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SEO on a shoestring – what a website owner can do on their own for site promotion without hiring specialists

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15.02.2024
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In today's information space, businesses are delving deeper into the online world. Through websites, you can sell various goods and services, develop your brand, or tell millions of people about yourself. Therefore, for your platform to be popular and visited by many people, SEO is necessary – website optimization for search engines. This is a rather complex process, especially for beginners who are just starting to work online. Some turn to professionals for help. However, you can implement some SEO steps on your own. Let's consider several key points that you can do yourself to improve the traffic to your resource.

What is SEO and Why Website Optimization is Important for Search Engines

First, it is important to clearly understand what SEO is – the process of optimizing your website for search engines. Put simply, it is a complex set of activities and techniques that help your site rank higher in search engine results.

Why is such optimization necessary? Let's imagine that an ordinary user wants to order a T-shirt with a print of their own design. Most people would use a search engine like Google, Yahoo, Bing, or others. They would enter a query, which would typically look like this: buy a T-shirt with a custom design print, order T-shirts with prints, print on T-shirts, etc. There are many online stores that offer such services.

The search engine scans all websites and evaluates them based on a number of parameters - content quality, user-friendliness, trustworthiness, etc. It then ranks the TOP sites that it considers the best - these will be shown at the top of the search results.

Therefore, it is important for the search engine to be able to see your site among hundreds of others and rank it high enough, ideally in the first place in the TOP. The system needs to suggest your site to the user for the maximum number of query variations. This means that the maximum number of popular keywords should be included in the text - while maintaining readability. Then there is a good chance that the user will click on the link to your site and use your services.

What does search results look like in the Google search engine

SEO – website optimization and promotion – allows you to raise your website higher in search results. Usually, about 75% of people stay on the first page of search results, where they choose the necessary site. Websites beyond the first page are often completely ignored by users. Therefore, for businesses and websites, it is important to have a high ranking so that their site is on the first page and as high as possible in the list.

Where is it more profitable to rent online hosting for a website

How to Conduct an SEO Audit Yourself

You can manage your website's SEO yourself. But to do this, you first need to analyze it, find errors and weaknesses. This will help you fix them so that search engines can better analyze the content of your site and offer it to users.

First of all, you should check the content of the pages and the main technical indicators of the site, which are important for promotion:

  1. Uniqueness of content on pages. Of course, you can manually check each text, but there is already the possibility to check the uniqueness of the entire site by simply entering the site's link in the check field on special services. For example, this function is available in Copywritley.

  2. Literacy and usefulness of content – this will have to be checked manually. This especially applies to the informational part of the site, such as the blog or the "About Us" section. Read articles, product and category descriptions, texts on important pages, or entrust this work to an editor. Google pays special attention to how useful the text is for site visitors. Do not write text for machines, focus on reader interest.

  3. The presence and number of keywords for which the site is shown in the search results. You can check them using tools such as Ahrefs, SeRanking, and other services that we talk about in the article "How to Find Out Another Site's Traffic". These tools analyze not only traffic but also keywords.

  4. Indexing of site pages in the search engine. For this, you can use Google Search Console. It allows you to track traffic, user behavior, conversions, and other metrics that help assess the effectiveness of your content and SEO strategy.

Checking the indexing of site pages in Google Search Console

It will help you find out the number of indexed and unindexed pages and tell you the reasons why this happened.

Checking the reason for the lack of page indexing through Google Search Console

As you can see in the screenshot, some pages are not indexed because the webmaster deliberately closed them from the robot (they are not needed in the index), and some were not found or are duplicates.

  1. How quickly pages load. For this, there are special services, such as webpagetest.org. They show the speed of loading the site and provide relevant recommendations. Often, it is in such services that you can see how successfully your images are optimized.

  2. Presence of broken links – in our article, you can read about how to find and fix broken links.

  3. Presence of SSL certificates and redirection to HTTPS. Here again, Google Search Console will help - it will show if you have pages that still work over the unsecured HTTP protocol.

Checking the presence of HTTPS on the site pages through Search Console

  1. The presence and number of internal links (internal linking). Internal links are no less important for promotion than external ones. To understand if they exist and where they lead, you can again use Google Search Console – pay attention to "Internal Links" in the "Links" section. Here you can see which pages internal links most often lead to and in what quantity.

View internal and external links to the site through Google Search Console

  1. Whether the website has backlinks and how many – this can be analyzed using services such as Ahrefs or Serpstat. Later, we will talk about what backlinks and link building are, but for now, just remember this point.

