Whether you have a seasoned website or are planning to make a new one, implementing a proper search engine optimization, or SEO, plan is absolutely key. Although it sounds like a drag, think of it this way: if people can't find you via a search engine, it's like you don't exist.

Harsh, I know. Google is like one big library and with all the different websites out there, you can imagine how hard it might be to organize all of that information. The better you can standardize and organize your information, the better Google can read and ultimately share your content.

If you want to show up on the first page, add these to your to-do list.

1. Make sure your name, address, and phone number (NAP) are the same across the web.

This is especially important because if Google can't recognize and authenticate your address across multiple locations, you may not show up in a search. Just think of your NAP listing as your business' identification card and Google as the DMV. If your ID doesn't match up, then you'll have major issues getting verified.

2. If you're a local business, place your address in the bottom right-hand corner of the page.

It turns out that this is the most ideal place for Google to read for your NAP. The footer is also a good alternative, but having it visible on every page of your site reestablishes and verifies your location.

3. Use Google Keyword Planner to see what people are typing in to find you and/or your competitors.

Google Keyword Planner is a tool that can help you research what keywords are popular. Plus, you can even discover what your competitors are ranking for if you want to rival that keyword.

The goal here is to establish what your customers are looking for when they find you and how to capture them when they don't yet know how much they need you. Once you've compiled a nice set of keywords, you'll want to.

4. Establish a keyword for every page.

Having a keyword or a key phrase for every one of your website's pages will help you focus that page's content. Plus, Google will then learn what that page is about and help direct traffic there if they find a search query that is related. Remember, the goal is to help Google classify your content. Make it as easy as possible to for Google to know what your page is all about.

5. Make sure every page has a good meta description with natural sounding sentences.

A meta description is made up of 320 characters and tells Google and your visitors what is on your page. For example, it's the basic black text under the clickable headline in a Google search. You want this meta description to be in an active voice and tell the users exactly what to expect. Search engines have also become smarter with reading sentences, so make sure you sound like a human when writing this.

Don't fill up your meta description with a bunch of relevant keywords like, "lamp, home accessories, lighting, furniture". Only include the one keyword or phrase you've assigned to the page and write a normal human sentence like, "These best-selling lamps beautifully compliment any home under a budget."

6. Follow these best practices for uploading images.

Since search engines can't read images, it's important to fill out its backend data so that it can be read. Before you upload an image, make sure the image file includes the page's keyword, headline or title, and/or exactly what the image is. Whatever you do, don't leave it as its original file name, which is probably something like IMG_2561. Google won't understand that.

Also, fill out an image alt text so that if for some reason the image doesn't load, this piece of text will show up and make sense to the user.

7. Submit an updated sitemap to Google.

Once you have these essentials down, make sure that search engines know you're up-to-date. All you have to do is make a sitemap (which can be created for free online or through a website plugin). Then, create a Google Webmasters account, link your website, and then follow the instructions to submit your sitemap. This is just an updated and extremely detailed table of contents that helps search engines understand and categorize your website even better.

Published on: Feb 23, 2018