THE ULTIMATE SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION (SEO) GUIDE FOR NIGERIAN BUSINESS
This is the ultimate guide to search engine optimization (SEO) for Nigerian Businesses. It shows you how to perform SEO like a proffesional in simple ways. If you are a blogger in need of more traffic to your blog, then you need a top search engine optimization strategy. If you run an e-commerce website, or you render services via an online office just like me, then search engine optimization strategy is very right for you. Whatever you do, so far you have a website and you need people to visit the website, what better way can you solve your problems than getting your web pages at the front of search engine result pages (SERPs). Search engine optimization is the most popular digital marketing strategy. Sit back, relax and stay calm while i show you how to perform Search engine optimization (SEO) for Nigerian businesses so that you can start generatingi more traffic. We all agree that, More traffic = More Lead = More Sales = More Profit.
Right before we delve into search engine optimization for your website, let us look at some historical details about how search engine companies rank websites.
Hint: I want you to safe the following infograph as a guide. It highlight what i will be discussing in the next chapter, just glance through it and comback to it later.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO), the story so far…
It all began in the mid-1990s when website owners started optimizing their website for search engines. Getting a website indexed by the search engine was quite easy then, you would have to send your URL to various search engines such as ALIWEB, INFOSEEK and ALTAVISTA who would now crawl the page and subsequently index it alongside the links contained on the page. The indexed pages are ranked based on the prominent words on the page. In truth, the ranking factor was not only the prominent words but it has the most points. For instance, If I should write an article about TOP 10 PLACES TO VISIT IN LAGOS AS A TOURIST, and other people wrote similar article, the search engine will determine the best among the articles by considering the number of times the title “TOP 10 PLACES TO VISIT IN LAGOS AS TOURIST” were repeated in each article. As a result of this, just as it is easy to point the obvious now that, with all due respect, the then search engines were not really smart but still, they were a great innovation of their time. People got smarter and that create opportunities for blackhat search engine optimization methods. Blackhat SEO method such as keyword stuffing became the order of the day and fraudulent and irrelevant content started ranking on the first page of most search engine before the recent search engine companies, google, yahoo and bing came and change the game.
Now, more factors, which are classified as on-page and off-page ranking factors, are now being used to rank website’s relevancy and it is guaranteed that you would be caught if you used blackhat method to cheat. Therefore, you need to do SEO the right way.
Defining Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
After searching around the internet, I could not get a definition that really expresses my feelings about what search engine optimization is. Therefore, I will have to do this my way. Most people define it as the process of making your website rank on google first page by optimizing your online content. Wikipedia considers it as “the process of affecting the online visibility of a website or a web page in a web search engine’s unpaid results—often referred to as “natural”, “organic”, or “earned” results”. I will leverage on the definitions to give a more detailed one.
But what really is Search engine optimization (SEO)
Search engine optimization is the process of altering your website architectural design in order to increase your websites search engine visibility. Furthermore, SEO is a process, whereby you affect your website architecture, such that it becomes search engine friendly, thereby leading to higher search engine result page (SERPs) ranking, and generating more traffic. Search engine optimization can be classified into on-page SEO and off-page SEO. The purpose of this article is to show you how to properly perform on page and off page SEO for blog and website. Right before we jump into that, let me give you a solid foundation in what is called “website architecture” so that you will be able to perform SEO like an expert.
Contrary to what most people believe that search engine optimization is all about optimizing your article or webpage, reputable data analysis has confirmed that websites with poor architectural design usually suffer to rank. I have found websites that are well optimized for search engine struggle to rank on the first page simply because they lack good architectural design. I always maintain that good website architecture is the foundation of a successful Search engine optimization. Let now explained the features of a website with a good architectural design.
Right before you start thinking of ranking, I want you to focus on getting your website a very good design. You should make sure that both the visual and technical design of your website is top notch. A poorly designed website would not be appealing to visitors, this will lead to a high bounce rate and a depreciating returning visitor’s value. In no time, Search engines will catch these values and will not be pleased to continue suggesting your website, leading to a lower ranking status. This metrics will gradually affect your ranking and you will notice that despite your excellent on-page and off-page SEO efforts, you will hardly see good results. I used WordPress with premium themes for all my websites so I don’t have issues with the visual design. WordPress is the world most used content management system (website builder), it makes designing beautiful websites very easy and I mean very easy. Just look out for a professional design theme, install and you have a great design in no time. Don’t over customize things, keep it simple and solid. For instance, looking at my website sheriph.com, what complain would you have about the visual design, almost none and what if I tell you it is just a day’s job, yes I don’t overdo things despite my website design skills. I stick to premium theme designs because it is usually the work of a professional IT group.
