Search Engine Optimization
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How To Optimize Your Website For SEO

Lesson 4 Chapter 1

Let's learn how to optimize your website for SEO and see your site's traffic grow in no time! Before we start, let's understand some important points.

Learn The SEO Concepts


Hard Niche Vs Easy Niche

If you go back to my niche lesson, you'll probably wonder what niche is still not taken to avoid competition.

While it is true that some niches are easier to target - like a blog that aims to solve a problem with snails in a garden, it doesn't mean you cannot rank if you choose a more "saturated" niche.

It will just take a longer time to rank, but it doesn't mean you cannot rank.

Niche sites do rank faster. The more targeted your website is, the faster you can see results.

Understand SEO


Google Will Detect Your Site Automatically

Upon building your WordPress site, you'll see from the settings that the visibility of your site is set to searchable by default.

default wordpress search engine visibilty

It is up to search engines to honour your request if you choose to make your contents private.


pagespeed 1

1. Page Speed - Enable A Web Cache

If you have a repeat visitor, a web cache will make the experience of that visitor pleasant.

Because the visitor has already been on your site, your site cache is already saved on that visitor’s browser, making your web pages fast to load.

Web cache (or HTTP cache) is an information technology for the temporary storage (caching) of web documents, such as web pages, images, and other types of web multimedia, to reduce server lag. - Wikipedia

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If you have a first time visitor, a visitor who is using a proxy server or is surfing in incognito mode (and therefore doesn’t save cache files), the site speed will not be as fast.

Your visitors’ clicks on links to your other pages, will request directly to the server where those web files are found. Depending on how busy the server is and how heavy the files are, it can take longer for the requested web files to load.

Some hosting providers like Wealthy Affiliate will install a built-in caching on every website you build. Other hosting providers will give a free caching plugin like Breeze for Cloudways.

Wherever you are hosted, ask the Site Support what plugin is compatible with their server because some caching plugins are not compatible with specific servers and can therefore cause problems.

how to make a website fast

I tried to put a code in my .htaccess (for advanced users) as per the lesson I found on a coding website. True enough, it eliminated the need for a caching plugin.

However, it only worked for 10 mins. After that, my test website in Cloudways was down (conflict with Breeze, another caching plugin). I highly encourage newbies to use codes only when you already understand them.

Building your website on a dedicated server where you do not have to share the resources will obviously make your site load faster.

Owning a server in Cloudways for as low as $10 per month is not a bad idea BUT ONLY IF you know how to handle server problems should they arise (or is patient enough to learn the technical sides of managing servers).

Otherwise, I highly suggest that you build your website as a newbie in Wealthy Affiliate since the caching is already built-in.

A fast-loading website is one of the criteria in ranking on top.

 

Page speed -  it's sometimes about your images.

how to optimize web images


Optimizing Images For A Fast-Loading Website

This is probably the most overlooked aspect of optimizing website for SEO. You’ll know this when you go to https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/.

If you type a URL of a page you want to speed test, you’ll see image-related warnings like this:

images must be properly resized
use a plugin for images

Even me, I’m guilty of this. Being a one-man show in the past, my goal is just to publish contents therefore overlooking the image optimization part in order to speed up my sites.

There are a lot of free WordPress plugins that you can choose from which can do this job automatically. Everytime you upload an image in your media library, it will automatically convert the images in a format that can speed up your site.

Some of the most famous image optimization plugins are "Smush," "EWWW Image Optimizer" and "ShortPixel Image Optimizer." You only need one.

Let's use the most used - Smush. It's free to use.

To locate the plugin, go to your WordPress Dashboard, click on Plugin> Add New> Smush

plugins add new
install Smush plugin

Click on "Install Now" then Activate.

We will setup the Smush settings in details in a separate lesson. For now, this will do.


choose a theme with clean codes


CHOOSE A CLEAN THEME

When you are just starting out, choosing a clean theme will be easier since your website is still empty and a simple test in gtmetrix.com will tell you if it’s a heavy theme or not.

