An Overview of Weebly SEO
So you’ve made the decision to go with Weebly for your website management tool…
Also, if you’ve decided to go with Squarespace, what are you doing reading this? Go read our guide to Squarespace SEO instead!
Now you’ve got to get some traffic to that site.
But how do you do it?
This guide to Weebly SEO will equip you with step by step instructions on how you can set up your own site to start ranking in Google.
Can A Weebly Website Rank?
I’ve seen discussion about whether or not certain platforms are “good” or “bad” for SEO. In other words, do I have to run my site on WordPress in order to rank well in Google?
The answer is that you do not.
You absolutely can use Weebly to build your site and rank well in the search engines.
I know because I’ve done it.
In my post with 10 alternatives to WordPress I mentioned that I’m a Weebly Pro customer, and although I’ve started using WordPress to manage some of my websites, I still run and manage a number of sites on Weebly.
One site that I run on Weebly is BallparkSavvy.com
This was the first website I ever created back in 2008, when Long Tail Pro was still a figment of Spencer Haws imagination. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing, but I set out to create a site that would provide a no-nonsense guide to every Major League Baseball stadium.
I moved the site to Weebly a few years ago, and despite the fact that I spend very little time on it, it continues to do well in the search engines.
Although it’s a niche site and very seasonal, it’s drawn in over 300,000 visits in the last 3 seasons.
Over 85% of that traffic is organic, search engine traffic.
Let’s dive into how you can setup your own Weebly site for SEO success:
Weebly SEO Basics
We’ll start with some of the basics.
I’m assuming you’ve already selected a domain name, so the next step is to add your site title which you’ve already done if you’ve created your site on Weebly. (If you haven’t created a site yet, click here to start for free and follow along)
The next step is to customize some of the advanced settings on your home page, which will be how your brand shows up in the Google results. If you go to “pages” in Weebly and click on your home page, you’ll see the page settings. Near the bottom there is a link to expand for advanced settings which will look like this:
Notice that I’ve focused on the page title with some of the keywords that describe my site, and then added a description which also talks about our site and what we offer. This is important because when you “Google” the brand of Ballpark Savvy, it looks like this:
Notice that the title and description you see are what I have set in my advanced settings for the page. If you are trying to rank for particular keywords, it’s important that you include them in both of these locations. However, it’s just as important to try to come up with something compelling that makes people want to click on your site when they are scanning the search engine results.
Why Keywords Matter
Whether you are using Weebly or not, keywords still matter.
A “keyword” simply means something that gets searched in Google (or another search engine). Keyword research is the process of finding out what people in your industry are searching for, and analyzing the competition so you can know which keywords you should be targeting.
If you don’t know which keywords to target, you’ll be limited with the kind of SEO you can do in Weebly.
After all, how will you know what your page titles, descriptions, and content should be optimized for? I’ll recycle an analogy to make the point that trying to do SEO without keyword research would be like me telling you to decorate your house for a birthday party, but not telling you who the party was for.
Should you decorate for a 4 year old boy who loves Jake and the Neverland Pirates?
or for an “over the hill” party for a man turning 40?
You could spend a week turning your house into a real-life pirate ship, but if the target was for a 40 year old man – you would have completely missed the mark.
Likewise, knowing your keyword targets are critical to doing good on-page SEO.[su_note]Start Now: If you haven’t already, start your keyword research with Long Tail Pro. Click Here to Start For Free[/su_note]
Optimizing Advanced Settings In Weebly Pages
Google ranks pages, and not websites.
For instance, if I forgot to do a page about Wrigley Field on my baseball site then I wouldn’t rank well for Wrigley Field related searches even though I have a nice website about all the other baseball stadiums. I would need a page focused on the ins and outs of Wrigley Field in order to pull in that traffic.
This is actually the beauty of long tail keywords – it gives us little guys a chance. You can do a keyword-focused page and rank above more authoritative sites because they may not have a page that is optimized for that keyword.
For instance, I may never crack the top 10 when you search for “Baltimore Orioles.” That will be occupied by the team site and more established brands. However, I can rank a page for “parking for Orioles games” because I’ve got a page that covers this topic in-depth.
So in my case, I’m not so much worried about my homepage ranking for any generic terms like “ballparks” or “baseball stadiums.” I have a page for each stadium, and most of my traffic comes directly into one of those stadium-specific pages.
The same applies to you.
In most cases you shouldn’t be relying on just your home page to pull in traffic. You want to have many pages focused on various things that your audience cares about so you can rank for all these different keywords.
In Weebly, you should always use the advanced settings (shown above) on every page you create to specify the title and description.
The page title should be about 55 characters in length, which is about all that will be displayed in Google before it is cut off. Likewise your description shouldn’t exceed 160 characters as it will be cut off after that in Google.
Ideally you should use your target keyword in both your title and description.
So if I was building a page to target “Wrigley Field Parking” as my primary keyword, my title might be “Wrigley Field Parking – Find Cheap Parking At Cubs Games” and then my description could be “Looking for cheap Wrigley Field parking? Here are 4 hidden parking spots that will save you a fortune at your next Cubs game.”