Analysis of the link profile of the site through the Ahrefs service

The Ahrefs service shows that Cityhost.ua has very good indicators – almost 11 thousand backlinks and 1.3 thousand referring domains to our site.

By analyzing the site, you will see its weaknesses – for example, many pages on the HTTP protocol, insufficiently unique content, and many broken links. But the results of the audit are only part of what needs to be done. Another part consists of elements that are difficult to count. After optimizing them, you will be able to assess the impact of the update only after the site's positions improve in the search engine.

Now let's talk about how to independently optimize all the important parameters for promoting the site.

Optimizing Text for Search Engines

On most websites, text is the main content. Since search engines are still learning to recognize images, text is a very important guide for them to understand what the site is about. Therefore, optimizing text is a step that cannot be skipped.

The usefulness, uniqueness, and correctness of the text

The main factor of success, insisted upon by Google itself, is useful, interesting, and professional content. If the text is written in a "machine language" for SEO, it may indeed help increase traffic at first. However, users will quickly leave your site if the information is written in a complex way and does not benefit them. Therefore, traffic will decrease soon.

Therefore, the emphasis should be on presenting information in a simple way that will help the reader solve their problem or truly enrich them with new knowledge. Depending on the specifics of your site, try to provide maximum value on the pages and make all the content on the site unique. Google pays attention to the professionalism of the author or interviewer, so collaborations with specialists should be made – for example, writing articles on programming intricacies, consulting with professional developers.

And, of course, the text should be correct, as gross errors indicate that the website owners did not have enough money or desire to do such a basic thing as texts properly.

Quality content promotes itself – if you have very interesting articles, other sites will link to them, and you will receive additional organic growth in backlinks. We wrote about all this in the article "TOP 10 SEO and link building tips for 2023" – it is still relevant.

Key Queries and Semantic Core

Of course, for promotion, keywords and the semantic core based on them are necessary.

In simple terms, the semantic core is a set of words and phrases that users can use to find your site. The more keywords, the better, but it is important that they are thematic. If you sell tea and people come to your site searching for "what is the Great Wall of China", it may mean that you are doing something wrong. Irrelevant keywords will lower traffic indicators - users will leave the pages very quickly, and the search engine will register this.

You can read about how to create a semantic core at the link.

In general, the semantic core should be collected even before creating the site and should be used as a guide when planning the structure. If you are only planning to create your site, then we came in time – we strongly recommend starting with this. By the way, it is worth reading the article “How to Create Your Business Website: Independently, Easily, and Relatively Inexpensively”.

If you created your site without a semantic core, it will be more difficult to fix the situation, but still possible. To do this, you will need to edit the texts and add keywords you are promoting for:

  1. Keywords of the user's main intent. For example, for pages offering products or services, these are words like: buy, order, price, etc. For informational texts, queries often include: why, what is, how to, what is it, and similar.

  2. Industry-specific words that characterize your industry or services. For a provider, these could be "domains", "hosting", "virtual server". For a legal site – "lawyer", "legal aid", "contract", "notary". For a restaurant site – "food", "delivery", "lunch", "menu", etc.

  3. Additional words related in content to industry-specific ones – for example, hosting is directly related to the word site. You can read about selecting related words in the article about LSI texts.

Depending on the specifics of your resource and the promoted product, you should form a list of key phrases. You can also check existing texts for the number of key phrases. For example, there are free sites where you can analyze texts – istio.com, WordCounter, Textalyser, etc.

Check text through the istio.com service

Results of text analysis on istio.com.

Such tools help determine the most frequently used words in the text, their density in percentage, find spelling errors, determine the percentage of water in the text, and can even provide advice on improving the text.

For example, SEO optimization experts recommend adhering to a keyword density of 1-3%. This significantly improves the search engine results.

An optimized text should contain keywords that readers can use to find it. At the same time, key queries should be harmoniously integrated and not used too often in the text (this is called keyword stuffing).

Indexing Site Pages

If Google has not indexed a page, it is not in the database and will not be displayed in the search results. The reasons for its absence can be different – perhaps the crawler does not visit your site frequently enough, and new pages are being indexed slowly. But this can be done "forcefully", manually. In Google Search Console, find the URL Inspection section and enter the page you want to index in the field. The inspected page is already indexed, but if it is not in the index or the information has been updated, you can request indexing.

How to request indexing of a site page in Google Search Console

Page Loading Speed

Pay attention to the speed of loading the page from different devices. How quickly does textual information and multimedia load? What do users see during loading? This is all important for search engine ranking. Besides, it is important for users themselves.

