Out of all the moving parts of Web Development, SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is my least favorite. Maybe it’s because I’ve never really gotten into it; maybe it’s because it sounds boring; or maybe I’m just lazy.
Yeah, probably just lazy.
But it doesn’t matter how awesome your site is if no one reads it. So in a multi-part (ie. till I feel like I am a Master of SEO) series, I’m going to let you small business owners / website developers / people with too much time on your hands, follow my journey into discovering how to actually accomplish this SEO stuff.
Obviously the first step to achieving anything is figuring out where you are. So to get me started, I used Google Analytics and several SEO WordPress plugins.
Google Analytics. Anyone who has ever even considered a website has probably heard of Google Analytics. This isn’t an in-depth post on how to read all of the google analytics (hopefully that will come later). This is really just an overview of some of the statics you should pay attention to. The picture to the right shows the dashboard. These really have all the
snapshot numbers you need to look at. Visitors, Unique Visitors, How many pages each person is looking at (a high number is obviously good), Average time on site (higher is better), bounce rate (do they click there and immediately leave? lower is better).
The second thing you want to look at is Visitor’s Flow. This is a handy tool to see where people are going on your site. For example, on my site, the majority of people in the US go to my home page and then my portfolio. My blog is the second most visited page. For me, this is perfect. That’s exactly what I want them to do. If your traffic flow isn’t going where you want it to, take a look at the navigation you’re using. Are the pages you want to highlight actually hard to find?
The third thing I look at is the Traffic Sources. This is probably my favorite thing. Most of my traffic right now is from referrals, not searches. My goal is to get those search numbers up. Although referrals are great; I recently got linked to from another blog that brought in quite a bit of traffic. If you explore further, under Source => All Traffic, you can find out where people came from, how many pages they visited, how long they stayed, and the bounce rate. Facebook referrals generally spend more time on the site and look at more pages.
One last thing about google analytics. There is a plugin for WordPress that will give you basic highlights on your site. It’s called…. “Google Analytics”.
Rank Reporter. This plugin is great for letting you know where your site is in google. Remember how I said I wanted to increase my search referrals? Well, this will help me track that better. To make it work, you add search terms (for example: “web developer santa clarita”) and it will tell you what page in the search engines you show up. This won’t help you improve, but it will tell you how good you’re doing; and to get better, you need to know that.
XML Sitemap. This plugin builds a sitemap and submits it to the major search engines. Anytime you recreate/redesign/etc. your site, you just click a button and it recreates the sitemap. I’ve heard this is incredibly important for being found in search engines. I’ll let you know if it seems to help.
SEO Easy Optimizer. This is a SUPER basic plugin. It tests four main items on your site and tells you how you’re doing with either a check mark or an X. It also provides a list of links to help you improve. Like I said, super basic, but you do have to cover the basics!
All in One SEO. This is a huge plugin. I pretty much installed it and briefly changed a few of the options. I would definitely install this, but again, not sure how effective it is. It does claim to optimize titles for search engines and automatically create meta tags. We’ll see if that actually helps my SEO.