At the last GhanaBlogging group meeting, which was held on Thursday, I was privileged to give a talk on Search Engine Optimization, a way to improve how highly a website or blog ranks during web searches for specific keywords. In this post, I will attempt to break down the complexity surrounding performing SEOs, in my own way, based on information I got from several sources. Your questions and views are very much welcome.
Advantages of Performing SEO
There are quite a number of advantages that one stands to gain from performing search engine optimization, but the one that stands out is that your website becomes more visible during web searches and this increases the amount of quality traffic that comes to your site or blog. Performing SEO helps to reduce your site's bounce rate. So, SEO helps to attract your target users to your site, just as they're looking out for you all over the web. This will culminate in better site performance: higher ad revenues, recognition, higher sign up for social causes, etc.
How to Go about Optimizing your Site
One way is a simple three step process: plan, execute, manage. The third stage is very important because SEO is an ongoing process.
The planning stage involves studying user behaviour, ie understanding what visitors to your site want or will want. Are they there simply to get information or they're there to purchase a product? This comes in handy when you're formulating keywords. Again, it is very important to research on potential keywords that are related to your site's content at this stage. Tools such as Google search-based keyword tool will help you to zero in on appropriate keywords.
During execution, the first thing to do is to ensure that you determine the keywords that are relevant to each page of your site. A general rule is to to ensure that each page has between 2-3 keywords. The next thing to do is to submit your URL to the various search engines. You can can submit your URL to Google now. Further, you've to generate a Sitemap, that you save in the appropriate directory of your web host and then submit it to your search engine. There are many ways of building Sitemaps but XML-Sitemap generator is one of the most popular ones. Wordpress has in-built tools for handling Sitemaps. There's info at the Google Feedburner Help page about how to generate a Sitemap for a Blogger blog. To submit your Sitemap to Google, you've to be signed up for Google Webmaster Tools. There is documentation to take you through the process of submitting your site/blog and Sitemap to Google.
Managing/measuring your site performance is very easy. Again there are tons of tools for doing this. Fortunately, there are in-built tools in the Google Webmaster Tools environment for doing this. In addition, you can employ Google Analytics and Sitemeter to track the behaviour of your site/blog's visitors. This will give you an indication of what keywords bring visitors to your site and whether your SEO operation has achieved its goals. After performing the necessary evaluation, you can then refine your SEO strategy.
It's important for every webmaster and blogger to ensure that their sites' pages are well optimized. I hope my tips have been helpful to make the subject a bit clearer. Always remember that SEO is an ongoing process and not a one-off event. Therefore we must continue to go throught the steps again and again to achieve meaningful results.
If you're a newbie, I guess you might be inundated with loads of new information. However, this is just a broad overview of the SEO process to get you started. I hope to return pretty soon with more posts on SEO tips, resources, alternative tools to Google's and other ways of making your blog visible. A big shout out to my GhanaBlogging colleagues, especially Kajsa, who steered the meeting so efficiently, and Nana Yaw, for his thoughtful questions. Flood me with your questions in the comments section.