Most SEO consultants know that Google changes its website ranking formula about 500 times per year; this makes it very hard for the SEO specialists to react to all these changes properly, because they take place way too fast for them. Fortunately, even though the solution to this problem might seem to be counterintuitive, it is actually very simple: you should ignore the search engines completely and create a website that your visitors will love.
The days of keyword stuffing, H1… H6 tags and the like are gone for good; in fact, if you continue to use these outdated search engine optimization methods, you are risking the future of your online business. So how do we build an SEO-optimized website from scratch?
First of all, you should pick a domain name that is related to what you are doing or selling online. As an example, if you sell pc games, using the californiaexpertinsurancetips.org domain for your online business won’t be a good signal, and trust me – Google can read the name of your domain and understand what it is about.
But since the pcgames.com domain was bought a long time ago, what should you do now? People used to add a single letter to these valued domain names, in order to get access to a fresh domain that was still including the desired keyword in it, purchasing domains like pcgamesx.com, pcgamesz.com and the like. Resist the temptation to do the same thing, because you might face a serious search engine penalty in the very near future; it is much better to purchase a domain name that is related to gaming, even if it doesn’t include the exact keyword that you are targeting in it. Names like gamesforpc.com, pcgamingstore.com and so on are much better to use; the EMDs (exact match domains) have lost their strong ranking value recently.
Should you purchase a brand new domain, or rather get an old one if it is available? Buying an aged domain that is relevant for your business is always a great idea; you can get good domains that were created a few years ago for 10…20 dollars using GoDaddy Auctions, for example. Still, since many people are trying to sell their penalized domains for cheap these days, you should ensure that your future website has as few backlinks as possible pointing to it. Create a free Majestic SEO account and you will be able to see the number of backlinks that point to the desired domain / site; the free account will also allow you to examine a few of the most powerful backlinks, the addresses of the pages where these links were built, and so on. If the number of reported backlinks is very small or (even better) zero, go ahead and buy that domain, because it will help you get good search engine rankings for your website much faster. The alternative is to purchase a new domain, build a small website around it, and then wait for 3… 6 months, until it starts to gain some trust.
So now we have got a great domain that is SEO-optimized – what’s next? Google started to devalue the thin sites, websites that only contain a few pages of information, lately. You want to build an authority website, one that has a lot of useful information, being the preferred one-stop destination for as many web surfers as possible. Take a look at the picture below to see the ideal structure of an authority site.
Think about all the categories that you intend to use for the site, making sure that they don’t overlap at all. It is very important to avoid having pages with similar content on your website; Google will penalize you for sure if you don’t obey this rule. In my example, we could have “strategy games”, “action games”, “role playing games” and so on as the categories for our gaming site. Then, the “Top 10 strategy games you’ve never heard about” article would be included in the “strategy games” category, “Ben, the Alien Crusher” would be included in the “action games” category, and so on, just like this:
It’s OK to add more distinct categories as you come up with more content ideas, of course.
At this point we have a good domain, good categories and articles that fit in nicely. But how do we write an actual SEO-optimized article? Not too long ago, the answer would have been quite complicated, involving the usage of the H1… H6 tags, LSI (latent semantic indexing), etc. However, the Google Panda update, which was implemented over a year ago, has leveled the field, allowing the less savvy webmasters to compete with the SEO consultants by rewarding them all equally, no matter if their websites are 100% SEO optimized or not.
Have I just said that the rewards are equal? Well, that might not be 100% true, because the search engines need to have access to a few key elements in order to understand what your website pages are about. The good news is that any webmaster can follow these simple principles, thus having the possibility to compete with any SEO agency when it comes to on-site (also known as on-page) SEO.
Let us discuss a few of the technical details that show how the search engine spiders work; they are nothing more than web applications that follow the website links, moving from one website to the other, and then returning to the base (a server farm) to report their findings, creating a gigantic index that stores information about as many websites as possible. Let us imagine that Google’s spider is visiting your website; it reads the domain name, thus getting the first signal that tells it what your website is about. The URL of your articles is another crucial factor; if you want to get a good rank for “top 10 strategy games”, it is vital to include that phrase in the URL like this:
If you use an html site builder, the URL would look like this, of course:
Remember this first important on-page SEO factor: the targeted keyword must be included in the URL. In fact, the targeted keyword must be included not only in the URL, but also in the page title and in its “description” tag. I have captured a screenshot of a page that is optimized for the “how to future proof your website” keyword – take a look:
The title of the page is another key factor that will boost your SEO score significantly; a page that talks about puzzle games is supposed to include “puzzle games” in its title, isn’t it? Finally, the description tag is usually displayed on the search engine results’ pages, and if it includes the targeted keyword, it will make the people click the link that leads them to your site. Actually, since the description tag offers you about 150 characters to play with, try and do your best to include a powerful call to action there.
Write your website articles naturally, aiming to produce and offer the best resources in your field of activity. Also, make sure to include images or movies that are relevant to the topic; the more time people spend on your website, the better it will rank in the search engines. Interlink your articles, especially when the context allows you to do that naturally; this will increase the time spent on your site as well, because the people will want to read more of your fantastic content. Forget about getting a specific keyword density; sure, if you are writing an article about the top shooter games of the year, it makes a lot of sense to include your targeted keyword (“top shooter games”, for example) a few times in the text body, but don’t overdo it.
In fact, writing top quality content for humans is the best advice that I can give; stop placing the targeted keywords strategically, bolding them, repeating them obsessively and so on – this will harm your SEO efforts for sure. Better do your research thoroughly, and then write killer 1,000+ words content pieces that will be referenced over and over for the years to come, attracting lots of 100% natural, white hat backlinks that will catapult your website to the top of the search engine results list.
George Pirvu, the author of this article, is an internet marketing consultant for Randombyte, a company that offers internet marketing services and teaches business owners how to buy high quality seo services at competitive prices.