How to make your own website How to make your own website

How to Make Your Own Website

A step-by-step guide for real small business owners & entrepreneurs looking to
learn how to make a website and get online without any programming!
How to make your own website How to make your own website
Overview

Step 3 – Video 4: Optimizing for Search Engines

In this video, we’ll cover the basics of search engine optimization or SEO for short. We’ll talk about performing onsite seo with your website, such as adding or optimizing title tags, meta descriptions, headings, image alt attributes, renaming URLs, and more.

Video Transcript

One last thing I want to talk about and something that you should continually keep in mind for your website, is search engine optimization or SEO for short. SEO is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or web page in a search engine’s unpaid results. In other words, it basically means trying to get your website to rank well on search engines like Google and Bing so that people can find you when searching.

As you can imagine, ranking well on search engines can be very beneficial for small business owners. It drives free traffic to your website, including many leads & potential customers. So it is very important to properly optimize your website for search engines. For Sarah, having new customers find and discover her bakery website on Google or Bing would be a huge advantage for her business.

There’s a lot of work that goes into performing SEO on a website and I literally could create a whole video series on this topic alone. So in the short time that we have, I’m going to give you a crash course in SEO so that you can at least learn the basics.

There are 2 main components when performing SEO, which is onsite and offsite. Just like it sounds, onsite refers to performing SEO work on your physical website whereas offsite refers to performing SEO work outside of your website. To help clarify this, some examples of onsite SEO work would include things like adding or optimizing title tags, meta descriptions, headings, image alt attributes, renaming URLs, and more. Examples if offsite SEO work would include things like link building, monitoring backlinks, competitor analysis, social media, and more.

Since offsite practices are outside the scope of this guide, I’m going to cover the onsite practices, which are important to apply when making your website.

Technical Aspects of SEO

There are many technical aspects when performing onsite SEO work. Fortunately, most of these can all be easily accomplished with any good website builder. In our case, Wix even has a SEO wizard tool that will automatically show you what steps you can further take to optimize your website. Let’s take a look at a typical web page. Here’s an example of web page with an article that’s about “freezing cookie dough”. It’s a blog post that Sarah wrote and is sharing with her followers. If she wants people to find this page on search engines, she’ll need to perform some SEO onsite work to make the page more search engine friendly. Basically that means that she needs to make a few technical changes on the page to help search engines better understand what her page is about.

Title Tag

First, she’ll need to add a Title tag to the page. A title tag is a HTML tag that is placed inside your page’s html code and will not be seen visibly on your page. It is very important for SEO and every page on your website should contain one. Its purpose is to describe the contents of the page in a short, concise description. And search engines, like Google, use this title tag for ranking purposes. They read the title tag description and then use it to help understand what your page is about.

Search Engines also normally display the title tag description as the link within their search engine results page. Furthermore, title tags are commonly used by more than just search engines. For example, when you visit any web page, your browser will display the title tag description on the menu bar and within the tab as well. If you bookmark the page, you’ll see it again as the default name. Most social media platforms and other external sites will also use the title tag description as the default name when sharing.

For this reason, title tag descriptions should be carefully constructed for both search engines and humans. Your description should be 60 characters or less and contain important keywords relevant to the content of the web page they describe.

Meta Description & Keywords

Another important onsite optimization is adding a meta description to your page. Just like the title tag, the meta description is invisible on the page and gets placed behind the scenes in your page’s html code. The Meta description is an HTML attribute that provides a more detailed description of the web page than the title tag. It is commonly used on search engine result pages to display preview snippets for a given page.

Because Search Engines list the meta description in this manner, it is important to once again carefully construct your meta description for getting users to click on your page in the search results. These short descriptions are your biggest opportunity to advertise content to searchers and to let them know exactly whether or not the given page contains the information they’re looking for.

Meta descriptions should be 160 characters or less in length and contain keywords relevant to the content of the web page they describe.

Any website builder should allow you to easily add a title tag and meta description to each web page. In Wix, you can easily add them by going to Pages, clicking the More button, and then going to Page SEO. As you can see here, there is a title, description, and keywords field.

Note: When adding your page’s title tag and meta description, you may notice that your website builder has a third option for meta keywords. Meta keywords aren’t as important as they used to be and today they have no positive ranking influence on search engines like Google and Bing. You can still add your relevant keywords if you wish, but since all the major search engines ignore this, I would recommend leaving it blank.

Restructuring URLs

Another important onsite optimization is appropriately naming your page URL. A lot of SEO work is simply about good naming conventions and accurately identifying what the content is about. The same principle goes to naming your page’s URL. Before you finish making your website, it’s a good idea to name your page’s URLs in a short, descriptive manor.

For example, Sarah could name this page about freezing cookie dough with something like: baking-basics-how-to-freeze-cookie-dough

Notice how the page URL is short & descriptive, while containing keywords as well. Also note how every word is separated by a hyphen to help make the page URL more readable by humans. In general, its common practice to take your page’s title tag (or a shorter version of it) and use that as a guideline to name your page’s URL.

Note: Some website builders, including Wix, use AJAX technology that requires them to forcibly add additional characters to your page’s URL. While these characters are necessary for your website to properly function, this is a very problematic issue as your page URLs will look messy. I admit that this is a huge con for Wix or any other website builder that uses AJAX. If your website builder does this as well, all I can recommend is to name your pages the best you can.

When naming your page URLs, you do not need to worry about naming the URL of your home page as that can be left untouched. This is because the homepage is accessible by just visiting your website’s domain name. You wouldn’t visit www.domainname.com/home-page-url or anything like it that. You would just visit www.domainname.com to access the home page. Fortunately for us, the website builder takes care of this by default so you do not need to worry about naming your home page’s URL.

Optimizing Headings

Another important onsite optimization is appropriately using keywords within your headings. As I discussed earlier, headings are used to structure content and both humans and search engines use them to help better understand what your content is about. In terms of SEO, use important keywords within your headings while also being careful to make your headings sound normal for humans as well.

Optimizing Images

Another important onsite optimization is telling search engines what your images are about. Since search engines currently can’t understand what the images on your page are about, you’ll need to tell them by using what is called an alt attribute. The alt attribute is basically a small piece of HTML code that specifies an alternate text for an image, which will only show if the image cannot be displayed or if your viewer is using a screen reader.

Website builders make it really easy to add an alt tag to any image. With Wix, I’d simply click on the image and then click the Settings button. If I scroll down, you can see that I can easily add my image alt text here.

Search engines use this text to understand what the image is about. Therefore, your alt text should be a short, descriptive sentence explaining what the image is about. Be sure to use keywords for SEO, but like with any description for search engines, don’t go overboard by using too many and always make it sound good/natural for humans.

Hiding Pages from Search Results

One last onsite optimization I’d like to mention, is ironically about hiding pages from search engines. There may be certain pages, such as your privacy policy and disclaimer page, that you would actually want to hide from search engines.

I’m going to discuss more about these pages later on in the next video, but typically these types of pages have the same text that’s been copied and used among countless other websites on the web. In the world of SEO, this is called duplicate content. Using duplicate content of any kind is a very bad practice for SEO and search engines don’t like it. Therefore, if you must use duplicate content on a page, you would want to hide that page from search engines by simply telling them not to index it. Most website builders will either call this hiding or no indexing.

Note: Duplicate content is something that you always want to avoid. Some website builders use templates with pre-existing content that might already fit your website very well and it may be tempting to keep it. But remember, there could be thousands of websites out there already using that exact same content. Therefore, I would high recommend removing all the content that comes with your template and replacing it with your own, original content.

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