’s next?
It’s time to incorporate all of these pieces into your website… and yes, it can be free!
Here’s how to get started:
As mentioned above, the pre SEO analysis gives you direction on how to improve the technical aspects, and content, of your website.
The analysis also helps you understand your audience and your competitors.
If you want to make an informed decision for improving your SEO, you MUST conduct a pre-analysis.
Although there are plenty of SEO analysis tools out there, Google Analytics and Google Search Console are two reliable (and free) options. Both help you track vital metrics of your site. Once you add your website to these tools, they will begin to accumulate essential data for you, allowing you to analyze it all in one central location.
You can use Google Analytics (GA) to analyze the following:
Build Your Audience Persona:
Google Analytics shows you how many people visit your website over an allotted period of time, where they are coming from, and what keywords they type used in order to discover your website.
Moreover, you get to know which particular web pages on your site have a high bounce rate. Based on this information, you can make changes to your website’s design, content, and digital marketing strategies.
Check Visitor Segmentation:
Google Analytics has an Advanced Segment which allows you to learn a lot about your website’s visitors. Demographic data (gender, age, and interests), date of the first visit, traffic source, and more are all readily available. This data can help you gain more value and incorporate more personalization to your marketing strategies.
Google Search Console
Like Google Analytics, Google Search Console helps you perform pre-analysis. This tool helps with the following things:
Highlight Index Errors
You can use Google Search Console to identify various errors related to crawling and indexing. Just sign into your Google Search Console account, add your property, and invite Googlebot to crawl your site. As soon as your site is crawled, you will see the errors on your site. You can fix those errors to improve your website’s user experience.
Set Schema Markup
You can use this tool to find out if your website is accurately set for Schema Markup. For those who don’t know, Schema Markup is a code that you have to put on your site to help Google and other search engines understand the content on your site.
Identify Broken Links
Linking is a crucial part of SEO. A website with an excellent link structure gets good visibility in search engines.
With Google Search Console, you can identify broken links and then fix them.
Based on your analysis, you can plan how to proceed with on-page and off-page optimization.
2. Free On-Page Optimization Updates
Write Meta Titles & Descriptions
If you want your website to be discovered by more people, you must optimize the title tags and descriptions of all web pages available within your site.
Add your targeted keyword at the beginning of each title. If it is not possible, try to place it somewhere in the middle instead. Don’t use your targeted keyword more than once in the title, and keep the character length under 65 characters.
Similar to the title, for the meta, create a unique yet relevant description for each page of your website. Again, you need to use your targeted keyword in the meta description. The ideal length for a meta description should be between 155 to 160 characters.
Improve Keyword Density
Don’t stuff your content with targeted keywords, as it can hurt your ranking significantly. Although there is no magic number for keyword placement, the density should be around 1.5% percent, with a good mix of latent semantic indexing keywords.
However, it’s essential to add your main keyword in the 1st paragraph and again in the last paragraph.
Set a Consistent Permalink Structure
Since permalink (the URL of your web page) can not change, create it carefully.
It should not include:
- Special symbols
Or anything else unusual and/or unnecessary.
To differentiate the strings in the permalink, you can use dashes (-) as most web browsers support this permalink format.
Here is an excellent example of a permalink:
Use Heading Tags Properly
To highlight different sections of your content within a page, you must use heading tags. For example, the title tag should be set at Heading 1 (H1).
You can break your content section using H2 and H3 tags. Remember, you don’t have to use more than one H1 tag within the content.
When creating alt tags for your images, or the tags that Google sees but users do not, you should be sure that the tags are descriptive, but also short.They should not be full sentences or paragraphs.
With a limit of about 125 characters, the alt tag should give search engines enough information to understand what is happening in the image.
Further image optimization is an essential step in on-page SEO. It helps you drive website traffic from image searches.
Use your relevant keywords in your image title and the alt text to make your website more SEO-friendly. Always give your image a meaningful and relevant name.
Also, reduce the size of your images before uploading them to your site. It will dramatically improve the loading time of your website, which is a significant ranking factor.
