As an experienced SEO I am regularly asked ‘How do you do SEO?’ or ‘Can you SEO my website?’. I am writing this SEO Cheat Sheet as a way of giving you some idea of things you can do yourself to help your SEO. I am also including some concepts as there is so much misinformation regarding SEO.
Search Engine Optimisation is the practice of optimising your web pages for Search Engines. Whilst the aim for everyone using SEO as a marketing channel is to get page 1 results, preferably top 3 placement, the result you receive is up to the search engine algorithm.
Google is just 1 search engine but it’s the one that most people use and the SEO I focus on. I do a bit with Bing, Yahoo & Yandex but Google is what I am talking about here in this blog.
YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine, I have zero experience in YouTube SEO but there will be SEOs out there that only do YouTube.
My SEO Cheat Sheet
Search Engine algorithms change regularly so staying on top of what Google wants, is a full-time job. I started learning SEO in 2010 and there were around 500 changes a year to the Google algorithm. In 2018 there were over 3000, in 2022 there has been a lot!
Core Algorithms are the big ones and they get given names by the SEO community.
This article by Moz lists the Core Algorithm changes.
Google doesn’t tell anyone about the updates, when they are or what they are about. SEO work them out through data analysis and testing.
How long does SEO take?
SEO is not a quick fix; it can be very complex and challenging and if you are focused on Google, the algorithm is constantly evolving so what works today may not work tomorrow and your Page 1 keywords can be Page 5 next week.
There are many studies that say it takes 3-6 months of consistent work to see good results with SEO and it’s after about a year you see your best results. This is why most SEO companies have a minimum of 6 months to sign up.
This is a good article by Search Engine Journal on how long SEO takes.
SEO may be a long game but has great ROI. With time it gives you targeted traffic to your website. Without SEO you need to use other marketing channels such as paid ads and social media.
Paid Ads on marketplace websites or directories are essentially websites selling you exposure from their website traffic, the traffic they get from their SEO efforts.
The term SEO is regularly thrown often by people with no clue what it entails or how much time, money and work are involved. If it was super easy, everyone would be at no 1 for everything, right?
A lot of the mistruths are sales pitches to sell services. For example:
- Hosting location: Hosting location is unimportant. Hosting quality and speed is important not where their data centre is. However, local + blazing-fast would be best. For Maintenance packages, we use Cloudways with Vultr as it is a Sydney Data Centre.
- Domain Name is something that is important for your brand & should be chosen for brand strategy, not for google ranking. An exact Domain Match can be an easy SEO win though
- Keyword in Domain: Putting keywords in your domain name can do more harm than good.
How does Google rank pages?
Google has spiders crawling the internet. What the spiders find is organised and indexed and shown on SERPs (search engine result pages).
Links from one page to another are how Google spiders discover these pages.
There are an estimated 200-500 different things that Google looks at when ranking a page. A lot of them are technical so unless you have the skill set or want to learn the skills, save yourself the grey hairs & headaches and pay an experienced professional, like Me 🙂
If your website and pages aren’t accessible to Google, they are not crawled so everything you do to your website is pretty pointless.
I wish SEO was more of an exact science but it just isn’t. There are entire news sites dedicated to SEO such as Search Engine Land & Search engine Journal plus 1000’s of forums, chat rooms, groups and blogs.
As an SEO I spend a minimum of 10hrs a week reading and interacting with the SEO community. I don’t mind as I love it, SEO is my hobby as well as my job. It’s a lifestyle choice lol
4 important tips
- Google is Blind Google sees code & content, but google cannot see your pictures (always remember to add alt tags to images)
- KISS (Keep it Simple Stupid) Google’s best practices are also people’s best practices. Make your content easy to read; use headings, and small paragraphs and check your spelling and grammar
- You need Speed You want your website to be fast & lean. Buy the fastest, best-quality hosting you can afford. Always optimise your images and remove things causing your site to slow down. Web Page Test is great for checking your website performance.
- The answer to every SEO question is ‘It Depends’ What works with 1 site may not work with another.
Things you can do yourself
Your Meta Title and Meta Descriptions are people’s first impressions of your site on google. Snippets are your SERP sales pitch; telling people why they should look at your website.
Add Quality Links
Links are a bit like votes. You need them but you only want them from credible sources.
1 link from a quality website helps you whereas if you buy 1000 links for $10 it could kill all your SEO effort. Google gives penalties to anyone who is trying to play the system, there are no shortcuts with google anymore, unfortunately.