Advanced Settings In Weebly Blog Posts
Hats off to Weebly for continuing to improve their offering.
Blog posts are another area that has made some huge improvements as it relates to Weebly SEO since I first started with them. You used to not have control over the page title and description like you do for non-blog pages, and the URL wasn’t ideal either.
Both of those have changed.
Keeping in mind the best practices mentioned in the last section, here is how you can do the same for your Weebly blog posts:
When you are adding (or perhaps editing past posts) you’ll see a blue Post Options button in the bottom-left corner.
When you click it, it will open up to this (you’ll have to click “Advanced” to expand like you see below):
The permalink lets you set exactly what the URL ending will be. So the structure will be something like this:
This is pretty cool because you could have a blog post with a longer title, maybe “12 Ways To Start Yoga Without Pulling A Muscle” and then type in “yoga-safety” into this permalink area so your URL would be:
It’s ideal to feature your keyword in the URL, but always keep your human visitors in mind as well. It’s great to have shorter URLS that are easy to remember and share.
So for my site, if I was going to do a blog post targeting the keyword “Chicago Cubs Parking” I might make the title something catchy like “How To Master Chicago Cubs Parking Like A Local.” Then, I would set my permalink to just be “chicago-cubs-parking.”
For the title and description, you can follow the same ideas I mentioned in the last section about setting these for the pages on your website. Use your keyword, but try to do something that is going to catch human attention when they see this in the Google search results.[su_note]TIP: If you’ve already been blogging with Weebly and have never done this, go back and edit your past posts to at least set your Title and Description. I don’t suggest changing old URLS, just make that a part of your process moving forward. [/su_note]
Weebly On-Page Optimization
Besides what you setup in the advanced settings, there are a few other things you can do on the page which are good common sense for SEO.
1. Use the keyword early on (ideally in the first paragraph) of your post, which helps cement the exact topic of your content in the eyes of Google.
2. Don’t forget to optimize your ALT tag on your image. In Weebly, whenever you add an image, click on the advanced tab:
Once in the Advanced menu, you’ll see a field for the ALT text which is set to “Picture” by default:
Alt text is described in Wikipedia like this: “In situations where the image is not available to the reader, perhaps because they have turned off images in their web browser or are using a screen reader due to a visual impairment, the alternative text ensures that no information or functionality is lost.”
In Weebly, you should use this Alt text as an opportunity to use your target keyword, or some form of it, while describing the image. Google is able to read this Alt text, so leaving it as “Picture” in Weebly is a missed opportunity to further demonstrate what this page is about.
3. Use Weebly “Title” and not just bold text for your sub-headers. When you are breaking up your longer pages, drag over the “Title” element and use that as a sub-header. This will put an “H2” tag on that title, which helps Google understand the structure of your page.
This is a much better approach than having one huge text block and just breaking up your sections with some BOLD text, a mistake I made when first starting out.
What should these sub-header “titles” be like?
An SEO plug-in that I use for WordPress suggests that you use your exact keyword in at least one sub-heading on the page. If it makes sense, go ahead and do that. If not, use Long Tail Pro to find some other keywords that compliment your primary keyword on the page and use those as your sub-headers.
For example, if my page was about Chicago Cubs Parking, I might have a sub-header (Title element in Weebly) that is “Where to Find Free Cubs Parking” or “Off-site Chicago Cubs Parking” and maybe “Free Shuttle To Wrigley Field.”
Again, none of these are my exact keyword but they are certainly all pieces of the puzzle when you talk about parking for a Cubs game. There are times when it makes sense to take this approach, and in fact you can end up ranking 1 page on your site for a bunch of different keywords.[su_note]FREE BONUS: Watch A Video of how I set up my most high traffic page of 2014 in Weebly. This page gets traffic from tons of very long tail keywords, and it all adds up to my most popular page! [/su_note]
What About The Weebly SEO Settings?
To this point I haven’t talked about the “official” Weebly SEO settings, which you see under “Settings” and then “SEO” on the left:
While I put a site description in here long ago, I showed earlier that the description I put in the settings of my home page is what actually shows up in the search results when you Google “Ballpark Savvy.”
So I’d put a site description in here, heck, maybe the same one you use on your home page. I don’t think you need to worry about meta keywords, as years ago Google said they don’t use them in their ranking.
As for Footer and Header code, this is where you can put in your Google Analytics or other tracking codes. I’d definitely recommend this (mine is in the header code area, not shown above) as it will allow you to see how many visits you are getting, where they come from, where they go, and much more.
If you need help setting it up, check out this tutorial.
So in short, there are a couple of things you should do in Weebly’s main SEO area, but I think focusing on all the other things on specific pages and blog posts are much more important.
If you have any questions about SEO for Weebly, or maybe your own advice to add, please share below! If you’re still sitting on the sidelines and haven’t even created your site yet, Weebly has a lot going for it, especially for beginners. Click here to try it out.