As more and more of our lives move online, search engine optimization is becoming increasingly important for businesses of all sizes. For anyone who may not be familiar with SEO, it is the practice of improving the search engine visibility of your website or its content via the un-paid, or “organic” search results. Your site’s rank in search engine results affects your visibility, which in turn affects your bottom line. There are many in-depth strategies & tactics around SEO, but here are the key points that businesses, small and large, need to focus on to improve their SEO.
1. Quality Content
As the saying goes, “Content is king.” Creating and sharing quality content is the single most important aspect of getting people to notice what your business is doing. Quality content sparks interest, and gets shared socially. If you’re consistent in producing it, your following will begin to look to you as a valuable resource. When you create new content, don’t be afraid to tell people. You spent the time & resources developing the content, so if you see value in it, others will also.
2. Structure & Fundamentals
These other points will hold no value if your website pages lack structure & fundamentals. Your pages need fundamentals in the same way pro athletes still need them. Your content can have the “natural ability,” but it needs the fundamentals to shine through the crowd. Here are some fundamentals to focus on:
- Well written page titles element: Keep page titles under 70 characters & place your main keyword as close to the front as possible.
- Optimize your URLs: Try your best to keep URLs under 75 characters. If you have a page focused on a topic or keyword, then name that page and URL extension accordingly.
- Research & use your keywords, but avoid stuffing: Focus on your main keywords. Realize you cannot target 10 keywords on one page. Keyword stuffing can lead to your site being penalized by search engines.
- Utilize image ALT text: Image alt text gives the search engines a description of your images. Alt text can come in handy if used properly.
- Implement the meta description tag & ditch the keyword tag: The meta description tag displays the supporting text that goes under your site’s search result. It becomes helpful copy that gives visitors an idea of what you page is about. The keyword tag was once relevant, but no longer helps your site’s SEO. Get rid of it, unless you want your competitors to quickly find what keywords you are targeting.
- Monitor your on-page links: It’s good practice to keep the amount of links on a single page to under 100. Initially, this number might seem high, but when you consider all the internal navigation links on your page, it’s a different story.
Inbound links are tremendously important to your site’s SEO. Links to your site are essentially “votes” from other sites saying your content is worthwhile. Each website that links to your site carries weight. More trustworthy sites pass more value (termed “link juice”) to your website. So for example, a link to your site from Starbucks.com is much more valuable than a link from spammy sites like WeBuyCoffeeCups.com (don’t worry, it’s not real). In fact, one link from a well known site like Starbucks could easily be more valuable than 100 links from sub par websites.
Links on your web pages are pertinent as well. It’s important to develop a well-structured linkage between the pages of your site. Your most important pages should be linked to one another through descriptive anchor text.
The handy tool, Open Site Explorer lets you explore your own site links as well as your competitors. Once you get going on your SEO efforts, devise a way to track your site’s progress. Remember, the SEO landscape is ever-changing, and your rankings will fluctuate. It’s consistency, patience and a long-term vision that will get you where you want to go.