Fun fact: if you Google "front end developer Nigeria", my portfolio website shows up on the first page. Why? SEO.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is how you make sure your website shows up in relevant search results. Ranking refers to a website's position in those search results.
In this article, we'll be discussing how to optimize your website or brand to help you get a high ranking on Google and other search engines. We'll also discuss how to improve the online presence for yourself or your brand.
I'd like to preface this by saying that I'm not an SEO expert so I'll just be sharing the tips that worked for me.
Here's what we'll be covering in this article:
- What is SEO?
- Why is SEO important?
- How do I improve my website's SEO ranking?
- How do I improve my personal/my brand's online presence?
- How do I test the SEO of my websites?
Search engine optimization is the process of improving the quality and quantity of website traffic to a website or a web page from search engines.
Simply put, SEO is ensuring that your website receives relevant and continuous traffic through organic search results. Organic search results refer to results that show up in search terms due to relevancy as opposed to paid search results.
Studies have shown that people tend to click more on organic search results than ads.
SEO doesn't just affect your websites; it affects the visibility of anything you post online such as articles, products or videos.
The world of Search Engine Optimization is so vast and complex that companies have dedicated SEO managers just to ensure the visibility of their brand.
The major importance of SEO is to increase the traffic and visibility of your website and content. High rankings are the best way to generate traffic to your site.
The above image is a screenshot of the traffic for an article I wrote in 2017. The article has had over 32,000 views since then and over 50% of that traffic was from organic search results on Google.
Having a high ranking means that you no longer have to constantly market your products and content and instead you attract your target audience naturally.
Think of it this way: when was the last time you went to the second page of Google? The higher your search engine ranking, the more visible your site is.
There are multiple ranking factors that can affect the SEO of your site but I'll be focusing on the factors I prioritized in order to optimize my website:
- Relevant content and links
- Performance and page speed
- Traffic and backlinks
- Domain name and extensions
Accessibility means creating websites that can be used by everyone. Ideally, you should build your websites to be as accessible as possible. Not only is it considered best practice but it also directly affects your site SEO.
Accessibility also improves user experience which is another important contributor to SEO.
Here are some quick tips to focus on to ensure your personal website meets base accessibility needs:
Use the lang attribute in your HTML tag. The lang attribute is what allows browsers to translate websites from one language to another so be sure to write your HTML tags appropriately e.g.
Use alt tags for images that require description. Alt tags describe the content of an image for screen readers and should be included as attributes in image tags
<img alt="" src="" />. Alt tags are also used by search engines to return relevant image results.
Use semantic elements for creating layouts in HTML. Semantic elements such as
headerprovide a description of the content to screenreaders.
Use heading tags in the appropriate order. The rule of thumb is to have only one H1 tag on a page, serving as the title and let the headings follow in sequential order i.e. a
h4tag shouldn't appear before a
h2tag in the same section.
- Ensure that the colors on your site have adequate contrast. Adequate contrast between the colors of the text and the background allows for easily readable content.
Use descriptive links. Links on your website should describe the page they lead to e.g.
Read More About Merather than generic statements like
You can view my slides on Getting Started With Web Accessibility, watch my video on Understanding Accessibility as A Concept or check out the Accessibility Checklist by Jay Nemchik for more information and resources.
<title>tag is included in HTML and it contains the name of your webpage. It's a good idea to include your main keyword in your title tag.
<title>Jemima Abu: Front End Developer</title>
The title tag should be changed on each page to describe the content of the new page e.g.
<title>About Me | Jemima Abu</title>. A descriptive title also improves the ranking for articles and videos. Your title should be between 50 to 60 characters to avoid search engines truncating or ignoring it.
- Description. The description tag describes the content of your webpage and it's also placed in the tag of your HTML page. It should explain the main goal of your webpage and use more keywords related to the message you're trying to pass along.
<html> <head> <meta name="description" content="Jemima Abu is a self-taught Front End Developer and school-taught Systems Engineer from Lagos, Nigeria."> </head> </html>
Another tag to mention is the keywords tag. It was previously used by search engines to match relevant keywords but most search engines have announced that they no longer consider the meta keyword tag in a site's ranking. Using too many keywords can also have a negative impact on your site's SEO as this could be seen as spam by some search engines.
Providing relevant content on your website increases your website's SEO ranking. Here are some tips on increasing the relevancy of content for articles:
- Use action words in your title and words related to search terms. An article with a title like "Introduction to Web Accessibility" or "How to Make Your Website Accessible" would be placed higher than an article simply titled "Web Accessibility".