Talking of technical design, this is the technical part of your websites such as permalinks, ease of navigation, good internal linking structures, and good sitemap. If you are using WordPress, there are plugins to do most of these things with a single click. Permalink is your navigation URL as shown below;
The image above shows my URL to a post on digital marketing in Nigeria. As you can see, it short and does not contain any stop word. Also, I have removed any unnecessary category that is common with most website. That is an SEO friendly permalink and it should be your aim. Internal linking is the links from page to page on your own website. A well performed internal linking will reduce your bounce rate and time spent per visitor on your website will go up. A sitemap is the structural road map of your website. It is the way your website pages are linked together. No page should be more 3 clicks away, that’s the feature of an excellent sitemap. What this means is that taking my website, for example, you won’t need to click more than 3 times to locate a page. In order to achieve this, let us consider various site structures; popularly known as silos
In the above structure, ARTICLE A is probably located on the homepage, therefore, you simply need to open the homepage and click on ARTICLE A.
In the above example, ARTICLE A is 2 clicks away as you have to visit home, finance before you could click on ARTICLE A.
It is obvious that in order to avoid having articles more than 3 clicks away, you should avoid multiple sub-categories such as
HOME>FINANCE>FOREX TRADING>TRADING STARTEGY>ARTICLE A.
Once you take note not to have many sub-categories that leads to many clicks, then you have a great sitemap. To make sure search engines index your websites, simply generate a sitemap structure (for WordPress user, search for sitemap generator plugin), the generated sitemap should be submitted to various search engine, the giant being Google, simply use the google search console to submit your sitemap to expedite indexing of your pages.
You should make browsing through your website as satisfactory as possible. A satisfied visitor will likely share your content, link back to you or give positive signals that will be interpreted by search engines. Do not overcloud your content with adverts, avoid unnecessary popups, install live chat if it is a business website, and make moving from page to page easier to do.
This aspect is usually overlooked by a lot of webmasters and website owners. No one likes to browse a heavy and slow loading website, no one has that time. A study by kissmetrics confirms that conversion drops by 7% for every second delay in page load time. In fact, munchweb discovers that 75% of users will not revisit your website if it takes more than 4 seconds to load. Google considers web loading speed as a ranking factor so if your website takes time to load, you will experience a drop in ranking. Google hates slow loading websites so much that it allows you to use a tool to see how much traffic you are losing based on your current speed. I always monitor the loading speed of my business websites so that I won’t miss a thing. I recommend Gtmetrix for speed test. Gtmetrix is quite the best as you would see the optimization suggestions that contribute to your slow loading page. You simply need to work on them to achieve greater speed. Also, you can compare your loading speed to competitors speed in order to stay ahead, I do this a lot. Let me show you how to perform a loading speed test;
As you can see, I live by example. I scored A’s in pagespeed and yslow, also my site is fully loaded in 2.5 seconds (average value is 6.8s), the total page size is 590kb (average value is 2.94mb), and number of requests is 23 (average is 86). You would see that in all cases, I did much better than the average values. Notice that Gtmetrix only measure your Desktop website speed, for mobile page speed, use this Google tool.
Mobile friendly design/Responsive Design
Mobile friendly design is the new trend. If your website doesn’t have a responsive mobile design, your SEO effort will suffer. Use this google tool to test your website mobile page.
One more thing to look at is keyword analysis. This is a way of measuring how easy or difficult it would be to rank on the first page for a particular keyword. This is one of the most important preparatory processes before search engine optimization. You need to be certain you are not chasing a ghost. Yes, some keywords are extremely difficult to rank for due to the huge competition. For instance, let assume you want to rank for FIFA WORLD CUP 2018 SCHEDULE
Before writing the article, do a little google search to see who is ranking first. From the image above, you could see that Google already has a snippet that shows the schedule. So how would you possibly displace google itself? Secondly, the first-page ranking website is flooded by FIFA and FIFA partner websites and top news website such as www.goal.com. Therefore, the keyword is a very difficult one and you would need to write about something else if you want to rank. There are various tools that will help you in your keyword analysis process, the most popular ones are ahref, kwfinder and semrush. If your website is new, you should focus on low completion keywords and gradually scale up in competition as your website becomes an authority.
That sums up how to lay a good foundation for a professional SEO strategy. Having done all the above mentioned architectural design of your website and keyword analysis, you should be ready to start performing on-page and off-page search engine optimization for your pages.
What is on-page search engine optimization (On-page SEO)?
On-page search engine optimization is the activities that are performed on an article or a webpage to ensure that the page is search engine friendly. These are the ways you tweak your page to increase search engine visibility. The word SEO friendly website is quite inaccurate in some context, the right word should be SEO friendly web pages. Why do I say this? A website, most of the time, consists of 2 or more pages. In fact, many huge websites for instance, contains over a thousand pages. Performing SEO for a website is just performing SEO for the individual pages. Therefore, you should be concerned about tweaking each page to be SEO friendly, after all the pages have been well optimized, then you have an SEO friendly website. Now that we have identified what we need, our attention should be focused on tweaking individual pages, by paying attention to certain factors which are underlined below, in order to have a perfect SEO website.