If the site is poorly written and with errors, and the page loading takes a long time, there is a high probability that due to the slow loading, the user will simply leave the site in 5-10 seconds.

Read our article on how to increase page loading time and optimize your site: Site loading speed – what do TTFB, FCP, LCP, Total Blocking Time, and other indicators mean.

SSL Certificate and HTTPS Protocol

To ensure that the search engine perceives your resource well, it is advisable to install an SSL certificate and use the HTTPS connection protocol. Google uses the presence of an SSL certificate as one of the ranking factors for websites. Websites with HTTPS protection have an advantage in search results over resources that use only HTTP.

For most sites, a free SSL protocol is sufficient, which can be installed on the Cityhost hosting in a couple of clicks. In the same section, you can enable automatic redirection to HTTPS.

How to install a free SSL certificate on CityHost

Internal Linking

It is important to create links between different pages on the site. For example, between the main page and pages with various products and services, the description of your company, contact information, etc. This helps search engines to index your site better and faster. That is, the search engine can more easily scan the pages of your site to provide the user with the requested page.

Internal linking helps to stay longer on sites. The search engine sees that the user spends more time on our site, which means that he is interested there. Therefore, your site will be better promoted. It will be recommended more often by the search system and ranked higher.

We can often see direct links on news or media sites. For example, after reading an interesting article, we are offered to follow a link to another page to read the background or continuation of the article or to read a text on a similar topic. This strategy works for various informational sites and even online stores.

Acquiring External Links (Link Building)

To increase the trust of search engines, you need to place a link to your site on other resources. Link building is a fairly effective way of promotion. For example, you can place links on social network pages, other sites, and forums.

Іmportant task of link building is to increase the link mass and domain rating. The more sites that link to your site, the more trustworthy the search engine considers it. Links can be obtained through guest posting exchanges in blogs, placing industry news in the media, submitting interesting articles to specialized media, and so on.

In addition, there are special exchanges where you can find sites that are willing to post an article with your links for a fee - for example, this is Collaborator, Referr or Whitepress. However, purchasing links is a rather subtle tool, so we do not recommend abusing it. Before turning to this method of link building, we advise you to carefully study the issue, because a large number of links from low-quality donors can, on the contrary, harm promotion.

Image Optimization

An effective way to improve a website is to optimize images – a process that makes images attractive to search engine robots. This involves using unique photos, providing proper descriptions, and using attributes. For more information, read our publication – image SEO optimization: how to optimize images on a website.

It's also better to use textual information rather than multimedia, as search engines can analyze text. If you place certain information in image format, search engines won't be able to determine what is depicted or indicated in the image.

This also applies to infographics and other multimedia materials. If you can't replace images with textual content, you can duplicate this information in textual format so that search engines can see it.

Meta Tags

Meta tags play an important role in SEO optimization of a website. There are two main elements:

  • Title – the headline displayed in search results;

  • Description – a page description also displayed in search results.

Their content is displayed in a snippet that is formed in the search engine results. It's important for the Title to stand out from similar headlines of competitors in the TOP and be attractive enough for readers to want to click on it.

What is a snippet and what does it look like on Google

The Title should be 5-7 words long – if it's too long, it will be truncated in the snippet in the search engine results.

The optimal length for Description is 160-170 characters. Both meta tags should contain the main keywords of the text and the main concept revealed in the article. In search results we see that the main concept – LSI-text – is placed at the beginning of the Title.

Google often generates Description on its own, taking part of the first paragraph or phrases it likes. You need to write a concise and accurate description so that Google wants to take it. However, it's not catastrophic if the search engine doesn't want to use your description – what's important is that Description must be there, as it improves the robots' attitude towards the pages.

Text structure

The structure of the text implies both technical and semantic organization of all its parts. Headings should be arranged in a logical tree, with the smaller subheading subordinate to the previous one. Search crawlers read markup, so it is important that H2 level headings follow H1, and H3 is placed after H2. This is convenient for both crawlers and readers.

It is in the headings that you should use keywords and phrases. But this needs to be done organically.

Read more about how to create headings and build a hierarchy in the article.

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As we can see, SEO website promotion is extremely important. It consists of many aspects that you can master even yourself. You can use special tools for analysis and optimization. By following the recommendations, you can raise your site's ranking and significantly increase the number of visitors.

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Author: Bohdana Haivoronska

Journalist (since 2003), IT copywriter (since 2013), content marketer at Cityhost.ua. Specializes in articles about technology, creation and promotion of sites.