You don't have to know everything about SEO to start reaping the benefits of it.
There are some small but important search engine optimization changes you can make right away. Here are 5 simple things you can do today to improve your SEO.
1. Sign up with Webmaster Tools
On-site optimization (making sure all the technical details of your site are how they should be for both search engines and searchers) can be complicated. Luckily, both Google and Bing offer a suite of webmaster tools to make it simpler.
You'll get information about your site's health and speed, any crawl errors Google finds and lots more. Here's a great guide from KISSMetrics to make the most of your Webmaster Tools account.
2. Set up Google Authorship
If you write online, make sure you get credit for your content with Google by setting up Google Authorship.
Authorship results are more likely to catch the eye of a searcher, as seen in this heat map.
And authorship is also a significant driver in whether or not someone will click. A study performed by search marketing firm Catalyst found that clicks improved 150% with Google Authorship.
3. Consider your keywords
You don't have to do a full dive into keyword research and optimization. It's enough to begin with some empathetic thinking. Get into the mind of a searcher and create a list of words you think people might use to find you online.
You can also do a little sleuthing in your website analytics to help you out. It used to be really easy to figure out which keywords were bringing visitors to your site by using Google Analytics, but that's not the case anymore thanks to Google encrypting keywords.
However, you can still use analytics to figure out which content on your site is getting the most visitors and then make the connection to the main keywords you use in those pieces of content.
Combine the main words searchers will use with the keywords your analytics tell you are already bringing visitors to your site into one big list. Those are your keywords, which you'll want to be well represented on your site. Without overdoing it, use them as often as they make sense to guide users and represent your content. Wordtracker has a great list resource of all the spots on your site keywords should be present.
Here's a nice keyword-focused checklist from Salesforce to get you started:
If you blog on Wordpress, the Yoast SEO plugin is a low-maintenance way to get focused on keywords.
4. Create astounding content
Once your site is in order and you've got an idea of your keywords, you're ready to create the kind of content that improves your SEO by bringing you social shares and quality inbound links.
But not just any content will do. Content marketing has exploded in popularity so quickly that it's harder now to stand out. These statistics from Content Marketing Institute show the trend clearly.
Only the most useful, most complete, most astounding, most well researched, most emotionally engaging, most "Holy smokes!" content will make it through the content marketing deluge.
Here are some great guidelines and tips from Marcus Sheridan on creating exactly that kind of content.
Remember: "Content" doesn't always means "words." It can also mean free tools, beautiful visualizations, how-to videos and much, much more.
Truly standout content attracts links naturally (this is sometimes called "link earning"), so you might be doing SEO already -- without even knowing it.
5. Make it easy to share
Astounding content is generally worthy of a Facebook share or a tweet. And social signals from Facebook and Twitter now correlate very strongly with good rankings in Google's index.
That means it's definitely worthwhile to make your great content as easy to share as possible. Focus on highly visible share buttons (websites that include social sharing buttons generate 7 times more mentions than those that don't!), optimized meta descriptions.
Beyond the basics, you can go further by maximizing your use of images, which we've found are a huge factor in helping content spread socially.
The text you use when you share to social networks can play a big role, too. Performing some A/B testing like so on your social media "headlines" can improve your viral performance.
One more thing: Great SEO reading
To learn even more about SEO, here are some in-depth resources: