Want to improve your website’s SEO? This article covers everything you need to know before you start optimising your site. If you want to skip to a specific section, click on one of the following steps to take you to that section.

Chapter 1

What is SEO?

Learn the basics.

Chapter 2

Free SEO Tools

Discover the free tools the pros use to audit and nail their SEO.

Chapter 3

Technical SEO

Improve the hidden, technical aspects of your website to help search engines crawl and love it.

Chapter 4

Off-Site SEO

Devise strategies outside of your website that build credibility and authority.

Chapter 5

On-Page SEO

Create amazing content on your web pages that both search engines and users love.

Chapter 6

Get a Free SEO Audit

Find out how your website is performing with a Free SEO Audit.

Chapter 1

What is SEO?

Learn the basics of SEO

You’ve heard the word bandied about, you know it’s important. But what the heck is SEO? Find out what it is and some of the techniques the pros use to optimise websites for search engines.

Why it’s Important

Search engines place a high priority on serving you the best possible content for your search query. Meaning your website needs to adhere to specific guidelines if it has any hope of appearing anywhere on search results pages, let alone attracting any traffic.

How it Works

SEO is the practice of optimising your website so search engines can crawl it, determine what it’s about, and rate its quality. SEO is comprised of both what you CAN see on a webpage and what you CAN’T see.

What you can’t see

Technical SEO

Optimise the hidden, technical content on your website to help search engine spiders crawl and index your website.

What you can’t see

Off-Site SEO

Strategies that, despite not being directly on your website, improve its search engine ranking, user perception, authority, and trustworthiness.

What you can see

On-Page SEO

Optimising the visible content on individual web pages to earn higher search rankings and more relevant web traffic.

Chapter 2

Free SEO Tools

Improve Your Website’s Performance Using Free Tools

I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Google has a host of free tools that analyse your site and help you identify the main problems that can affect your search ranking. I’ll touch on what they are in this chapter, then get into the nitty-gritty of how to use them in the chapters that follow.

Google PageSpeed Insights

PageSpeed Insights breaks down the top issues and gives you some tips for how to improve your site’s performance.

Google Mobile-Friendly Test

Google penalises websites for having poor mobile performance. Find out if your website is mobile friendly with their handy tool.

Google Search Console

Upload your site to Search Console to monitor your site’s performance over time. Search Console helps you identify any problems that may impact your presence in Google.

Chapter 3

Technical SEO

Improve Your Search Ranking with Technical SEO

The phrase “technical SEO” might conjure images of smartie-pants programmers frantically coding in icy-cold server rooms. I’m here to pop that visual bubble and demystify the process.

Help Search Engines Crawl Your Site

Technical SEO provides crawl instructions for search engine spiders, so they can locate all visible pages, determine what they’re about, and help users find the content they’re looking for.

Improve Web Performance for User Experience

Search engines rate websites based on their user experience, including performance, speed, and relevance. Technical SEO also focuses on improving these factors so search engines reward your site with better rankings.

Create a Device Responsive Site for Better Ranking

With web browsing on mobile devices on the rise, Google favours websites that look great on all devices and screen resolutions.

Help Search Engines Crawl Your Website

Google loves websites that have great site architecture and clear instructions for how to crawl the site. Follow the next 4 steps to help search engines crawl your website.

Step 1. Create Sitemaps

Sitemaps list all of the URLs on your website, helping both users and search engine spiders find their way around your site.

HTML Sitemaps

While HTML sitemaps are meant for your web users, search engines can also use them to find the pages on your site. One way to help users navigate your site is to provide links in your web footer.

XML Sitemaps

XML sitemaps are designed specifically for search engine spiders, with all the URLs of your website detailed in a designated text document that’s uploaded on your server.

Step 2. Create a Robots.txt File

Robots.txt is a document that provides instructions for how search engine spiders should crawl your website. You can specify which pages you want to be crawled and which pages you prefer to remain hidden, such as sign-in pages, carts, and payment processing pages.

Add Sitemap Locations

Adding sitemap locations to your robots.txt instructs spiders where to check for your web pages.

Step 3. Describe Your Content

Search engines do a great job of figuring out what your website is about using the on-page content. But you can help them along with additional technical descriptions.

Meta Descriptions

Meta descriptions are snippets of text that summarises the content of your web page, appearing as headlines and text descriptions in search engine results. Think of meta descriptions as ad copy. The more enticing and descriptive, the more likely your audience is to click on your search listing.

Step 4. Check for Crawl Errors

Create a Google Search Console account and use it to crawl your website so it can test for any potential errors. The great thing about Search Console is that it’s a totally free tool from arguably the largest, most popular search engine in the world, designed especially to help you optimise your website.

Fix Crawl Errors

Use the Manual Actions tool to check for any errors that are preventing your website from being crawled properly. Now that you have a list of problems, you can methodically work your way through and improve them.

Test Your Page Load Speed

Google loves websites that have great site architecture and clear instructions for how to crawl the site. Follow the next 4 steps to help search engines crawl your website.

Diagnosing Slow Page Load

Is your website load speed as slow as molasses on a cold winter’s day? Find out the top 3 likely culprits for slow page load speed and learn how to fix them.

