Search Engine Optimization at it’s most basic is the act of making your website be easily read by search engines, and having things on your website that you want to be found. Having your website highly ranked for a keyword or term is valuable because when people are looking for a product or service, they typically start by using a search engine. Often, you can appear at the top of the search results by buying an ad, but for highly competitive searches such as “wedding photography (your city name)” can cost as much as $50 each time someone clicks your ad. By ranking highly in the regular results, clicks to your site cost you nothing.
There are many things you can do on your website that will help your website rank higher than a similar website that hasn’t made these improvements. Using a sitemap will help search engines find all the pages and posts on your website. Wording your post titles in ways that is consistent with the language people search for them will help people find them. Describing your images with alt-text not only is good for accessibility, but helps the search engine to know what the photos on your site are. Having your images optimized and resized for the size they are bring displayed will help your site load faster, which is rewarded by search engines. Using Google Search Console will give you information on what you can do to help your SEO, as it will show errors, your in and outbound links on your website, and tons of other SEO related information.
Other than the things you do on your website, there are also off-site things to do that will help SEO. Websites that many other sites link to are seen as high quality or important websites, and are ranked above similar sites that don’t have many people linking to them. By contributing an article, images, or other content to vendors or other publications will help your SEO if they include a link to your site with the content. Not only will it get more people to your website, it will also help to build relationships with these people which is an added bonus!
Putting all this into practice may seem intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. You can start small and work on improving the SEO of your favorite few posts on your website and see if making these changes helps people find them via search.
The world of SEO is deep and vast, and since it’s Google’s main secret how their search algorithm works, be very skeptical of people claiming to have guaranteed ways to get you onto the front page of Google. There have been times in the past when doing sketchy things improved SEO temporarily until Google caught on, and they severely punished those sites.
To get started, I’d recommend Moz’s Beginners Guide to SEO at: moz.com/beginners-guide-to-seo and if your website is made with WordPress, Yoast’s guide, which is at: yoast.com/wordpress-seo should get you started.
Remember, step zero with SEO is having high quality content that is worth finding. The rest is getting the search engine to know it’s there.