Unique & Content Quality
The better quality of your content is the better it will do. 2 sentences of crap aren’t going to work out. Aim for 600 words on a page and make them the best you can. Make sure there are no spelling or grammatical mistakes
Use Unique Images
Google wants uniqueness, so don’t steal an image off the internet and use it on your own site. Google won’t like that and it will affect your rankings. Remember Google is blind, so you need to tell Google what the picture is about. Give it a name, add ALT text
Make sure you have SSL on your site, SSL certificates are free with most hosting companies these days.
Track your Data
Add Google Analytics and Search Console to your site and learn how to use them
Search Console is a free webmaster tool, you can see how many keywords you are ranking for, helps you track your positions plus tells you when you have errors on your site you need to fix
Google Analytics helps you track your website metrics. See who is visiting your site, where they came from and what they looked at when they are on your site
In the Google Analytics Acquisition areas you can see how you got the visitors:
- Organic – traffic from search engines, mostly google but there are other search engines you can work with too, such as Bing, Yahoo and Yandex
- Direct – these stats maybe you working on your own site or clients that know your URL and are coming back for more info
- Social – Twitter, Instagram, and any other socials you have
- Referral – Traffic from other websites; these are a bit of a tricky metric with adult sites. The referring sites often use a link tag with ‘noreferrer‘ which is good for security but stops you from seeing these traffic stats.
Work on your Site’s Speed
Site Speed is often debated but I have found it to be an element that helps SEO. A faster site = higher ranking & increase in crawl budget
I have seen sites drop rankings when they lose 1s speed so I do speed tests on client sites every Monday without fail.
- Optimise your images and make every page on your site as fast as you can.
- Delete any images you don’t need.
- Images slow you down, if they serve no purpose, get rid of them.
Website Hosting Quality
The base of your site speed is hosting and Hosting choice definitely matters!
Hosting quality and speed is crucial if you want to see SEO gains. I love Vultr HF for my own websites and client sites, but technically it’s a little tricky for non-techies to configure themselves.
I know many clients host Siteground. which is OK, it’s cheap and it’s super easy to set up and work with as they have a custom hosting panel. It’s made for non-techies.
I have also had some clients with WPX since they opened an Australian Data Centre and they are great.
WPEngine I have used many times too. They have an amazing suite of tools that help businesses with workflow & time. Whilst they are more expensive than some other hosting options they save you $s with all their inclusions not to mention the customer service and knowledge of their support team are fantastic. They only do WP so every support person is a WP expert so is great if you are not on a website care plan with your web developer.
Stay out of bad hosting neighbourhoods
The other sites that are on your hosting service affect your SEO. If you are on a shared server with many spammy sites, porn sites or Cannabis sellers, this can affect your rankings.
Whilst this comment will probably get me some haters I am going to say it anyway lol
Host with a large company that is not owned by the EIG group. EIG own Godaddy, BlueHost and many others. They are known for their poor quality, high pricing and constant sales pitch of things you don’t need
Whilst website builders like WIX are awesome; if SEO is the top priority for your business, you really want to go with something more robust.
If you have money pay an experienced SEO and Web Developer who knows SEO and how to get your site crawled, ranked and indexed high.
My clients are sitting top 3 for competitive keywords and that is not by chance. It’s due to technical skill, experience and hard work!
Not all websites are created equal and for SEO the way a site is developed is important!
Wish to DIY it all?
If you are going to DIY your website and SEO, go with WordPress, it’s superior in every way. I posted a DIY WordPress blog to help get you started with the right hosting, theme, plugins etc. My recommendations are either things I use myself or the preferences of personal training clients.
I can assist you with SEO during my WordPress VIP Intensive
The learning curve to WordPress is much steeper than Squarespace, Shopify or Wix but if high search engine ranking is what you really want, then it’s best to spend time learning how to do a WordPress site with SEO best principles.
Google’s Starter Guide is a good place to start. I am a fan of SEMRush Academy Courses, the SEO fundamentals course with Gregg Gifford is fab. I recommend all clients to watch the fundamentals course to understand how search works and what we SEOs do as a job.
Most of the world has no clue how much work, knowledge and ongoing learning is involved in being a competitive SEO
If you wish to DIY your SEO, SEranking is a good tool with a nice UX. You can get a free 14-day trial with my link (SEranking) SErankings pricing is great value when you compare it to other tools such as SEMrush or Ahrefs and it’s all you need if you want to DIY your SEO.
I hope you have found this SEO Cheat Sheet Helpful