Culprit 1. Clunky Code

Whether you use a CMS or HTML, your code could be redundant, outdated, or superfluous. Fortunately for you and your website, there are many code performance enhancing options out there.

Culprit 2. Page Caching Not Enabled

Every time you visit a web page, you send a request to the website’s server to access that page. If page caching isn’t enabled, visitors have to load your page from the ground up every time they visit. Page caching allows users to store information about your site. The next time they visit, your site loads faster.

Culprit 3. Large Image Files

The more images you have on your website, the slower it will load. Especially if these images aren’t optimised for the web.

Speed Up Your Website Load Time

Is your website load speed as slow as a sleep-deprived turtle? Find out the top 3 likely culprits for slow page load speed and learn how to fix them.

Streamline Your Code

Did you discover some clunky code issues during your PageSpeed audit? One option for improving performance is to minify your code. There are also WordPress plugins that do the job for you!

Enable Page Caching

Page caching stores aspects of your website in files that can be served directly. In simple terms, it helps your website load faster. Without some coding experience or a web developer, this might be a difficult issue to tackle on your own. But if you have a WordPress site, I highly recommend W3 Total Cache. The plugin will handle the heavy lifting for you.

Optimise Your Images for the Web

A few things to remember when saving images for the web:

  • Check that the image resolution is 72 DPI
  • Save the file in dimensions that suit the placement
  • JPGs are smaller files than PNGs

You can also enable image compression with either Tiny JPG or the WordPress plugin WP Smushit.

Is your website mobile friendly?

Find out by running your web pages through Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test. After it’s analysed your website, the tool will provide you with a mobile usability report, guidelines for creating mobile-friendly websites, and a link to a forum where you can get answers.

Why your website needs to be device responsive

Over 50% of worldwide web traffic is from mobile devices, with that number trending upwards year on year. Google began penalising websites that aren’t mobile-friendly starting in 2015. Time to upgrade to device responsive design, if you haven’t already!

Chapter 4

Off-Site SEO

Improve your site rank and credibility with off-site SEO

The term “off-site SEO” refers to strategies outside of your own website and server that impact your ranking on search results pages. A few examples include:


Search engines recognise backlinks, or links from external websites to your web pages, as an indication of your website’s popularity and credibility. The more popular the referring domain is, the higher your own website will rank in search engines. Keen to start link building? Learn from the master himself, Brian Dean of Backlinko.

Guest Blogging

Creating content and writing articles for websites other than yours which link to your own site. Bonus points if the website has powerful domain authority (think: Wall Street Journal, Buzzfeed, and other widely visited websites.)

Influencer and Social Media Marketing

Establishing your brand and building a following on social media can positively impact the perception and popularity of your website. Collaborating with influencers who have a large, engaged following can also lift awareness and perception of your brand.

Chapter 5

On-Page SEO

Attract web traffic with on-page SEO

On-page SEO is the process of optimising the content on a web page for your specific audience. More often than not, creating targeted content for your users lifts your position in search results. As I previously mentioned, search engines want to provide the best, most relevant web content for every search query. If your web page offers content that’s valuable and important to your audience, they’re more likely to visit your site. The more web visits you receive, the higher the likelihood search engines will prioritise your web page over others. Sounds simple right? Let’s optimise those web pages!

Step 1. Create Long, Thorough Content

Longer content has an increased likelihood of ranking on the first page of Google’s search results. I’m talking 2,000 words long. Write in-depth content that concentrates on topics that are important to your audience.

Researching Topics for Content

Not sure what topics are important to your audience? Browse popular web forums, Facebook groups, and hashtags to find topics that mean the most to your users. Sign up for industry publications to

Step 2. Add Keywords

Adding widely searched keywords to your headlines, copy, and URLs helps search engines determine the subject of your content and serve it for the relevant search queries.

Find the Right Keywords

The content research tactics I outlined in step one are an absolute goldmine for keywords. Popular forum threads, articles in trade publications, and popular subjects on social media will contain a wealth of keyword ideas for your content.

Step 3. Drop Links Throughout Your Content

Internal Links

Ever read an entry on Wikipedia and noticed the sheer number of internal links? Ever clicked one of those links? There’s a method to the link-filled madness. Internal links drive users through related content on your website, keeping those users browsing your site for longer. Rule of thumb: add 2-3 internal links per article.

Outbound Links

Linking to related articles on other websites not only helps Google determine the subject of your content but can also lift your search ranking. Bonus points for linking to websites with loads of traffic and authority.

Step 4. Keep ’em Keen with Multimedia

Adding multimedia to your content can help to keep your audience reading, sending indicators to search engines that your content is relevant and important. Ideas for spicing up your content:

  • Attractive imagery
  • Engaging videos
  • Explanatory infographics
  • Easily understood graphs
Chapter 6

Get a Free SEO Audit

Find out what search engines think of your website

Keen to discover how your SEO stacks up? First we’ll audit your website. Then send you a totally free report that outlines the top 3 problems affecting your search ranking.

Claim Your Free Audit

Go Forth and Conquer with SEO

Now that you have some kick-ass ideas for improving your SEO, it’s time to put in the work. I’d love to hear about the results you achieve from trying the techniques, so don’t hesitate to reach out and get in touch.

Thanks for reading!

Elisha | The Modern Itch