Copyright 2012 Deah Curry PhD, updated January 2015
There’s good news for counselors and coaches who have built their own websites and are moving into thinking about search engine optimization. At least half of what you need for SEO is part two of what you need to do with your content.
This is known as on page SEO.
In contrast, off-page SEO is more typically what we think of, and what leads us to pay hundreds of dollars a month to some SEO company to build backlinks, increase page rank, assess competitors, run AdWords campaigns, etc.
Here’s a checklist for do it yourself on page optimization.
1. Embed keywords
in page titles, headlines, and first 2 paragraphs
Don’t be confused about hearing that Google doesn’t count keywords any more. That is only true as applies to a specific use of keywords — those called “meta keywords” which we all use to fret over having in our website source code, where they were invisible to the average website visitor.
What I mean by embedding keywords is simply using them on purpose in your title and writing. Look at the title of this post. "SEO" there is a keyword. And the words above that I have put in green — those are the primary keywords for this post. Strategically placed keywords will help you more than obscure titles and writing that starts out with an anecdote.
2. Link those keywords
to other pages, posts, articles on your website.
Internal links — that is, links from one page to another on the same website — is something Google looks for, and, I’m told, are something helps your page rank. The keywords in the first paragraph above are also internal links, to provide you with an example of this concept. (Three might be too many in one short paragraph, but you’ll get the idea.)
If you don’t know how to create an internal link, ask your tech support to show you. Basically just highlight the words you intend to turn into a link, click on your link making tool, type or paste in the url for the page you want the link to go to, and voila!
3. Set subheads as h tags
See how my numbered subheads are larger than the rest of the content here, and that they are all in bold? Instead of increasing the size of the normal font, I’ll used the Heading 3 option found under the Paragraph button on my editing tool bar in WordPress to put turn subheads into h tags. H just means heading.
Even if you don’t use WordPress, your blog’s or website’s editing tools will probably have a similar way to do this. Ask your tech support how.
4. Do your meta tags
Add your title and a about 180 characters of description of each separate page of your site, and to each blog. This is really important because this is what shows up on a search engine’s results page when your site matches a search. Make sure these tags have strong keywords in them, AND that those keywords are found in the content of that page or blog.
Oddly, it’s no longer necessary to put your keywords into meta tags, according to Google, although it's not a bad idea to use the 5 or 8 most primary ones.
Google doesn’t look for them there anymore, I’m told. This is because unscrupulous SEO “experts” and unknowing solopreneurs were stuffing their meta keyword tags with words and phrases that had nothing to do with the content of their site, and damaging the integrity of search results.
Most webhost editing tools will have a place or a wizard for you to use to add your meta tags. Find out from your tech support where to locate yours.
5. Add alt tags to your photos.
Search engines can’t “read” or interpret the meaning or relevance of photos. Alt, or alternative text, tags tell the search engine something about what is in the space that the photo occupies. You can use keywords, but do try to make them relevant to the photo itself.
Alt tags are invisible to the website visitor or blog reader. They are part of the page’s computer code. But finding were to add them should be fairly obviously related to your photo editing tools. Again, ask your tech support if you have trouble locating where to add yours.
There are a few more things you can do, but I’ll save that for another blog post. If you do this much you’ll be ahead of the game.
Do you have a set of 8 strong keywords you are using throughout the pages and blogs on your sites? Have you them some in page titles, blog post titles and first paragraphs? Are you comfortable exploring your editing tools to discover what they all do?
If not, and the whole SEO thing still boggles your mind, you might want a techie skills lesson.