Lesson Learned From First Attempt Website Optimization
In my junior year of college, I took a class based on Digital Consumer Search and Marketing. Going into this class I had no prior exposure to WordPress, blogs, or any other digital marketing course. Originally, I assumed the professor would walk the class through WordPress 101 and blog creation. However, I was shocked when he talked about the project basics that only pertained to optimization tactics. At first, I was irritated that my professor was not spending the time to create a solid foundation in how WordPress works. Now, I am grateful for his, “this is how the real world works” teaching method. I had to put in work and in the end, I felt more satisfied by my deliverables.
WARNING: This may be confusing for those who have not read up on SEO basics.
Here is the exact overview provided in my class. “Throughout the course of the semester, you all have been carrying out an SEO strategy with the goal of ranking your respective web pages at the top of Google for the two search terms chosen in class. You have applied course concepts in an effort to catapult your sites forward. By the end of the semester, you should have learned what it takes to rank a site applying best practices in onsite and offsite SEO”. (from the professor)
The two keywords our professor assigned us was:
- Search Marketing Topics and Optimization
- Colleges with Digital Marketing Majors
Next, you’ll find strategies and observations about onsite SEO & offsite SEO.
Onsite SEO – Strategy and Observation
First, I wrote a basic page based on each keyword. After activating the SEO Yoast plugin, I focused on making my site look as natural as possible with keyword density and placement. Places that led to my improved Yoast SEO score, was placing my keywords in the title tags of each page and the alt text of images. One observation I found with keywords and page structure is that the more content on a page the more times a keyword should be mentioned to balance the density ratio. Appling this towards page structure, making sure keywords appear in approximately 25% of sub-headers and less than 4% of the body content is a good rule of thumb. Also making sure focus keywords are not duplicated on my site helped avoid redundancy.
There were some aspects of onsite SEO that I originally underestimated how impactful they would be. Starting with the meta description for my keyword targeted pages. I figured it was minimal and that I could focus on it later. After my keyword optimization strategy, my Yoast SEO score only improved to okay. However, when I finally put in the time to write a decently lengthed meta description, containing the keyword, my score improved from okay to good in SEO. The second thing I underestimated was internal links to other locations on my site. After adding this to my strategy, I started seeing my page rank increase even more alongside my offsite SEO tactics.
Offsite SEO – Strategy and Observation
When it came to offsite SEO, my approach started with strictly profile and social linking. I made backlinks on only these because I have a small amount of social media/profile sites to implement on. I placed backlinks on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. After targeting profiles, I researched top sites that have do-follow enabled to pass link juice on to my site. I came across Reddit and StumbleUpon. Which were both useful for finding related content to my landing page keywords. However, I think that StumbleUpon led to an increased bounce rate due to how its site functions.
Additionally, I wrote on an SEO forum and used the canvas Talent Gateway discussion, board. One approach I tried but failed in implementing was a link exchange with U of M for my page targeted towards college with digital marketing majors. The advice was given to me by an admin in the SEO chat forums. The UM webmaster kindly let me know the UM policy prohibiting promotion/ endorsement using IT resources. Additional backlinks that were made, even two backlinks that were no-follows, but Google profile related.
Some results I achieved for the website ranking project was creating effective backlinks. Leading to landing among the second and third search page positions and more recently a position on the search results first page. Also, I managed to optimize SEO on landing pages pertaining to my keywords and improve readability techniques. Overall, the results have led to a large understanding of how Google operates and the rules that follow along with it to be successful in Digital Marketing.
Reflections and Future Strategic Improvements
One thing I will be more conscious of in the future is creating improved high-quality landing pages. I hope to achieve this by reading up on style, structure, and plug-in tactics that will improve my landing page experience. Next, lowering bounce rate and retaining viewers for longer durations is something I can improve upon. In the future, I will avoid sites that will lead to high bounce rates. StumbleUpon was due to vast amounts of random content that had not been filtered down to relate strictly to my landing pages. Instead, I will structure my backlinking sites to be more thematically related to content within high reputation websites. Reddit could have been another place I approached differently. Next time I will create a professional account, separate from my private account, that will contain all content and subreddits under that topic for the sole purpose of backlinking.
An additional learning point I have crossed is upon creation of a new website, page or post. My URLs need to be assessed immediately when the topic focus has been set. That way I avoid problems such as my keyword not being in my URL. Like what happened this time around. Changing it now would confuse Google unless I properly link my new location to my old URL. Which is something that is on my list of things to learn. Along with how to get around slug word notifications in WordPress. Lastly, another thing I need to do different that could help with linking is diversifying my link text. I failed to do this before the project was due, but it is another thing I need to add to my future strategic improvements. Along with more consistent activity.