Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO isn’t one thing, it’s a practice, it’s an art. Google and other search engines rate your website and its content with positive and negative points. If you get as many of the positive points as possible, your content and website will do well in natural organic searches. The better the natural results, the less you need to supplement with paid advertising.
Learning SEO takes hard work, a lot of research, time and dedication. For me, it became a true passion of mine almost 20 years ago. I love what I do and I get results.
Begin with an SEO strategy in mind
The content you create for your website, blog or social media should be relevant to your audience. Identify what problems they are trying to solve and offer educational materials to help them learn and grow – cross marketing your products and services as viable solutions. When users are engaged, they consume more content, interact with it and share it.
Research can be as simple as having a conversation with your sales team and customer service representatives to find out what the most commonly asked questions (FAQ’s) have been. Then start building content around those subjects.
Make sure Google Analytics is installed on your website and review insights often. Do test searches on keywords and phrases to see what’s out there, and plan to beat those results. Make a list of the top 20 results to refer back to later so you can see how you’re doing and optimize performance.
Design good, high quality content
Use an outlined structure that includes headings, paragraphs, and lists. Create short easy to read paragraphs (2-3 sentences). Pay attention to the age group of your audience and design the tone and graphics to appeal to them.
Strive to create content that encompasses as many of the following as possible…
- Simple, Clear, Coherent – Easy to read
- Credible, Valid, Experienced (solution or case study)
- Emotional (story telling)
- Inspiring (you can do this)
- Educational (how to do)
- Practical (how to use)
- Relevant (stop the buzz words)
- Deep, Thorough
- Novel, Unique (in value, not just in content)
- Trustworthy (include testimonials, experiences)
SEO – the knitty gritty details
All articles should be a minimum of 300 words if you want to show in organic results at all – longer content of 1,000+ words always tends to rank better, faster. There are many opportunities to place your SEO keywords and phrases where it matters most. Always try to add your SEO keywords and phrases in the following spots…
- Page URL – eliminate words like the, and, of
- Page Title – write for readability first, then try to place as close to beginning as possible
- Headings (H1, H2, H3, etc) – when it makes sense to the person reading the article
- Paragraphs (plain, bold, and linked text) – Don’t overthink it. Use synonyms, abbreviations, plurals and so on like a normal human being.
- Image file names, ALT & TITLE tags – Don’t force keywords, but do use them as applicable when it describes what’s in the photo
- Cross-Market – add links to other content, products, or services within your website.
Make sure your content is free from spelling and grammatical errors, proofread or ask someone to review your work. Fact check your work – Just because everyone else quotes a statistic, it doesn’t mean it’s true. Research and find the source.
Check the usage of your SEO keywords and phrases
Keyword stuffing will hurt your website’s overall performance, just don’t do it. It’s never been cool and Google pays attention. Do some research on Keyword density, there are many many tools offered as stand alone products or worked into 3rd party tools that allow you to check the ratio of keywords used to actual number of words on the page.
Behind the scenes, SEO Technical considerations
This is truly another whole conversation entirely. Most technical SEO factors are sitewide issues that need to be audited (cleaning up important ones), before you start trying to optimize content. These are a few things to consider when it comes to individual content…
- Mobile Devices – does your website or content play well with all mobile devices? Responsive design is common place these days, test everything as if you were the user/customer and solicit feedback.
- Loads Quickly – You’ve got about 3 seconds to work with here, otherwise you’ve lost the attention span of the person you are trying to reach. Check your images and media first.
- Sitemap, Sitemap, Sitemap – an XML sitemap allows you to separate your content and submit to search engines they way they wish to review it.
- Short URL’s – pay attention the overall structure of the site. Nesting content in too many categories will kill the SEO value of the page URL. Good rule of thumb is 60 characters or less.
- No Broken Links – Check this manually or with a sitewide tool
Social Sharing has SEO value
Your content has been created, checked and tested – Now it’s time to share! Sharing on social networks accomplishes so many things when done right. From an SEO perspective, you are creating a link building strategy that helps verify you are the owner of the content. Evaluate each social platform for the proper etiquette and effective techniques prior to sharing.
SEO Evaluation and Review
If you get stuck, don’t understand your results, or have a question, I would be happy to work with you to complete an SEO Evaluation and Review of your website or content. Please feel free to leave a comment below or reach out to me directly.