Website optimization or Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of designing or re-designing your site to improve your ranking in search engine result pages (SERPs). SEO is a vast, complex subject, so I will only cover the basics here, including:
- Keyword research
- Great content (longer is better)
- Natural keyword usage
- Page titles
- Heading tags
- Optimized URLs
- Page load time
- Internal linking
- Responsive web design
- Continuous testing and measuring
Some of your target audience find your page by searching on sites such as Google. They type in specific words that lead them to you: these are your “keywords”. You need to identify those words and include them in your site content, to create a stronger connection between the keywords and your site. The stronger the connection, the more relevant your site is, and the higher up the search results you appear.
Keyword research is an essential strategy for inbound marketing. It offers insight into your buyer persona and their buying intent, thus giving you a clearer picture of what motivates them.
The primary tool for keyword research is Google’s Keyword Planner, which not only helps you find the right keywords but also gives you a glimpse of what your competitors are using.
Yes, I’m asking you to spy on your competitors!
Knowing what they are doing can help you replicate their success or rise above them in the search engine results.
Great Content (Longer is Better)
Content marketing is an important long-term investment. You need to have a grasp of how it works and, ideally, know how to write well. If writing is not your forte, hire someone to do it for you or an editor to improve your content before you post.
Just like SEO, content marketing is a very complex subject. It is important to start early and get it right, to generate authority and customer engagement. Authority is critical to gaining customer trust – especially for a hobby and gaming site – and yours depends on the content you publish.
When you write:
- Make sure your site has a “voice” your readers can identify with.
- Think about every word you use.
- Focus on connecting with your audience.
- Keep it real while aiming to create the most powerful mental picture.
- Simplicity, clarity, and elegance are essential.
Most people ask how long their content should be. I honestly do not have a definite answer to that question.
Longer content is usually better. Google prefers 2,000 words or more, but it is better to write short posts that are incredibly useful than 2,000 words of waffle!
If you are going to write longer content, make sure to write as much as you can without being boring. Do not say the same thing as others already in the industry. Offer useful content in your unique way to create a more personal link to your readership. The more your customers identify with you, the more likely they are to subscribe, follow, interact, and eventually buy.
Natural Keyword Usage
You may be tempted to repeat your keywords as much as possible to improve your search ranking. Unfortunately, that will have the opposite effect: the search engines prefer natural writing that makes sense to your readers.
To be sure that your keyword usage sounds natural, read your content out loud. Pay close attention to how it feels reading it while taking note of what doesn’t sound right so that you can change it.
Be sure to include your targeted keyword phrase in your page title. Remember to make it descriptive for your readers.
Keep it simple and within a 70-character limit. Search engines rank your pages on the full title but will truncate the text in their displayed results. Cropped titles can confuse potential visitors.
You can occasionally include the keyword phrase in heading tags, but don’t overdo it. Whenever you choose to put keywords in a heading, use the H1 tag because Google will pay more attention to it.
I should point out that some studies suggest that H1 elements affect Google ranking quite strongly, yet other studies contradict this. Google’s official line is that there’s a slight ranking boost from using H1 with keywords.
Before publishing your posts, ensure you optimize your URLs for both humans and search engines. You can check out a thorough guide on best practices over at Moz.com or use the following quick list:
- Remove extraneous words such as “the”, “a” and “and” in the page part of the URL.
- Include relevant keywords in your URL; make sure they align with the actual page content.
- Make it reader-friendly: remove extra words, but make sure that the URL still makes sense to both humans and search engines.
- Separate words with hyphens to ensure readability. Do not use spaces or underscores.
Page Load Time
According to Aberdeen Group’s findings, a 1-second delay in page load can result in:
- 11% fewer page views.
- 16% decrease in customer satisfaction.
- 7% loss in conversion.
To further drive the message home, an Akamai study reveals the following:
- 47% of people expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less.
- 40% of viewers will abandon a web page if it takes more than 3 seconds to load.
- 52% of online shoppers say quick page loads are important for their loyalty to a site.
If you’re using a shared hosting server, consider moving to a different provider or switching up to a virtual private server (VPS).
Site builders and frameworks offered by web hosts create pages with a lot of extra content. If you’re using either, consider changing to a bespoke theme or layout – your site will stand out more than it does with a cookie-cutter template and will almost certainly load quicker.
Internal linking is connecting pages or resources on your website to each other, to help your readers find relevant content. Internal links are useful for three reasons:
- They promote easy navigation.
- They help establish your website’s information hierarchy.
- They are helpful for spreading SEO “link juice” (ranking power) all over your website.
Internal linking gives search engines access to your entire site and encourages them to list every page in their massive keyword indices. Your site must have an open link structure that allows the search engine spiders to crawl every page for better ranking results.
Responsive Web Design
More and more people are turning to their smartphones and tablets to browse the Internet, so you need a website that performs across multiple devices. Responsive web design (RWD) helps ensure that your visitors see your site properly, no matter what device they use.
Google loves responsive design and pushes mobile-enabled sites higher in search rankings. Good design also helps combat high bounce rates – uniformity is critical, and showing similar content across multiple platforms encourages readers to stay longer. Responsive design also makes using your site more familiar across different devices, offering more comfort to your customers.
Continuous Testing and Measuring
Get into the habit of analyzing your search engine ranking and web traffic to see if your SEO strategy is working. Remember not to skip the first step: assess the relevance of the keywords you use. If they are effective, keep them; if not, tweak them. Whenever you change something, test its performance; go on like this until you discover what works for your online game and hobby business.
Optimization is a continuous process: strive to add or modify keywords and content regularly to improve your search engine rankings. If you stop, your growth may stall or decline from neglect.
Sites like Moz, Ahrefs, Backlinko and Google’s Keyword Planner do not only help with your keyword research. They help you study your competition and reverse engineer what they are doing for your own success. They assist you with website analysis and competitive analysis before you nail down your SEO strategy.
The right keywords are critical. Once you have them, you can create great content that Google and other search engines will love. Internal linking allows readers to navigate your site easily and spiders to crawl and index your pages. Checking the page load speeds of your pages helps you rank better. Continuously test and measure what is working and keep it. As you can see, optimization is an activity where you rinse and repeat until you get your desired results!