There are various free tools available on the market you can use to compress the size of your images without compromising their quality. You can use any of the following tools:
Look for High Search Volume Keywords
Look for keywords that have a high monthly search volume, low competition, and relevance within your website’s niche. Google Keyword Tool and Google Trends are two prominent tools which enable you to search high-ranking keywords for free.
Publish High-Quality, Relevant Content
Quality content helps you build trust among your website visitors and improve your ranking. You can’t have SEO without content. Content is the soul of search engine optimization.
Check out how you can create quality content.
- Your content (text, images, videos, infographics) must be original, not published anywhere else on the web. You can use this free plagiarism checker from Small SEO Tools.
- Don’t just create content for the sake of publishing something. Make sure your content is valuable to your readers.
- Write unique and compelling titles for each web page.
- Add targeted keywords within the body and the title of your content.
- Update your content frequently to engage your audience.
Fix 404 Errors
[IMAGE OF A 404 ERROR]
If you have already analyzed and created the list of dead links available on your website (as mentioned in the pre-analysis section), it’s time to fix them.
You can use Google Search Console to set up 301 direct – which is simply redirecting an old website or webpage to a new, active web page.
Internal linking is the process of linking web pages within your website. Internal links are hyperlinks that point at a similar page within the same website to improve user experience.
Internal linking is also important from the search engine’s point of view, as it helps search engines understand the relationship between different web pages on your website.
If you have a WordPress website, you can automate this process by installing SEO Auto Links plugin.
Optimize Your Site Loading Speed
As speed is a prominent ranking factor, you must optimize your website loading speed. Some useful methods for this include:
- Eliminate unnecessary redirects
- Reduce the size of images
- Improve the response of your server
As the majority of people use their smartphones to access the internet, you can’t forget to optimize your website for mobile devices.
Remember, Google and other search engines won’t be able to show your webpage in mobile search results if it is not optimized correctly!!!
You can take a free mobile-friendly test using Google Search Console.
Here is what you can do to optimize your site for mobile devices
- Choose a responsive theme
- Invest in a reliable web host
- Improve your website loading time
- Enable AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages)
3. Off-Page Optimization
As we mentioned earlier, off-page optimization includes a lot of promotion techniques which take place off of your website.
Let’s have a look at some off-page SEO techniques that help you drive traffic and brand awareness.
Guest posting is the act of publishing content on other websites with the goal of attracting an audience to your own website. All you need to do is search for a blog with similar content or focus as your site, which allows you to contribute as a guest author.
Guest posting plays a vital role in building credibility, improving website traffic and brand awareness.
Social Media Promotion
Around 3.8 billion people use social media platforms. If you’re not leveraging these platforms to promote your website, you’re missing out on a huge (and free) opportunity.
Social media promotion is an effective technique used to engage your audience, gain traffic, and build authority.
Email Marketing is probably one of the oldest off-page-optimization techniques used to grab the attention of a targeted audience. To start email marketing, you need to collect the email addresses of target customers/prospective customers and then promote your website, service, or product to them via an email marketing campaign.
Link building is a popular and vital off-page optimization technique which helps you improve search engine visibility and traffic to your site.
Link building requires more time than we have in this post! For an incredibly in depth dive into link building, check out this guide.
List Your Business
Getting listed in local directories is another effective off-page technique used to improve the visibility of your site in the search engine results.
You can submit your website to the following popular, free sites:
Other off-page techniques you can try include:
- Social bookmarking
What are the Best Free SEO Tools To Improve Your Ranking?
As an SEO consultant or expert, you are definitely looking to accomplish more in less time.
Whether it is determining the crawling problems of a site without manually reviewing each URL, or fetching all the meta tags from a domain quickly, SEO tools have always been an effective time-saver for marketers.
These tools can help you in completing several jobs quickly and effectively.
Here we have compiled a vast list of best SEO tools on the market – that are either completely free to use or provide a freemium version.
These are SEO tools that professionals use every single day.
Let’s take a look at these fantastic options.
Search questions on mobile devices are improving every day. Thus, it is essential to optimize your website for mobile devices.