How to perform excellent on-page search engine optimization like a pro using my 10 golden SEO Rules
Performing on-page search engine optimization is quite easy. You simply need to follow some rules and make sure that you always remind yourself if you have performed those rules before publishing your article or a web page. If you are wondering if there are any set rules laid down by search engine companies for SEO, don’t stress yourself finding out because there is none. Then, how did I come about the rules? Here is the thing, search engine company are very secretive when it comes to going public with their ranking algorithm. The truth is that most of these search engine companies sell ads, and they would prefer us to buy ads from them rather than getting free traffic as a result of perfectly optimized web content. Only a few ranking factors were disclosed by these companies leaving SEO experts in the dark about the rest. A lot of professional webmasters have invested time and resources in finding these facts, therefore most of the rules that I will be listed here are the results of many data backed experiments on what makes a page rank first on Google and other search engine. Do know that to attain a 100 percent perfection, which in my view should always be your aim, you should always follow the rules from A-Z. Read on as I take the rules one after the order.
Infograph Reminder: I want you to safe the following infograph as a guide. It highlight what i will be discussing in the next chapter, just glance through it and comback to it later.
Rule 1: Perform a Keyword research to discover your focus keyword
On-page or off-page SEO begins with keyword research. How well you know your keyword will determine your SEO success. You should be able to know the traffic volume of the keyword and the competition associated with it. I personally use keyword analysis tool named ahref, I normally subscribe for 7 days at $7 which is quite affordable. You can use any keyword analysis tool that is convenient for you, the most important thing is to know how to read the metrics such as traffic volume, keyword difficulty and understand the features of the ranking pages such as their PageRank and Page Authority. If the ranking pages on google have high PageRank and page authority values, that should tell you that it would be very difficult to displace such website. Remember, I wanted to target DIGITAL MARKETING in my example above. Upon seeing the stiff competition for that keyword, I decided to be creative. Instead of targeting a global keyword such as DIGITAL MARKETING, I decided to target local audience by adding the modifier “NIGERIA”, so I ended up with a new keyword “DIGITAL MARKETING IN NIGERIA”. Upon analyzing my new keyword, I discovered that competition is quite low, so over time, I am confidence that I would rank between 1-3 on page 1 for Nigerian audience and for international audience that is likely going to search for “DIGITAL MARKETING”, I would start getting bits of their traffic too.
Rule 2: Add your focus keyword to the title
The fundamental mistake anyone could make while optimizing an article for SEO is to use a title that doesn’t include the keyword. When google crawler visits your website, at first, it will read your title. This is your attempt to give Google a hint at what your page is about, having your focus keyword in your title ensures that you informed google on what your page is about. For instance, I decided to write an article on DIGITAL MARKETING IN NIGERIA: STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE. My intention was to educate Nigerians on what digital marketing is all about and how businesses can use various digital marketing strategy to promote their business. At first, I needed to choose a focus keyword, a focus keyword is the keyword that I want to rank for. In this example, you would agree with me that DIGITAL MARKETING IN NIGERIA is the perfect focus keyword. It is perfect because
- I will rank for DIGITAL MARKETING: If you search for digital marketing, you would see that the competition is fierce. The first ranking page is from my mentor, Neil Patel, the best SEO pro I have ever known. So, I decided to localize my focus keyword by putting “Nigeria”. I want to compete for digital marketing keywords against Nigerian content. That’s easier as I perceived the competition to be really low from my page analysis results of the Nigerian websites ranking for that keyword. Also, it suits me better because as you can see, sheriph.com focuses on Nigeria businesses, so why would I waste my time targeting foreign audience?
In conclusion, your first attempt at optimizing your page for search engine is to smartly fix your focus keyword in the title.
Rule 3: Add your focus keyword to the URL and use an SEO friendly URL.
Using the same example in Rule 1, this is what I mean;
Did you see my URL for the page on DIGITAL MARKETING IN NIGERIA? Yes, I ensured that my focus keyword reflects in the URL. I use WordPress, so whatever I chose as my title will be the extension of my URL. Having my focus keyword in the URL is the main reason why this rule stated that your focus keyword should be in your title. The position of your focus keyword should be as close to your primary domain name as possible. My domain name is sheriph.com, therefore, I would go for something like sheriph.com/my-post-title. In this case, https://sheriph.com/digital-marketing-nigeria/, also see image below;
Also, it is very important to make the URL as short as possible. Accordingly, to Google engineer, only the first 3-5 words are considered by Google.
