by Brett Lewis
When embarking on the course of optimizing your website for the search engines, there are many paths you can choose. Some of them produce results and many do not. Here is a listing of tips, a mini search engine optimization tutorial, that will help you with the basics and stay on the correct path to success for marketing online with search engine optimization (SEO).
- Start with the end in mind, use analytics. You can’t measure your optimization progress if you don’t know where you’ve been. Make sure that you set up an analytics account to measure the effectiveness of your campaign. With this in place, you can see exactly what is working and what is not working. It also gives you the basics of insights into how people find your site and how they interact with it and your ranking.
- Analytics on steroids. Take advantage of Google webmaster tools, it gives more insight into user interaction and the ways they found your web pages.
- Be patient. SEO is not an instant on & off switch. It takes persistence and patience. The way search engines produce results is constantly changing and because of this fluid nature of the search engine algorithms, your search engine optimization strategies may need to adapt and change as well. Effective search engine optimization requires a long-term commitment.
- Start with a strong foundation. If your online presence is not set up correctly with the right architecture, keywords, and content, your entire SEO campaign will be flawed right from the beginning. Spend the time to lay the strongest foundation and basics for your online marketing campaign in order to get the most desirable ranking.
- Entice the search engine bots to find you. Include a sitemap so the search engine spiders can find your pages and index them correctly. This tips them off and points them in the right direction.
- Know your keywords. Spend some time researching the keywords that are relevant to your services and products. Bo back to basics. Think about the words that your customers use to find you. Use keyword tools to help in this process. The Google Keyword Planner is a free tool that can give you insight into words and phrases pertinent to your company. Also, pay attention to Google suggests at the bottom of the search page for words that Google identifies as relevant. Let us know if you want a tutorial on keyword research – leave us a comment.
- URL structures are important. Make use of search engine friendly URL structures. Place your targeted keywords in the URL string. For example, if you are targeting “dog training tips” then set up a page to be domain.com/dog-training-tips/ however be careful to not keyword stuff!
- Absolute vs. relative URLs. Coding practices tend to always be focused on efficiency. In design, that led to using relative URL paths. For search engine optimization purposes, it is better to use absolute URL structures as it helps bots to navigate more efficiently. This also helps to leverage keywords in the URL structure.
- Flash is bad. Flash may look pretty but it is terrible for pages that want to get optimized for the search engines. The problem with flash is you cannot link to a single page.
- Your readers come first. Write for your audience, not for optimization of the search engines. Don’t just focus on ranking. If you write strictly for SEO purposes, your bounce rate will go up because readers will simply leave and go to one of your competitors. Always write for humans and then optimize it for the bots and spiders.
- Blog. Create a blog and set a schedule for publishing on a regular basis. The frequency of publishing (FOP) will help you gain more traffic and ranking over time. We’ll be publishing a tutorial focused on FOP very soon.
- Unique content is a must! Always create unique material. Duplicate material is not going to help you to get ranked. In fact, excessive duplicate content on your site may trigger the Google Panda filter. Establish authorship presence. Set up your authorship by adding your website to the list of “contributor to” sites in your Google+ profile. Don’t forget to add the authorship code to your HTML.
- Engaging titles = more traffic. Write compelling titles. This is what shows up in the search engine ranking and a well-written title will improve click-through rates.
- Engaging Meta description = more traffic. Compelling page descriptions create a higher click-through rate just the same as the title. This is the description that people read on the search results pages and if it is not as compelling as the listings surrounding yours, your click-through rate will not be as high as it should be.
- Multi-media boosts engagement. Add pictures and video. This helps to keep your readers engaged. If you want to see tips or a tutorial on how to enhance your pictures for search engine optimization, let us know in the comments of this post.
- Utilize the alt tag for images. Spiders can’t read what is displayed in an image but they do read the alt tag on that image. Don’t keyword stuff the alt tag but do make use of it.
- Get listed in directories. If you are a business with a physical location, claim directory listings on sites like Google+ Local, CitySearch, Bing, Yahoo, Yelp, Local.com and other directory listings. When doing this, make sure that your NAP (name, address & phone number) appear exactly the same across all of the listings and on your website. Don’t forget optimization for these listings. We’ll be creating a tutorial on this in the near future. Stay tuned in for more tips.
- Reputation is Queen. If content is King, then reputation can easily be referred to as Queen, especially for local businesses. Implement and execute a reputation building strategy. Read our article titled, “Online Reputation, a.k.a. Reviews, Making News” for some tips regarding reputation. We also have a tutorial video on this topic:
- Linking building is important. Start a consistent strategy to build links pointed to your website. High quality and relevant links should be the goal, not volume! Stick to the basics, look for authority sites within your niche and/or location to obtain links. For example, local businesses should acquire links from local directories and from their Chamber of Commerce, etc.
- Automation = Bad. Do not hire an SEO agency that will use automated link building strategies to your main website. This is a recipe for disaster. You may experience a short-term boost in ranking, but rest assured, your initial rise will be accompanied by a bigger fall in the ranking.
- Link, skip and hop. Internal linking helps the spiders crawl your pages. Create links within your web pages. However don’t force the linking, focus on linking relevant words and/or concepts. Take a look at wikipedia for a good example of this. Notice how they link from page to page.
- Leverage social media. Build a following on social media platforms and share your website with them. If you are blogging on a regular basis, be sure to post updates on your social platforms with your new blog article and links back to your blog. Unique and relevant content will start to be shared, +1’d, liked, etc on the social platforms and that ultimately helps to improve your website rankings.
- Load times are important. The time that it takes your website to load is important for many reasons. the most important is that readers are impatient and they’ll bounce over to another site if yours takes too long to load. This is even more of a factor on mobile platforms.
- Traffic without strong call to actions is meaningless. You can build a great website, have all the basics in place, optimize it perfectly and get tons of traffic but, if you don’t have a clear, strong call to action, it is pointless. Make sure you focus on converting your traffic into phone calls, leads, and/or sales.
There are many other factors that go into search engine optimization but the above list of tips gives you the basics and a decent starting point. If you need more assistance, give us a call. We are available for one-time tutorial help, ongoing consultations and/or complete done-for-you search engine optimization services. Call us at (610) 471-0001.
We will be working on more an additional search engine optimization tutorial, tips and basics to be posted here in the future. Please leave us comments on other topics that you would like to see in a tutorial format.