Mobile-Friendly Test is a FREE tool which allows you to verify the responsiveness of your site on a mobile device.
To use this tool, enter the URL of the website that you want to test and then hit the “Run Test” button. Within a few seconds you will discover whether or not your site is mobile-friendly!
- Allows you to check if your site is mobile-friendly or not.
- Suggests different ways to optimize your website for mobile.
Why Use It
Building a mobile-responsive website that can automatically adapt to the device used by a visitor is an excellent way to enhance the user experience of your site. Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool shows you whether or not your site is optimized for mobile users. It also gives you suggestions on what you can do to make your website mobile-friendly, therefore lowering bounce rates.
Better website speed can lead to higher rankings and improved user satisfaction. Google PageSpeed Insights is a FREE tool that can check your site speed and offer suggestions on how to enhance it.
To use this tool, insert the site URL and click the “analyze” button. The tool will check the speed and user experience of your website and offer a score – for both mobile and desktop.
Here’s how the scores rank:
- A score above 90: your website is FASTER compared to other sites.
- A score between 50-90: your site is AVERAGE.
- A score below 50: your website is slow.
If you want to provide your audience with a better browsing experience and rank higher in organic search results, you need to ensure your website score is above 90.
- Check your website speed for both mobile and desktop devices.
- Find out whether your site is fast, average, or slow quickly and easily.
- Provides tips to enhance the performance metrics of your page.
Why Use It
Page speed is a top-ranking element for online searches. Google PageSpeed Insights helps you optimize your website for this incredibly important piece of the SEO puzzle.
SEMrush is one of the best SEO tools on the market. It conducts a thorough SEO audit and shows the number of backlinks a website has, as well as the percentage of search traffic on a site.
The tool also helps you to conduct:
- Topic research
- Keyword research
- Thorough competitive analysis
To use this tool, create an account on SEMrush and insert the domain that you want the application to analyze. SEMrush will quickly determine the amount of traffic your website is receiving, the keywords that are bringing that traffic, the number of backlinks with the referring domains, and primary organic competitors. It also provides an extensive outline of link type and anchor text.
- Allows you to perform a detailed technical site audit.
- Enables you to carry out a Domain vs. Domain competitive analysis.
- Advanced backlink analysis feature.
- The keyword research tool lets you choose the best keywords for your SEO campaign.
- The content analyzer evaluates the content quality on your website and highlights any significant problems.
Why Use It
SEMrush is one of the most popular SEO tools present on the market. It allows you to deal with all aspects of SEO, from keyword research to link building. If you’re looking for a single tool to get started with your SEO journey, then SEMrush is for you!
Note: The free version of SEMrush lets you carry out ten searches a day. If you require more than that, you can subscribe to the Premium version starting at $99.95 per month.
SEOquake is another well-known FREE SEO tool. It is a browser extension which provides an SEO outline on any page using a SERP overlay or toolbar.
To use this tool, install the SEOquake extension on your browser. All browsers, including FireFox, Chrome, Opera, and Safari are supported. After installing the extension, a toolbar will display in your browser. You can run a comprehensive audit of any site using this useful tool.
- Shows the total number of social shares, indexed pages, external links, and domain age.
- Provides a free on-page audit tool to check if there are any flaws on your site, and gives suggestions on how to correct those mistakes.
Why Use It
This tool is almost essential, as you can conduct a thorough SEO audit in no time. This is the best SEO tool when you have less time and multiple URLs to examine.
5. Keyword Tool
Keyword research is an important part of building an effective SEO strategy. Without the right tool in hands, keyword research is a time-consuming task. This is where the “Keyword Tool” comes into play. It provides appropriate keyword tips for any keyword query.
To use this tool, insert your primary keyword in the search tab, press the desired search platform or engine, and then pick the targeted country from the drop-down list. The tool returns the best keywords to target, based on your search.
- It offers over 750 search terms for each keyword search.
- It incorporates long-tail keywords in the search results.
- It provides the option to select a specific country in which to search for keywords.
