Building a search engine optimized website part 1

Basics of website SEO part 1

In this blog post I will be going through my experiences in building a search engine optimized website. I will write about the basic concepts you have to take to account when you are building search engine optimized websites. Website I am referring in this post is opengamegraphics.com. It is my first somewhat optimized site so I am not claiming to be an expert on this. This are just some basic concepts that I am using and also a sort of an diary about the whole project.


Getting to it

If you want to know how I got here, you can read my game and web development story in detail in my Yearbook. Short version is that in October of 2016 I was in the point that i needed to start learning about web development. It took me around a month to get all the concepts down and to publish my first website, the one you are visiting right now. Main purpose of shadybeaver.com was to learn the basics of building a website. I also wanted to start a blog of my own.

Immediately after publishing shadybeaver.com I started working on my next project. At first I did not know what kind of project I would build. However I did know that my main goal for the site would be to learn the basics of search engine optimization. Furthermore I wanted to learn how to build a ecommerce site. After couple day of brainstorming I decided to build a game graphics site. Site would be most about categorizing free art from the internet. I also wanted to be able to sell my own assets. Therefor the opengamegraphics.com was born.

Picking the keywords and domain name

Having no experience in SEO, I was kind of overwhelmed with everything you need to take to a count. After browsing through dozens of blog posts and watching through 50 SEO videos in youtube, I had developed a basic understanding on SEO. In a large scale of things I wanted to be competing on key phrase: “free game graphics.” Needles to say, its highly competed key phrase. Building your page SEO around phrase like that would be very unwise. You would most likely be on google page 50 or something. So my plan was to build my SEO around different “product categories.” This would make it easier to target certain niches with individual landing pages. So the basic plan was to have the whole site competing in “free game graphics” and to have categories rank for more specific keywords.

Not going for the “big keywords” from the start being the plan, I still wanted my domain name to represent idea of free game graphics. However since any transformation of those words with extension “.com” was not available, I needed something else. I settled for open game graphics instead. Now I do know that the domain name I picked sounds a lot like opengameart.org. I was not trying to clone that or anything like that, opengamegraphics.com just happened to be the closest match for what I was aiming for.

Building the site

After setting up my hosting I started building the actual site. I used WordPress theme “Optimizer” which is a very good and easy to use theme but needed some modifications. Therefor I had to learn to create my own Child Theme. For different categories and the “shop” I used WP plugin called WooCommerce. The idea was to create a shop with free downloadable graphics and mix it up with my own “premium” / paid assets.

WooCommerce is very good plugin but it lacks flexibility. That being said I needed to modify it a bit. First I added plugin called Direct Download, which made it easier to download free products from my site. Another thing I needed to do was to modify the product category pages. I wanted have text above the fold, then my products and then some more text. This page layout is perfect for good user experience and SEO at the same time. Text above the fold gives clear description of the content. Text below the fold was mainly used for adding keywords for SEO.

Page layout

Category page Above the fold

 

Category page Bellow the fold

Images above feature first concept of my optimized category pages. The idea in a nutshell is:

  1. Have clear header with keywords in it.
  2. Clear paragraphs and images
  3. Main content, which in this case are the asset packs.
  4. Below the main content I have video for rich media. (SEO purposes, and to have outbound links.)
  5. Terms and conditions not only for educating the user but also for SEO. I used this because its easy to inject a lot of related keywords in the text. (such as; “using this assets…”, “this game art…” etc.
  6. Featured software in widgets to build more outbound links.

Using the concept above I was able to hit around 75-82% SEO ranking on most of the SEO testing sites. That being without social shares and some technical stuff I can work on later. Also 1. major plugin I did not yet mention was SEO by Yoast. Its a excellent plugin that really helps you to dial in your content. You should definitely check that out.

Initial results

Launch 21. NOV 2016

At first I created four category pages. As categories I used:

At first I tried to rank my best category page which was the Collections category. After getting crawled by Google robots I hit spot 17 on my main key words: “complete game graphics.” I was outside top 40 for keywords “Open Game Graphics.”

Update 21. DEC 2016

Today, 1 month since the release I have hit spot 10 for my target keywords. I am also ranked number 7 for “open game graphics” for the whole page. Next I will optimize my sites bit more and then I will start the next phase on my SEO project. Next phase will be all about building backlinks.

Update 23. DEC 2016

Haven`t had time to start building backlinks but I was crawled by Google again today. Now I have hit 1st page for “complete game graphics.” I am at spot 9, whohoo. I have also climed to number three spot for “Open Game Graphics.”

Update 23. DEC 2016

I have been kind of busy for the last month and still haven`t started building backlinks. I have been streamlining my website though and I starting to consider it ready for traffic. I also got my 1st customer (my uncle) for eCommerce site building, so that has taken a lot of my time lately. I will probably  write about it in another post somewhere down the line.

UPDATE ON RANKINGS 24. JAN 2017:

  • I have now ranked for the 1st time for my end goal keywords: “free game graphics”, sitting on spot 68 in Google right now.
  • “Open Game Graphics.” Went down from 3rd place to 6th. This was to be expected since I have turned my optimization from “open” to “free” for the most part.
  • “complete game graphics” I have added word “collections” to this and now have my page ranking on spots 5 and 6.

From now on I will be optimizing my page towards ranking it for my most important key phrase: “free game graphics”, will see how it goes.

UPDATE ON RANKINGS 18. MAR 2017:

  • It has been almost two months since the last update… I need to update more often.
  • Now I have been optimizing towards the key phrase: “free game graphics” and I am seeing some results.
    • 20th of February I had ranked to position 58, so I had only inclined 10 spots in a month. However around this time I scored couple of awesome backlinks and that really made a difference
    • 26th of February I had inclined to spot 43
    • 4th of March I was already at spot 25 -> after this I created couple of keyword rich blog posts to generate more content
    • since March 11th I have been hitting second page of google with rank around 15-16

Next I will be generating more content and trying to build more backlinks. Hoping to hit page 1 of Google in next month or so.

UPDATE ON RANKINGS 18. APR 2017:

  • For the last month or so I have been mostly testing out different methods of monetization. I tried CPA-ads from three different networks and was not able to generate income. Also my google rankings took a hit in the process and I was set back to spot 27 for my main keyword Free game graphics.
  • On second note about monetization. I was accepted by Adsense and Amazon CPM, so I have been testing them out for last couple of weeks. At the moment I am generating around 0,20$ per day from that.
  • Right now I am constantly hitting positions of 14-17 on my main keyword Free game graphics.
  • I have also taken some time of from the whole web development thinggy so… I haven`t been able to improve my rankings.

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