The little search box can sometimes seem to have this mystical power over the success of your marketing efforts. Just when you think you’ve figured out how to master decent page rankings, Google decides to change it’s algorithms and you are back to square one. What’s a marketing person to do??
As always, the best strategy for SEO is to create compelling, quality content that people will want to read and share. You have to give your potential customers something to be interested about (besides how awesome your products/services are). But there are plenty of other, smaller things to make sure you are doing. Let’s look at some SEO tactics that you want to be sure you don’t overlook:
1. Include Keywords
SEO used to be all about including keywords (the terms that users search for when finding a certain page) everywhere possible on a site, such as the page title, the URL, and repeatedly throughout the content. As search engines continue to improve their algorithms so as to focus on quality content, this sort of “keyword stuffing” is no longer effective, and it may even be detrimental. However, you’ll still want to include relevant keywords in your content in order to help people recognize that it contains the information they are looking for. This includes using variations and synonyms for terms that people might be searching for to make sure you rank for a variety of “long tail” keywords.
2. Define Meta Tags
Each web page includes meta tags that contain data about what is included on that page. This data is not visible when viewing the page, but search engines look at this data to help determine how to rank pages, so you’ll want to make sure you’ve formatted it correctly. This includes entering a title tag, description, and keywords. Title tags should optimally be less than 70 characters to make sure they don’t get shortened in search results. The description is what is displayed alongside search results, so it should be a short summary of the page’s content, no more than 150 characters (for some tips on writing meta descriptions, check out this article). The keyword tags allow you to enter relevant terms to alert search engines about what is included on the page. Making sure these meta tags are filled out for each page is essential for achieving optimal search results.
3. Engage Local Users
For any business offering products or services, reaching potential customers who are searching for local businesses is essential. There are several strategies for ranking in local search results, including setting up a Google+ page for your business, including your name, address, and phone number (NAP) on each page, and claiming citations in local business directories. For more information, sign up for our free local SEO report to learn how well your site is ranking in local searches.
4. Build Relevant Links
SEO strategies may change as search engine algorithms are updated, but one strategy that is likely to never go out of style is being recognized as an authority about your subject through links from other sites. This doesn’t mean that you should gather as many links as possible, whether they are relevant or not (this is actually known as “link spam”, and since search engines recognize it as a “Black Hat SEO” technique, it is actually likely to hurt your rankings), but that you should establish yourself as an expert in your subject and encourage other authoritative sites to link to you in their own content. Building a reputation as an authority in your area of expertise will increase your search ranking, since search engines want to point people toward the content that they want to find.
5. Engage Social Channels
These days, you want to take advantage of all the ways you can reach potential customers through all the channels that are available to you, and that includes maintaining a presence on social media like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or other social networks. “Social Search” is a continuously growing field, as people share their interests with their friends and contacts, so making sure you are included in this conversation is essential. We’ve got several tips on how you can use your social media presence to benefit your SEO, but above all, you’ll want to continue creating great content that people will want to share. If you do that, you’ve already won half the battle.
6. Set Up Google+ Authorship
While you may have a strategy for your presence on the various social channels, Google’s own social network, Google+, is one that shouldn’t be forgotten, since tying your blog posts to your Google+ profile gives you the possibility of having your profile photo included alongside your search results. This is called a “rich snippet”, and while the way Google includes these snippets in their search results has been undergoing some recent changes, it is still a good idea to set up Google+ authorship in order to take advantage of this feature. If you are able to establish yourself as an authority in your subject matter, you will be more likely to have this information included in your search results, which can only help you as people find their way to your site.
7. Define Your Schema
In addition to the high-level SEO strategies mentioned above, it is also a good idea to take a look at your site’s underlying code and make sure it is structured in a way that search engines can understand, which will help them be sure you are being included in relevant search results. Using Google’s Webmaster Tools, you can make sure search engines understand your site’s schema, or HTML code that defines your its structure. This will help you demonstrate the relevancy of your content to search engines, which will ensure you are being ranked correctly.
8. Sweat the Technical Details
You’ll also want to consider some of the technical aspects of your site, including URL redirects and load times. If your site’s URLs change after a redesign, you’ll need to make sure any URLs from the old site redirect to the correct URL on the new site, since any incorrect redirects will hurt your search rankings. You’ll also want to maximize your site’s performance, since search engines also consider the load times of a site in their rankings. User experience is a factor in search rankings, and anything that might create a less-than-optimal experience on your site will cause your rankings to go down, so you’ll want to make sure you’ve covered all your bases and taken care of any of these “smaller” details, since they may end up making a big difference in the long run. We offer a free analysis to see if there are any technical issues preventing your content from achieving higher rankings.
So, all you have to do to get the best SEO is create amazing content, use the right keywords, engage social channels, establish your authority, keep up with search engine updates, understand your site’s underlying structure, and handle all the technical details, and everything will work out perfectly, right? That’s a lot to keep track of, but we’re here to help. Check out our other resources to learn more about how to make the most out of your content when it comes to search engine rankings. Got any great tips that we missed? Please share them below in the comments.
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