- It differentiates keywords based on language
- It provides different keywords for different platforms, such as YouTube, Amazon, Google, and more.
- It allows you to separate negative keywords and sort by common questions which include your keyword.
Why Use It
Keyword Tool is excellent when you’re searching for a specific phrase your users are using to reach you. It is equal to doing an incognito Google search, but with added value.
This SEO tool enables you to analyze SEO problems immediately, understand the SEO profile of your competitor, and create reports that you can act upon.
To use it, just enter your website URL and press the “Checkup” button. The tool analyzes the site and gives a score out of 100. The higher the score, the better your site is performing in SEO terms.
- The tool checks the on-page ranking factors of the site such as keyword usage, meta tags, and more.
- It conducts 404 pages tests, structured data tests, and canonical tag tests.
- It tests the speed and security of your site.
- The tool performs a mobile design check, which shows you whether or not your site is mobile-friendly.
Why Use It
Along with your site’s SEO score, SEO Site Checkup transmits details on how you can fix any analyzed problems regarding SEO, including mobile usability, security, and speed. Just enter your site URL to check how your site is doing!.
Note: The FREE version of this tool provides five check-ups a day. That means you need to build a paid account to check over one site per day. If you need to create over 300 reports/month for up to three websites, you should go for a paid plan, starting at $24.95 a month.
It is crucial to understand how each of your web pages is performing based on their keywords, and SERPs Rank Checker can help you out. You can search for the domain and keyword, or just the keyword on Yahoo and Google. You can also check the current ranking based on devices being used to access sites.
To use this SEO tool, simply insert the domain name and the keyword you want to track. It will automatically analyze the search engine rankings of a specific domain for the chosen keyword.
- It allows you to track the ranking of your site easily, using chosen locations without analyzing them on Google, and without the use of a VPN.
- It provides other free tools, such as Google Location Changer and Keyword Research Database.
- Using the Location Changer, you can monitor the position of your keywords in varying digital locations.
Why Use It
You can track the rankings of keywords easily without having to examine them manually in Google.
Note: With the FREE version of SERPs Rank Checker, you can test only one keyword at a time. To track over 1,000 keywords, you need to buy the Premium version for $99 a month.
Why you may need professional help
In today’s competitive world, SEO marketing is more critical than ever. SEO marketing is key for business or website owners to get more traffic to their site. If you have an online store or website, SEO can help you gain traffic from search engines for free.
SEO can help you build a better relationship with your audience, increase the authority of your site, drive more traffic to your site, improve the customer experience, increase conversions, and give you an edge over the competition.
All this means you’ll have more loyal clients, more sales, and more growth for your business!
Though there are several ways of doing SEO for FREE, remember that it comes with several limitations. There is no doubt that free SEO optimization can make your job easier free SEO tools often come with limited features that are not sufficient in the modern competitive era.
Over the past few years, the landscape of SEO has dramatically changed. Google has been continuously making updates to its algorithms to improve search results. Consequently, you must keep up with the latest trends in the SEO industry to beat your competitors.
It’s a common approach to do basic SEO yourself, but search engine optimization is much more complicated than you think. To stay ahead of your competition, you need to keep yourself up-to-date with the latest SEO trends and create strategies accordingly.
However, because you may not have adequate time and technology to understand the ins-and-outs of search engine optimization, it’s smart to invest in a professional SEO service.
Look for a reliable SEO partner who has years of experience in building effective SEO marketing plans.
Working with a professional SEO partner will benefit you in several ways. An SEO professional can help you with tracking your target audience, understanding competition, and creating results-oriented SEO strategies.
If you’re a small business and want to improve your website’s visibility on search engines, you should give a professional SEO service a try.
It’s no surprise that optimizing your website SEO is key to making your business successful. With a proper SEO strategy, and right tools in hand, you can find your website overflowing with more traffic, and gain more opportunities to transform this traffic into customers… and sales!
SEO is complicated, but understanding the basics, and earning some quick wins can get you started on the right foot. And, if you need help, there are always SEO professionals like us here at Acer out there to put your business on the right track, and maximize your sales!