If you listen to all the “experts,” there are about a billion things you can do to increase your visibility on search engines, and it can take up all the time in the world to implement it all. I don’t say that to discourage you, but to let you know that there is no one “magic bullet.”
There are definitely some basic things you can do to optimize your site for search engines, but keep in mind that it will take time before you see any results. (A billion other disclaimers should follow this remark as well. “Doing” Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is like preparing Thanksgiving Dinner for a never-ending stream of people, all with different food sensitivities. 1)
But you have to start somewhere, and the best place to start is with the basics.
Your 5-Step Thanksgiving Guide to SEO:
- Turkey—Make your site visible to search engines. Without this, you have nothing.
- Stuffing—Add keywords to your website pages. “Stuff” the pages with keywords without being obnoxious about it.
- Mashed Potatoes with optional2 gravy—Add images that aren’t a billion pixels wide,3 and give them optional4 captions and alt text.
- Cranberry Sauce—Add a smattering of links to other website, and to internal pages on your site.
- Pie—Keep ’em coming back for more. Update your site often, which usually means, “keep a blog.”
If you want more useful tips for Search Engine Optimization, you can check out this link, “12 Important SEO Tips for Your Website” from Jeff Goins. I like Jeff Goins because of his clear writing style. 5
Your Number 1 Step is Tip #9
Tip #9 from Jeff Goins above, “Make sure your website is indexed in search engines,” is especially important6 (that’s the Turkey I mentioned in the 5-Step Thanksgiving Guide to SEO). You can see this site for how to allow your site to be indexed. Scroll about halfway down to the section that says “Disable ‘Discourage Search Engines’ In WordPress” That’s the part that a lot of people miss, and is the number 1 step for allowing your site to be indexed in the first place.
Your Full Name is a Keyword 7
As for some specific recommendations I can offer you, you want to identify important keywords, and then include those keywords multiple times across your site.
If you are trying to increase your professional online presence with a personal website, then you need to consider your full name one of your keywords, as that is something people would type into Google in order to find you.
Take a look at your site, and check if most pages actually include your full name. It’s probably in your header, but it needs to be in more places than that. If it’s not, Google won’t know that your site is about you, meaning Google won’t ever show your website as a top search result for your name.
Unfortunately, if you write in a friendly “first-person” style, that doesn’t leave room for easily including your full name. I’m not saying to do away with the first person, but it does mean you have to be a little more intentional with how you write. For example, you might want to start your About page with, “My name is _______ ________.” State the obvious, because it’s not obvious to a search engine.
A Keyword Example
I can give a personal example to illustrate this. When I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Armenia, I kept a blog about my experiences. At some point, I realized that my site wasn’t appearing in searches for “Peace Corps Volunteer in Armenia.”
Can you guess why?
It’s because in my blog entries about my experiences, I never re-mentioned that I was a “Peace Corps Volunteer in Armenia.” It was obvious, to humans, from context. But it was not obvious to search engines because I did not have those exact words anywhere on the page. I changed my writing style slightly, to say things like, “As a Peace Corps Volunteer in Armenia, I experienced…” and that made all the difference.8
Use Keywords in Other Places
You also want to use your keywords in titles, headers, “alt” text on images, and in captions, and in the footer of your site.
For example, your About page should be titled “About [Your Full Name].” The picture you include of yourself should first be saved with a file name that includes your name, (“firstname-lastname.jpg,” for example) and then when you upload it, you should add a caption and alt text that include your name, and maybe your title as well.
Those are a few ideas. Let me know if you have questions about any of the billion ways to increase your search engine optimization (SEO), or if you’d like to schedule a meeting to talk more.
Good luck! You can do it.