- Use proper formatting by separating sections with titles and emphasizing important content using bold text or italics.
- Include links to related resources in your article. Using outbound links can lend to the credibility of your content.
- Avoid plagiarism. If Google detects the same content in two search results, they'll remove whichever they consider least relevant. If you're trying to upload your content to multiple sites, be sure to include a [canonical link](https://moz.com/learn/seo/canonicalization#:~:text=A%20canonical%20tag%20(aka%20%22rel,content%20appearing%20on%20multiple%20URLs.).
- Provide a summary of your content in list tags. Google tends to place summarized content at the top of search results.
Using relevant keywords in the link of your article also helps with ranking. If I write an article titled "How To Make Your Website Accessible", a good link would be
Performance and page speed are factors used by Google to determine a website's ranking. If your page loads slowly or has poor performance, it directly affects your SEO.
Here are some tips on improving how fast your page loads:
- Reduce images to the maximum rendered size. If an image on a page only gets rendered at a maximum width of 450px then the width of the actual image shouldn't be more than 450px. You can also optimize your images to reduce their data size.
- Avoid using embeds. When using embeds, the time it takes them to load is also calculated with your page speed. I was able to increase my page speed score from 63 to 91 by getting rid of the YouTube embeds on my landing page.
- Reduce loading animation. Google measures how long it takes for content to appear on your page so if you're animating content into the page, the time for animation might affect your score. Try to keep all loading animation under 1s.
You can use Page Speed Insights on your website to get more information on how to improve the performance and decrease loading time.
If your site gets a lot of traffic from other sources, it increases its ranking as it seems more relevant. A good way of generating traffic and improving your SEO is using backlinks.
Backlinks are the inbound links for your site. They're created when other websites link to your site. Backlinks are basically votes from other sites vouching for the credibility of your site. A backlink from a highly ranked site also boosts your ranking.
Google uses backlinks as one of their top three ranking factors.
You can create backlinks by including a link to your site whenever you appear online. If you publish an article for an online magazine or you appear in an interview, including a link to your website on those sources create more backlinks for your site.
You can read this article to learn more about backlinks.
You can also use the Google Analytics tool to detect how much traffic your website generates and which sources you acquire traffic from.
Having a domain name tailored to your website is a good way of increasing traffic to your site as it lends credibility. Your domain name should perfectly represent your website e.g. use your full name for a personal site or the main keyword for a business site.
The domain extension also matters.
.com domains are the most popular domain extension and tend to have higher rankings. For location-targeted rankings, you can use country code domains e.g.
You can buy a domain name on Namecheap (this is an affiliate link so I get a commission if you decide to buy with this link).
Having an online presence refers to having all results related to you or your brand show up when you Google yourself.
While all the tips for improving SEO can also be applied to increasing your search results, here are some specific actions you can take to ensure a solid online presence:
Have a personal website. If you're trying to secure your brand's online presence, invest in a
.comdomain name and make sure all your other online accounts (Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn) point to that site. You can read my article How To Create a Portfolio Website for a step-by-step guide to creating your personal website.
- Direct traffic to your site. Aside from organic traffic, you can also take advantage of your social media presence to direct traffic to your personal site. If you have a viral tweet or video, be sure to include a link to your site somewhere.
- Create accounts on larger platforms. If you're going to create a personal blog, you might generate more traffic by creating it on a site like Hashnode, Medium or Dev.to than a lesser-known platform.
- Use the same username across all accounts and URLs. If you have a name you want to be known by online, make sure that's the name that you use for every account and in the same format.
- Use common keywords on all your accounts. I use pretty much the same tagline for all my accounts ("Self-taught Front End Developer, School Taught Systems Engineer") so this helps link them together.
You can test your website's SEO by running the Lighthouse audit tool in Google Chrome. The audit returns a score based on how optimized your site is for search engines. The passed audits section contains the features of your website that improves SEO.
You can also use an online SEO checker to get a more detailed report on the SEO of your website.
And that's how you can get your website to the first page of search results for relevant keywords.
If you're interested in more in-depth research on the workings of SEO, you can check out these articles and tutorials:
- What is Search Engine Optimization?
- 10 Crucial SEO Ranking Factors You Need To Know
- SEO Specialization - University of California, Coursera
You can also read my article on How I Built My Perfect Portfolio Website for more insight into the process of creating my website.
If you found this article useful and you'd like to contribute to my content creation, feel free to buy me a coffee 😊
If you have any questions or comments, leave a message below or reach out on Twitter.