Rule 4: Use H1 tag for your title or article heading
Header 1 (H1) is the most important header tag in HTML. H1 has been defaulted as the page title, so anytime you use H1, the search engine crawler will assume this is your title. As a result of this, right before you write anything on a page, write out your title and denote it as H1. Therefore, you would end up having your focus keyword inside H1 and also in your title. Very important. Bonus point: Try to make sure that you use your keyword with H2 and H3. For instance, I could have a subheading like WHY IS DIGITAL MARKETING IN NIGERIA SO IMPORTANT, in that case, I will denote it as H2. So I have my focus keyword inside H1 and H2 in the same article. This like repeatedly telling google crawler that my article is about DIGITAL MARKETING IN NIGERIA which is very important.
Rule 5: Use multimedia and name them as your focus keyword
A poorly optimized article is one without any media. The simplest being image. There are lots of freely available images so why anyone would write a post or have a webpage without an image baffles me. Videos are better and infographics are the best. If your page has any multimedia, make sure it is named after your focus keyword. For example, using the same example above, my first image, which I randomly picked from google images, is named after my focus keyword. Also in images, ALT attributes are very important, use your focus keyword theirs too.
Rule 6: Add your focus keyword in the first 100 words or paragraph
Immediately google crawler leaves the title, it will begin to crawl the body. You should quickly remind the crawler what your article is about again before it goes too far. This is the reason you need to ensure your focus keyword appears in your first paragraph.
Rule 7: Add outbound links
A recent study shows that pages with outbound links rank better. An outbound link is a signal that your article is a result of a well-research topic, leveraging other great content available online and offline. Google knows no one is an island, even Google is not an island, and hence, it likes to see that you give credit to where credit is due.
Rule 8: Add Latent semantic indexing (LSI) keywords
Latent semantic indexing (LSI) keywords are keyword that is closely related to your focus keyword. Google refers to this as a similar search. For instance, search for DIGITAL MARKETING IN NIGERIA on Google, scroll to the bottom of the first page and you will see Google suggestions on a similar topic related to DIGITAL MARKETING IN NIGERIA. See the image below;
Therefore, my LSI keywords are;
- digital marketing in nigeria pdf
- digital marketing training in nigeria
- list of digital marketing agencies in nigeria
- best digital marketing agencies in nigeria
- digital media companies in nigeria
- marketing companies in nigeria
- online advertising agency in nigeria
- free digital marketing training in lagos
For me to do SEO justice to the article, I should find a way to talk about this keywords. Sometimes, this is not easy because, it is absolutely irrelevant to my goal, so I pick a few others that won’t hurt my article message and leave the rest. See the image below and notice how I included one of the LSI in that paragraph;
Rule 9: Keep the focus keyword density between 1-3%
This rule sounds tough but it’s very easy, in fact, you will end up doing it unintentionally. This rule implies that the number of times you should repeat your focus keyword in the article should be between 1-3%. For instance, if you wrote an article of 1000 words, 1-3% by calculation gives 10-30. Therefore, I should not repeat my focus keyword in the article more than 30 times and not less than 10 times. Les than 10 times implies that my search engine optimization on the keyword is weak and more than 30 times means I could be penalized by Google for keyword stuffing and you don’t want to anger Google. Keyword stuffing is a popular Blackhat search engine optimization techniques which involve unnecessary and multiple repetitions of the focus keyword in order to mislead google crawler. So be safe and take note of your keyword density.
Rule 10: Post Long Content
Content is king, you must have heard that many times. SEO without good content is a waste of time. Don’t think you can outrank other websites that have put a lot of efforts in content with your smart SEO strategy. Research has confirmed that long and engaging content rank better. Google uses bounce rate as an indication of weak content. Most of the time, Google algorithm is right because most well research articles that can be found online are usually long, detailed, and highly informative. If you manage to rank high, as people visit, Google will take note of the bounce rate. Bounce rate will eventually be high for thin content. Take a clue from Wikipedia, most Wikipedia articles are usually long, all part of the subject of discussion would be treated.
That concludes our on-page SEO guide. Now, let us look into off-page SEO.
What is Off-Page search engine optimization (SEO)
Off-page SEO is a set of external processes that are used to increase the ranking of a website. They are usually traffic driving activities to increase the reputation of the website. The two major examples of off-page SEO are Link building and Social Media sharing.
Building links to a webpage increase the PageRank of the page, a factor which Google algorithm considers as the most important in ranking. Also, another metric that increases as a result of Backlink building is Domain Authority. Having a high domain authority guarantees that most of your pages will be in position to rank first for any topic except in rare cases when they will be met with stiff competition.
Another Off-page SEO is social sharing which is another traffic driving method. Social indicators are now used to gauge the importance of web pages. You can either promote your page on social media such as Facebook or put a social share button on your website to encourage visitors to share your article.
We have come to the end of the article. If you made it this far, please share this post and give me +1 social signal.