Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Creating a good website means good planning. After you decide what your website should look like, you need to create and gather the words, images, and video you want. What kind of content you have on your website is totally up to you. This chapter covers the foundation of good website content, and some tips that will help your website show up on Google and other search engines.
What is Search Engine Optimization?
Also known as SEO, Search Engine Optimization is the process of making your website easy for Google and other search engines to understand. The more they understand your website, the more visible your website will be when people search for content like yours. If showing up high on Google doesn’t matter to you, feel free to skip this section.
SEO is a huge topic. In this section, we will just skim the surface. If you want to learn more about it, there are some good guides at the end of this section.
All of SEO can be summed up in one simple statement:
Make good, original content, and share it.
Original content means text, images or video that you create. The internet has a culture of “borrowing” content from other websites, but doing this is plagiarism, and Google knows it. Google knows when new content is created, and if the same content shows up on your website, they can tell. This is more true for text, but as the technology gets better, Google is learning to understand images and video as well.
When making original content, think about your target audience. Who are you writing for? Often, it helps to picture your target audience as a single imaginary person. What do they look like? What kind of clothes do they were? What hobbies do they have? The more you understand your audience, the more you can write content they will care about.
Once you’ve made good content, share it on social media, like Reddit, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, ideally all four. Post your content on these websites with a link back to your website, and you will attract new visitors to your website. Google will notice this new traffic and reward you with a higher rank on their search result (called “page rank”).
It also helps if you engage with people on social media websites. Don’t just post a bunch of stuff and then never look at it again. Go back to these social media websites later, and if people are talking about your content, have a conversation with them. Answer questions, ask their opinion, anything that gets them talking. Bizarrely, Google can tell this is happening, and this will help your page rank.
A blog is like a personal newspaper. You can use it to share information about your life or organization, make announcements, or share opinions. Blogs are good for SEO, so long as it is your original content. This can be another thing to share on social media.
Almost every page or blog post will have at least one image. While not required, it will make your content more interesting, and will help your page rank. You can take your own pictures, or draw your own image. Or, you can use stock photos.
Don’t confuse a stock photo with clip art. Clip art is the dreadful, low effort drawings from the 1990s that found its way onto every announcement back in the day.
Stock art from the 90’s, versus today
Stock photos are the modern equivalent, but are much better. While making your own images will always rank better, having a stock photo is better than none at all.
Pixabay and Unsplash offer free images, even for commercial use. There are lots of other great websites that offer free photos, but many of them are released under a new special kind of copyright: Creative Commons. There are several types of Creative Commons licenses, but essentially it means that if you use the image, you need to provide a link on your website to the person who make the image. Learn more about Creative Commons their website.
Search Engine Optimization Guides:
- A full introduction to SEO
- Google’s Guide to writing good content
- The 200 things Google checks on your website to decide your page rank
A notice about links in this course
Some links in this course are "affiliate links". This means if you click on the link and purchase the thing, I get a commission for purchases made through links in this post. It costs you nothing extra, and enables me to work toward my dream of making a garden program to help kids and people with anxiety and depression learn and heal by interacting with the natural world. Thank you for making this dream a reality!