SEO: Search Engine Optimization.
The name says it all. SEO is the practice of making sure your website is ranking across search engine ranking pages.
For the sake of this article we are going to talk about SERP in the context of business websites. Even today, many businesses think that if they simply create a website, buy a branded domain name and tell their friends, they will get traffic. The age old adage of “If I build it, they will come”. This is not true, in fact, it’s quite comical. If you were to launch a website without a solid SEO strategy your site would sit in oblivion.
Its not enough to publish a website, you need an SEO strategy. And, luckily for you, SEO doesn’t have to be tedious and expensive. Any entrepreneur can own their SEO strategy with a little discipline and hard work.
I am an entrepreneur myself, and recently took it upon myself to research and discover what makes a website rank well across the major search engines. Here are tips to help you get your website ranked, and build your traffic volume.
We’ve all heard the adage, “content is king”. Well folks, with the recent updates to Google’s Panda algorithm, this adage is more relevant and true than ever. Quality content is now one of leading rank factors for websites across all major search engines. If you don’t curate unique, relevant, quality content, you will never see the first page of Google, and consequently you will miss over 80% of potential online traffic. Ouch!
Why is content important?
Well, at the end of the day the answer to this question rests largely with “keywords”. These days, search engine spiders crawl millions of webpages every second based on the query strings people are searching with. If you want your website to show up at the top of the results page for a given search query you’d better make sure your content contains the relevant keywords. For example, if you own a property management company in Boise Idaho, you will definitely want your copy to contain the keyword phrases “Boise Property Management”, “Boise rentals”, and “Boise Property Management Services”, to name a few. If it doesn’t, your site will not rank for these keywords.
Now, if you want to research and see what keywords you should be ranking on, check out Google AdWords keyword tool. This will allow you to see the search volumes surrounding particular keywords (broad and exact searches at the local level), and even find new keywords that you should consider optimizing for. But, before you use this tool, make a list of at least 10 keywords you would like to rank on, and then use this as a base to start your keyword research.
Now what do I do?
Once you have a defined list of keywords, it is time to start incorporating them into the content of your website, and marketing efforts. Be sure to include relevant keywords in your site content, title tags, meta description and heading tags. If possible, infuse a major keyword into your URL, and image alt text (spiders are unable to read images).
Caution: this is maybe one of the biggest errors SEOs make – do not stuff keywords, and make sure that keywords are relevant to the page content.
Ten years ago people could get away with stuffing their content full of every single keyword they could think of. This was a result of the now obsolete notion of keyword density. Now, Google will crush you. Each keyword you include should relate to the page content, and flow naturally. Google’s algorithm now actually checks to make sure that the content is not only relevant, but that the copy makes sense.
Other basics to consider:
+ Social Media Optimization: A solid content strategy should also be the centerpiece of your social media strategy, not matter what platform you are using. People are not only using search engines as means of finding quality content, they are now able to target specific content by following branded social pages. This is particularly true for blogs. Companies use this platform to curate and share valuable content. The more valuable, and relevant this content is, the more engagement it attracts. Here in lies the opportunities. If companies are able to generate traffic inflow to their blog, they are able to use this social property as a touch point that builds credibility, and acts as a vehicle to to generate targeted inbound traffic to their website. This traffic is driven through keyword anchor text. People click on a link and it takes them to a relevant landing page that facilitates conversion. Here, you can see how tightly, content, SEO, and landing page optimization tie into lead generation and conversion optimization, the lifeblood of every business.
+ Fresh is Best: Make sure you content is continually refreshed, updated, re-optimized to counteract the content decay. In a sense, its similar to facebook’s edgerank algorithm that penalizes old content. As engagers, we like the newest, freshest information out there. So, make sure you content is unique, and remains relevant. This takes discipline.
+ Ad-to-content Ration: Make sure you have more quality owned content on your site, than you do paid ads. A hid ad-to-content ratio will make search engines view your content as “thin” and penalize you for that.
+ Guest blog/ backlinks: this is a great way to position your brand as a thought leader and build engagement with other relevant influencers in your industry. If you are able to develop backlinks from these credible sources you rank will skyrocket. Make sure to have your backlinks contain keyword anchor text that are relevant to content on the landing page they are linking to. This element is crucial to any type of linking strategy.
+ Landing Pages: make sure your destination landing pages are relevant to the inbound anchor text source. If it is not, you will be penalized, and your customers will not like the fact that they were directed to a page that does not answer their question, or satisfy their need. This is bad!
These are just some aspects of SEO that everyone should be aware of. As you begin you SEo quest, you will start to see how everything comes back to your content strategy when it comes to SEO – from keywords, to tagging, to inbound anchor text, to call-to-action, everything comes back to content. So make this your SEO start point.
Cheers, and let me know what you think, or tell me something I don’t know. I want to know ;)