If your hosting provider allows you to make unlimited or extra websites for free, you can create a test website. Before installing anything on your LIVE website (like a theme or plugin), test it first on your trial website.

SSL Certificate

2. Install An SSL Certificate

An SSL certificate can be easily switched on (in Wealthy Affiliate) or installed (in Cloudways) as long as your website is already live.

It is free (renewable every three months) most of the time.

You can easily spot a website with a valid SSL Certificate by looking at the URL of the website. It should have a padlock beside it.

Without it, site visitors will get a warning telling them that the website they are browsing is unsafe and stealing datas like credit card information, etc.

SSL Certificate = Trust Seal!


Sitemap

3. Submit A Sitemap

We are in this business to be seen and we want to be seen (indexed) fast. In order for Google and other search engines to easily find you, it is better to submit your XML Sitemap (or the list of your contents).

This can be done by installing an SEO plugin. For this, you need a hosting service since free websites will not allow you to install plugins as explained in this lesson.

During an exam in school, you may submit your test paper (XML sitemap) to your teacher (Google) once you are done.

The teacher can check right away or days after submitting and acknowledge (index) your submissions.

You'll know your score (ranking) when real users submit search queries in Google, your contents get ranked/clicked and the results will register in your Google Search Console.

Submitting your sitemap is not a guarantee for ranking on top (getting high scores), so you better do good (provide quality/helpful contents) so users will click and consume what you have.


To create the map of your site or your "Sitemap," make sure to install the Yoast SEO plugin as per previous lesson.


Go to your plugins page in your WordPress dashboard, then to Yoast's settings.

yoast seo plugins page

Select "General."

In the "Features" tab, you'll see that the Sitemap is generated by default.

yoast general settings
XML sitemap in Yoast

If you click on the question mark beside the XML sitemaps, you'll find the "see XML sitemap" link. Click it.

look for your xml sitemap in yoast


This is how a newbie site's XML sitemap looks like. As you add contents and other stuff in the future, this will automatically be updated.

newbie's xml sitemap look


Once your Sitemap is created (by the plugin) you have the "option" to submit it to search engines so they automatically have the lists of your past and future contents. 


Have Your Sitemap In Your robots.txt File

Select the Yoast SEO Settings > Tools > File Editor.

Create a "robots.txt file."

configure yoast settings

The default robots.txt looks something like this...

default robots txt settings

This is where you will paste the URL of your sitemap.

The search engine bots start crawling a website by checking the robots.txt file. A robots.txt file provides you an opportunity to notify the bots of your XML sitemap (or the list of your contents).

Everytime the bots visit your website, they will check if there's something new, acknowledge if there is and put it in their index (database).

Having your contents in their database is the first step in having the "opportunity" to rank.


Copy the URL of your sitemap, paste it on your robots.txt file and save the file.

copy and paste xml sitemap in robots txt

You don't have to submit your sitemap to search engines as there is nothing to acknowledge yet (initial stages). Search engines can find your site as you build it.

However, if you want search engines to acknowledge your progress fast, I highly suggest that you submit your sitemap. Besides, you might forget it!

To submit your sitemap to Google, go to your Google Search Console. You should have it in place as per previous lesson.

Make sure that you select the correct website (applicable for those who have several sites).

submit sitemap to Google


4. Website Structure - Use Categories And Tags

Make your site easy to navigate. Your menus should clearly convey what they will get when they click it.

Use categories and tags to segment your contents. Don't worry about this in the initial stages as there is nothing to structure yet. You can restructure your contents later.

For example, when I started with this site, I only have "work from home" categories.

As contents are published and there are already available sub-categories to use, I added them to the existing contents structures.

Example:

Main Category: Work from home jobs

Sub-category: microtasking jobs, usability testing jobs, other remote jobs, online teaching jobs, etc.

Tags: Legit Online Jobs (those which are not legit needs a different tag).

Setting up your website so search engines can find it (and crawl it easily) and making your website easy to navigate for real users (later on when there is enough content), are the basic things you need to learn about optimizing your website for SEO.

Good progress so far! 🙂 Leave your questions below! 🙂

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